In those early days with Nellie I felt like I was treading water. I didn’t understand why anyone did this whole parenthood thing willingly, I mourned the loss of our life pre-baby, and I felt like basically everything I was doing had to be wrong because HI, this baby is so mad at me. Looking back it makes sense, we had absolutely no idea what in the hell we were doing. I understand a little more already why people say the second kid is so much easier. You know when you’re in a certain phase that it only lasts a short while. You have tools in your tool bag for how to handle X crisis and little things don’t bother you because you know this too shall pass. But when you’re doing this for the first time with absolutely no experience with newborns each hurdle can feel four hundred times harder because you aren’t sure if this feeling/moment/issue will last a day, a week, a month or forever.
I was so lucky in that I was not alone with Nellie for the first time till she was about two and a half weeks old (and even then I was only alone for two days before Adam’s folks arrived and he was home for another week). Between Adam’s paternity leave and my parent’s visiting I’d had help constantly since Nellie was born, and it was life saving. That first day when my folks left and Adam headed to work and it was just me and Nellie all day, that was terrifying. I remember feeling like the hours crawled impossibly slow as I tried to figure out what in the WORLD this baby needed! At one point I found myself wearing her in my Solly Baby Wrap walking laps around the first floor of our house for an hour. Each time I’d pass the stove clock I’d think, Only X more minutes till Adam comes home. Nellie wouldn’t be put down, EVER, which made being alone with her very hard. Eating, bathroom breaks, anything. I rocked and I rocked and I rocked till I thought I’d jiggle my brain out of my skull.
I had no idea if this was simply what it was to have a kid. Impossibly, terribly hard. I didn’t know if trying to get your kid to sleep at night would just always take two and a half hours of screaming and rocking. I didn’t know if they simply always slept in your arms only, or if Adam and I would just maybe never eat dinner together ever again. I had no idea when it got better, or even if it ever got better. I was white knuckling the whole thing and hoping for the best.
Thankfully, it did get better. I don’t know when, or why, or if it was her, or me, or both of us, but it stopped feeling like every moment was hard. We started getting smiles, and coos and found things to laugh about instead of panic about. Nellie began to be ok with a few moments in her pack’n play after a diaper change, wanted to look at the items on her toy bar, would sit on her Bobby Lounger and make noises and smiles at me instead of just screaming. I learned how to put her down for a nap, what kind of swaddle worked best for her, how to keep her entertained or survive a fussy moment or even a full on fussy day. One day I looked up and realized bedtime wasn’t this thing I dreaded anymore. I’d learned how to lull her into a sleepy place, to transfer her to bed and get some sleep myself.
Now she’s ten and a half weeks old, and in about a week and a half I’ll head back to work, my time with her coming to an end, our new normal starting. For the longest time I was so torn about staying home with her. It was so hard for so long I almost wanted it to hurry up and end already so I didn’t have to spend every moment of every day fighting this tiny person. Let me talk with adults and not spend each waking moment wondering what’s wrong and trying to figure out why in the world I can’t seem to give you what you need.
But as her and I figured out one another I stopped wishing it would end and started wishing the clock would slow. These have been the most precious 12 weeks I will have with her, and I’m so thankful I get them. I’m one of the lucky ones. Someone who gets the chance to spend 12 paid weeks with my child. And it still isn’t enough, I wish for more time. Another month, two more, three if I was lucky. But it’s what I have, and it’s so much more than most, so I’m grateful. So grateful. Grateful that I got to be here with her when it was hard, and then when it was a little less hard, and now when it’s even a little fun.
So now I’m just soaking up what time I have left with my little peanut before we jump into our new normal and see what comes next.