Life is a blur, right? The minutes may seem to drag by when you’re in them, but when you look back over the years, they flew by. I was an au pair in Holland 12 years ago already. The girl I nannied for there is already 14. When I see pictures of her on Facebook, I can’t believe how old she is, which in turn makes me feel old because I was a college graduate when I went there. Ugh.
That rule applies to my kids as well. As each day passes, they seem to drag by, one after the other. Since my kids are little, we don’t do a ton of activities, and seeing as we have a new baby in the house, I’ve cut down on our commitments even more during these early months of her life. Looking back over these last (almost) 5 years of motherhood though, they have really flown by. I look at what John and I used to look like 5 years ago and it hits me–I’m getting old. Having young kids has aged me, that’s for sure, even if it also keeps me young because I somehow need to come up with energy to dance and sing and jump around with the littles.
One way that the baby years are a blur is in the memories of them as newborns. When I was preparing for M’s entrance into the world, I couldn’t wait for her to be born so I could be done being pregnant. I still don’t miss pregnancy, not a bit. I’m not a good pregnant person, so the sooner I could be done with pregnancy forever, the better. However, I love the newborn stage. My babies haven’t all been easy, but they’ve all been full term, I’ve been able to breastfeed them all right away without too many dramas (although J took a few days because of his shoulder dystocia–I still remember feeding him from an eye dropper because he wouldn’t latch properly). However, when I think back to my three newborns, I can’t really remember the sleepless nights, isn’t that crazy? I know they happened, but I really don’t remember them. I do remember having to put J down a couple times in the middle of the night and let him scream because I was pushed to the point of insanity and couldn’t take it anymore, but for some reason, that memory is so distant, I almost have to convince myself that it happened. In my mind, Mo was the perfect newborn–I would sleep well at night with her, wake up ready to take care of my other two toddlers, and not worry about the stress of having a newborn because she was stress-free.
As the days continue to go on with M in our lives, I’m slowly being reminded that my memories of our newborns are skewed. John tells me that J was a difficult baby–not colicky, but he definitely cried a lot. I totally don’t remember that, other than that he hated to be put down and he really only wanted to be held by me. I also have a vague memory of texting my friend Leah, who had a baby 3 months older than Mo, about our sleepless nights, wondering how long it would take for Mo to sleep and being jealous when her baby girl would sleep through the night. It’s these snippets of memories that remind me the newborn stage isn’t all puppies and flowers. I do still love the newborn stage, but there are downsides. What are they?
-the sleepless nights of only a couple hours of interrupted sleep, if that
-the crying–oh, the crying. Crying when being held, crying when putting down, crying when siblings try to “help,” etc.
-worrying about something or other about the baby: what is this rash? why is she coughing? should she be eating this amount? is she growing well enough? when should I vaccinate? how long has it been between feedings? is she sleeping enough during the day? are the kids being too loud and waking her up? will she smother herself with the blankets? why isn’t she taking a pacifier? will she ever enjoy the car seat? can I ever get a moment alone and be able to leave her for more than an hour at a time? will I get my life back?
-always thinking the siblings are going to hit her, throw her on the ground, drop her from the bed, step on her, bonk her on the head with a heavy toy, or just do some other random hurtful thing to her, purposeful or not.
-when the kids go to bed at 7, I still have another child up and wanting my attention for a few hours. My 7 am-7 pm with periodic evenings is now a 7 am to 7 am job with periodic hours of sleep.
-still having to function during the day, taking care of kids, doing church or school or after school activities, and be a “normal,” semi-conscious adult, even though I only got a few hours of sleep for the last almost 3 months.
I made a list like this when I was pregnant to remind myself when I got the urge to be pregnant again, thinking, “If I document the unpleasantness, I’ll remind myself that pregnancy isn’t all that great, even though the end result is amazing.” I used it as a deterrent to want to get pregnant again. And now, this list is hopefully a deterrent to wanting to have another newborn. However, even with all of these downsides, there are the upsides as well:
-the first time the baby smiles at me, I melt, and every time I look at her and she just giggles and “talks” to me, there’s no where else I’d rather be than looking into her baby eyes at that very moment.
-to know that you are her whole world, and with you she begins and ends her day, is powerful. You are all she knows, her security. When I left tonight to go to E’s school for a Mother’s Day event, I was gone for a little over an hour and a half. John said she cried the whole time, off and on, even though she was fed and didn’t need a nap. As soon as I came home and held her, boom. The crying stopped. THAT is what makes it worth it.
-she is looking to me to keep her alive and protect her, and she doesn’t even know it. She trusts me with everything and I have the power to be her happiness or her sadness, every minute of every day. If I can’t handle her crying and decide to just let her cry, she remains sad. If I pick her up and try to sooth her, she becomes happy. She can’t talk back, she can’t rebel, she just….is.
-that smell! And those small clothes!! And the ease of putting her in and out of a car seat!
-a new soul with whom to share Jesus with. When I can tell her about God and hear her siblings tell her about God, it just warms my heart. I was telling E today that they are so blessed to be placed in a family who loves the Lord and can tell her about Him. So many kids aren’t placed in Christian families, but they were blessed to have that–such a responsibility has been given to us! With this great blessing comes the responsibility to share this message with others, and M will be brought up with this blessing and responsibility as well.
-I have the ability to yet again die to self when I have a newborn. When kids get older, I see my need for sanctification in a very powerful way, but there’s nothing like having a newborn to bring out my sin. MY desire for a sleep-filled night. MY desire for a quiet house. MY desire for uninterrupted days and nights. Yet God has called me, especially as a mother, to die to these gods of comfort and put someone else’s needs ahead of my own. She won’t thank me, at least not for a few years, so my deeds are left without affirmation, but this is where God has me and I need to go to Him for strength when I have none. When I’m sitting in the chair crying because I’m so tired I can’t go on, or when I just don’t know what else to do for her when she’s coughing so much she vomits, I go to my Father who knows what it’s like to give of Himself. He gave His Son because of His love for an ungrateful sinner. He’s the ultimate love-giver…if only I could do for M a fraction of what He’s done for me.