Dear Brand New Mom,
I recently cared for my 4 month old nephew for an extended time period. Although I’ve had my own children, I was still a little nervous; would I remember what to do? Every baby is so different, would the tricks that worked on my kids work on him? How would the day go? It’s been over 9 years since I’ve had the day-to-day responsibilities of a newborn, and I honestly can say that there are things you never forget how to do.
It also turns out there are things I forgot about. It is hard when you are tired and the baby doesn’t cooperate. I forgot that “getting them to sleep” is more of a process than a checklist. I forgot the peaceful rewarding feeling when they finally sleep. I forgot that all the things on the to do list don’t get done; you alter your plans and set lower expectations for the day. I forgot how they are seeing everything for the first time with wide eyes and sweet cooing noises. I forgot that the dishes sit on the counter all day and how much harder things are to accomplish with only one free hand. I forgot about spit up (and the lingering smell that follows you), and conversely, about that sweet baby smell. I forgot that you have to pay attention to nap and feeding schedules. I forgot that popping into the store for one thing isn’t worth the hassle. I forgot that their tiny un-calloused feet are so soft.
I think the biggest thing that I forgot was how much time and energy is spent caring for a newborn, yet also how rewarding that responsibility is and how big love can be. There’s nothing like it. When you’re in it (and you’re exhausted) you don’t recognize it. I think that’s why grandmas and aunties are so enamored by their grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. Sure, babies are cute and we swoon over them, but they’re also a reminder of all those things we wish we remembered but slip away with time.
The next time a trusted family member or friend offers to give you a break for a couple of hours, my advice is to let them! Not only do you deserve a break, but it’s also good for them. (And believe them when they tell you they are okay with a crying, fussy, tired baby. It’s only temporary for them, and if they’re like me, that situation is all the more rewarding). When I tell you the newborn stage will be over before you know it and it will all be okay, it’s because it will. But also know that I might romanticize the “it’s hard” parts, not because they aren’t there, but because those are the parts that fade away.
A Mom Who’s Been There
About the Author
Jen Winckler is a Newborn PEPS leader in Snohomish County. She is a stay at home mom (aka. Volunteeraholic) to two boys, ages 11 and 9, and is still trying to navigate the constant curve balls that parenting dishes out. She used to dread the minivan driving soccer mom title, but has come to love watching her boys play their hearts out (and did sell the minivan as soon as they could open their own doors without banging the car in the next stall).