That Time They Sent Me Home With A Newborn
This post originally appeared on Her Happy Heart.
My son, Jackson, is a week and a half out from his first birthday. To me, that is insane. I won’t bore you with the cliched comments of “Time passes so quickly” (though it does) or “Please stop growing up, baby boy!” (but seriously…) Maybe it’s the fact that I’m spending all my time on Pinterest for 1st birthday party inspo, maybe it’s because my bestie has just brought her own tiny man into the world, maybe it’s a combination of the two and goodness knows what else. But today I’m reminiscing on those first couple of weeks with a newborn.
Let me start by saying this: it was hard.
Nobody told me that newborn babies are on a 3-hourly feeding schedule. I mean I heard people loud and clear when they warned me that I wouldn’t get any sleep. I thought that was because the baby would be crying all night and waking me, not that I would be setting a freaking alarm to wake myself and my baby so that we could play a fun game of “will he manage to latch on within the first half hour or will it be more around the 45-minute mark this time?” He would nurse for ages, then I would warm a bottle of formula to top up his feed, then I would put him back to bed in his blissed-out milk-drunken state and I would turn on the TV and pump for half an hour. After that it was a choice of eating, showering, or squeezing in a bit of sleep – eating rarely won. And it seemed that just as I had jumped back into bed and closed my blood-shot, zombie-like eyes, my phone would buzz in the most offensive way possible, indicating that it was time to start all over again.
I didn’t feel like a real person.
My head was cloudy and my body was sore thanks to a combination of my fresh new C-section incision and sudden, constant use of those previously insignificant muscles that you use to hold and feed a baby. I would open my mouth to speak, and begin crying mid-sentence a couple of times every day. I binge-watched Kyle XY, of all things, during feeds and pump sessions because I found the main character oddly soothing. I had an unnatural, unquenchable thirst and would bring a litre-bottle of water to my night stand with me multiple times throughout the day. I kept having a recurring dream in which I was eating a meal that tasted dry and strong and rancid. I was prescribed a startling number of medications – pills for my blood pressure, pills to increase my milk supply, antibiotics to combat infection, anti-inflammatories to combat pain, probiotics to combat the antibiotics, each with their own set of instructions as to daily dosage and relation to food intake – and I would regularly forget to take them. Those first days were like staring up at the sun and squinting furiously at the harsh light, but being unable to look away.
I was also learning to love in a new, very deep, instinctual way.
My baby was tiny and vulnerable, warm and soft. All his clothes were adorably too big for him. He had huge, overwhelmed eyes and made a plethora of perfect newborn sounds – little grunts, tiny hiccups, and a particular cry that was so high-pitched it sounded like a whistling kettle. Our home felt shrouded in a dark, peaceful coziness; it was like another world altogether. Our fridge was filled with meals from friends and family, and Chris would have me select a lovingly prepared meal every evening, microwave a serve for each of us, and sit by my side as we watched How I Met Your Mother. When family, friends and midwives came over, Chris would open the broken living room blinds and September sunshine would pour into our cave. A combination of lightly fragranced baby wipes, garlicky spaghetti sauce, newborn formula burps and baby-skin-sensitive laundry detergent became the sweet perfume that enveloped our home.
There is no feeling on earth like bringing home your first child. As my pregnant self counted down the weeks and watched my belly grow, I knew this would be the case, yet nothing prepared me for it anyway.There was a tug-of-war at play; it was hard, but it was sacred. There has been no other time in my 30 years on earth quite like it. Almost a year on, I can close my eyes and bring up all of those feelings as though they are fresh. Though I would never choose to go back and repeat things exactly as they happened, I also hope I can always recall all the details, big and small, easily. Because (and I know I promised to avoid this cliche, but seriously) time moves so fast. The days are long, but the weeks are short. Bit by bit, you find routines and tricks and coping mechanisms, your baby grows, and slowly those early newborn days leave themselves like a little trail of breadcrumbs behind you. You turn around, and that vulnerable little newborn is now an adventurous, happy, crazy almost-one-year-old kid. Just like that. The newborn days are over.
Klara is the founder of She the Fierce. She lives in Perth, Western Australia and is married to a Californian IT-nerd/carpentry dabbler/handyman extreme, Chris. They have one gorgeous, long-lashed little boy, Jackson, and their fur-babies include two dogs and one fat black cat. Klara is a (mostly) stay-at-home Mum with a background in finance and admin. She’s a Christian who loves singing, cooking, cups of tea, grey rainy days, scrapbooking and suggesting spectacular renovation and handyman projects to Chris!