Yesterday my son turned 4 weeks old. On Monday he’ll be 1 month. And yes, there’s a distinction.
I started typing this post yesterday morning. With only one hand.
Much of my life is accomplished one-handed right now.
I forgot how much time is spent holding baby. Nursing baby. Rocking baby. Cajoling baby. Nursing baby again.
With 2 other kids in a 700 sq. ft house, I’m realizing that there’s not really a lot of room to put baby down. There’s the rock n play that, due to the incline, is currently being used to sleep in. Then there’s our bed. Or the couch. And that’s really about it. The crib is still filled with baby supplies. We don’t have (room for) a swing, nor do I want to get baby too reliant on one. There’s too many toys on the floor, not to mention crazy kids running around, for the floor to be safe. Though maybe I should buy a walled play gym like this or this?
And really, I forgot how much time is spent nursing. Then burping. Then nursing the other side. Then burping again. Then holding upright for another 15min to try to prevent hiccups in order to prevent another half hour of being unable to settle.
The time after. And before. And in-between. The time in the motherhood journey that’s largely forgotten, or glazed over, or perhaps purposely left out of our recollections.
Sure, they mention the sleep deprivation. They mention the symptoms of postpartum depression that you’re supposed to contact your care provider if you start experiencing. They may even mention where to get breastfeeding support if you need it.
But it’s more than that. So much more than that.
It’s weeping tears of amazement in the morning, staring deep into your newborn son’s eyes, in existential awe of the human experience and the future potential of the new life in front of you. And it’s shedding tears of frustration later that evening when you’ve tried everything but he just will not settle down and go to sleep and you cannot take the sound of newborn shrieking anymore.
It’s feeling. All the time. About everything. Joy and sadness. Everything all at once. It’s overwhelming, but not always in a bad way. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it makes you feel unique, special, privy to a deeper meaning of life that most people are too busy in their regular lives to think about.
And you’re a mess.
You haven’t showered in days.
Laundry hasn’t been done in days.
Dishes have piled up for days.
Your other kids run amok and you don’t have the energy to enforce rules and routines so your house is a mess too.
You question your motherhood ability. Maybe you’re not a good fit for this. Maybe all the other moms have some special mothering gene that you missed out on. Maybe your sanity was already maxed out at two kids, maybe this third is your tipping point.
My brain is fuzz right now. I run on auto-pilot. I can’t think.
But I can feel. Oh I can feel. All the feelings.
And there’s my son. Right now. His calm, peaceful, silent, finally sleeping face. This beautiful helpless being who trustingly relies on me to meet his every need. The humility of it, without him even understanding the humility of it all, of being unable to do anything other than exist. We all came into the world this way. We’re all here because someone once cared for us, kept us alive, provided for our every need, changed our diapers, rocked us to sleep, and put food directly into our mouths since we couldn’t even control our bodily functions enough to feed ourselves. The complete and total reliance on someone else’s sacrifice to sustain our existence.
Someday my son will feed himself. Fall asleep on his own. Be out of diapers. Crawl. Walk. Talk. Have his own little personality. Learn about the world. Accomplish things.
Someday it won’t be like this anymore.
I know this, because I’ve gone through this before. I did this with his older brother and sister too. Stared at them as babies. Pondered their potential. Cried over both the unavoidable passage of time and the exhaustion of wanting this current stage to be over.
I’m sorry little one. I’m sorry I sometimes just want to tune out your crying and put on headphones and carry on with my own life instead of constantly having to care for you (AND your older siblings too).
But even still, thank you. Thank you for staring at me with those deep and innocent eyes of yours. Thank you for seeing me. For appreciating me. For the purest love you give back to me and for the comfort you find in me. Thank you for reminding me of the beauty of the humanity and the potential for the future.
Thank you for allowing me to cry my tears of awe at your existance…even knowing that I soon may change to tears of frustration at your cries. Thank you for giving me this mix of emotions.
Thank you for allowing me to feel right now.
All the time.
Because soon, this postpartum time will be over.
And you’ll be bigger, and more independent, and I’ll be more hormonally stable and less likely to dwell on these details of life that consume me right now.
So thank you. For reminding me of how precious this postpartum period is.
This will all be over before either of us knows it.
But I still want to remember.