Long before the days of crawling, walking, first words, or even first smiles…
I think the very first “New Mom Milestone” is the first time you feel like a complete failure.
That was me… yesterday.
The thing is, we have such an awesome baby. He’s a darling, sweet, incredibly good natured baby — sure, he cries, but only when something is abjectly wrong (diaper blowout, hungry). He calms down easily, he eats well, he sleeps decently well for a newborn… he’s a great baby.
In fact, he’s so great… that I got cocky.
Last week, when I had to go to the grocery store, my mother-in-law came over to our house and stayed with him for an hour, so I could go by myself. That went great — he fussed a little bit but calmed down right away when she held him, and I came home to a happy baby with my full grocery list taken care of.
Then, later that week, I had to run an errand, so I took the baby to Bed Bath and Beyond, all by ourselves. And again… he was great. Slept so soundly that I threw in a quick trip to the bank before we headed home. Total success.
So, yesterday, I figured I could do the same thing: spend an hour at the grocery store, and then be home well in advance of any potential tears.
Like I said… I got cocky.
Because no matter how sweet and good natured your baby, there is always the possibility of a meltdown.
And melt down he did… right smack at the halfway-done point in my grocery shopping.
I tried all my tricks — I ditched my cart and started speed-walking down the aisles, because sometimes movement calms him down. I sang to him (quietly). I bounced; I kissed the top of his head. I did the shhhhhh sound right in his ear. I did literally all the things I know how to do to calm a baby down, three weeks into motherhood.
And they did not work one bit.
So, at that point, I was maybe five minutes from finishing up my grocery run (sure, I only had about half the items on my list, but he was making it very clear that we were done, so I wasn’t about to push any further).
Unfortunately, being five minutes away from finishing up means five minutes with a screaming, inconsolable baby, in a public place, on, oh, say, maybe four hours of sleep.
Frazzled doesn’t quite describe my state at that point. Panicked might be closer.
So I raced through the last leg of the grocery story (ice cream! gatorade! DONE!) and promptly got on line to pay, while the baby’s wailing rose to somewhere in the range of ear-piercing.
How bad was it? The couple in line behind me immediately volunteered to load my groceries onto the checkout counter, so that I could focus my entire attention on making the SHHHHH noise into his ear.
So I am obviously not feeling good about myself, and I immediately slap my credit card into the hands of the cashier, who decides that this is the correct moment to tell me that the reason my baby is crying is that I have the wrong carrier for him.
Let’s be clear: I do not have the wrong carrier. I may have a different carrier than your baby liked, but I have one that this baby liked for the first forty-five minutes of my grocery trip, and one that is approved by our pediatrician for his age and weight.
(File that under Things I Wish I Ever Remembered To Say In The Moment.)
Instead, I sort of nodded meekly, acknowledging that yes, my carrier was probably the wrong one and this perfect stranger obviously knew more about my baby than I did. I mean, if this total stranger were taking care of him, he obviously wouldn’t be crying in public.
So I took my half-full cart of groceries and walked out to the parking lot, feeling a little dejected that my mothering skills had obviously seemed so inadequate that perfect strangers felt the need to advise me of how just how very inadequate they were…
And we got outside…
And he promptly stopped crying. I got him into the carseat, and he slept all the way home. I even managed to put away the groceries before I heard a peep out of our little guy again.
So the moral of the story? Don’t tell new moms that they’re doing anything wrong, because it will crush their souls.
Also, my kiddo hates the grocery store. Next week, we’ll try the farmer’s market.