I was browsing through old pictures of Nellie like I am prone to do at times, and I stumbled across a video of her at 13 weeks old. I watched my baby daughter lying on her activity mat making cooing noises, her legs kicking in that way that a new baby’s legs do. I was suddenly filled with the overwhelming urge to reach through my laptop screen and pull out that baby just the way she was and hold her for hours. I wanted to smell her baby smell again, to feel how small and light she was in my arms.
I wanted to go back in time and experience her as she once was.
I started thinking about all of the things I would do, say, and feel differently if I could go back to my daughter’s first year of life. In the delivery room I would say…
Don’t get those IV drugs. You’re not going to remember your daughter’s first hours of life very well if you do.
Have people take more pictures of you and your new baby together.
Don’t be afraid to tell people you want some more time alone with your new family.
Don’t have them take her into the nursery at night. Keep her in the room with you.
As a newborn…
Ask for help. When you need it, ask. No one can help you if they don’t know what you need.
Drink. Her. In. Take even more videos than you already do. You will forget what she was like when she was this tiny and helpless. You won’t remember the little noises, the way she moved.
Sleep, sleep, sleep. Even if it means letting the laundry go… Sleep. Things will seem so much less overwhelming if you get as much sleep as you can.
As she grows…
Don’t be so worried with what she should be doing. Sleeping through the night, solids, rolling over.. Those things will all eventually happen so enjoy how she is now.
Don’t be so concerned with how she should be acting. She’s a baby; people aren’t going to freak out and think you’re a horrible parent if she squeals loudly in a public place.
Don’t be in such a hurry for her to put herself to sleep. When she’s a busy toddler, she’s not going to want you to rock her anymore. She has too much to do.
Write down everything. Yes, you have your blog. But write everything down in a journal. What she’s doing. What she’s eating. You WILL forget.
Continue to take videos to capture her essence at each stage, because each stage is beautiful and unique.
Stop and watch her. Watch how beautiful, funny, curious, and amazing she is. You made that. You grew that. Stop for a second and let that roll around in your mind for a while.
I know that with our second child, things will be different. I think I will probably be a little more relaxed, and remember to enjoy my baby as s/he is rather than concern myself with when they will be doing this or that and worrying if I’m spoiling them.
I love Toddler Nellie. She is so much fun; we play, and learn, and laugh and interact. But sometimes, when I scroll through old pictures I want to hold that tiny new baby with the dark brown hair. I want to kiss her cheeks and nibble her toes. I want to take the experience and wisdom that I have now and give it to that scared new mama so maybe she can enjoy the first year a little more, and worry a little less.
What would you say, if you could go back?