posted in Parenting
As an oldest child who is now the parent of an oldest child, I can tell you being first has its challenges.
You’re the guinea pig. The starter kid. The one parents practice on for the first time to figure things out. In my experience, that mostly means parents are stricter with you and relax with each subsequent child (or maybe they’re just tired by then?).
On the flip side, the first child doesn’t deal with as many hand-me-down clothes and toys from their siblings. And they definitely score big on those first few days after they’re born. Let’s take a look at all the ways we changed as parents between bringing home Baby #1 and Baby #3, shall we?
1.) The car seat
When we were expecting our oldest, my husband and I spent hours researching car seats. We looked at safety ratings. We read BabyCenter articles. We talked to friends with babies. We agonized over our choices. Once we settled on a car seat, we went to our local state patrol office three weeks before my due date and had an officer install our brand-new infant car seat for us while we watched and took notes. I drove around for three weeks with an empty car seat in the car, all ready for our new baby to be put in it.
The drive when we brought him home from the hospital was the most nerve-wracking one of my life. Every other car on the freeway was a speeding death missile headed for my precious baby. I don’t think I took a real breath until we walked into the house.
Cut to several years later when we were bringing home his little brother. My husband called me in the hospital room on the morning we were released to ask, “Do you remember where in the garage we stored the infant seat? I’m looking in the rafters and I don’t see it.” Not only had we not installed it in the car, we didn’t even know where it was.
2.) The nursery
Of course we had the nursery for our first child set up ahead of time! We picked out paint and furniture and sheets. We picked out whole bedding sets, despite knowing we weren’t going to use them for a long time. All his little clothes were hung on tiny hangers in his closet. We had diapers set out on the changing table, along with everything he could possibly need for a diaper change (which didn’t stop us from panicking during our first diaper change anyway. Seriously – who panics over changing a diaper? We do.)
We did all these things…in spite of the fact that he slept in our room for the first two months of his life. That’s right, my baby had an entire room to himself that he didn’t even use.
Our third child didn’t have a room at all when he came home with us. We had children in all of them already. I think we stored his clothes in a basket – or a folded pile on the floor? I can’t remember. It was at least six months before he had any kind of space for his things.
3.) The hospital stay
I couldn’t wait to leave with my firstborn. I wanted to get him home and my husband and I wanted to settle in as a family of three. I left the minute we were able to get out of there.
With my third – and especially my fourth child – I knew I’d come home to chaos. There would be other kids there, rightfully wanting some attention and needing things like food and clean clothes. When I was in my hospital room, people brought me those things. It was glorious, and I didn’t let that go until it was absolutely necessary.
Sometimes worry that this all sounds like we didn’t love our later children as much, or get as excited about their arrival. It wasn’t that at all. We talked constantly about each new addition to our family, and their siblings were so excited to meet the new baby each time. I think while the later kids missed out on as many shiny new things when they were born, they did get more attention and more people to love them. Not a bad trade-off at all.
How did bringing home your firstborn differ from bringing home your other babies?
Images by Laura Falin