Someone gave me the dreaded “enjoy this now while it lasts – this is the easy time!” the other day.
That’s the kind of thing that would have ripped me apart 5 years ago when I was at this stage with my first child. Now? I laughed in her face. (Well, it was online, so her virtual face.)
In reality, the newborn period is pretty horrible while you’re in it. Your hormones are nuts (even if you’re a dad) and you cry all the time, which is I guess meant to get you in sync with your baby who is also crying all the time. If you’re breastfeeding, you pretty much are chained to your baby 24/7, and if you’re attempting to pump to aliviate that then any time you’re not nursing you’re probably pumping instead. And if you’re using formula or pumping/supplementing at all you’re also hand washing bottles every spare minute – when you’re not doing yet another load of laundry or taking out the diaper trash. Forget about REM sleep – the baby is only sleeping for two, maybe three hours together if you’re lucky day or night. (The old adage of “sleep when the baby sleeps!” is laughable. She never sleeps.) There is just no way to explain how tired you are – it’s not like being hit by a truck, but by an entire fleet of them. Add to this possibly your own recovery from birth (c-section recovery is its own brand of hell), and the never ending cleanup of spilled milk, spitup and pee/poop…well, there’s a reason people get off work for a while if they can.
The above is the “easy” version. I haven’t mentioned getting back to work or say, other children you may need to keep alive during this time. Forget about housecleaning. Or pets. Or showers.
To this we add people. Supposedly well meaning people, many of whom are related to you and never before displayed signs of being crazy. But when a new baby hits the scene, other people are just the worst. That’s not to say that they don’t help some too, and I’m not meaning to sound ungrateful for that, I really am. But the ideal visitor during that first horrible period 1) comes over to your house, 2) brings dinner with disposable dishes and 3) leaves. A brief “what a cute baby!” and possibly a moment of adult conversation is acceptable if the parents are coherent, and a gift is sweet especially if it’s something from the registry (or diapers). But that’s about all you can handle right now.
But it seems that the moment you get out of the newborn stage you start forgetting what it’s like, with the result of some insane comments from other people during this time. My mom, for example, consistently tells me how wonderful breastfeeding is and how much she loved it. Since breastfeeding is the worst, my only explanation for this is powerful self-delusion. This is also the logical explanation for typical comments such as “enjoy it while it lasts!” and “oh, I miss those days!”
Simply put, babies make you nuts.
That’s without even mentioning the actually hurtful comments, ie “Put a coat on that baby!” if the weather is below 80 degrees. (A stranger actually said this to me as I was being wheeled out of the hospital.)
My baby is ten weeks old today and I’m finally getting out of the worst of it – starting to get a little sleep, beginning to enjoy life again, etc. So I imagine the Crazy will be setting in any day now. I already caught myself tearing up over her now-too-small newborn onesies…
And to those just starting life with a newborn: it really will be over too quickly. But feel free to put off enjoying it until it’s over.