What Life Is Really Like With a New Baby
Katlyn Eggar, St. Charles, IL
I wish I knew…that I’d become a bit of a hermit. The first six weeks, I felt like I was living in a cave. I was recovering from a c-section and nursing around the clock, so I barely left the house. It was very tiring, and I definitely did not take time to cook or clean. We decided ahead of time not to have any out-of-town visitors and just a few guests for the first several weeks. But it was also a magical time, and we took pictures every day of our little sweetheart. It was so fun dressing her in adorable little outfits and introducing her to close family. We used Skype so far-flung family could get introduced too.
I wish I knew…how hard it is to sleep when the baby sleeps. My plan to “sleep when baby sleeps” totally backfired when I realized naps may or may not happen, and when they do, you have to decide, “Should I nap? Should I cook? Clean? Do my makeup? Check my email?” That phase passes quickly, but when you’re in the thick of it, you feel like it will never end!
I wish I knew…how obsessed about safety I’d become. We read a lot of online reviews before buying a car seat and decided to splurge on a top-of-the-line seat we could trust. Before doing my research, I didn’t know that it’s not safe to put baby in a car seat in a winter coat or thick clothing because the straps won’t fit securely enough; that it’s not safe to add dangly toys or comfy seat covers to the seat; or that if you’re involved in a car accident, you should replace your car seat in case there’s internal damage. Babyproofing is stressful too. It feels like no matter what you do, baby will get into something! But using outlet covers and cabinet locks, moving plants out of reach, and cleaning out drawers that baby can reach at least creates some peace of mind.
I wish I knew…you suddenly have nowhere near enough space. When baby arrives, you start feeling like you want a nursery and playroom but also still want room for an office or guest room, so it’s hard not to want to house-shop! I went through all our dressers, closets, and boxes before baby arrived and sent anything we didn’t need to Goodwill. I bought some clear plastic totes and separated baby’s clothes by size so I could easily switch them out as she grew.
I wish I knew…that the toughest conversations are the most important ones. We got extra life insurance just before baby arrived. A lot of families think they already have enough life insurance through their workplace benefits, but I learned that most benefits packages cover only two to three times your annual salary in life insurance. This is typically not enough to meet your family’s needs if they had to continue without your paycheck. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but your insurance agent can help you figure out how much coverage you need and what type of policy is best for you. The best part of owning your own life-insurance coverage outside of work is that it stays with you even if you switch jobs, lose your job or decide not to go back to work.
I wish I knew…that so-called hassles don’t really feel like hassles. The tough parts of parenting sound horrible before you have a baby, but that fades into the background when you see baby’s smile, watch her clap her hands, lull her to sleep, and see her try new things. Honestly, to me, being a parent is the most wonderful feeling in the world.