Having a child is, quite literally, a life changing event. In many ways, it is even more profound and far-reaching of a change than moving out for the first time, getting married or starting your first career. Being responsible for a rather helpless little baby is all-encompassing and it is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. That’s a big part of the reason why we over-think everything and stress ourselves out over the matter. Everything changes.
1. Tolerance for Bodily Fluids
If you’re the kind of person who must have everything in its proper place and for everything to remain pristine at all times (I’m picturing Monica Geller from Friends or Danny Tanner from Full House), then having a baby around the house is going to be a particularly large source of stress for you. As cute as those little ones may be, they’re also pretty sloppy.
Ask any parent. When you first start out, you may be quick to give the baby a new outfit after she gets a little spit-up on it. You may be quick to swap out the towel on the change table after a sprinkle of pee gets in there. And then, slowly but surely, you start to tolerate these bodily fluids a little more.
Oh, it’s just a little spit-up on my t-shirt. No big deal. It’s just a little bit of urine. Don’t worry about it. Meh, that’s not a lot of poo. I’m sure it’s fine. Nothing will remain perfectly clean ever again.
2. Instant Common Ground (or Lack Thereof)
“Hey, I see you’re using the XYZ car seat too. Do you find that it’s hard adjusting those straps sometimes? And where did you get that nice fitted blanket? It looks really warm and cozy.”
On the flip side, rolling up to a dinner with your newborn baby in the stroller can sometimes alienate people who were once your best friends. If they don’t have kids of their own, they have a hard time identifying with your situation. All you want is to talk about your baby and they just politely play along. The frame of reference changes.
3. The Normality of Insomnia
There is a reason why so many people ask new parents, “So, are you getting any sleep?” It’s almost rhetorical, really, because the answer will almost always be in the negative. Partly because I am able to define my own schedule with running my business from home, I have had the good fortune of “sleeping in” on most days, offset by working in the later hours of the night. That changed with baby Adalynn.
While I am not directly responsible for the nightly feedings that come every two to four hours, it is practically impossible to get a longer stretch of real sleep at a time. There’s a diaper to be changed or a crying baby to be soothed. Lack of sleep becomes the norm and you simply have to adapt.
4. Planning for a Social Outing
It used to be the case that I could go from working at my desk to ready for an evening out on the town in a matter of minutes. That’s just not the case with a baby in tow. Just when you think that you’ve got her diaper bag suitably packed and the baby is properly placed in the car seat, she decides she needs a diaper change. One thing leads to another and, all of a sudden, being ready to go “right now” turns into a half-hour delay, if not more.
If the goal is to head out the door at 6pm, you’d better start preparing shortly after 5pm. Babies have a habit of throwing a wrench into any plan.
5. Everything Else
This list could go on and on and on. I could talk about the change in perspective, the newfound ability to leap into action on a moment’s notice, or the requirement to learn new skills on the fly. I could talk about the new terminology you learn and how work-life balance is thrown into a tailspin. The fact of the matter is, as I said at the top, having a baby changes everything. And through all the wet burps, emergency diaper changes and sleepless nights, those changes are for the better.