It’s hard to believe that Babycakes is six months old on Saturday. I mean, where did the time go? Six months ago and some change ago, she was just this wiggly little Someone in my not-so-little baby bump, and now she’s an actual person! Watching her grow and learn and change has been amazing, and I can’t wait to see what the next six months brings.
Some curious and interesting things have happened to me (and my husband, really) since entering this state called Parenthood. I doubt every new mom has experienced everything on this list, but in my house, these are some pretty standard realizations.
- Giving a baby manicure is only slightly easier than neurosurgery. If you’ve never tried to trim a baby’s fingernails, you really can’t empathize with the difficulty level the task entails. I’m sure someday, Babycakes will love having me fuss with her nails and will probably ask her father to give them a coat of bright pink polish, but right now, any attempt to trim even one fingernail is like expecting someone to perform the most delicate brain surgery with naught but a pair of tiny scissors. I’ve talked to other moms about this. Babies generally don’t like having their hands held perfectly still while you attempt to cut something from them with a pair of razor sharp scissors. A lot of people recommend attempting this while baby is sleeping, but I’ve never had success at this (poor angle, bad light, etc.). The times I’ve actually managed to trim Babycakes’s nails were during long pre-nap nursing sessions when she’s beyond relaxed. It’s probably like when people sip daiquiris during their pedicures or something. So far I haven’t nicked her, but I’m sure the day will come because she won’t always be nursing. And baby pedicures? It’s a week long process because I can only ever manage about two toes a day.
- Almost all adult conversations eventually work their way around to discussing poopy diapers. Yeah, sorry that’s kind of a gross but sad fact. But it happens, especially when the conversation participants are other parents. My husband and I discuss our daughter’s dirty diapers so often, especially since she’s started solids, I’ve come up with an acronym: the FACCs (frequency, amount, color, consistency).
- Pregnancy and labor eventually do unexpected things to your postpartum body. I’m not talking about the belly pooch or the hormonal fluctuations. I’m talking about the weird things that happen to parts of your body that have nothing to do with pregnancy or labor, or at least don’t come to mind when you think of pregnancy and labor. Every mom will have a different list of these. But for me, here’s the rundown. During pregnancy, I had periodic flare-ups of my bilateral rotator cuff tendinitis, which after giving birth got so bad that just about every nursing position resulted in physical torture as I silently prayed Babycakes would unlatch herself before my arms completely popped out of the sockets, leading me to need physical therapy (again) and the acquisition of a TENS unit to use at home. Similarly, the extra thirty pounds I carried around during the last weeks of pregnancy wreaked havoc on my knees, especially the right which I tweaked pretty bad during an exercise session a couple years ago. The pain returned several weeks after Babycakes was born, to the point where I had to use the TENS unit on them despite it being purchased for my shoulders. And lastly, perhaps the most unexpected thing was unbearable pain in my tailbone. Turns out back labor (which I had for 12 hours) can bruise your tailbone, and hours of sitting to nurse were ridiculously painful until I purchased one of those special cushions that have a space cut out to relieve pressure on your coccyx. Also, for no apparent reason, I’m also no longer lactose intolerant.
- The definition of “me time” changes drastically. Before becoming a parent, alone time involved reading a book for hours, watching romantic comedies, and treating myself to a mani-pedi-massage package at a local day spa. Now, “me time” involves going to the grocery store by myself or, at the simplest, taking a shower while the baby sleeps. For a while when Babycakes was between 3 and 4 months old, the most relaxing thing I did was go to my physical therapy session (see above), where I could lay down for a while in a dim room, listen to music, have heating pads wrapped around my aching joints or over my stiff back, and then get something of a massage as part of the therapy treatment. Lots of times, I’d stop and get a cup of hot chocolate and a donut from the Tim Horton’s I’d pass on the way there. Now that I’m not going to PT anymore, I kind of miss that hour of time when I could just lay down without worrying about somebody crying over the monitor. I also miss having hot chocolate and a donut two to three days a week, but it’s probably better for me in the long run.
- Physical hygiene tasks happen at warp speed, if they happen at all. Before having a baby, I would take long showers followed by a somewhat prolonged moisturizing routine. After having a baby, I shower so fast it’s questionable whether I even get wet. Even brushing my teeth is rushed, which probably isn’t good. I usually forget to put moisturizer on my face, and I’ve joined the ranks of moms who can’t remember if they brushed their hair that morning. And sadly, even after weeks of not being physically able to do so, I tend not to shave my legs unless a) we have to go somewhere that requires us to look sort of dressed up, or b) I realize I can see the hair and it’s approaching a quarter inch in length.
- Mom hands. As a kid, I remember my mom complaining about how dry her hands would get and how she’d get painful splits in the skin around her fingernails. I never understood exactly why that was. I just knew that my mom’s hands were ridiculously comforting. They were cool when I was to hot, and warm when I was too cold. But mom hands are a thing that happens. I think it’s because you wash your hands so much more often, not to mention doing baby dishes that can’t go in the dishwasher and giving baby a bath. No matter how much lotion I use throughout the day, my hands are a mess. Like, dry to the point of cracked and bleeding knuckles. This has happened to me in the past during the winter, but winter skin and mom hands combined? Sometimes the lotion actually burns. I only hope the curious but awesome temperature anomaly is happening, which I believe is the result of biofeedback.
- Phantom crying is a thing. I’m constantly hearing Babycakes crying when she’s not. It’s even happened during the handful of times I’ve been home alone while the hubs took her for a walk when the weather was nice. The sink in our bathroom has some sort of weird frequency it gives off that sounds exactly like a baby crying over a monitor and through a closed door. Freaks me out. I also sometimes hear the little musical giraffe Babycakes sleeps with, even if it’s not playing.
- Obsession over some aspect of baby’s well being is also a thing. For me, as I’ve mentioned, it’s the sleep thing, particularly the nap thing. For some moms, it’s the feeding thing. Or a temperature thing. Or the FACCs (see #2) of baby’s dirty diapers. The people around us eventually learn to just smile and nod when we get going.
- Oversensitiveness about noise will make all sleep times an exercise in your slow motion and/or ninja skills. I know, and every other mom knows, that you can’t shut out all noise during the day, no matter what you do to try and make nap time as similar to night time as possible. It’s even recommended that, while you don’t want to blast music at top volume, you shouldn’t try to mute the daily activities you tend to while baby naps. And I’m sure, like most new parents, I underestimate my baby’s capacity to sleep through noise. But even so, I’m ridiculously oversensitive about every noise that anyone makes in my house during naps, probably because the odds of Babycakes getting in a solid nap are kind of crappy most days. Inevitably, no matter how hard I try not to clang pans when preparing dinner or ban the flushing of all second-floor toilets at night, somebody at some point is going to make a loud noise during a sleep time. The hubs and I, however, have become quite proficient at miming stuff to each other and watching T.V. with next to no sound.
- There’s a Mom Uniform. I’ve always been a proponent of yoga pants (or in the winter, fuzzy pants, because where I live it gets dang cold from December through February) for comfort. And they’ve really come a long way. I remember once standing in a sporting goods store, looking at some yoga pants in a bootcut style, and wondering if anybody at work would notice if I wore them rather than my usual dress pants. But now that I’m a mom, I’ve joined the ranks of everybody who throws on yoga pants, an easy-access-for-nursing top, and a hoodie for day to day wear. If I’m wearing jeans, it means I’m not only leaving the house, I’m going somewhere “special”.
So, moms of the world – what have you realized since your baby was born?