There are thousands of books and websites devoted to your baby's developmental milestones - but what about the developmental milestones for new moms? By 6 months our babies should be sitting up, but what about us? What should we be doing? Based on my own experiences, I've put together the following guidelines.
Sometime during this period your partner will go to work and your parents/siblings/baby support staff will all go home and you will realize that there is no one to fetch you water while you are marooned on the couch for what seems like the 90th endless breastfeeding session of the day. You will seriously consider moving in with your mother.
Health Watch: You will wonder if it is okay to hold your baby while you use the bathroom. It is okay. Everyone I know does this. Your hair will fall out in alarming hunks, which is also okay.
Reality Check: Due to lack of sleep, you may lose track of what day it is. So don't be surprised if you show up on Tuesday for a support group scheduled for Thursday. Tuesday never seems to end when you don't sleep through any of it.
Coping Methods Appropriate for 1 Month: Telling off the well-meaning delivery guy when he asks how far along you are.
Milestones by the End of this Period: Go a full 24 hours without calling your mom.
Pushing a stroller takes practice. It is an important motor skill that you and your partner will master sometime this month. Until then, you will continually push your baby into planters and stoops and brick walls.
Health Watch: It is important to go outside at least once a day. It will give you the same sense of structure that you used to get from daily routines that have gone missing, like sleeping and eating. Then your day won’t feel like a shapeless mess; it will be organized into “Before I Went Outside” and “After I Went Outside.”
Reality Check: You will realize that it was inappropriate to have ordered your in-laws around so much during the first month, and that you should have made better efforts to cover your boobs. This realization will not stop you from treating your partner like a slave.
Coping Methods Appropriate for 2 Months: Hideous amounts of non-dairy ice cream, which doesn't even taste good, but you eat out of habit.
Milestones by the End of this Period: Put on a pair of pants that are neither pajama pants, sweat pants, or your partner's old jeans.
Sometime during this period you will begin to accomplish with ease tasks that used to seem impossible. Like strapping your baby into the car seat. This used to be a 15 minute operation when you factor in wailing, squirming, and an emergency diaper change; it now takes only 5 minutes and nobody cries. Your baby can suck harder and eat faster, so it won't feel like you spend 90% of your time feeding him. And most importantly, you will master the art of breastfeeding laying down, enabling you to nap through your baby's most epic feeds.
Health Watch: You may think you are ready to re-enter the adult world, but beware of big gaps in your conversation potential: if it happened during the last three months, you don't know about it.
Reality Check: No one at work wants to hear detailed accounts of your baby’s bowel movements.
Coping Methods Appropriate for 3 Months: Making lewd gestures at Purple Sweater Guy, who works across the street and always stares at you when you pump.
Milestones by the End of this Period: Try on select pre-pregnancy clothing without crying.
It's great to be back in the office, though you always want to know what your partner and the baby are doing. You finally come home to find your partner staring intently at the baby saying "Dad-dy" over and over again. You suspect they have been doing this all day.
Health Watch: Keep in mind that no one has ever died from sleep deprivation. Your youth, beauty, and good humor will all die; but whatever is left of you will live on.
Reality Check: At 4AM it might seem like a good idea to donate your baby to the Department of Homeland Security, so he can put his torture technique to good use; but once you get enough sleep to regain your sanity you would surely regret this.
Coping Methods Appropriate for 4 Months: Smirking at childless people who complain about not having enough time for themselves.
Milestones by the End of this Period: When away from the baby at work - go 3 hours without calling your partner and asking for an update.
You are ready to resume a social life. You decide that the next time someone invites you to a party, you will be reckless and say, Yes! Days go by; no one invites you anywhere. Meeting a colleague for drinks becomes the primary social event of your week. You fixate on it like it was a summer vacation.
Health Watch: Maybe you used to have a high tolerance, but keep in mind that you haven't drank in earnest for over a year, so a third glass of wine is definitely a bad idea.
Reality Check: Most people don't spend an entire day preparing for an hour long drinks date, so you might want to downplay your efforts.
Coping Methods Appropriate for 5 Months: Wine and beer.
Milestones by the End of this Period: Become reacquainted with your make-up bag.
You will spend one frantic day childproofing the apartment before your suddenly crawling baby can get into serious trouble. You will make your partner move his crib down in the middle of the night, because all of a sudden, your baby is capable of escape. To encourage language development, your partner will insist that when the baby makes a noise like "ga," you say words that begin with "G," bringing all conversation with your baby to a grinding halt.
Health Watch: Why is it so hard to think of "G" words on the spot? You are stumped after "green," and "goo." Are you losing your mind? You will finally come up with "giant" and "germ," and your partner will scold you because those words start with soft Gs, and aren't appropriate.
Reality Check: There are actually hundreds and hundreds of words that start with "G."
Coping Methods Appropriate for 6 months: Racking your brain for a word that starts with "G" and means "know-it-all."
Milestones by the End of this Period: The trauma of childbirth has faded and there are moments so swollen with heart cracking happiness that you finally can understand why some people have more than one child.