I always thought that when I became a mom it would be an effortless transition.
I’ve had pets all my life and I took pretty good care of them. Except for the time my turtle starved to death, and that other time my hamster starved to death (I was kind of forgetful in my youth), I have a pretty solid track record.
‘How much harder can a baby be than a puppy?’ I told myself.
Now that I’m in the shit, literally and figuratively, I think an apt comparison would be Jurassic Park.
Dinosaurs and babies = Samesies
You see, it all starts out the same: you read about dinosaurs/babies and they’re so fun and cool. You’re filled with all the romantic notions and you just know when you come face to face with them you’re going to know how to handle it. You’ve been to the classes, you’ve skimmed all the books and in theory, you’re an expert. Most importantly, they will just fall in step because they will feel the love emanating from you.
Then the time comes for you to get to the island/give birth: the ride is bumpy, sometimes painful and you might shit yourself but when you arrive at you destination/see your baby, you forget you almost died in a fiery helicopter crash or that your ungroomed lady bits were on display for a room full of strangers.
Seeing your baby for the first time is like when Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler see real live dinosaurs roaming the misty countryside of Jurassic Park; it’s a dream come true and a thing of real beauty. It’s just as you imagine it and so, so much more. You cry a lot.
And the first little while after you have your baby/walk with the dinosaurs it’s like this. For the purposes of this comparison, we’ll call this the honeymoon phase. This is the time where you’re in absolute bliss. Everything seems magical and happy and you’ve never been more in love. What on earth could ever go wrong?
Where’s the poop?
About 12 to 24 hours after arriving on the island, though, tiny cracks in the facade start to appear: your baby has trouble latching and you start to worry about her starving to death or you realize they have a T-Rex at Jurassic Park. Your baby screams for approximately eight hours straight 24-48 hours after she’s born because she’s realized she’s no longer in the womb (this is a thing I didn’t find out about until I was in the middle of it – thanks world for not preparing me) or you find out JP scientists have bred raptors.
After that night of endless screaming, my enthusiasm, and I’m sure my husband’s, for the new role we’d taken on dimmed somewhat. We saw that no amount of book learnin’ can prepare you for the reality of being a first-time parent. Kind of like when the JP visitors realize like: ‘whoa, these gigantic animals have been extinct for millions of years and we really don’t know shit about them!’
Into the wild
When it came time for us to leave the hospital, we definitely had mixed emotions: we didn’t want to leave the safety net of nurses and doctors but the idea of spending a night in our own bed sounded like heaven. To be honest, it was terrifying. I really didn’t feel like we had a handle on anything and she was so damn tiny. But we did it! We strapped our little peanut into her car seat and off we went into the world/Jurassic Park!
Now, those early months with your first baby are kind of a blur. It’s really a time of discovery for all of you. There are some really incredible moments: the first time she smiles is like the first time Dr. Grant sees a living, breathing triceratops. Or the first time she grips your finger is like the excitement Tim feels when he thinks he’s going to see a T-Rex.
In many ways, those first few months are dream, at least now that I look back on it. Babies are kind of like little blobs (but way more precious, of course!). They don’t do much. They don’t go anywhere and they don’t get into shit. It’s kind of awesome.
Welcome to the jungle
The first time our girl rolled over is when it feels like shit really got real.
From the moment she knew she could do it, she never wanted to do anything else. Even when you’re trying to clean up the biggest, stinkiest and messiest poop in the history of poops, she wants to roll and roll and roll so that she’s covered in it, I’m covered in it and our dog is covered in it and eating it. It’s pretty shitty – literally. It’s like when the T-Rex eats the goat and throws the bloody leg on the Jeep; it’s bloody messy and you just know it’s going to get worse from here on out.
And it does. The more they move around the more stuff they can get into. And you can try to contain it with baby gates and electrified fences but despite your best efforts to control and protect them, they always find a way to outsmart you.
This is the time in their development when they’re most like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park. They are constantly checking the fences for weaknesses or testing the limits of your resolve. They learn and adapt quickly to their surroundings and if they’re in a pack, you better hope you have enough toys, activities and food to keep them satisfied because sister, they will eat you alive! I had a moment last week where I watched in horror as my darling girl tested a door knob; my mouth went dry and I felt faint. So much like that scene in JP where Dr. Grant watches in terror as a raptor turns a handle and opens a door. I feel, however, my real-life scenario has far more frightening consequences.
All the feels
To be fair, around this time kids can be like those super lovable veggie-eating dinosaurs too. When our daughter started laughing and doing things to get a rise out of us, our relationship took on a new dimension: it became more give and take and less give and give and give. She became more fun to hang out with and it was truly fascinating to be up close and personal with this tiny developing person who was experiencing the world for the first time.
While Jurassic Park, in theory, is a wonderful idea it sadly turns out to be disaster for all involved. The comparison to parenthood might be a little harsh in that regard. Still, it’s interesting in the sense that those ancient beasts were thrown into a situation believed to be under the thumb of their creators and yet, they found a way to evolve beyond those controls. It’s kind of like kids: despite our best intentions they will always find ways to defy expectations and remind us just how little we know about people, life and love until they charge into the picture.