(image credit: Sarah Lewis Photography)
It’s a little past three in the morning. I’ve been feeding you for nearly two solid hours now, back and forth, back and forth. I put you down every time I think you might finally be ready to sleep, and you do sleep…at least for a couple minutes. But about the time I get comfortable again, you remember how completely starving you are.
So I check your diaper, swaddle you tight, and feed you again.
Do you know what, sweet girl? I’m tired. Really tired.
But I don’t really mind so much.
I mean, sometimes I certainly mind. Like the moment I’m trying to finally relax, but anxious that you’re about to wake up, and then you do. That’s not any fun.
But I don’t mind just now.
A fourth newborn comes with some perks. I can do most of this with my eyes closed and half-dead. Which is good, since that’s how I’m doing it in the middle of the night—it’s all muscle memory. Also, there’s a familiarity with the routine (and usually lack thereof) that comes with a brand new person.
There’s a bit more confidence in all of it. I no longer see newborns as so completely fragile. I’m not afraid to put a onesie over your head for fear you’ll get irreversibly injured. (What was I afraid of? I don’t recall. That your head would pop off? Who knows?) I learned that nobody will die if I go to the bathroom for 20 seconds before sitting down to nurse you for some undetermined length of time. (I’m also plenty good at toilet nursing and the subsequent pull-the-pants-up-one-handed dance.) I’m pretty sure your siblings aren’t going to break you with all the loving.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have parenting down, in a broad sense. I’m still basically winging it here. But the physical, day-to-day mechanics of caring for a healthy newborn? This I am familiar with.
And mostly? There’s gut-level perspective that it all passes.
The nursing cramps pass. The long nights pass.
But, even more importantly, the newborn phase passes.
The yummy smell.
The impossibly soft, fuzzy head.
The milk-drunk face.
The constant sleepiness.
The peach fuzz everywhere—your face, your ears, your shoulders.
The way you curl up and stick your little bottom out when you sleep on me.
The way you pull your knees up to your chest when I’m changing your diaper, making it nearly impossible to get the new diaper on, or to get you back in your jammies.
All of it passes.
I think you’re finally ready to sleep for a while. (Whatever that means this time. Hopefully long enough for me to actually fall asleep.) But before I put you back down, I think I’ll just sit here for a few with my cheek against your velvety head, smelling that smell for just one more minute. I can’t keep you tiny forever, and I really don’t want to. (Another perk of a fourth baby: I know that this is only the beginning, and all the stages have their fun and their challenges.) So for now, I’ll just enjoy one extra minute of your sweet self.
(…and hope that we both get some rest.)