Top 21 Things I’ve Learned in 21 Days as a Parent

I can’t believe it’s been 3 weeks since this sweet pea was born. The days are short and the nights are long and the time is flying by. It’s not a cliche when they say that it changes so quickly. And in this short period of time, I have learned so much about myself, her, and being a parent. It’s so important for me to take it all, grow and learn with her each day, adapt, and make the best decisions for my family.

So here are some of my great life lessons in my first 21 days.

  1. Baby Blues should be more like Baby Bipolar. One minute I am smiling deeper than I have ever smiled, the next I am in tears of complete amazement and wonder, then I am laughing at her coos and farts, and then I am crying from pure exhaustion. In any given day, I am the strongest and weakest person I have ever met.
  2. Newborn pictures should be taken in the first 48 hours. That’s when they are asleep and adorable. I can’t wait to get ours back. Rumor has it there isn’t a single shot of her by herself where she isn’t wailing. Oh the joys!
  3. Every day is different. I remember when I got puppies and as a naive puppy owner I would swear that my dog was so smart, knew every command, and was potty trained after two months. The same is true with babies. People ask if she is on a schedule yet and that’s comical. If you think that the same thing happening two days in a row is a schedule, then we have lots of schedules! I hear schedules can’t really kick in until about three months. Truth? I am a schedule person so will welcome that as soon as it’s feasible.
  4. Babies have an opinion a BIG opinion! I am an avid researcher and read lots of books on various parenting styles and reviews on baby gear and while some would suggest that your child will have an opinion, I thought, “OK, sure, but they can adjust,” or “They’re babies. How big of an opinion can they have.” From everything from co-sleeping, to the stinkin paci, and a few baby gear items have proven that it doesn’t matter how much research do, or that am the mom. This kid gets to weigh in on every decision and I am a fool if I think I am the one with the final say!
  5. There is no such thing as a good baby. I have a GREAT Baby! She is the most adorable kid out there, loving, strong, inquisitive, strong-willed, but also stubborn (uh, dad) and impatient (yup… that’s me). She’s a talker too. So in the “good baby/ bad baby” scenario, ours can cry and while that can be hard and tiring and confusing. She is not a bad baby!! We’re just simply figuring it out.
  6. I like to work. I didn’t think that I would work at all for the rest of 2013. I gave myself full permission to clock out. But it’s way more fun to send a follow up text or email to a client or check in with the team rather than go on a Netflix series bender while killing breastfeeding time.
  7. Parenting truly is the hardest thing you will ever do. It’s funny because this warning that everyone tells you doesn’t come for no reason. It’s not the no-sleep thing. Yeah, that sucks. It’s the complete emotional investment in your child’s well-being and not always being able to deliver. It’s devastatingly difficult and I can see why this will only get harder as they age.
  8. There really is this secret/not-so-secret mom’s club. I didn’t get it. I sort of resented not being a part of it. I didn’t understand why my friends with kids were slightly distant. And while I don’t want that to happen with my current friendships, there is just a very special bond with your friends that are going through the same thing, around the same time. Not everyone can understand the importance of topics like thumb-sucking (good self-soothing technique or bad long-term habit) or are interested in exploring the major complexities of newborn reflux. While not glamorous, these are the single most important details of your life and hearing from your most trusted friends who fully feel the same, make everything better!
  9. Breastfeeding is worth it.
  10. Most of the help is needed after the first 10 days. That was my first breaking point. I literally just said on the 9th day, “well this isn’t so hard,” with my mom and husband there to help with everything. I was sleeping about 4 hours per night, completely in a fog, functioning off 100% adrenaline. And then the adrenaline went away, sleep deprivation kicked in, and my awesome sleeper, woke up and wanted to be heard…
  11. Single moms are Gods in my eyes.
  12. If you come across a slightly grumpy, not so patient person in the grocery store, they could be a new parent. Empathize and get out of their way.
  13. While I have been a high-functioning, multi-tasker that likes to be very productive, I have to be ok with accomplishing nothing “significant” other than, you know, sustaining life. I can start lots of tasks, but they very often get interrupted (like writing this blog) and may or may not complete it by days’ end.
  14. I am beginning to eat the same thing everyday because it’s quick, easy, and meets my dietary requirements (B: oatmeal with Formula 1, MS: Shake, L: Sandwich or salad, AS: Yogurt Parfait, D: Chili, soup, healthy casserole… tea, water, water, water… er… a glass of wine… not everyday I swear)
  15. Great communication skills with your partner prior to baby is ESSENTIAL! Patience goes down drastically, everyone is craving just a moment to themselves, you are both tired, and “No, she doesn’t like it like that anymore, she likes it this way,” may come into play. Your partner is your co-captain not the opposing team.
  16. After one attempt at Target with a fussy baby and needing to nurse in public, not knowing what to do, I have slight PTSD of leaving the house. I am confident this will pass.
  17. I have Body Dysmorphic Disorder… but in reverse. I swear I should be able to fit into that top or those pants. Surely my chest and hips are not that much larger. While this is comical now, I hope that my body changes before it’s no longer funny.
  18. Jack Johnson Children’s Station on Pandora has become my new favorite, followed closely by Lullaby.
  19. There is no single feeling in the world greater than your sleeping infant on your chest. I work very hard to stop what I am doing and embrace those moments. I know they are fleeting.
  20. My life has never been more complete than with this amazing human being in my life. I am so blessed to have the privilege of being her mom. I am trying to never take that for granted.
  21. Having it all is a choice. While there are times where I may want to be in two places at once because I am missing an event, that is absolutely no different than any other part of life. Having it all is a state of mind and Big Picture kind of stuff. If you let yourself get lost in the immediacy of what that means then you will never have it all anyway.