I had almost forgotten what it’s like to have a newborn. Even with all the joy and love a new baby brings, this part is hard. So hard. It’s the kind of hard that brings you to tears of frustration, guilt, and exasperation. It pushes you to the brink and makes you question just how much longer you can do it. It’s the kind of hard that hurts.
This part feels harder the second time around. I didn’t realize how much I would miss my first born. In some ways I feel like an outsider, observing her little life from my breastfeeding station on the couch. I want to get off the couch and do her hair, wake up early to make her favorite pancakes in the morning, and put her to bed at night. Each time I have to say no when she asks me to play, my heart breaks. But the baby has to be fed around the clock. This part is just hard.
Having a winter baby has brought more isolation that I expected. There are no daily walks outside, no needed bursts of fresh air. This means less exercise and less social interaction. Holidays and snow filled weekends understandably kept visitors away, and I’m lonely. I rarely socialize, much less leave the house. My focus now is feeding, burping, pumping, and soothing. I know that this part is just hard.
My husband and I are like two ships passing in the night, each en route to care for one of our children. We take turns sleeping at night, and we parent in shifts throughout the day. We know that one day we will sleep in the same bed at the same time, and do things as a family of four. These days we are in survival mode. Some day soon we will look back and miss this time of lullabies and our playful preschooler. But this part is just hard.
I hardly recognize the body that looks back at me from the mirror. The same body that gave me strength during delivery and continues to nourish my growing babe somehow betrays my expectations. I am grateful for my health and the health of my sweet little one, but I wonder when I will feel and look like myself again. This part is just hard.
I know that this part is hard for reason. Our precious, tiny human is making her way into the world, body and mind developing so fast, hungry like a little beast. Our family, too, is finding its way – each of us navigating through newfound roles and changes in routine. I remind myself that everything is temporary, and that one day I will sleep for a few consecutive hours. I know this time around that even the good parts are temporary, and I cherish them as they come. The sweet whimpers of a sleeping baby. Tiny hands and feet. Watching my first born marvel at my newborn. Rocking and singing the night away.
With acceptance comes power. I choose to accept that this part is just hard. I will not dwell on the tough stuff or wish this time away. Instead I will find joy in our new reality – the magnificent mayhem of the life we’ve built together.