My baby just turned six months old yesterday. Six months old. It’s amazing to look back at all the changes we have both made in that short, yet incredibly long amount of time. When my daughter came home from the hospital, she was a tiny premature infant, left alone in the care of a woman who had never once changed a diaper. I poured through books and websites, searching for “how to wash/feed/care for a newborn.” Neither of us had any idea what we were doing.
Today, we are pros. In six months, these are the things that I have learned.
1. They Are Just Little Humans
Seriously, relax. When my daughter came home, I was terrified to do anything wrong. Not sure of how much to hold her, I applied the instructions you give a child with a new hamster: “Don’t take them out of the cage too much in the beginning until they are used to their new surroundings.” But really, babies are like really tiny, emotional drunks. They scream and cry about nothing until they drink their bottle and go back to sleep. It’s as simple as that.
2. Nobody Knows Anything
It’s true. There are basic guidelines to caring for a baby, but honestly, nobody really knows what they’re doing. Some babies like to watch tv, some will go to sleep easily, some sleep through the night, while others don’t. It doesn’t matter. So long as your baby is healthy and seems happy, don’t worry about it. I had my “ah-ha” moment about raising kids after talking to my mother about “tummy time.” I was distraught about making sure my daughter was doing enough physical exercises, particularly a concept where you lay the baby on their stomach in order to strengthen their back muscles. I asked my mom how much of this she did with me and my siblings. She responded with a shrug, “I don’t know. You all just crawled eventually, I guess.” I never worried about it again.
It’s ok to be tired. There is a golden zone between the newborn and the infant. Newborn babies never sleep, they always cry, and your hormones are so out of control that it really doesn’t make a difference. Then there is a period of relative calm. Around three months, baby sleeps a good portion of the day, and you are able to have some time to yourself to work or do housework, or even (imagine!) sit down and watch some TV. And then teething happens. Nap time disappears. You feel yourself sliding back into the Twilight Zone of Orajel and Tylenol, gas drops and Gripe Water. But this is your second time into the trenches, so don’t let it get you down. Take some time to relax when you get the chance. Trust me, the laundry will wait.