After wondering what it would be like to be a parent, I finally got to hold a little pink girl in my arms, my first child. We thought she was going to be a boy, and it took two more children to persuade me to give up guessing what gender my unborn children were going to have.
With all the drama that happened getting from California to Utah, and then attending to the birth of my first child at home (Tristi was in labor twenty hours) I was glad to have a child, but not in the position to feel glad or passionate about anything, aside from being glad that everything had turned out all right. I was exhausted. I do remember proudly holding Caryn, and showing her off to my father’s second wife, who brought me home from the airport, and to the neighbors. I also remember Tristi telling me to bring the baby back and to stop trying to wander off with her.
It takes time for parents to recover from the stress of having children, whether they are the first, last, or anywhere in between. This is probably why at least a week of maternity leave is commonly given, and, in the case of our fourth child, we received two weeks paid maternity leave, due to a C-section, and the consequent hospitalization and difficulties regaining health and sanity.
So how do prospective parents prepare for this kind of major disruption in their lives? Having all the necessities prepared, such as diapers, bottles, blankets, a bed, etc. can be very helpful. Seminars and training given by hospitals and midwives and reading books can also reduce the shock of being blessed with newborn children. Tristi had a good midwife who taught her much of what to expect, and had read a lot about what would and should happen, so she was psyched up and well prepared. I could see very clearly after the birth that her experience changed her forever. There was a look in her eyes that would not brook being trifled with.
Asking parents about their experiences may give some helpful insights, and also help them to want to be around when you need their help. Keep in mind, though, that parents will give you a wide range of experiences, and you’ll hear a lot of horror stories, too, because people tend to talk more about their negative experiences than their positive ones. Just take everything they say with a grain of salt.