I was going to write a post comparing the birth of H to the birth of E, but it digressed and what I really want to record is the special, long, fast, confusing, easy, tiring “fourth trimester” of a newborn.
H is a good baby. But maybe I’m a more patient and easy going mother this third go-round. When he stirs, or cries, I offer my breast. He takes it. I swaddle him when he’s sleepy and hold him until he’s dead-weight asleep. Sometimes he sleeps next to me in bed, sometimes he sleeps in his side-car co-sleeper. I wear him in a wrap a few hours a day when we walk, or go to the library, or if he just needs it. I’m at the point where I can follow my own instincts and just do what feels right, natural.
[I must add here, it’s infinitely easier taking care of a newborn with a supportive husband. He’s taking care of E & L and keeping them busy and I’m able to bum it out at home whenever I please. Thank you honey]
Newborns are simple creatures. I can confidently say now I’m not a mom who gushes over a newborn, or even my own newborn. Yes, I am connected to him. At times it’s like he’s still inside of me, still part of me, connected through muscles and tissues and blood (which is why the fourth trimester analogy of newborns makes perfect sense to me). Sometimes I realize I haven’t looked at him from a distance in hours because he’s been on me or wrapped to me. I mostly see the top of his head or the side of his face as he’s nursing. Diaper changes are the only time I see him without him touching my body in some way.
My husband asked me on the first or second night at home: “Do you love him?”
Funny word, love is. Of course a mom loves her baby, but that “in love” feeling, that “proud” feeling I get when I look at my older, more fully developed kids, it’s just not there yet. I’m still getting to know H. I’ll think we are making a meaningful connection just gazing into each others eyes, and then his eyes cross, his tongue portruds out, and he rips one of his loud farts. I get a preview of his beautiful smile-to-be when he’s asleep, but the first real joyful grin in response to me only happened two days ago, and he’s 3 weeks old.
I’m a member of many mom groups on Facebook, and as H’s namesake would say, “First time moms kill me”. They post things about how their 4 day old is “bored” and wonder which toys are best for them. They talk about their week old “getting back to normal” in a routine after a rough sleepless night. They put in personality to their offsprings that I’m pretty sure aren’t quite there yet. I could just be a cynical know-it-all so I don’t post my thoughts (although I had a hard time with the “bored newborn” woman. I so wanted to tell her just to pick her baby up and cuddle it as long as it wants, that’s the only stimulus a new baby needs, but I’m not looking to start a mommy-war on Facebook).
I took a Philosophy class my freshman year of college and I’ll never forget the unmarried, single professor talking about how newborns weren’t really humans yet. I was slightly horrified by it. Now, my baby and all my babies were and are precious to me and I would defend them to the death, but there is some truth to what Dr. Philosophy had to say. Newborns are so defenseless, such helpless little creatures and I love being the support and comfort my newborn needs, but beyond the sleeping, eating and defecating, there isn’t much there yet. I can already tell H is going to be a pretty laid back kid, but I also know that can change at any moment.
I think H is my last baby. So I’m savoring this fourth trimester as much as I can. I am “spoiling” him as much as I want, indulging him and his cries, letting him fall asleep on the boob, staying up watching TV late with him in the crook of my arm, and right now it’s the perfect relationship. In the grand scheme of a lifetime the newborn phase flies by. So I’m just trying to slow it down a bit this time and let me tell you, H isn’t protesting this at all.