Over the next few weeks, I will be busy smelling the top of my newborn baby's head (that smell! is there anything better than that smell?) and just generally being in love with my beautiful family. Naturally, things will fall by the wayside. Like writing for one's blog.
I'll still be posting but with what frequency, I can't say.
But I don't want you all to find another love while I'm away so I've arranged for a few of my favourite bloggers to come and share a little newborn memory with us.
Today I'm sharing a beautiful piece written by a dear friend of mine, MJ, who blogs at A Mad World. Weary-making are the constant feeding demands of the newborn child but sometimes, in those wee moonlit hours, a mother finds a space that is just for baby and her.
The Stillness of the Night by A Mad World
Experienced parents talk about what an intensely crazy period the first few weeks and months are, as you adjust to the rhythms of a brand new little person. Hormones are flying, sleep becomes valued like you’d never imagined, and your body is leaking in all kinds of ways.
For me, though, I loved those first few weeks. I suppose I was lucky because I was never paralysed by the anxiety of suddenly having a little person entirely dependent on me for survival. The freak-out just didn’t happen. Being the eldest of four kids, I just somehow trusted myself that we’d muddle through and be okay. My instincts seemed to take over, and the self-doubt stayed at bay - for a while, anyway.
If I’m honest, I’ve found the subsequent stages of babies more challenging and cause for angst. Crawling and officially mobile - oh god, what if they find something tiny to choke on? Time to introduce solids - how much? When? How often? What kind of food? Aagh! To continue breastfeeding or not during the night? Walking and talking - am I providing enough mental stimulation? Doing enough arty crafty things? Not enough? Too much television (them)? Too much internet time (me)?
It’s safe to say that since my eldest daughter first began crawling - more than five years ago - I’ve looked for plenty of reasons to beat myself up and question what I’m doing. In hindsight, it seems rather silly because she’s a pretty amazing Kindergartner now... so much worry, and all for nothing. Mind you, we’ve yet to face the tween and teenage years. I am definitely dreading those years and am convinced I’ll somehow fuck it up.
Irrational fears. Non-stop questions. Hypersensitivity. Tantrums. Food refusal. Bath refusal. Pram refusal... there are many days that I struggle to deal with these, and in my mind, those newborn days were sure as hell much easier. I know I don’t remember those first few weeks through rose-tinted lenses - I genuinely had an easy time of it, with both my daughters.
We were blessed in many ways. Straightforward pregnancies, births and recoveries. Healthy babies. An instantly smitten, supportive dad. My boobs worked fine right from the word go. Both girls knew how to latch and feed without fuss. I was already saved from so many stressful issues, and for those easy beginnings, I will be eternally grateful. The hellish sleep deprivation I experienced came later (don’t you worry - it wasn’t all peachy) but the first few months were peaceful.
So, when I think back to those first few weeks, what is it that stands out?
Mostly, I remember the stillness of the nights. Knowing the rest of the city is slumbering as I sat on the couch, TV on softly, breastfeeding, and taking in the fresh newborn smells. The routine we’d quickly settled into: hear baby and wake up, pick up baby, inhale her. Check/change nappy, retire into the lounge room, select something to watch on TV, inhale baby. Feed, burp, inhale baby. Check/change nappy, inhale baby. Re-swaddle, feed some more, inhale sleeping baby. Back to bed.
There was a slow tempo to that middle-of-the-night routine, and I loved it. Just me and her, and nothing else mattered. There was nothing complicated about it - we just fed and slept, fed and slept. Life, pared down to absolute simplicity.
The day times were trickier - washing to be hung out, groceries to be brought, meals to be cooked. Second time round, there was a preschooler to keep happy, and - even more daunting - an overseas move to organise. All I wanted to do was sit and inhale those wonderfully musky newborn smells. Instead, I relished the middle of the night, when none of those things needed doing. Sit, snuggle, feed, inhale baby, back to sleep.
Every time a friend has a baby, I think about those nights, and wish for them as happy an experience as I had. I know they’ll become familiar with exhaustion and worry (if it’s their first child), and that days will pass in a blur, forgotten - surprisingly quickly, too. But if they are lucky enough to experience those peaceful moments, quiet nights together in the beginning, it’s a wonderful time to be in.
Being in a different time zone to Angie, I’ll be thinking of her with her new little lady as I get up, and the hectic rush of each new day begins. It’ll be night in Australia, and I’d love to think she’s having those lovely moments in the stillness of the night, soaking up her long awaited princess.
It’s almost enough to make me want another baby. Almost.
Thank you, MJ, for gifting me this beautiful piece.