People will tell you all sorts of unsolicited advice about becoming a parent. But hardly ever do you hear the hardest part of all.
The hardest part about having a newborn
Newborns are a lot of work. They seem to constantly need fed, changed, or just held. Then there are the growth spurts where they “cluster feed”–aka eating what seems like every five minutes. It can be exhausting, especially when you’re a new mom and have no baseline to reference.
I had no clue about how much work was involved before having my first baby. People told me, but it just didn’t really register until I was holding that newborn in my arms. What, I have to feed him every two hours? He goes through 10-15+ diapers a day? He constantly wants skin-to-skin contact, and will cry if I leave him in his crib for just a few minutes to jump in the shower?!
Slowly, ever so slowly, a day passes. Then the first week. Then the second. The sleepless nights turn into sleepless weeks. You feel a bit like a puke- and poo-splattered, flabby mom-zombie.
Then you realize, that baby face is changing already. That sweet newborn that you once cuddled every couple hours, all night long is now sleeping a bit longer, and you see less of the moon and more of the sunshine in their eyes.
That baby is starting to explore. Starting to see the world around them, and marvel at it. Those little fingers and toes that once only grasped at you are now reaching for other things.
You realize, my newborn is not a newborn anymore.
My newborn is an exploring, roly-poly, happy baby, who will grow into a curious toddler before I can blink.
The hardest part about having a newborn goes beyond the hours of sleep lost and the many, many parts of “me” I give up, to be everything this baby needs. It’s realizing I only have this once with them–that very soon, my weary mom fog will be replaced with sprinting after a toddler who is now more interested in exploring the world around them than clinging tight to the first safe place they knew.
These tiny newborn toes in my hand will soon be chubby baby feet that push off to take steps toward the world beyond. The eyes that look deep into mine will soon be lost in books and adventures.
This newborn will be a smart, happy little boy (or girl), always learning something new or making us laugh–but I will not have these moments of midnight cuddles and tiny sighs again. Because the hardest part of having a newborn is savoring every moment, all while knowing each exhausting, exhilarating phase is so very short.
So we hold the sweet, tiny baby a little closer, and breathe in his newborn smell a little deeper. We caress his soft, fine hair and silky cheeks with gentle hands, and are thankful we have yet a few more moments.