I used to think that when I held a friend’s baby for a while I was being a huge help. Surely she would appreciate the break in responsibility, the chance to hold her beer without having to balance her child with the other, to turn over the “weight” of a baby for a few minutes.
Man how right I was.
I keep seeing all these posts of my friends (it is the baby boom of 2014 after all) with their new babies expressing their love and happiness over their little bundles of joy, and in all honesty, I just wish they would post that they are also exhausted, understand why some animals eat their young, and that a glass of wine in front of the TV without checking the baby monitor obsessively is a newfound dream of theirs as well.
Life with a newborn is hard.
I love our baby, but I’l tell ya, when I look at that monitor and see that she is sleeping peacefully, I give myself a pat on the back, my shoulders release a little tension, and I sort of feel like myself for a tiny second…and then she screams at an octave I never knew existed.
How someone so tired can fight sleep so hard is beyond me. While I know I’m not doing anything “wrong,” I’ve never wished for the wisdom and help of my mom, grandmothers, aunts and great aunt, and mother in law so much. This is a time that being away from family and friends is extremely hard.
You don’t have someone there to reassure you that your baby spitting up every time she eats is perfectly ok. Or to share the responsibility when she hasn’t napped all day, isn’t hungry, has a clean diaper, and just needs to be held and rocked some more, even though your arms are numb and you feel like a zombie. Or to offer you a much needed break, willingly and lovingly.
I feel like I’ve never googled so much in my life. And surprisingly found so little about life with a newborn in those first few weeks. Sure there are schedules and and theories for sleep training and happy babies…and from what I’ve learned they all apply to babies a few weeks farther down the road than we are. No one likes to admit that in those first few weeks, you are in survival mode. All those rules regarding SIDS, safe sleeping, and proper parenting are thrown out the window. You will do whatever it takes to get your baby to sleep…so you can sleep.
We lived in a hotel room with a crappy pack ‘n play for a crib for the first two weeks of Aubrey’s life. She hated the pack ‘n play. And I mean hated it. We were left with two options. Let her sleep with us…her most preferred way to sleep, or to strategically feed her on a pillow and transfer said pillow to the crib, expertly propped up against another pillow, with a blanket laid over her. It’s not that we are against co-sleeping (I TOTALLY get going that route), but we have always felt strongly about keeping our bed our own, so that left option two. Now that we home, those hotel pillows have morphed into the nursing pillow and Will’s baby pillow, that somehow mimic being held to her tiny brain. And that is only sometimes successful.
I know I’m not failing as a mother, but at times that’s how I feel. I reminisce about the times I could sit with my husband on a Friday night and watch some movie and drink too much wine. I long for a full night’s sleep. I look at my baby and pray and beg God to just let her sleep.
And sometimes she smiles (I know it’s unintentional) and I forget all the frustration. I feel that joy of being her mother, and seeing her happy…for just a moment.
I know it’s those moments that fuel a mother to keep going.
Newborns are a lot of work, a lot of stress, and not really that much fun I’ve learned (except when they are sleeping, and they look simply angelic)…but I know that soon it will lead to more of those moments where she makes our hearts melt.
I always thought those new parent support groups were a bit silly, but now I totally get it. Not just get it, I’m looking for a group to join 🙂
Here’s to one month down (this Thursday)! Achievements I’m proud of – I’ve showered everyday, Will and I have both gotten cloth diapering down pat (although she is pictures in a disposable above), Aubrey (sort of) put herself to sleep the other night (with some help, and a paci – but it’s progress!), the dogs don’t seem to be too upset having to fight for attention and my inadequate number of hands, and so far we have a healthy baby…and that’s most important of all!