Enjoy it! It goes by so fast!
That’s what everybody says when you have a newborn baby. Enjoy it! Enjoy it! It’s like a war cry for parents who have been through the trenches and come out on the other side with their smiling, happy, sleeping-through-the-night babies in tow.
But when you’re in the thick of it, it feels impossible to enjoy it: or at least, it was for me. Forget living day by day: I was living hour by hour, just trying to get through the day without keeling over and breaking down into tears.
The exhaustion is unfathomable. The sleep deprivation is all-encompassing. And the fears beat you over the head with a frying pan.
Is this going to be forever? Is my baby EVER going to sleep? When will I be able to take a shower without crying out in pain because my baby thinks my nipples are a chew toy? And is soaking through seven maxi pads and shooting out golf ball-sized blood clots from my lady bits the new normal?
Because if this is what I purchased, it’s defective. I want a refund. Me no likey.
Fun stuff! Enjoy it!
Of course, we loved Aurelia once she arrived. But that deep, abiding, “I live my life for this baby” feeling that I’d always heard about didn’t immediately grab me by my soul. I loved her–like, a lot. But I also love sushi and Paris–like, a lot. (And I wouldn’t forgo 7 weeks sleep in exchange for a trip to Paris or a mouthwatering uni roll, no matter how life changing either might be.)
Looking back on those newborn days, it was kind of like finally getting reservations to a really trendy restaurant that everybody freaks out about, and when you go you’re like, “Yeah, that was the best martini I’ve ever had, sure. But the steak? Meh. I give it a 6. And they charged us how much?”
I loved my baby. I stared at her for hours. I took endless (ENDLESS) videos with the intention of editing them together later. And I couldn’t stop smelling her (even though the newborn smell is not as good as advertised, and is actually kinda like sour milk. But still! It was MY sour milk! And it was precious!)
But…she cried all the time. (And she wasn’t even a crier.) She never slept. (And she wasn’t even a bad sleeper.) She treated my nipples like a baby piranha. I didn’t have time to eat properly, to make the magical milk that was supposed to nourish my baby back past her birth weight. And I didn’t have a mother, or a sister, or an aunt, or a cousin, or a night nurse, or anybody to help me through those brutal first couple of weeks. (Other than a very befuddled, equally-exhausted husband, who quickly became the world’s best diaper-changer and lunch-fetcher.)
More than once, while stumbling around the house sleep deprived, up to my elbows in baby poo, unshowered, starving, dehydrated, bleeding from various downstairs orifices, unable to go to the bathroom, and puffy eyed from yet another round of 3am crying (mine and hers), I thought: I’ve made a terrible, terrible mistake.
I started supplementing with formula when Aurelia was 2 weeks old, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
Suddenly, Erik could help with night feedings. My best friend’s aunt was able to come over during the day and feed her while I napped. I got a solid 4 hour chunk of sleep–miracle of miracles!–and showered almost daily.
My next turning point came at week 7, when after a month and a half of barely sleeping, I snapped. We put Aurelia on a schedule I found through a program called Moms on Call, and she went from sleeping 3.5 hours (max) to sleeping 8 hours (straight!) in only 2 nights.
And my life changed–again.
Now, I was finally able to enjoy this precious, wondrous being I’d created. I read to her. I sang to her. I laughed with my husband. I stopped crying. I started my life anew.
I finally became a Mother.
Now, of course, she’s the light of my life. I find myself thinking about her when she’s sleeping in the next room, wondering if she’s dreaming of me. Does she miss me? Does she love me?? Am I her favorite?!?
It’s like she’s a member of One Direction and I’m a 12-year-old girl. I’m OBSESSED WITH HER.
With the newborn days long behind me, I look back on them with a tiny bit of nostalgia. I see Aurelia’s first photo and I squeal over how tiny she was. I find her mittens or hat in a drawer and I’m suddenly in a drunken stupor, inhaling them like it’s the key to eternal life. I stumble across an old photo of myself and I want to give myself a hug: tell myself it’s going to be okay, tell myself that it won’t last forever.
I want to tell myself to enjoy it.
Because they were all right. It goes so fast.
For more photos of newborn Aurelia, click here!