It’s a month since the delivery of your baby boy. You pushed your body, an effort that left any yoga, boot camp workout, and spin class in the dust. Once home from the hospital, you and your husband landed on your feet-mostly. Like other new parents there were long nights with a fussy baby, burps that refused to release ending in a mess of spit-up, and blow-out diapers moments after a new one. These days are a test of your stamina, a lesson in awareness, and a gift of gratitude.
After that intense workout called childbirth, your sore and weary body slowly recovers in the midst of the marathon that is infant care. Nursing every couple of hours contracts your uterus, helpful but occasionally painful. Your milk comes in and your breasts alter- larger than you’ve ever seen, harder than you’ve ever felt, but a taste your son thrives on. It happened to all of us who nursed, but it takes seeing to believe. Amazing and overwhelming for both you and for your nursing bras. Your body is both life-giving and life-sustaining. Sleep, while at times deep and refreshing, is not enough. Happily, the persistent reflux of your last months of pregnancy vanishes with the appearance of your son and you are again a full-fledged foodie. And your teetotalling days after nine months of abstinence are over and you welcome an occasional glass of wine.
This time of getting acquainted is a minute by minute education of your son-his signals, his preferences, and his quirks. Every day is a lesson in attention to detail, the sweet details of his life. After he feeds, he slips into a milk coma looking like a miniature gnome as you attempt to get a burp out of his limp body. While watching him sleep you stop verifying his every breath and instead enjoy the pips and squeaks that accompany his many facial expressions, his eye flutters, and his loud breathing that precedes a big sigh as he wakes up. There is no need for TV, social media, or books, he is all the entertainment you desire. Getting to know your son is getting into the weeds of baby care. You find a rhythm only to have it changed entirely the following day. You solve one issue, like the gunk in his eye (no the tear duct is not clogged), but another issue pops up (shouldn’t the umbilical cord have fallen off by now). Parenting is a bit like playing whack-a-mole, some days it is fun, others frustrating. It seems your son is a professional baby and you are an amateur parent.
The days roll by, but not one passes without gratitude for the safe delivery of your child. Mixed with your thankfulness is a healthy dose of concern as you and his dad learn this 24/7 job involves vigilance and relaxation. You both adjust to the mantle of responsibility for this new life you brought into the world. There are catch-phrases created for newly identified behaviors, pleasure that he is soothed by music and excitement at his repeated focus on a colorful picture painted by his great-grandmother.
Too often people talk only of the woes and difficulties of new parents, the horror stories of sleeplessness, the war stories of delivery and nursing and not of the calm and the joy in finding rhythm in this new life. It was my pleasure, and possibly my favorite week in years, to not only help out during his second week, but watch you settle into motherhood and witness the three of you become what you have longed to be . . . a family.