I was an only child, I never baby-sat, I didn’t know how to change a diaper, and there I was, on the verge of motherhood. What was I thinking? Well, among other things, I was thinking that my husband and I were at the same starting line in this race. He didn’t know any more about child care than I, and, although that should have been a scary thought, it was strangely comforting to be starting from scratch together, as first time parents.
Adoption meant that we would start connecting with our baby at the same time. Even as men coo to swelling bellies, do they form a bond like the woman who lives with this new life for nine months? And, carrying a constant reminder, don’t moms-to-be spend most of their time contemplating baby-raising?
Finding Our Way as First Time Parents
Like many independent women, I felt that showing signs of doubt about anything would label me as “weak,” so, admitting to my inadequacy—or, in this case, shouting it from the rooftops—was foreign to me. My husband hadn’t contributed to this viewpoint, but, unfortunately, he was left holding the diaper bag.
Friends’ attempts to reassure me confused me even further. They said that babies have different cries, but that I’d know what mine needed. That seemed far-fetched. Parenting books helped, but my anxieties still grew as the birth date approached. It didn’t help that we had decided not to buy any supplies, in case the birth mother changed her mind.
The big day arrived and, thanks to wonderful friends, we came home with our new arrival to find an array of essentials, from a beautiful bassinet to onesies. We were on a definite learning curve, but somehow, our son survived his first few weeks on formula made with hot water from the tap rather than boiled.
Yet, we instinctively began to establish a routine. While my husband cooks dinner every night, I sweep my son into my arms and take him for his “spa treatment” in our infant massage corner. After dinner, as I clean up, it’s a reading and playing hour with Daddy. Like many of our parental discoveries, this dance just came naturally.
The change came in us, too. For weeks, every attempt to convert our son from the bottle to the sippy cup had failed. Then, one night, I got up from dinner to fetch something from the kitchen. Upon my return, I saw my serious, high-powered, executive husband sitting in front of the highchair, sing-songing the word “sippy” as my son readily slurped from the cup. I was overjoyed for them both.
A year later, I’m happy to say that our son is happy, healthy, and well-diapered. I do know which cry means what, and I know how to get him to sleep, eat, and, best of all, smile. My husband and I are not only up-to-speed on baby-rearing, we’re closer than ever, equal partners in parenting.
We received another validation while visiting friends and their 9-week-old bundle of joy. They had had the nine months of prep time, yet they credit us with being their “Baby Yellow Pages”the ones who give them the really vital info they didn’t know they needed. Cute outfits are one thing, but knowing the right kind of diaper disposal to buy, well, that’s when you call in the experts.