Last spring, I brought home my first baby, a girl named Caroline with blue sky eyes. As we stepped out into the world with her, leaving the cocoon of sweet nurses and lactation consultants behind in the hospital, I thought only of the present moment. Get her safely buckled in. Make it the fifty minute drive home without incident. Anything more felt insurmountable. Our family was gathered at the house, which had been cleaned and adorned with fresh flowers, and I spent the afternoon moving around more than I should have post c-section and trying not to think too far into the immediate future.
Then, they left, and I stood in the bathroom lining up my pill bottles on our old, blue countertop and pieces of me started to break apart. How was I supposed to remember when to take the pain medicine and when to take the iron while keeping up with how long it had been since the baby had eaten and how many diapers she had gone through that day? How was I supposed to breast feed without a nurse’s help when Caroline screamed until she was full-bodied red? How was I supposed to drink all that herbal tea when I just wanted icy blue Gatorade?
And so it began, the sweet newborn days. Some moments I managed to catch and stow away, others I missed altogether. My girl is nearly 13-months-old now, and it’s hard to remember those quiet, delicate days.
What I want to tell you, new mom, is this: you can’t imagine what is about to happen to your life. It is beautiful and terrifying. And I know every sweet church lady and middle-aged woman in the grocery store has told you (believe me, I know you’re tired of it), but it really will be over in a flash.
These blurry days where sleep and waking resemble no natural rhythm and you look around to find nothing is recognizable, these days truly will be gone soon. Gone. You’ll never get these days with this baby again. They’ll change one day, as if God’s hand reached down in the night and flipped little switches in their bodies and brains, and you won’t have a newborn anymore.
I know you have more advice than you can manage, but I want to gently suggest these four ideas to help you savor those fleeting newborn days, from one new mom to another.
1. Prepare your village. Think of the people you’re most comfortable with, the ones you can be yourself around, the ones who can handle you in tough moments. Keep them close. You need people. I’m a classic introvert, treasuring my alone time and drained by other people, but I learned to love the simple gift of an other’s caring presence after Caroline was born.
2. This is non-negotiable: rest. Let people help you and then go to sleep. They know how to take care of your baby. They don’t care about your dirty floors, maybe they’ll even clean them. Shut up every argument in your tired, new mama brain and go get in the bed. Your body, mind, emotions, and spirit need it. You’ll be better for it.
Seriously. Go rest.
3. Steal away alone time with your baby and relax. I didn’t do this enough. Next time, I hope I take the little thing into bed with me and lie there sniffing its baby head without worrying about the next cry, the next feeding, the next whatever. Have some peaceful, dreamy moments. Find the calm in the chaos of so much change and linger there.
4. Re-energize yourself. I remember the first walk I took alone. A cool, gray morning. My awkwardly loose postpartum body. The quiet and the solitude. I needed that morning walk, just like I needed the yoga classes through the summer, and the afternoons to read books. It’s hard to make space for that time, I know. You’ll feel guilty about it, I know. But you need it, whatever you can manage, here and there. Remember, there are always ladies willing to hold a newborn for you for a couple of hours (I promise).
**Thank you for sharing these sweet tips with us, Rebecca! Be sure to go and visit her blog to get to know her just a bit better :)**