Now that my husband and I are “seasoned” parents, I love to look back at photos and share stories with our kids from when they were little. This is a memory from our first days of parenthood, 19 years ago.
My husband and I are only children and although I had babysat a lot, I had never been around babies, and neither had he, so when our first son was born we were both very nervous. We had read books and done our best to prepare, but really had no idea what we were doing. Reflecting on those first weeks makes us smile and laugh.
I remember getting home from the hospital and into the house and we put the baby down and then looked at each other as if to say, “Now what?” My husband was able to stay home for a week and by the time his parents arrived, we were exhausted. I was nursing and had read an article about using pacifiers and how they caused “nipple confusion” (seriously?) and was adamant that we wouldn’t use one. After a week of little sleep and what felt like non-stop nursing, I was a wreck. My mother in law suggested that we try a pacifier (WHAT?!) She explained that the baby just wanted to soothe himself and wasn’t really hungry, which explained why he kept falling asleep at the wheel. So reluctantly, I popped it in his mouth mid-wail and BOOM, it worked!
We were very excited to give him his first bath and, being the firstborn, it would be videotaped and photographed to keep for all eternity. We lived in Massachusetts and although it was May, the weather was still cool. So before anything could happen, we had to be sure that the kitchen was warm enough (bring in the heater). Next step was to remove all items from the counter, sterilize the area, and get the perfect water temperature. My husband filled the small tub in the sink and did the “elbow test” to be sure that the water temperature was perfect. (Of course I had to test it too). We were ready!
My mother in law was standing in position with various cameras and caught everything on tape…
As soon as I started to undress the baby, he started to cry. I did my best to soothe him and tell him how much fun he was going to have in his first bath. (We even had a rubber ducky). I carefully lowered him into the water whereupon he howled. My blood pressure rose and I accused my husband of making the water too hot. I lifted him out and we quickly did the elbow test again. My mother in law suggested that we proceed with the bath….I lowered him back into the water and my husband proceeded to wash him as we had been instructed at the hospital, using a different washcloth for the major sections of the body (?!) The baby continued to scream and I quickly looked at my husband and saw sweat running down his temple. We surveyed the naked body and determined that he was clean. As I proceeded to lift him out of the tub, I noticed a weird yellowish color in the water and yelled, “WHY IS THEIR MUSTARD IN THE TUB?!” I looked around the room frantically and saw my mother in law laughing behind the camera. She said, “I think he pooped.” I looked into he camera with a desperate wail and asked, “Now what do we do?”
After wrapping the poopy screaming baby in a towel, emptying the tub, refilling it with the perfect temperature of water, we proceeded the cleaning process again.
When it was all over and the baby was clothed and swaddled, my husband and I collapsed on the couch and agreed that he wouldn’t be having another bath until he was 5.
I share this as a funny memory and also to encourage and cheer on any new moms out there. You are doing a great job! Having babies and raising little kids is tough and it’s ok if you don’t have all the answers. Go with your gut and remember to lean on your friends and family for help and LAUGH at yourself once in a while. When you feel yourself slipping, pray and ask God for help.
Your baby WILL sleep through the night, learn to walk and talk, and go poop on the potty. You will blink and your strong-willed two year old will be heading out the door to Kindergarten. No phase lasts forever, I promise.