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What to Expect When You Become a Parent for the First Time?

Parenthood-And I thought I knew what to expect
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I spent hours reading books and articles on parenting. I knew what to expect at birth and for the following months. I knew all about sleep cycles, feedings, diaper changing, rashes, creams, etc... I also knew what the Canadian Pediatric Guidelines were for vaccinations, breastfeeding and sleep. I was confident I was ready to be a parent. The delivery went smoothly and the baby followed the books. I recorded her first bowel movement and counted her wet diapers on the sheet provided. And then, we were discharged home! I didn't understand how these nurses and doctor could entrust us with such a responsibility.
It took almost an hour to put her in the car seat: we decided on the most appropriate outfit for the cold weather, then we put in on her and very carefully put the hood over her little head (no one had warned us how difficult that would be, but thankfully, her head and neck seemed intact afterwards). After that, we adjusted and re-adjusted the straps in the car seat to near perfection in order to have it approved before discharge. It took another hour to get home from the hospital which was 20 minutes away (with traffic). My husband took the longest route possible in order to avoid a few intersections we thought could be dangerous. There were dangers hidden everywhere that we hadn't noticed before. We made a rule at home, that whoever was carrying the baby up or down the wooden stairs had to be barefoot or wearing non-slide shoes. One of the biggest surprises was the lack of sleep.
We thought we knew what it would be like to run on little sleep, but we had no idea! I would tell my sister the same story 3 times and forget to tell my brother the same story! And despite it all, we enjoyed and continue to enjoy every moment. Our daughter was not yet a week old, when I was rocking her to sleep and thought : someday, a boy will break her heart. And I started crying and couldn't stop. The mere thought of someone hurting her was breaking my heart. This was the biggest surprise of all. I thought I knew how much I would love my daughter. Again, I was wrong. No book could prepare me for this. Her every smile warms my heart and every tear breaks it. I cannot begin to describe the love I have for her. After all those hours of reading, I follow my gut and do what I think is best for her.
Meredith is a new mom and a freelance writer on parenthood. Before going on maternity in early 2012, she used to work as a copywriter for a Ottawa based periodical in addition to writing articles on lifestyle and dating for several Canadian journals.


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