At any rate, last week I became a new mom for the 3rd time. Yes, I’ve been through this stuff before with my two older girls. Experience says I’m not “new” at this mom thing. And in many ways that’s true. For example, the constant fear that I’m going to drop the baby has mostly subsided by the third kid. And I check to make sure she’s breathing slightly less frequently than I did with our first and second kids. But having a new baby, whether for the first time or third, still brings the same simultaneous bliss and uncertainty.
The bliss is obvious. Blessed with a beautiful, healthy baby girl with ten little fingers and ten little toes, I spend a good part of my day staring at her – marveling at how this little being was just inside of me and now she’s not. She coos and cries, smiles as she passes gas and startles when she changes positions. The joys in each singular moment with a newborn baby are innumerable.
But having a baby is also hard… really hard. And in these first few days home, it’s all a little disorienting. Days and nights are interchangeable, simple tasks (like showering and brushing your teeth) become insurmountable obstacles, and the reality of sleep deprivation rears its ugly head. No matter how prepared or experienced you might think you are, newborns are as unpredictable as the birth experience itself and no amount of planning can prepare anyone for the moments of confusion, frustration and utter exhaustion that lay ahead.
Since returning home with our new baby, I continue to also be reminded of how intense and intertwined nature and nurture are. Our older two kids need me from a nurture perspective – they need hugs and attention from mommy. Things that would normally roll off their backs are creating fodder for a full meltdown. On the other side, the baby needs me from a nature (namely nursing) perspective. The juxtaposition of this is taxing and trying, and in these early days is hard to navigate. I want to be everything to everyone, but it’s nearly impossible no matter how hard I try.
On top of that, there’s the reality of my own health – the need to take it easy, rest and recover from birth and that singular moment when everything changed and we were propelled back into baby world. For me, I also tend to navigate toward a bit of “radio silence” in the beginning – not returning phone calls, not having visitors (sorry to those who have reached out!). Just a week or two of a bubble-enclosed world where I can get my bearings again. All of this combined – the need to care for myself and to give each of my three beautiful girls attention in ways that are right for each of them – is tough.
Being a mom is a huge challenge, but it’s also crazy rewarding. It’s a constant struggle of giving our kids everything they need, and saving a little morsel for ourselves. It’s an ever-changing balance of putting ourselves in the trenches every day and navigating uncharted territory, all while falling madly, deeply in love over and over again. It’s a wild ride where we aim to keep the difficulties in perspective and the joys overflowing, where we aim to let the tough moments pass by us quickly and the tender memories linger forever. Because, in all honesty, what else is there?