When we first brought our newborn home from the hospital, every hour of the day seemed like a challenge. I was feeding him every two hours to get his weight up to where it needed to be, which meant I was sleeping for no more than one hour at a time, day and night. We couldn’t get the hang of swaddling, so that made putting him down to sleep almost impossible (translation: I held him in my arms almost 24 hours a day). This was sometimes convenient since it meant I didn’t need to get up to get him every two hours at night, and I could also avert the crying by being ready to go as soon as he was, but it also meant I had my hands full all of the time. As you can imagine, this poses various challenges for showering, eating, sleeping, etc.
Each day for the baby was basically feed, sleep, feed, sleep with a few hours here and there where he was awake but too small to do anything fun. He’d just kinda stare in our vague direction without making eye contact. Our little one seemed almost like a little alien. An alien who was slowly sucking the life out of us (great screenplay idea!). He didn’t acknowledge us or smile with gratitude for all those sleepless nights. Just ate and slept. Oh, and pooped. And cried.
Everything was new, for us and the baby. We were learning how he liked to be rocked; how he liked to be held; how he needed to be burped; and how to ease his tears. And he was learning how to live in the great big world outside the womb.
But now, as my baby turns three months old, I look back and compare then to now and see many perks in those early parenting days. For one, all it took to get the baby back to sleep was a good feeding. After thirty minutes of rocking my 14 pound 3-month-old to sleep, my back longs for the ease of those early days. Since my husband and I weren’t getting much sleep in the first few weeks of Brayden’s life, we filled our hours together by renting every movie under the sun and sharing such a wonderful bonding experience in those wee hours of the morning, between poopy diapers and feedings. At the time, we both longed for Brayden to be older and for everything to get easier (just wait until he’s 3 months old, everyone told us), but now we see the beauty in those early days and even miss it.
Don’t get me wrong, there is so much we enjoy about this stage in our baby’s life. His sweet smiles of recognition. His funny Woody Woodpecker laugh. The way he sings himself to sleep (a topic for a future blog post). Snuggling. Tummy time. The fact that he’s still small enough to fit snuggly in our arms. The little signs of his sweet, funny, musical personality that are beginning to shine through.
But there are also many challenges that seem even harder than the ones before. Getting him to sleep in his crib. Getting him to sleep period (remember, I’m rocking a big baby for thirty minutes at a time…and while the deep knee bends are a great workout, this routine can only last so long). Getting him to take a bottle or pacifier. Teething.
While I could not understand at the time, I now see why people say you’ll miss the early newborn days as he gets older. I love watching Brayden grow, but there was something so sweet and simple about those first few weeks that I’ll always cherish and remember fondly.