“Are you my mother?” That baby bird’s question is the single most memorable line from my childhood library. As a newly minted mother it strikes me that a sequel to that story is in order. After all, it’s not just babies who need to learn to recognize their mothers. We need to recognize ourselves anew too, as our lives are completely redirected.
So, inspired by Lila and the other babies in our new Mommy and Me class, I present
“You know you’re a new mother when . . .”
1. Ergo. You spend so much time wearing your baby in her favorite Ergo Baby Carrier, it sometimes feels as if your pregnant belly is still with you. She’s there in a pouch on your front, sometimes kicking – only this time it’s on the outside of your belly.
2. Swaying. You’ve been known to dance to silent music while wearing your baby and waiting for street lights to change or for the train to start moving again. And then sometimes you realize you’re bouncing when you’re not even holding the baby.
3. Hearing. Remember when you could smell everything? Pregnancy’s Radar Nose has been replaced by Bat Ear. No matter where your baby is, you can hear her cry – if you haven’t simply sensed it already.
4. Phantom baby. There are times you’re semi-awake in bed, on your back, and you’re convinced your baby is laying across you and nursing. You feel her weight. And you’re afraid to move, lest she fall off you, so you wake your husband and ask him to pick her up, only to find there’s no baby on your chest, just your heavy milk-filled breasts.
5. Amnesia. You used to have the memory of an elephant; now you can’t remember anything without writing it down.
6. The future? You’re the newest Master of Focusing on the Here and Now. You can thank your daughter for that. You no longer have the energy or the desire to plan more than a day ahead.
7. All nighters! You’re getting less sleep now than you did in college. Wave to the birds chirping outside your window at 4am!
8. Partying! Your Saturday nights involve drinking too much and throwing up, only now the liquid in question is milk, and the protagonist is your daughter.
9. One hand. After taking typing in high school and perfecting your two-handed typing time over many years of emailing, you have regressed. If anything manages to leave your inbox, it’s brief and authored by the one-handed typist.
10. The gym. The only exercise you can manage is dancing the Bop and Bounce. You simultaneously bop from side to side while bouncing up and down to calm your crying baby. She loves it.
11. News. A news junkie, you used to get all of your news by reading it online. Now you have no time to read; instead you find yourself watching cable news while you, the on-call cow, nurse around the clock.
12. TV. You have become a regular viewer of both Jimmy Fallon and Carson Daly’s late-night shows. You wish NBC had something better to watch at 2am than a bunch of random guys playing poker.
13. Getting dressed. You have given up on wearing all of your nice (read: dry cleanable) clothes. If the baby is going to pee or spit up on you, it might as well be on an old t-shirt.
14. Accessorizing. There are now two accessories you won’t move anywhere without – your nursing bra (for obvious reasons) and your watch, so you can keep your Mommy Cow appointments with your calf. If you leave home, your Bebe au Lait nursing cover becomes must-have accessory number three. Earrings and belts, by contrast, are now superfluous.
15. Luxury. To you, “luxury” now includes: five consecutive hours of sleep, a daily shower, brushing your teeth before 3pm, and the opportunity to eat your dinner without completely snarfing it.
16. Sleeping. A good night is one when the baby lets you both go to sleep at 2:30am, rather than keeping both of you up until 3:30 or 4:00am.
17. Outside. A good day is when the two of you actually manage to make it out the door, even for a walk down the block.
The high points of your day are holding your daughter as she sleeps peacefully, watching her smile and even laugh – typically while sleeping – and wondering what she is dreaming about, and generally being close to this little being who has completely transformed your life.
Motherhood is definitely harder, more physically taxing work than you anticipated, but there’s no going back. And that is a-okay with you, because when you can snatch a moment to reflect, you are totally enchanted by your Baby Girl.