So I had the privilege of visiting with a couple of friends the other day. They stopped by unexpectedly, and we had a great time catching up despite the fact that when you drop in on a mother-of-four and she wasn't expecting you, you are likely to see some pretty crazy stuff. I did manage to find a few seconds to do some quick "tidying" before they got there. You know, things like mopping, dusting, vacuuming...yeah, right. I believe it was more along the lines of "Morgan! People are coming over! I know you're three, but you've gotta learn to pull your weight around here. Quick, pick those dried macaroni noodles off of the light switch while Mommy gets these underwear off of the chandelier." Of course if you choose to do the "cleaning" you forfeit getting YOURSELF ready, so I got to answer the door in my sweats and baby-puke covered shirt. And, technically it was supposed to have been shower day, but I'm flexible like that so I let it go another day (or couple of days).
Anyway, while I was talking to them I realized how insane the "mommy brain" can be sometimes. I mean this baby amnesia thing is really quite amazing. One of them has a 9 month old and the other a 7 week old. The one with the 7 week old looked like she was going to kill me when I asked her if she and her husband wanted more children. And she would have been right in doing so, because it is STUPID to ask someone who just had a baby if they want any more. First of all, it gives the illusion that anyone actually has any control over that matter and secondly, they are still trying to figure out if they are ever going to be able to differentiate between day and night again. To them, each day only means one thing...being awake LONGER. However, the friend with the 9 month old mentioned the possibility of future children several times. It takes absolutely NO time to forget what those first few weeks are like. Obviously this happens in order to ensure the continuation of the human race. It's like some little demonic fairy goes through and wipes out all recollection of life after bringing home a newborn. Because, honestly, if we remembered what it was like none of us would be here.
Everyone talks up the birthing process. They talk about how difficult it is, how much it hurts, what an amazing experience it is, etc. And I'm not trying to diminish that in any way. I mean squeezing a watermelon through a grape is no easy task. But, NO ONE tells you what it's going to be like when that nurse says "okay, time to go home..." You look at your spouse and think, "Ok, well, we'll just move some stuff over and the nurse can sit in the backseat next to the baby." Then you realize, "Oh, shit! You mean you aren't coming with us? You're going to send this precious baby home with US? Are you out of your mind?!?! I don't know what the hell I'm doing, and I just got this one house-trained last week!!! He can't be a father!"
After the nurse pries your white knuckles from around her neck and you stop shaking, you put the baby in the car. Well, you try to put the baby in the car, but somehow your combined 8 years of college education hasn't properly prepared you. Because, instead of looking like two competent adults putting the carseat into the car, you look more like two blind monkeys trying to thread a needle with a bowling ball. It's foreign and uncertain, and you're scared to death that you'll do something terribly wrong, and this is where wedded bliss takes a hiatus...
"I TOLD you to pay attention in those birthing classes! I'm sure they covered this!"
"I thought we were supposed to learn about breathing and getting the kid out of you! What were YOU doing the whole time?!?!"
"Oh, you mean BESIDES providing the uterus for YOUR child?"
So when you finally do get into the car and you pull away from the curb, your normally lead-footed partner is getting some unpleasant looks, and even less pleasant gestures because he's going 10 miles per hour on the highway. And if you're reading this and saying to yourself, "I will NEVER do that" you are just as delusional as the rest of us. Trust me. It only gets better from this point. You get home and put the carseat down in the middle of the room, announce to your baby that this is "your new home", and then sit across from each other and ask simultaneously, "what the hell do we do now?"
Let me tell you right here and now that there are no "right" or "wrong" answers to what happens next. Lots of people write books, many family members will have advice, but the truth is no one else is doing the job but you and your spouse. Yours are the only opinions that matter. So don't get bent out of shape if things don't go according to the book. My guess is the book will work for about 30 seconds, and then you'll realize that throwing it out the window is much less stressful. Bottle or breast, Ferber method or co-sleeping, paper or plastic...doesn't really matter because you're gonna forget it all in about 3 months anyway and you'll be just dumb enough to try it again!!! Gotta love that mommy brain!