It's easy to love a newbornThursday, April 08, 2010
Second City Baby
It's either that the weather is finally looking like spring in Chicago, or the anesthesiologists have been putting something in everyone's epidurals because every new mom I've been seeing lately looks really happy, refreshed and excited. I'm five months into this new baby thing and I definitely look worse off now than in the first weeks I brought the little bundle home.
Now I know that there are many serious and dangerous cases of post-partum depression, but for the most part, people I know (especially those on their second child) just can't get enough of their newborn.
And I understand why.
Dealing with a newborn the second time around is infinitely easier than handling a toddler. Newborns don't yell back (they just might scream for no apparent reason), they don't question what clothes you put them in (even if the pants are too short or tight as in the ones I tried to wriggle my son into today), and they go with the flow (there's no end to how long they can just sit around in that carseat.)
Face it, in the grand scheme of child-rearing, the newborn phase is really a breeze. My baby just turned five months and I can already see the danger signs of toddlerhood appearing. There's lots of wriggling when he sits on my lap. He complains slightly when being buckled into the car seat. And, worst of all, he's looking at me with these eyes that just say, "Mommy, I'm not a baby blob anymore. Please put down your computer and pay attention to me - now!"
I'll never forget my friend Meagan updating her twitter status something about forgetting how much attention a five-month old really needs. And it's so true. Five-month olds are just on the cusp of entering real babyhood. The kind where getting out of the house other than to do errands and playing with real toys, not my hair, are necessary.
It's not that I am not grateful my baby is progressing, growing and thriving. It's just that the newborn phase is so fleeting and sweet. Long gone are the days where we rocked him to sleep; now it's all about self-soothing. I can't get away as much with leaving him in his pajamas all day (and night and day). And the sure sign that we're leaving newborn-land: I feel guilty when I take a shower and he's awake sitting in his bouncy seat.
I'm reading Ada Calhoun's book, Instinctive Parenting for an upcoming article. In it are some great nuggets about how we should trust our instincts in child-rearing rather than what other people tell you to do, and one chapter called "How Much Negativity is Helpful?" struck me in particular. In it, Calhoun questions people who dwell on the negativity or blunt honesty of pregnancy and having a new baby.
She says, "People will tell you it is definitely going to be super-hard at first, but don't you believe them! It doesn't have to be anything!"
I like this advice because I can't say that having a newborn isn't really tough at times. Those sleepless nights and constant attention and troubleshooting are trying on anyone. But, looking back five months later, all I can remember is sweetness and love. And if anyone asks, that's what I'll tell them too.