photo of three day old baby lying on parent's chest

Remembering reality with a newborn.

29 weeks pregnant and I’m starting to think about how long it’s been since I’ve had to take care of a newborn. I had my son almost 6 years ago and am afraid I’ll be a bit out of practice. I mean what will it be like this time around? Do I even remember what on earth I’m supposed to do with it? I definitely remember all the good stuff! Like the loved up days I spent right after my son was born, just staring at him. Hubby and I would cuddle on the couch together with him in our arms for hours. We would sigh in awe of this tiny human that we had created and talk about how lucky we were to blessed with such a gift. At the time I often wondered if my heart might literally explode with all the emotion and love I was feeling. 

Although if I were to be completely honest, in the first few days of bringing baby home I was pretty much flying blind. Hubby was there to help, but he had as much of a clue as I did, so a lot of it was trial and error. There were a couple of specific, unsettling things that do stick out in my mind. Like when we decided to give our son his first bath – he screamed and cried the whole way through. Turns out the water was a little too cold. Which at the time I felt confused about, as had I checked the water temperature with my elbow (as advised by my mother and midwife) and it felt okay. What would have been helpful is if I knew that babies have a preferred bath temp of 37 degrees (the same as their own body temperature)! By the first week we eventually figured it out, but this time around I’ve learnt my lesson and I’m buying a baby bath thermometer. 

Another thing I remember was tending to my baby in the middle of the night. I was all good with the constant breastfeeding (pretty much the only thing I had down pat from day dot), it was the first few mid-night nappy changes that got me. Keep in mind that obviously in the middle of the night, you can’t see a damn thing. So the first night we brought him home, we did what most people do when you can’t see in the dark and turned on the bedroom light to change him. He screamed the whole way through and seemed very upset by the situation. I just thought maybe he didn’t like the feeling of being exposed. Turns out the bright light was very confronting and a bit of a shock for him. Not to mention when I tried to put him back down to sleep, he wouldn’t. Duh, he’d just had a rude awaking! Imagine yourself being woken in the middle of the night due someone flicking on a bright, blaring, light then all of a sudden having your pants ripped off. Not pleasant. I eventually learnt by using a very soft night-light (or refrained from using one at all) and took care to gently changed him so he wouldn’t be too disturbed.

Although those things weren’t traumatic and really were just a few hiccups. As new parents it can be hard to hear your baby’s cries and not know how to decipher them (especially in the early days). I think that’s the initial stress you feel having a new baby, but it slowly lifts as you learn along the way. However, I think I may have blocked out a lot of the not-so-easy times and always reminisced about all the really nice stuff. Perhaps it’s some sort of built-in mechanism we as parents have, and we’re kind of meant to forget. Otherwise, would we be as happy to continue having more children so willingly and freely? Yeah it immediately started with all the mooshy loved-up stuff, but it’s not all rainbows and lollipops. It’s hard work, perseverance and major sleep deprivation. People often ask, “Does raising a child get easier?”. My honest response is “No”, as they get older it gets harder. It’s just you as a parent get better at adapting, evolving and learning along the way. 

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