dog and baby

dog and baby

There’s a line from a picture book, Charley’s First Night, that always makes me think of our first night at home with our newborn daughter. In the book, a little boy shows his new puppy around before tucking him into bed, saying, “This is home, Charley.” My daughter is now five, but I still blink back quiet tears when I turn the page and read aloud: “I carried him in my old baby blanket, which was soft and midnight blue, and we were new together, and I was very, very careful.” And that’s exactly how I felt, holding our newborn in my arms and pointing out her crib and all the things we’d chosen to welcome her home: new together and very, very careful.

Over the years, we’ve written a lot about early motherhood. If you or someone you love is a new parent, here are 10 quotes from past posts:

“If I could go back in time and tell my pregnant self one thing, I’d say: Trust your gut. People will have endless thoughts on what to eat, wear, do, say, plan and think, but it’s your body and your baby, and you can for sure follow your own instincts. If friends share what worked for them, that’s awesome (I LOVE hearing people’s stories and advice), but you can choose what to take or leave. As Amy Poehler says: “Good for her! Not for me.” (My runner-up piece of advice: Babies be babies:)” — Joanna Goddard, The #1 Thing I’d Tell Meghan Markle About Pregnancy

“You did it, you’re doing it and you’ll continue to do it! You are already a great mom. Be gentle on yourself while you cultivate your parenting muscle, and make room for mistakes. No two mothers are going to move through this journey the same way, and that’s a good thing, because your baby needs that special magic only you can bring. I’m thrilled for you, and I’m so proud of you. You’ve got this.” — Erica Chidi, Ten Things I Always Tell Pregnant People

“My favorite parenting advice is, ‘If they are crabby, add water.’ This has served me well over the years and believe it or not, with a 14-, 10- and 8-year-old, I still use it. Run a bath, take a shower, water the garden, wash the dog, have a hot drink, have a cold drink… just add water. It works 99% of the time.” — Chloe, a Cup of Jo reader

“My #1 rule for family dinner: If you have a kid under age three, don’t bother… I didn’t start until my youngest was three, then went on to have 15 years of perfectly imperfect family dinners that I loved so much I wrote books about them. The point is, as always, do what feels right for you.” — Jenny Rosenstrach, The #1 Thing I’d Tell New Parents About Family Dinner

“Basically, every mom is your friend now. Neighbors, old roommates, Instagram-only friends — they’re there for you. You will be stunned by how many on the outskirts of your life will step up and offer support. We’re the invisible network you never knew you had. Use us. Text us. Never hesitate to reach out with a complaint, a question, a photo, or a fear you’re too scared to say aloud. No context necessary. No need to apologize or reciprocate. It may not fix the problem, but I guarantee you, it will help.” — Kelsey Miller, The New Mom Welcome Packet

“My newborn son hated the stroller, so I wore him in a baby wrap. But since he was a June baby, that quickly got too hot. One time, I set out on a walk in the stroller. It was going great and then just as we’d turned for home, he started losing it. I didn’t bring the wrap so I was trying to carry him and push the stroller. I was sweating, exhausted, and on the verge of tears. Another woman came up, grabbed the stroller and said, ‘Let me push it for you.’ She pushed it all the way home for me and I was so grateful! — Taylor, When Have You Felt the Kindness of Strangers?

“If you do nothing else in your life but take care of yourself – which is hard – and take care of your people, and maybe extend that into your community just a bit, that’s a lot! It’s dignified work, it’s essential work, and it needs to be celebrated as such.” — Angela Garbes, My Beauty Uniform: Angela Garbes

“So, it was at 12:40pm that the doctor placed teeny Toby into my arms. He was purplish-red and wet and crying, and my heart felt like it was going to burst. He felt soft and smooth, and I was weeping and laughing. It was so magical to be cuddling our sweet sweet baby in my arms after nine months. I would have a million babies just for that moment.” — Joanna Goddard, Our Birth Story

“The mothers roam through the corridors of my mind. They are my past selves, and I am them. They lean against doorjambs, offering advice. They frown, wondering why I let my daughter play alone in the backyard; or why I haven’t yet signed her up for the pancake breakfast… And I wonder: how many more mothers will move inside of me, over the years? Which mothers will my daughter remember? Which ones will I miss? Motherhood is a palimpsest. In the right light, our former selves will peek through. Their imprints remind us how far we’ve traveled. And through them, we understand how much is left to be written.” — Thao Thai, All Those Mothers I Have Been

“When my kids were little, I tried to remember that these were their real, actual lives. Not an audition or prologue or prerequisite for adulthood. But actual here-and-now life, lived inside a small body and young consciousness. It helped me treat them respectfully — or try to, at least.” — Catherine Newman, 10 Surprising Tips for Parents of Young Children

What would you add? What helped you when you were a new parent?

P.S. 10 single moms by choice share their experiences, and how did you know you were ready to have a baby?

(Photo by Samantha Gehrmann/Stocksy.)