4 Things You'll (Thankfully) Forget About the New-Baby Phase
The new-baby phase is so precious and so fleeting. Just as short-lived? All the moments in those early days with newborns that can be confusing, fatiguing, maddening, and downright painful for parents. The good news is that those memories either tend to vanish altogether or fade into fondness once you get even a little bit removed from them. If you're anything like me, here are four things you'll happily forget about the new-baby phase.
Lack of sleep. Let's start with the obvious: You will never forget that you were tired. But you will forget the actual feeling of being this tired, of starting the day fatigued to the core and knowing tomorrow (and the next day and the day after that) will be just the same. Then one day—it can literally be overnight, if you successfully sleep-train—the baby starts sleeping through the night. And mercifully, never again will you truly connect with that kind of total sleep deprivation. Well, unless you have another baby.
Birth recovery. Whether vaginal or surgical, childbirth is painful enough. But then you have a new baby—or babies, in my case— to take care of, which means navigating a physically and emotionally intense new challenge at the same time as you may be physically recovering from the birth experience. I had a postpartum hemorrhage and left the hospital with a still-distended uterus, then trudged through weeks of recovery from abdominal surgery—all while caring for two newborns and adjusting to my new life. Now, I have only a minimal, four-inch scar to remind me of the intense physical pain, a pain I can't even really conjure anymore in my mind's eye.
Colic. My son cried nonstop for four months. I didn't immediately understand that this was colic. As a new mom, I guess I chalked it up to a baby being a baby. Every day, the poor guy wailed for what seemed like hours while every adult in the room tried to figure out how to help him. Our drive home from our babies' first Thanksgiving dinner felt endlessly long, with relentless howling coming from the backseat. We finally got out of the car on the Pacific Coast Highway and unsuccessfully tried to comfort the poor little guy. Little did we know that very episode would be the last time it would happen. Ever. It's not that I don't remember the colic phase per se, it's more that I don't remember it as the horror show it really was. Like most things related to parenthood, horror shows soften into fond and poignant memories.
Total disorientation. Almost by definition, new moms are out of their depth. They've never done this before, so the learning curve is steep. Pictures on the Internet would have you believe that baby-wearing is a jaunty little exercise that can be achieved in a couple of quick movements. But in fact, if you've never done it before, it can feel like an impossible hurdle. Same goes for folding up a stroller in one quick motion (make that 10 minutes of tears if you've never done it before). And that's before we've even discussed trying to create an effective schedule for feeding, changing, and sleeping. Point is, feeling that panicky and inept can be demoralizing. But now, 15 months later? Already old hat! Of course, parenthood is a moving target, and I realize it will involve a lifetime of learning. But at least by now, I've got this baby-phase down pat.