It's been a long time since I lived through my first year with my first baby. But some things stay etched in memory.
There was so much I didn't know! Fortunately, it's not necessary to know it all in the beginning. And there is time to learn, as that first year unfolds.
Maybe you'll relate to some of my experience. And, of course, some of it you may not relate to at all. That's because each mother, each baby and each mother/child relationship is unique and one of a kind.
Here are some of the things I learned during my baby's first year:
1) I didn't know how scary it is to be totally responsible for a tiny vulnerable human being.
When my husband Alan and I brought our first child home from the hospital, we didn't know what to do with him. He was asleep in his car seat, and we decided to take him out and put him in his bassinet. He slept through that.
We stood there at the bassinet for a few minutes, completely stumped. Should we go sit down? Should we stand guard against ... we didn't know what?
Eventually we went into the next room and sat till he woke up and we panicked about the fact that he was now awake.
2) I didn't know that strangers on the street would stop me and give me advice or lecture me.
I don't know why some strangers got so concerned about what my baby was wearing, why they consider this or that to be inappropriate for a little boy, or for the season, or for any child whatsoever.
Mostly I let them get away with it, but now I'd advise any new mother to learn to use these valuable words — "Gotta go!" — and make tracks.
3) I didn't know what true sleep deprivation was before I had my first baby.
I'd had my share of late-nights as a teenager and in my early 20s, but nothing prepared me for the ongoing lack of sleep that flattened me in my baby's first few months.
He didn't really sleep at night, and his daytime naps were usually about 10 minutes long.
I was so tired sometimes I felt like I was floating, dreaming, almost hallucinating ... yet somehow I managed to carry on.