In the middle of the night, up (again) feeding my newborn son, I thought to myself: ‘It won’t always be this way.’
This simple statement about life with a newborn was both the encouragement I needed at the time, and a little disheartening.
Nights won’t always be so long and sleepless. His colic crying fits won’t always be so sharp and painful for us all. (Eventually, they will stop, right?) The time between feedings won’t always run out so quickly. I won’t always need to take care of things in an hour (or less!) between nursing and being on-call to nurse again. The cycle of feed, change, soothe, and repeat will extend to allow for unrushed showers and eating food when it’s warm and fresh. I won’t always be so tired. There won’t always be spit up and drool in my hair and on my shirt. I won’t always have a sore back from feeding and holding and wearing him. Leaving the house to run an errand will be simple, no longer requiring a completely re-stocked diaper bag.
Every cough won’t always feel scary, every change won’t make me start to Google search “is this new thing okay” for his age. Learning how to be a mother, how to be his mother, won’t always feel so daunting.
He won’t always need so much from me, all the time.
His cries will shift to words, telling me what he needs instead of trusting that I will just know. He won’t always wrap all his fingers around my thumb as I feed him. The baby won’t always look for my face first when he wakes up. He won’t always want to be held and carried. Sleeping through the night will be the norm, and not waking up needing me to comfort him. He won’t always look to me to have all the answers. He won’t always give his biggest smile to me first thing in the morning.
New motherhood has taught me so much. Above all, I have learned that multiple things can be true at the same time. One simple sentence can have more than one meaning and can be anything but simple. Tears can be happy and sad all at once. My days with my new son are filled with highs and lows – sometimes simultaneously or just seconds apart. I am exhausted but grateful for this season of life, knowing that it is unlike any other time.
Knowing and sharing the challenges of life with a new baby does not make it any less precious or wonderful. Celebrating and sharing the joy of life with a new baby does not make it any less challenging. Motherhood and babyhood are so many things at the same time – it is hard and incredible and filled with happiness and utterly exhausting. It is everything, all at once.
I place my baby back in his bassinet and lay back down, calculating how many hours of sleep I might get before my alarm goes off. Which will come first – the alarm, or my son needing me again?
I remind myself to take it all in: to enjoy the sweet moments and persevere through the tough ones. I know he won’t always be this little, and this time is as precious as it is challenging.
It won’t always be this way.
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