Some of our good friends are scheduled for a C-section tomorrow because their baby is breech. (OK, really only the wife is going to have the C-section, but you know what I mean.) I was thinking about them because they are in the unique position of knowing ahead of time that this is their last night before entering their new life. Of course, they are bringing new life into the world in the form of their little baby. But they are also ushering in a new life of their own. They are ending their B.C. (before children) life and entering a whole new world.
It's a world that's impossible to explain to someone who hasn't entered it yet. I don't care if you babysat a lot, helped raise your siblings, or even were a live-in nanny, nothing can truly prepare you for the life-changing experience of your first child. I thought I knew what I was getting into. I thought I had read all the books, received all of the advice, and bought all of the gear. I thought I was ready (and of course, it does help to be prepared). But looking back now, I realize that there's no way to be actually ready. There's no way to know what you're getting into. Like so many things in life, it is a leap of faith--jumping into the unknown and trusting that things will be okay.
So, what do I want to tell my friends on the eve of their baby's birth? I want to tell them that it's okay when you feel like you have no idea what to do. It's okay to feel completely overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for this tiny, helpless person. All new parents are novices. You didn't miss the passing out of the handbook. Unfortunately, there is no handbook. I want to tell them to enjoy every second. (Which, of course, is impossible. Who really enjoys explosive poop?) But, I do want to tell them not to wish away the time. Not to wish that he were older and could do more things for himself. I've had a hard time with this one myself, and each day, I work on enjoying the present--even if the present means a temper tantrum or food throwing. I want to tell them that it all goes so fast. If you're frustrated with one stage, wait a month, and it will be gone--replaced with something new. Of course, the opposite holds true too: If you love one stage, be sure to appreciate it, because it will be gone soon too.
The husband of this pair recently asked my husband, "So, when does your life sort of begin to resemble normal again?" Zach's answer was three months. My answer is never. Zach is right in that, usually, things settle down around three months, you come out of the baby fog, you can start organizing your life. But as for my answer...life after a baby is never "normal" again. Or, at least, it's never "normal" like it was before baby. But then again, you wouldn't want it to be.