Saturday, February 22, 2014

More Observations on Life With a Newborn

We're coming up on Chloe's one-month birthday (what? really?!), and if my younger daughter's behaviors could be divided up like a pie chart, there'd be a huge chunk for sleeping/eating, a close to equally large chunk for fussing, and a smaller slice for calm/quiet/alert. I love my little girl to pieces, but wow, she can be tough to figure out sometimes. How great would it be if babies came with little Alice-in-Wonderland-like notes ("Feed me!" "Burp me!" "Put me down for a nap!").

With a newborn, how do I have time to write all of these blog posts, you might ask? It's called Chloe's 5am feeding. I'm a morning person. By the time we're done with that, the sky is getting light. There's no way I'm going back to bed! At least I get some quiet time, even if my eyelids are sagging.

So, Observations on Life With a Newborn, Part Deux:

- I'd forgotten about this, but having a newborn, particularly one who is nursing, can be a running Race with the Clock. Do I dare attempt grocery shopping or will the fussing begin? Can I run down and throw that load of laundry in the dryer before the screaming starts? Will this frenzied rocking of her carrier really help hold off her wails for just a few minutes so I can stay in church until the service ends?

- The phrase "Sleep when the baby sleeps" makes me want to break out into maniacal giggles. I could sleep when Chloe sleeps, technically. Only then Ethan wouldn't be picked up at school, dinner wouldn't make it on the table, and we'd be wearing dirty clothes that we picked up off our bedroom floors. Never mind Dan and I would never have more than five minutes of conversation in a given day. And so it's more like "run around and try to get done everything that absolutely HAS to be done while the baby sleeps."

- From Ethan, after hearing Chloe lustily fill her diaper: "She needs to be potty trained!"

- Back to the nursing thing: Long ago when I worked as a library page, I'd sometimes see this book from the seventies called The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. The cover had this serene, hippie-ish woman (you know, with the Marsha Brady long hair parted in the middle) sitting in a rocking chair near a window as a shaft of sunlight shone down on her lovingly nursing her baby. I think of that book now and envision the Whittemore, new millennium version. The cover would be me sitting on the couch, oh-so-not looking like Marsha Brady but watching her on TV (yes, I've introduced the kids to my childhood Brady Bunch obsession) while Chloe tugs on me screaming and gassy. My kids are on either side asking, "Why is she crying again?!" and there are dried bits of spit up splattered over me. There's certainly no beam of sunlight illuminating me because it seems to be constantly cloudy, dreary, drizzly, or snowy outside these days.

- If you see me and you are attempting to empathize with me about not getting enough sleep, it's okay if you don't mention that I look really tired. It's even better if you don't go out of your way to talk about the big circles under my eyes. I know you were trying to show you care. It's just your helpful comment compounded by my sleep deprivation led to a nice little crying session in the car down
Interstate 91. And whatever you do, there's no need to mention my weight. Please? I'm a bit touchy at the moment.

- There's nothing like being at home for long stretches of time alone with the baby, after running around like a maniac all fall, to make this introvert realize how much she at times really, really loves people. I just brought Chloe to the doctor and had the longest conversation I've ever had with someone in a parking garage. I wonder if the woman was a bit wary of the crazed look in my eyes, the one that says You're an adult! I've barely seen anyone all week! Talk to me! Same goes for the cashier in Target.

- Baby number three brings out the voice of experience. And it whispers that no matter how long or hard she cries, no matter how difficult she is to decipher, this too shall pass. Every phase is just a phase, and the newborn phase is the shortest of all. I don't have to relish every moment, but I can step back and find something to the softness of her head or those tiny, long graceful fingers.

- And finally: Chloe has brought me a great gift. Thinking we were done having children, and deciding maybe we weren't and maybe we'd like to have another, and finding out so incredibly, nearly miraculously quickly that #3 was on its way, has left me with something that refuses to go away, an understanding I didn't really have with my other two. She is not mine. Chloe, like all children, is a gift from God who ultimately belongs to Him. And when I know that, I have an easier time, when flooded with worries or stresses big and little, letting her go. She's yours, I can whisper a little more easily. She's yours. And if I can remember that with the little one, maybe I can remember that with the bigger ones...and let go of some of those burdens of motherhood, those loads of guilt and fear and expectations, that we were never meant to carry.

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