The first 12 month “boot camp” of new parenting is a real doozy. I can’t say that there was much I truly enjoyed in my first son’s first year of life without a little bit of anxiety – until he reached that one year mark. It was only then that I could breathe a huge sigh of relief and say, “We did it! He’s still alive!”
Although being a parent is a rewarding experience that I would highly recommend, on the other side of the coin, I wouldn’t wish that first first year of parenting on my worst enemy. But alas, you can’t have one without the other.
Being a new parent scared the living bejesus out of me. But not enough to keep me from popping out another kid just 16 months later – my sons are now 20 months and four months old. The good news is that there are a few fears I’ve gotten over with baby #2 that make infancy a little more enjoyable.
1. Baby’s first time breastfeeding
I swear to God, I had even more performance anxiety about breastfeeding for the first time than the actual act of giving birth. My midwife recommended that I watch breastfeeding videos on YouTube to prepare myself. She also fueled the fire by “joking” that she would be able to tell if I did my homework the first time I breastfed. Needless to say, I was freaked. I did okay mastering the boob-to-mouth latch initially, but the second time around, I was ready with my nipple shield and pump to do my version of breastfeeding that worked best for me.
(photo: New Mom Goddess)
2. Baby’s first circumcision
Since my husband is the one with the junk, he’s the one who got to call the shots about circumcision, which I’m totally fine with. When my first son got circumcised, I was a nervous, nail-biting wreck. With son #2, the foreskin snip was a walk in the park and seemed relatively quick and painless – for me, at least.
(photo: Lawrence OP)
3. Baby’s first bottle of formula
The first time I shook up a bottle of formula for my older son, I could only think: I’m a failure as a mother! We have yet to give son #2 his first bottle of formula because I appear to be an over-producing milk cow, but I’m A-Okay with it whenever we decide to out of convenience, laziness, what have you.
4. Baby’s first time sleeping through the night
The great irony is that STTN (sleeping through the night) is something you strive for, pray for, and obsess over with your first baby. When it finally happened, I was terrified and hardly slept a wink myself. Now, when we don’t hear a peep from my second son for hours on end, I pour an even bigger glass of wine and enjoy every beautiful second of silence.
(photo: Lila Jo)
5. Baby’s first rollover
Along the same lines, son #1 learned to roll over in his crib at about five months and sent me into a panic because he was sleeping face down for a few nights (literally, his face was smashed straight down into his crib!). I would tiptoe in every few hours and try to turn his little head, which he would stubbornly move back to the smashed-down position. Son #2 has rolled from side to side in his crib since he was a few months old. Once he masters the full rollover, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.
6. Baby’s first night away
We packed up son #1 and sent him to Grandma’s so that we could go on vacation when he was five months old. Every (sober) second of vacation was filled with sheer panic about how he was surviving out of my maternal reach. We have a vacation scheduled in a month, so the kids will be with Grandma again. This time, I’m hoping for some legit R&R without stalker-texting my mom every few hours. (Sorry, Mom!)
7. Baby’s first fever
Son #1 threw me for a loop with his sickly-little-germ-bag tendencies: runny nose turned fever turned pneumonia. I was convinced that every little sniffle had him on death’s door. Son #2 hasn’t had a fever yet, but this time, I think we’ll take the doctor off speed dial.
8. Baby’s first doctor referral
My oldest son was referred to three different specialists in his first year of life, and he doesn’t even have major health issues! These included a kidney ultrasound when he was three days old because he was born with a two-vessel cord, a visit to a pediatric cardiologist because of a heart murmur, and testing with an allergist because of his chronic eczema. All of these situations turned out totally fine but had me scouring the Internet in terror. Son #2 hasn’t had any issues at his checkups so far, but I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll handle doctor’s referrals better the second time around, if they’re needed.
9. Baby’s first tantrum
Oh. My. Gawd. To say I was intimidated by my first son’s first meltdown would be an understatement. I had no idea how to react to him and if I was supposed to be loving, stern, or just ignore him altogether. We bumbled through it and came up with a “tantrum formula” that works best for us, and I feel a little more confident. Of course, son #2 is too young to have a tantrum at four months, but it must be a good sign that his screechy baby cries hardly bother me this time around.
(photo: Christine Rogers)
10. Baby’s first day of daycare
When we signed son #1 up for daycare, you would have thought it was my first day of school, that’s how nervous I was. Will he get along with the older kids? Will the kids like him? Will he know how to use a fork at lunch? With son #2, I’m counting down the days to his first day of part-time daycare. When that day arrives, I plan to give him a loving boot in the diaper – so that he can explore his newfound independence, and I can work in peace.