The New Mom Guide
By Ericka Lutz
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In this article:
- Welcome to Parenthood (Now What?)
- Six Sanity Saving ideas for Parents
- Baby Care 101
- Baby Care 101: Part Two
- Baby Sleep 101
- Baby Sleep 101: Part Two
- Baby Food 101
- Baby Food 101: Part 2
- Reality 101
- Reality 101: Part Two
- Baby Games 101
- Getting out with Baby
- Mom-to-Mom Baby Tips
- Mom-to-Mom Baby Tips: Part Two
A realistic – but loving! – new mom’s guide to taking baby home, from dirty diapers and spit up to breastfeeding.
The way it works in California, the nurse escorts you as you either totter or get wheeled to the car. She fiercely inspects the infant seat to establish that it's correctly attached and then, only then, does she hand it to you. The baby. Finally, it's yours.
So you strap your baby into the infant seat, trying to figure out how to maneuver those little arms and legs, and then one of you drives the car home—probably not you. Your job is to sit in the back seat next to the baby, alternately gazing in awe at the new scrap of life (currently waving her tiny hands, crumpling up her face, and screaming), and doing a little emoting yourself: "Slow down! Aaahhh! Watch that truck! Ow, my stitches!" (Remember the mythology we learned about the cultures whose native women squat and labor in the fields, then strap the baby to their breasts, bury the placenta, and return to work? If it's true, those must be some brutal cultures. Here's the reality as I see it—having a baby hurts and it's not the kind of hurt that's done when the main event ends.)
After you finish dodging cars on the freeway (remember, your driver was probably up all night, too), pull into your driveway and park, the real adventure begins. Bringing home the baby.
My daughter Annie exited me and entered the world in a hospital 20 minutes down the road. She and I spent our first night at the hospital, rooming in with another new mom and her baby. None of us got any sleep because Annie, terrifically excited about being born, decided to yell about it all night. By the time our new little family arrived home, I'd slept maybe six hours in the past 72. Not exactly fresh as a daisy. (While this was good practice for the sleepless few years that would follow, I was young then, and inexperienced—I still thought sleeping was one of those inalienable human rights.)
At home, all was ready. Four million tiny rented cloth diapers stood stacked in Annie's bedroom, along with a freshly-minted diaper pail—a gift from the diaper service. Bill had decorated the walls with balloons and a "Welcome Home!" poster in bright and cheerful colors. Many mini-outfits waited in drawers. And parked in the corner, the new stroller, equipped with three stuffed bears—the same stroller Bill and I had giggled and pushed around the living room in circles a week ago, testing the turning ratio while trying to imagine a baby snuggled inside. Now that baby was here and already kicking up a fuss. Was she hungry? Tired? Wet? Confused? Yes. Let the party begin!