When I had my daughter, I had no idea what to expect, like all first time mothers. I really didn’t understand the sleep deprivation or how much a baby changes your life. Because I was ten years younger than I was now, I was still interested in having a social life and the fact that having a baby distanced me from some of my friends was hurtful. As was the constant noise, which I was not used to.
Mostly, what I can remember from having my daughter, is the sleepless nights, trying to get her asleep again once she woke up, and… um, that she had no hair. But this time around, having a baby almost a decade later, knowing that for sure this was going to be my last, I appreciate everything about him so much more. Even during pregnancy, I didn’t complain as much as I did the first time around. Yes, my back hurt. Yes, I had these awful leg cramps. And, yet, I couldn’t wait to meet the little man.
With my daughter, I can honestly say I wasn’t even interested in buying furniture or designing her room. Her father and I went to Pottery Barn, while I sat in a chair, and told the sales employee that we were having a girl and please just pick out everything we need. I was out of the Pottery Barn in an hour. Her room was decorated when I was in the hospital, by an interior decorator.
Don’t get me wrong. The second I saw her I burst out into tears, the good kind of tears, and that moment will always remain my favorite memory of all time. But ask me about any of her other milestones?
When did she start to teethe? Heck if I know. I do know that she had an awful rash all over her face when she did. When did she start to crawl? Heck if I know. But I do remember shelling out a lot of cash for someone to baby proof our house. I remember nights when I would wake up her father and say, “Take her. If you don’t, I’m going to kill myself,” after she had been crying for three hours. When did she start eating solids? Heck if I know. I just remember the awful smell of the rice mix and how messy she was and how we couldn’t go to restaurants because she was so messy that we would have to tip almost 50% because we felt so awful about how loud and messy she was.
Ah, but with my son! I notice every little detail. Look! He can find his mouth! Look! He can grab his feet! Yes, he’s been crying for an hour but let me take him! With my son, I’m so Zen. With my daughter, I just remember feeling on edge all the time. I was so worried about her: "That cold! Should we take her to the emergency room because of a cold? Um yep, we did!" I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing. I missed all the good stuff because I was so focused on the bad stuff. This includes playing time with her. It felt like going to the park, which I absolutely hated, was just killing time. Going for walks with her, endlessly, was just killing time. But now, going on walks with my son is enjoyable.
I remember also feeling with my daughter, “Dear GOD, I JUST want to GET a COFFEE!” As every mother knows, getting a coffee may only take ten minutes, but when you have a baby, it can take about an hour and a half by the time you pack the baby up, the diaper bag, and get the stroller in and out. With my son, I’m just like, “Ok, we’re going to get a coffee,” and I plan to be on with this excursion for an hour.
Last night, I noticed that his feet now touch the floor when he’s in his bouncy chair. “Wow!” I thought. “His feet can now touch the floor! That’s so amazing. He’s growing so fast!” Whereas my daughter had the exact same bouncy chair and all I could think was, “God damn, this thing makes a lot of noise and takes up a lot of space.” This time around, I don’t mind all the toys lying around, even though they definitely do not matching to my modern aesthetic. I don’t mind that when I walk around my house that there are bibs everywhere and for sure I step on something that makes noise. I don’t mind changing his diapers. With my daughter, I was like, ‘Your turn!” I don’t mind even the shitty ones.
My point for new mothers, and all mothers I suppose, is this: don’t think of your new baby as your first. Think of him or her as your last. That way, you will appreciate every single moment. Appreciation is one thing we should all work on. I realize this now. When you think that something is going to be your last time doing it, you look at things in a whole different light.