Since my daughter was born 7 weeks ago, I’ve hardly written anything. That’s not surprising since I am not much of a journal-keeper; it’s always been sporadic at best, and was always mostly a repository for my anxieties rather than a celebration of milestones. But still, I was happy to recently find a journal I started when my first child was born 7 years ago. It got me thinking about what has changed (and what hasn’t) since I first became a mother.
THEN: In 2008, when my first-born was 3 weeks old, I wrote: “This is absolutely and totally daunting, and I’m never sure for a minute I’m doing the right thing. I mean, I’m sure I’m holding her right and loving her right, but everything seems like a guessing game at this point.” My notes go on to lament (ad nauseum) my serious lack of sleep and uncertainty about breastfeeding.
NOW: As I read that passage in 2015, on round three of caring for a newborn with a serious lack of sleep and some still-lingering breastfeeding doubts, I am thankful to be in a different, more confident space than I was back then. The first time around, I was hoping some parenting book would give me the magic guidance I needed to ensure my baby was getting enough breast milk or taking proper naps. Now, I know that there is no magical answer. It’s trial and error. I’m remembering to trust my best instincts (and making peace with the fact that the breast milk thing will always be somewhat of a mystery).
Caring for a newborn baby who is utterly dependent on you remains daunting, but at least now I’m pretty sure that I’m not totally doing it wrong…and maybe even getting a few things right!
THEN: “Newborns are so incredibly demanding of your time.”
NOW: True, but there is a strong case to be made that a newborn is not nearly as demanding as a four-year-old. For example, a typical newborn day includes: eating, sleeping, crying, pooping. A typical four-year-old day includes all of the above plus constantly asking you to: play a game, read a book, get a snack, and—oh, dear—did he just run full speed into a tree branch? He did. Hope he didn’t poke his eye out! And on and on…
THEN: “It’s like every day kind of merges into the next, and the time just goes.”
NOW: When your baby doesn’t sleep more than a few hours at a time, the days and nights can definitely blur together. I still feel like this some days—unable to get more accomplished than nursing the baby and unloading the dishwasher. Items on my to-do list get bumped from one day to the next, sometimes spilling over into the next week. I try to take care of only the most necessary things and give myself some grace to not worry about the rest. At least now I know there is a light at the end of the sleep deprived tunnel beckoning me forward.
THEN: “It still amazes me that Rosalie, who could still be inside of me according to my due date, is here sleeping next to us, beautiful and fully formed and healthy. It really is such a miracle.”
NOW: Miriam, just like her big sister, was born exactly three weeks before her due date and is also beautiful, fully formed and healthy. This miracle of a tiny life that grew inside me still amazes me, and I don’t think that ever changes—no matter how many children you have.