When I was pregnant with my first, I remember a co-worker telling me how the “dark times” of having children are in those first few weeks of life. I didn’t listen to a word he had to say about how having a newborn was the toughest part of parenting. So what if they can’t reciprocate the love and who cares that they just sleep and eat? I thought the newborn phase was going to be the absolute best and easiest part of it all.
And then I had a newborn. And it wasn’t the best and easiest part of the parenting gig.
Throughout pregnancy #2, I was very excited to have a tiny, cuddly baby again, but I was also apprehensive (and kinda dreading) going back to square one- witching hour, constantly nursing, gas pains, triple the laundry, night time feedings…having a newborn is so. much. work.
It’s strange how much I love it and how much I can’t stand parts of it. I know, I am beyond blessed, happy, and filled with an immense amount of joy to have such perfectly healthy babies, but that doesn’t mean it all comes easy.
Here’s the dreadful, choatic, dark side of having a newborn:
- Those smiles aren’t really smiles, no matter how much you cuddle or talk sweetly to them, they’re not smiling because of you. Most likely they’re smiling because they just farted.
- No matter how much you love them up, they can’t show it back. Not that this something to get upset over, but as a parent you just want to feel the love back, especially from a tiny, cute newborn.
- Newborns can be so demanding. Cluster feeding, fussiness from not getting that last burp up, crying for no apparent reason…that’s enough to make any sane woman go mad.
- Nursing is the hardest during the first couple weeks with a newborn. Your supply is still getting evened out so you’re always feeling that feeling- pins and needles. Engorged, leaky boobs are a constant. It feels like you are tethered to another human being because they nurse so frequently in the first few weeks of life.
- The night time feedings can feel so isolating. It’s just you the baby while the rest of the world sleeps. And you start to think back to when you could sleep a full, uninterrupted 8 hours each night. And then you start to hate the rest of the world for sleeping while you’re nursing, burping, and changing pee pee diapers at 2:45am.
- Phantom baby cries are for real. They will haunt you where ever you go, including the moment you take 5 minutes for yourself to step into a nice, hot shower. You will come rushing out of the shower only to find the baby sleeping peacefully and your spouse looking at you like you’ve completely lost your marbles.
- Newborns are fragile. They have no immune system and are easily overstimulated by loud noises and different smells, voices and sounds. They get cold and overheated easily. This means you can’t get out of the house like you used to. By the end of the day, I have a 104 degree (cabin) fever and am desperate to get out. If you asked me 10 years ago what my idea of “getting out” was, I would have said something like going to the hottest club and dancing the night away. These days, my idea of getting out and having fun is bankrupting my checking account on a trip to Target or perusing the aisles of Whole Foods. #momlife
And the wonderful, cuddly, loveliness of the newborn phase:
- The newborn smell. That wonderfully sweet, intoxicating smell that every mom would pay hundreds of dollars to bottle up and save forever. Words can’t describe the newborn smell and I don’t know why moms go crazy for it, but it tops my list as one of the best reasons to have a baby.
- Those little noises and faces they make when they’re asleep. Newborns are noisy little creatures. They grunt, squeal, smack their lips, and laugh all the time in their sleep, and sometimes when they’re awake. They are so expressive with their face, too. My favorite is the duck lips and the pooping faces. I have about 2,500 pictures between my 2 daughters of these faces.
- Newborns sleep a ton during the day. They can only tolerate 1-2 hours of wakefulness at a time, which means they sleep during the day a lot. I call this the “newborn grace period”, and it was made so that you can get adjusted to life with a newborn…take a nap, take a shower, do the dishes, whatever it is that you need to do to get life back in order. This is the only reason I am able to keep writing for my blog…Phoebe is out with Nana and Eloise has been sleeping most of the day! Mommy win!
- There’s none of that, “Mommy, mommy, mooommmmmyyyy!!!! Watch this!” or “Mommy, let’s play, and read, and color, and go outside, and build blocks!”. Newborns are so easy when it comes to entertainment. They only need to food, cuddles, and sleep. It’s so much easier to get things done and have a minute to yourself since they don’t require constant “play time” attention.
- Another top reason to have a baby- they are just so tiny, and when you pick them up and cuddle them they are just a curled up little ball of baby goodness. Their little chicken legs are hiked all the way up to their bellies and they basically fit in the palm of your hand. I love it.
I wouldn’t change any of this for the world, and I know that in a few short months when my newborn isn’t so “newborny” anymore, I’ll be longing for this time- the fun, cute, cuddly, crying, fussy, needy- time, back.
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