Why I’m Happy I’m Not a First-Time Mom

posted in: Kids, Parenting | 53

Awwww!…Isn’t that adorable?…How precious!…Oh my god, those are just the BEST!…You’ll use that ALL the time!…*squee*…I’m dying from cuteness!… 

Guess where I was this past weekend? Yep. A baby shower. My uterus always gets a little mushy and nostalgic whenever I celebrate a new tiny life coming into the world. And, people…the STUFF! Holy diaper blowouts. I can’t help but be a little jealous over all the new gadgets and toys that weren’t around when I had babies. And I can’t help but miss, just a bit, all the ones that were. As cumbersome as it can be carting around a well-stocked diaper bag, it also makes you feel more like MacGyver than any other time in your life.

diaper bag
Don’t worry. We are covered in case of diaper emergencies, snot emergencies, tantrum emergencies, clothing emergencies, hunger emergencies, and nuclear war. I’m also pretty sure I’ve got something in here I can fashion into a flotation device in a pinch. photo credit: jds-emma via photopin cc

As I watched the expectant mother open gift after gift, I longed to be her for just a moment. She will never again know that feeling of being on the precipice of the biggest change in her life. Of straddling two worlds: one where she is untethered, the other where she is forever bonded and made part of another. (But not straddling TOO widely…because, you know…dialated vaginas.) There is always an excitement that comes with experiencing everything as a first-time mom. For a moment at the shower, I longed to feel that excitement again…the uncharted territory…braving new situations and feeling the pride when you survived…

first time mom
“Mom, take a chill pill.”

…And then I remembered that time at the pool.

My daughter was about four or five months old, and I had ventured to the pool with her by myself for the first time. We were splashing, having a grand time, when I noticed the skin around her eyes had become very red and irritated. She was rubbing her peepers furiously and becoming a little fussy. Clearly, this was an emergency. And I was the mom. Pretty much all the things I was told to expect when I was expecting were happening at that very instant, and my merit as a parent hung in the balance. It was time to do this.

And by do this, I mean freak the f*@k out.

As I gathered up our stuff and headed frantically toward the car, I decided I should call the pediatrician. The nurse didn’t sound very alarmed. She must not have heard me. My daughter was obviously having a violent allergic reaction or had caught some water-born virus in the pool that was going to leave her blind. Or cancer. Is this a symptom of cancer? I needed to bring her into the office immediately, and I told the nurse I was on my way there. She kindly relented that she could squeeze us in.

But on the way there, things just didn’t seem right. Damn those rear-facing car seats. I couldn’t see how my daughter was doing. What were those weird noises she was making? I had this bad feeling she wasn’t breathing. I panicked, reached for my cell phone, and dialed 911.

“911. What’s your emergency?”

“I’m on the side of the road, and I think my baby is having trouble breathing!”

“Okay, ma’am. Is your baby turning blue?”

“No.”

“Ma’am…”

“Yes?”

“Ma’am, is that your baby crying very loudly in the background?”

“Yes, that’s her.”

“Ma’am, if your baby is crying, that means she’s breathing.”

Okay, so maybe I needed to calm myself down. Obviously, the situation was not as life-threatening as I was making it out to be, but surely the pediatrician would figure out the cause of this mysterious malady and commend me for acting so quickly.

“Doctor, I don’t know what’s wrong. Her eyes just suddenly got all red, and she was crying. Does she have a serious allergy? Should I have gone straight to the ER? Is this going to affect her eyesight? Oh the horror! Will she ever play the violin?”

“Looks to me like she just got a little sunscreen in her eyes. See? The redness is already starting to clear up. Try using zinc oxide next time. It’s less irritating.”

And THAT is why I am happy I am not a first-time mom again.

I like that I no longer go from zero to worst-possible-scenario in sixty seconds. Now it takes me more like…um…five minutes, but I can usually bring rational thinking back into the equation pretty quickly. You know, before 911 gets involved. Experience has taught me there are very few real emergencies in parenting, and it has also given me a more level-headed gut in which to trust. My first-time mom gut was full of rare diseases, and freak accidents, and an unrealistically high proportions of baby kidnappers to normal people, and “but what if we’re that 0.01%?” I was clearly putting my trust in a rookie gut.

So in hindsight, that expectant mom can have all the cool baby MacGyver gadgets. I will just sit here with my very lightweight purse, confident in my knowledge that if my child is crying, she is breathing.

And also confident that no matter which diaper pail she gets, it’s going to start smelling like caca pretty damn quickly.

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53 Responses

  1. weebluebirdie

    Yup, I don’t miss those days of PANIC either! I remember phoning emergency services when the Baby Kid’s legs and arms had gone all blotchy. Obviously it was Meningitis – the really rare kind where the rash starts on the legs, not the chest… Turned out his bath had been too hot!

  2. Love this!! I use to believe that ANYONE that was not me was out to abuse my daughter – it was this very unhealthy fear that I blame on reading a novel about a child being abused by a love one when I was on maternity leave…… I never made that mistake again – new mom hormones and scary books did not mix well for me!!! With the next 3 I stuck to eating ice cream and watching Golden Girls on my down time.
    I watched #4 climb up a very rickety ladder last night with nail heads sticking out of the boards a 1/4 of an inch and thought, “huh, didn’t know he could do that” – and let him go…. #1 would have NEVER had that freedom!! 🙂
    Amazing the relaxation that comes with experience!

  3. Oh man, I’d have done the exact same thing! In my mind, she’d have gone from rubbing those red peepers to Will Smith’s face in … was it Hitch? 🙂

  4. Ha ha ha ha! I loved this. You captured perfectly both the dilemma of the new Mom, and the delight in knowing one has passed that stage! I recently returned from Pasadena where my poor baby New Mommy daughter started crying bc her 3 week old baby hadn’t eaten much his last two feedings, and lack of appetite could be a sign for ALL SORTS OF THINGS! I kept quiet about how he may not have eaten much bc he ate an hour ago, and was only wanting to suck bc he had gas!

    • Oh, what a good grandma you were not to lord all your knowledge over her 🙂 I can only imagine how that is going to feel watching your own child go through all the first-time mom stuff. So glad you got to make your trip to see the baby. How was it? (Though I think I already know the answer you are going to give me :)…or maybe I should actually check my blog reader to see if you blogged about it!)

      • I did of course blog about it, and the post is called Swaddled. i think maybe you’ve already read it. Or not. Anyway, being a grandmother is way better than I could have ever dreamed. Re keeping one’s mouth shut, once one had raised a teen, one’s tongue is only half the size it once was, and therefore easier to hold.

        • No, I didn’t read it!! I think last I checked in, he had just been born and we were talking about your upcoming trip. But I just headed over and read it. Made me feel all mushy 🙂 And p.s., if you didn’t see it, you should check out my previous post, “To My Children’s Grandparents.” I just have this feeling you are going to be the kind of grandparent that inspired that post 🙂 I bet you can’t wait for your next trip to Cali!

    • Wow. My mum would do the opposite. She panics more than I do. When my son was snoring since he has a runny nose she though he was extremely sick and that I had to go to emergency.

  5. This made me laugh hard! We were crazy the first time around. The slightest bump on the head was a concussion. We’d call the doctor, stay up all night to make sure he was breathing… We are so much cooler with our second.

    • I was terrified of concussions. And with all the falling they do when they first start walking…I was a ball of nerves. But I’m glad we can laugh about it now, and that this post made you smile!

  6. Bwhaha. I freaked out like that once, too. I don’t miss that at all. I’ll hafta write about that.

  7. This is hilarious!! I JUST went through the same thing this week of going to a baby shower as a mom of two and thinking back to when I was a first-time mom. Your article decribes that feeling exactly!! 🙂

    • Thank you!! I seriously love it when someone tells me that. It’s like that moment when you realize how much you can have in common with people you don’t even know!

  8. I have to say that I laughed so hard at your story. I don’t have any children just yet (unless you count my husband), but have dealt with a few moments with my niece and nephew. I still freak out every time something happens, even if my sister is calm. Last month, I thought my niece was choking and I yanked her up on my lap and slapped her back until I thought she was okay again. My sister just looked at me like I was insane and said “she was fine…” Must be the second child.

    • Ha! Well, I would imagine being an aunt is kind of like being a first-time mom over and over again since you have time in between your interactions with them. So you totally get a pass for acting that way 🙂 Thanks for your comment…and I love that this made you laugh so hard!

  9. Admittedly, my uterus aches when I see or hold or smell or just know of the existence of, new babies. But, then I remember times just like this. And I think about making dinner without that baby nursing, at the same time. I think about sleep and clothes without “access” and the litany of other things that I’ve already been there and done that for… and I hand that baby back with a smile. xo

    • You are making me happier and happier with my stage in life 🙂 Keep talking…

      • Oh, and poopy diapers… there was a time and a place for poop and barf, and honestly.. I’m done with it. It’s not cute anymore. It’s poop. And barf. On my hands and shirt. My hair is cut regularly; I get dressed; I put some make up on… I drink wine whenever I want at night, cause I’m not nursing. Ahhh… better you than me lovely young thing. (my uterus still aches, but that may be peri-menopausal)

  10. Don’t miss it at all. I love sleep.

  11. That’s awesome. I totally agree. Being a more “experienced” mom is way better, no matter how cute the stuff is. 🙂

  12. Can I have this for CGP this month? I want to do some stuff about the first days/months of parenting. It’s gonna include some heavy post-partum things, so I thought something funny, related to anxiety, would be cool.

  13. haha great story! I’m crazy in the middle of the newborn stage but the fog is starting to life and I’m trying to enjoy every second of this first time mom stuff, all I hear is they grow so fast!!

  14. I love this post. I remember all the crazy fears I had and my overreactions when my kids were babies. Well said!

  15. Haha, great story. I used to work myself into quite a state in my daughter’s first year, too, fanning the flames of anything I could imagine by googling it on the Internet and finding rare disorders and one in a million tragedies. The lack of sleep didn’t help. Esp that time I was wondering why she wasn’t eating then realized I’d left the lock insert in the bottle.

    • Far be it from us to consider the easy answers…like the lock insert still in the bottle or sunscreen in the eyes 🙂 And it should be mandatory that all new moms stay away from Google.

  16. And she CAN play the violin…

  17. Having navigated my first newborn experience last summer and expecting my second baby this winter – I can totally relate to your post! I think about how my outlook has changed going into this second pregnancy so much from just last summer. I had a girl the first time and am having a boy this time and even when it’s gotten to registering for “boy stuff” I find myself saying – do I really need that or is it just more stuff I have to pack, clean, step on…???

    • Exactly!! Isn’t it freeing in a way? There is less to overwhelm you for sure. Congrats and good luck on baby boy! I had a girl and then a boy as well. It’s a fun combo 🙂

  18. […] *Post inspired by Kelly, who had a freak out of her own…. […]

  19. 🙂 Loved reading this…. there is hope for me yet.

  20. I don’t think I’m in the “New Mom” category any more since my daughter is 2.5, but boy oh boy do I not miss the sleepless nights….nor the OMG “What do I do?” I loved reading your post.

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