My best friend had a baby this week.
Updated: Jun 1
I am absolutely thrilled for her, but I know the hard weeks she has ahead of her. All through her pregnancy I have used the words beautiful and terrible to describe the weeks ahead.
When I was expecting not one friend spoke openly about the newborn stage. We talked mucus plugs, back labor, and epidurals. Not one of them seemed to talk about the beautiful and terrible reality of bringing the baby home. I heard “sleep when the baby sleeps” — I heard “soak up every moment because it goes fast” — I heard “take lots of pictures because she really will change every day” — I was told so many beautiful sentiments of the newborn days ahead of me, but no one laid out the reality.
Before having my own I watched each friend navigate the newborn stage mostly from social media. I saw babies in adorable outfits, sweet sleeping faces, and photos of precious toes and little hands. All my mama friends had smiles of newborn bliss. I went into this newborn thing thinking since I would be home all the time I would have tons of time to shower. I would have time to cook and eat healthy and for the first time in over a decade I would not be working so I would be able work out daily…I mean what else am I going to do all day with a newborn?
Then the reality of it hit. I was up 72 hours straight those first days home and typically only sleeping a couple hours a day after that. I didn’t shower much less wear make-up. I shoveled granola bars in my mouth all day long just to have food in my belly. Sleep when the baby sleeps is the most ludicrous advice. I chugged coffee round the clock to be awake when the baby was awake, so sleeping when she slept was a hysterical thought. This pattern continued for the next three months. (Actually six years later I still chug coffee around the clock😉)
The hormones, no one warned me about the hormones…
I often felt my thoughts were not my own and the mood swings were the worst. Sleep when the baby slept, not so much, but cry when the baby cries…well that one I had down to a science.
The newborn stage is terrible.
But it is also so beautiful.
The moments shown on social media, those moments are real, those moments are glorious, but it is only a snippet of the experience.
The first smile…one of the most beautiful experiences in life.
The first coo…oh if I could have recorded that first sound I would listen to it for all of my days.
The first time your baby sleeps through the night you wake up feeling like a new person, a new person that is not dependent on caffeine to survive, a new feeling of motherhood abounds in which you can savor the moments of the day and not just survive them.
You sit in awe watching your baby learn the new world around her. You will melt to your core the first time her eyes recognize your face. The joy of seeing her find her hands and feet was immeasurable. Watching her cheeks fill out and her eyes loose the newborn color and start to brighten, those experiences are so beautiful.
Holding your baby on your chest while she sleeps, that ranks number one on my most beautiful experiences of this life. I have never felt anything that can compare to the tiny up and down of her breathing and the fast thump of the little heart beat against my skin.
None of these moments last long. Too soon the moments of holding them to feel those breaths and heartbeats are gone, the sleepless nights are gone, and you are actually finding time to eat and shower regularly. The days of wrestling them to get dressed and chasing them around the house are here and you look back and realize it wasn’t so terrible after all, it was in fact quite beautiful.