Having a baby changes you – and not just because you’re a hundred times better at napping on demand whenever you happen to get the chance than you were this time last year. You definitely are, but it’s also one of those things you don’t always notice happening until they’re done. By now, you understand all kinds of things that never occurred to you in your pre-Baby life, and it’s all understanding you got through experience, too.
- You really never needed [blank]
Every new parent has that one piece (or six, or eight, or twelve) of equipment that cost way too much, and you were sure was absolutely necessary, but you never or hardly ever used it. The problem is that it’s hard to tell which piece of equipment that will be ahead of time. You never know whether Baby is going to turn out to have a strong preference for either the stroller or the sling and be completely unwilling to give the other one a shot, and your fancy changing table could turn into either an essential part of your diaper changing routine or a funny piece of furniture that’s usually too far away to do you or Baby much good.
- Entering high gear
You didn’t know before you started out how much you were going to need all the sleep you could get. Sleep deprivation can feel like torture some days, but when Baby reaches the point where they can do without the 3 a.m. wakeup call, they are also all set to start getting more vocal and more mobile. This can make every bit of your newly-regained energy reserved for just keeping up with them.
- Photographic evidence
There are days, especially early on in parenting, when you want to take a picture of every little move Baby makes – and this is not a bad impulse. Every day, they get a little bigger, and they have grown enough by now that even pictures from a few months before can seem like a blast from the past.
- No such thing as taboo
Everybody has a different threshold for what they consider to be off-limit subjects. But by now, not only are you bound to be a lot more comfortable talking about somebody else’s bodily functions (especially bodily fluids), but you also probably have a lot more pee, poop, or puke stories than you ever needed or wanted. Just remember – not everyone has had the same shift in point of view, so save these stories for your fellow parents.
- Shift in strategy
When you started out as a parent, you probably had at least an idea about how you would be as a parent. You may have had ideas about how Baby would eat or sleep or what you and your partner would do about discipline. In practice, though, so many of the things you were planning on can go straight out the window – and maybe they should. The ideas you have before and during pregnancy are about your idea of what Baby will be like, but they are their own person, and the ideas you had ahead of time might not have fit them at all.
- Relationship evolution
Having a baby changes you, and when you change, so do your relationships. This is true for all relationships, but if you’re raising Baby with a partner, it’s especially true for that relationship, since you both are growing and changing, and both face challenges you may or may not feel completely ready for. Sometimes this change in your relationship can come with growing pains like disagreements, and that’s normal, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. Baby isn’t the only one who’s growing, and the important thing is to work out a way that you and your partner can grow together.