I am excited to announce that Teresa and I have a new baby. His name is Wyatt, and he’s now ten weeks old.
Okay, I admit we didn’t just set a record for the oldest couple on earth to produce a child. Wyatt was brought into the world by our daughter-in-law, Chelsea.
But I felt like I was experiencing Wyatt’s development before birth because both Chelsea and my son, Corey, work with Teresa and me every day at the office.
I knew when Chelsea and Corey went for ultrasounds and was relieved to hear everything was perfect. I heard about it when Chelsea struggled with morning sickness, then watched her grow and glow as Wyatt grew inside her.
I participated in discussions on name possibilities and did everything I could to persuade Chelsea and Corey to tell me whether it was a boy or girl, but they wouldn’t even let the doctor tell them.
Since my sons are in their 40s, it had been a long time since I was close to anyone having a baby. I found the experience so fascinating, I decided to turn my article over to Chelsea this week so you can hear directly from Mom what it’s like to have a baby these days.
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” —Mike Tyson
As an overachieving, type-A personality, nothing is more unsettling than things not going according to plan. At hour 26 of my home birth, I can tell you things were, most assuredly, not going as planned.
My expectation of bringing our baby into the world from the comfort of our home was not going to happen. The reality of welcoming him at the hospital with the help of an epidural was humbling. I was faced with putting my son before my own expectations. And so, I got my first lesson in modern motherhood before I was officially a mother.
BABY DIDN’T READ THE BOOK
They say kids don’t come with a handbook. That’s not entirely true. There are, in fact, tons of books on parenting, from sleep training to potty training with “experts” everywhere. My expectation was… I will know exactly what to do. All I needed was to choose my parenting philosophy and study up!
The reality is my baby didn’t read the same books I did. He didn’t know we were supposed to follow a 3-hour feed-wake-sleep sequence where he napped for 1.5–2 hours at a time in his crib. The reality is that he is a flexible human being, not a machine to fine tune.
THE SUM OF ALL PARTS IS YOU
When our loved ones came to meet our son for the first time, they eagerly looked for familiarity in him. My dark hair. His dad’s blue eyes. They naturally wanted to see which parts of this brand-new someone belonged to someone else. I expected to recognize him as well. I had, after all, assembled trillions of his cells inside my own body for nine months.
The reality was that I didn’t recognize him at all. He was a new person, and we were unknown to each other. I expected to lovingly dote on a cute, squishy baby; and I did. What I didn’t expect was to so quickly develop a profound respect for him as a unique individual.
I was struck by the weighty realization that my role in his life was not to mold him in my own image, but to hold space for him to become whoever he wants to be.
DON’T GOOGLE IT
As a thirty-something millennial there was hardly a time when I didn’t have the internet in my life. I grew up honing my ability to discern reliable sources of information (i.e., verified sites) from those that are unreliable (i.e., your extended family’s Facebook posts).
In a flood of tears at our week-after-birth pediatrician visit, I told our doctor I couldn’t possibly give the baby a bottle just yet—the internet said it would confuse him! But I admitted that I was exhausted and in considerable pain trying to breastfeed him every few hours. Our doctor looked at me and sternly said, “Chelsea, give the baby the bottle. Give the baby the pacifier. Give the internet searches a break.”
I expected to be able to trust what I found online about the decisions I needed to make. The scary reality is many of the choices I must make as a parent are in a gray, un-Google-able area.
My expectation was that my life would change for a while during this notoriously tiring new baby phase. The reality is that I was changed forever in those breathless few seconds I went from Me to Mom.