Today my sweet Lucille is one month old. A month. I’m not entirely cognizant of how time has tucked into itself. We are moving through the days and nights somewhere caught between mild lucidity and a foggy haze; the leaves on the maple tree out back have long since reached their peak and just a few are left clinging desperately to the branches. Friends have walked into our home to marvel at and meet our daughter, bringing with them delicious food, and gifts for the babe. There have been phone calls home to California to talk and Skype with the west coast grandparents, and more diapers than I can count have filled our garbage cans. I’m certain I’ve looked at the clock in Lucy’s room on more than one occasion, forcing my wickedly tired eyes to focus on the big hand and little hand, only to realize it’s the wee hours of another morning.
This is first-time parenthood. Overwhelming, exotic, all-consuming, and exhausting. I’m still not certain how it’s possible that the honeyed smelling baby asleep next to me (as I write this), is ours. Literally ours of our flesh. It’s almost too much to comprehend and maybe that’s why it’s easier for folks to call babies, miracles. Then there’s no need to explain or understand.
I knew going into this – parenthood – that it would be a topsy-turvy time in our lives. The magnitude of just how completely a baby can turn your world upside down is humbling. It will bring you to your knees and the tears, oh my. The tears come for both good reason and no reason at all. You can read as much as you think is necessary, research, and prepare, but actually living a newborn is an experience almost impossible to articulate.
As of today, here’s where I stand. I am tired but managing despite the lack of a straight 8-hour stretch of sleep. The mornings are a little tricky because I try to get myself fed before the baby wakes up. I have a general sense of when she might wake up, but it isn’t always accurate. What I should do is get up an hour before her expected waking, but I’m so freaking tired from having been up three hours earlier, that I linger in the warm cocoon of my bed. Once she’s up, she’s changed and fed and then entertained for a short while before she falls back asleep for a catnap. The rest of the morning unfolds in a series of feedings and naps. There’s always the “big” nap to look forward to, which usually happens somewhere around 1 pm. That’s the time of day when I have the most down time, but “relaxing,” per say, isn’t always possible. See there’s this thing that happens when you have a baby. Biology has dictated that since you spent nearly ten months bringing this little creature to life, it was damn well going to equip you with all the tools necessary to keep it alive – read: a keen sense of hearing. I can hear every squawk or peep and I immediately go on standby ready to meet her needs. Essentially I’m on call ALL day.
The afternoon looks a lot like the morning, and we all look forward to Big Red getting home. Dinner is not always a tandem event, sometimes he eats while I mind the baby and then we switch. If we’re lucky, she’ll be napping and we can get dinner down together. She goes to bed after her last “evening” feeding,somewhere between 8:30 and 10:30 pm. And then it’s quiet time for the both of us for a short while before I inevitably succumb to the lead weights strapped to my eyelids. Big Red handles the “dream” feed and then I take care of the crazy 3-4 AM –ish feeding.
And then somehow yesterday becomes today and we do it all over again.
There are moments of pure bliss and joy when I look at her, especially when she’s fallen asleep on my chest and her little body is a delicious warmth curled into mine. At the moment, nothing could be better and I want little else than to hold her this way for hours on end – forever, really. I inhale her scent and rub my cheek against the silky softness of her head. Then there moments of wanting to press pause and take a break, wanting to get out of the house at will, wanting to take a shower, wanting to eat a proper lunch. Life with a newborn is a double-edged sword, and in the fissures of total exasperating frustration, I quietly tell myself that this phase is tough and that we will get through it because it’s just what you do.
There is a sense of pressure though to “enjoy every moment.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told this in the past month. Show me a new mom who actually enjoys every single moment and I’ll give you my next paycheck. Not realistic AT ALL. That bar is failure in the making. There are more moments of joy than there are frustration, but they certainly don't negate the frustration. That's reality. My good friend Dacia sent me a text the other day and it went something like this:
Nobody knows what the f*ck they’re doing with this parenting
thing. In the words of Phil Dunphy, “You fake your way though
it. And you just hope you don’t raise a serial killer.”
Somewhere between late nights, fussiness, feedings, diapers, and kissing the cutest cheeks in town, I have missed fall altogether. When I pass by the window in our dining room, I am startled to see our maple tree has long since reached its colorful peak of red and gold and the leaves now lay scattered in our yard.
As we move into the hibernation and stillness of winter, I remind myself that my best is the best for Lucille (thanks, Anna), and all that she needs right now is to be kept warm, fed, clean and loved.
I am certain my daughter, my daughter, is receiving all four – especially love. In spades, she is loved. Happy one month, my sweet Lucille.