When my eldest son was born, I panicked when it was time to take the baby home.
“How do they know I can take care of him?
“I don’t know if I can take care of this baby!”
“There’s no manual, no guide, no directions. Don’t they know I don’t have a clue what to do?”
Luckily I had my mom to help guide me through those first few weeks, and she was a life saver, both to me and my son.
She gave him his first bath because I was scared to put him in water.
I agonized over whether to put him to sleep on his back or his stomach. Both scenarios had dire consequences, and I got up numerous times during the night to flip him over to his tummy and then over to his back.
That was almost 40 years ago, and he turned out just fine. When the second and third babies came around, I felt like I had the hang of things, but I never forgot the feelings I had with the first baby.
I thought about those days when our friends, Bridget and Dave, announced their first grandchild had been born.
When buying a baby gift, I thought I’d include a note to help the new parents through those first few weeks. Here goes:
“How can something so small…”
Something that small can scream loud enough to shatter your eardrums. At times, that endless screech will be like a sword running through your head.
Of all the things you imagined your newborn doing, how their voice sounded probably never occurred to you.
That oversight will come back to haunt you at 2 a.m.
Something that small can generate more dirty diapers than you ever thought possible.
You’ll change the diaper and, literally two minutes later, they are filling the diaper up all over again. Get used to it. That end of your newborn is the gift that keeps giving.
Something that small needs more clothes than a fashion shoot. There’s onesies for casual day-time wear, and you need at least a dozen because babies spit up all the time.
You also need booties, socks, hats, extra pacifiers and at least three back-up outfits for all trips.
You’ll need at least a dozen receiving blankets. Those are used to keep the baby warm and they come in handy to catch the never-ending flow of spit-up, leaking diapers and to put over your shoulder for the inevitable spit up that erupts like a volcano and with as much regularity.
Something that small will cause you to completely redecorate your house. For the first few days, you’ll think the breakables can stay on the coffee table.
Those have to go to make room for the extra diapers, boxes of wipe ups, stacks of diapers, clean clothes and empty plates you’ll generate because you can no longer eat at the table. You’re eating on the couch with the baby on your lap.
Enjoy those action movies filled with profanity now. Once the baby starts babbling, you’ll have to save those for when the baby’s asleep. Get used to watching Paw Patrol and Bubble Guppies.
Everything within arms’ reach has to be evaluated – can they swallow it? Break it? Chew on it? Smash it? Have an oversized wine glass filled with wine corks? Those now become choking hazards. That breakable joins the glass figurines and remote controls on the top shelf of the bookcase.
But there’s a bright side.
Something this small will cause your heart to grow more than you ever thought possible. You thought you knew what love was when you met your significant other.
That’s nothing compared to the love you’ll feel for this so-small person you’ve welcomed into your life.
Something this small will make you believe in miracles, and you’ll wonder how you ever survived without this child.
Something this small will make the biggest impact in your life, bigger than you ever thought possible.
That bigger-than-life feeling will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Something so small requires something big – your heart.
You’ll gladly hand it over.
Denise’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.