I'm not a newborn person. Well, I'm not a newborn person when it comes to my own newborns. Other people's newborns are kind of predictable in the best ways: they sleep, they poop, they eat. My first son, however, was a very challenging newborn that made me question my sanity and my will to live. Thankfully, when that stage passed, he became a super lovely, interesting, inquisitive, and fun kid. He's still too young to hear this stuff, but there are a number of things I can't wait to tell my kid about his first month of life.
I imagine when my son is older, perhaps in his teenage years, I can tell him about the hoops he made me jump through just to get him to sleep at night. All I need to do is show him my quad muscles to explain the hours of bouncing mixed with deep squats that were required to make him calm down in the middle of the night. (My son wasn't so much of a bad sleeper as he was a Boot Camp-style trainer).
He's too young now to hear about my mixed bag of emotions when it came to my feelings on motherhood, but one day I'll tell him that being a mom didn't come easy to me. But even in that struggle, we had fun. Even though I probably cried every day for the first month or so of his life, my friends and family also remember me laughing with my newborn. He had both kinds of effects on me. When I tell him about his newborn weeks, he will learn that life and love is kind of fu*cked up and complicated and rarely black and white.
For now, I drop him little tidbits every so often that are age appropriate. Like how he used to love to suck on his dad's finger in the mornings after he was done nursing and I was in the shower. Or how he had a really big baby belly. Or the places we used to walk together to get him to nap. He is still at the age where he kind of can't believe he ever was a baby, or when he sees a picture of himself as a baby he says, "Awww! I was so cute!" When the time is right, though, I sure will enjoy telling him some of these fun facts about his early days on this Earth:
My Impression Of Your "Voice" Was An Especially Nasally Elmer Fudd
When you were a newborn we were alone a lot, but that didn't mean we didn't "talk." I liked to imagine that we were having lots of interesting debates about whether you actually needed a diaper change ("A dirty diaper? Me? Never!"), whether you enjoyed the taste of my breast milk ("If I'm being honest, I prefer the chocolate kind") and your thoughts on naps ("Oh the humanity of it all!").
When I spoke for you in the voice I imagined you had, it was always in this Elmer Fudd type voice, but an Elmer Fudd who was always patronizing me because he went to Columbia University instead of Barnard.
Sometimes I Let You Lie On The Counter While I Washed Dishes Despite All The Warnings
I read all of the warnings about not leaving newborns on any raised surface without being properly strapped in, and yet, well, here you still are. In the mornings when I was trying to clean the kitchen, I would try to put you down in your bouncer or swing but since you couldn't see me, you would start freaking out. If I put you on a blanket on top of a marble countertop where we could be within a foot from one another, you were happy as a clam.
I Told People You Were Taking Forever To Nurse But Honestly I Just Wanted To Hold You While You Slept
I may have complained that you took forever to nurse (and there were many times when you did, in fact, take forever) but I also kind of enjoyed it. In fact, there were lots of times I told people you weren't done nursing, but you had actually just fallen asleep at my breast and I liked the way you felt just sleeping there. I didn't want to move. I loved the feeling of your little body at peace, nestled in my arms and curled against my stomach like you were meant to fit into that exact part of me. Sorry I passed the blame on you.
The First Time I Cried Sentimental Tears About You Was To A Regina Spektor Song
Most (if not all) of my tears in the early newborn weeks were out of frustration and feelings of failure as a first-time mother. I was not one of those, "Oh my god I'm crying because I am so happy to have a baby right now" kinds of new moms.
So it took my by surprise that my first time shedding tears of new mom joy was when we were both hanging out one morning just the two of us, and I was listening to Regina Spektor's song "Samson." You were lying on that marble counter I was telling you about earlier, and doing that awkward kicky thing newborns do, and you looked at me and I looked at you, and it was one of the first times I felt that good thing new moms are supposed to feel.
I Didn't Always Wash Your Pacifier After The Dog Had His Way With It...
Our dog was really into your pacifiers. Like, really, really, into them. We'd turn our backs for two seconds and bam, one of your pacifiers would be in his mouth. And not in a weird, "the dog is chewing on a pacifier" kind of way. He would literally have it in his mouth the way a baby would have a pacifier in his mouth. He loved those things!
It was pretty difficult to keep track of which were the "good" (i.e. clean) pacifiers and which ones he had gotten to, so sometimes when you were desperately crying and I couldn't find a brand new pacifier that I knew had not been sullied, I'd grab a questionable one and hope for the best.
...And We Gave Your Sophie The Giraffe Toy To The Dog, Too
You know that giraffe toy that is in every picture of the dog because he has had it since your earliest memory? That toy used to be yours. He took it from you one day and we tried to keep it away from him. We put it on your dresser but the dog barked at it for six hours, and we just couldn't take it anymore (what with you being an annoying newborn on top of all that). Sorry.
Giving You A Bath Was One Of The Most Terrifying Parts Of My Day
If there was one thing I dreaded most in life when you were a newborn it was giving you a bath. I've seen pictures of babies splashing in their tiny newborn bath basins and cooing as the washcloth is dabbed lovingly over their bodies, and I have no idea what that's like. You were a banshee screaming out of hell no matter how gentle and soothing we tried to be. Thank God for my mother-in-law who visited often enough to assist me with bath time, or else I would probably just still be rocking myself under a table somewhere.
You Liked Taking Walks With Me To The Beach To Listen To The Waves
It was scary as hell bundling you into a carrier because you were so tiny, but once we got to the beach you would usually fall asleep and I could look out at the water and have a few moments to gather my thoughts. Let's ignore the fact that most of them were about how much fun it used to be not having a newborn, but some of them were about how nice it felt to have your weight against my chest and smelling your head beneath me.
Believe It Or Not, I Actually Used Cloth Diapers Made Of Hemp On You Instead Of Pampers
I know, looking at me, your mom, who does not bake, sew, cook, or DIY anything actually used cloth diapers on you when you were a newborn. Not only were they cloth, they were made of hemp and they were not pre-folded. I had to fashion those suckers into a diaper-type shape all by myself! Granted, the cloth diaper thing was your father's idea, but guess who did 80 percent of your diaper changes? Yep. This gal.
I Actually Did A Lot Of Writing With You Asleep On My Breast, With My Laptop On My Nursing Pillow
You'd also be surprised to know that despite your crying and not ever wanting to sleep unless you were on top of me, I was able to write and be creative when you passed out on my boobs after nursing. I used to set up a little "office" situation with my nursing pillow and my lap top, and keep you on me for as long as you stayed in your milk coma while I did some freelance writing or wrote about my feelings on new motherhood for my blog. I don't know how I did it on so little sleep and so few braincells, but I would like to think you were my tiny ball of inspiration.