Next week we will celebrate our son’s first birthday — and with it, the one-year anniversary of our journey into parenthood. Like many first-time parents, my husband and I dutifully read through books that covered diaper changes, breastfeeding, bathing, skin care, swaddling, and everything in between. Now, a year later, I can tell you that it’s true what they say: There is no book, blog, infant class, or even a jar of sage advice from your baby shower guests that can truly cover everything you encounter in year one. There were so many moments this year when I found myself wondering where this was in those “What to Expect” books. So here is the beginning of my own appendix for year one:
Your brain will be filled with acronyms.
SO MANY. This is especially true if you read blogs. Soon you will be fluent in terms like BLW, CIO, EBF, and MOTN, and you will also find yourself wondering what you did with that brain space before it was filled with this new language. (And yes, feel free to Google those now.)
You will quickly memorize the schedules for the local trash pick-up, street cleaners, and landscapers.
We live in the city, so our son is accustomed to the sounds of traffic, even the sirens that pass by his window. But there will likely be some sound that rouses your little one, and it will inevitably arrive just as he/she falls asleep on the fussiest of days. Soon you’ll have the schedule down so you can plan naps in the stroller, carrier, or car accordingly. Time to vacate more brain space. (Mom Brain: It’s real.)
Drive-thrus become your best friend.
When a teething baby finally falls asleep, even just a block from home, you learn not to risk the “gingerly move the baby to the crib for the rest of nap” maneuver. If you live in Boston, drive-thru options are quite limited, but, thankfully, McDonald’s comes to the rescue with multiple locations throughout the city AND their any-size $1 coffee deal. There are more options if you drive out to the suburbs, but be sure to keep track of time so you don’t find yourself sitting in rush hour traffic (which seems to begin around 2:30 p.m.). I speak from experience.
There will be unsolicited advice.
There are many wonderful aspects of walking around town with an adorable baby. However, it also seems to invite unsolicited advice from strangers. I have heard comments on my personal caffeine consumption, the contents of my son’s bottle, and even my choice of stroller. It will probably happen to you at some point. Don’t let it get to you. (I know, that’s a piece of unsolicited advice right there. See, it begins already.)
The surprises never stop.
Every time you think you have your little one’s adorable quirks figured out, there will be a new one. For example, at 10 months old your baby might decide he wants to fall asleep sitting up. Yes, that’s a true story. His pediatrician assured us it was a phase, which of course turned out to be true. On to the next surprise!
The truth is that these unexpected moments, though admittedly stressful at times, are often what make the lasting memories. Much of the first year flies by in a sleep-deprived haze, but it is the little moments you never saw coming that stay with you as you watch your not-so-little-anymore baby and wonder where the time has gone. If you’re still expecting, read and file away all the facts you want. Just know that the true magic lies in the unexpected — and soon you’ll be the one sending out first birthday invitations with teary eyes and your own unique list of unexpected moments you wouldn’t trade for anything.