I realized something weird recently. I was googling “how long does the newborn stage last?” and noticed a lot of results relating to “surviving” or “getting through” this stage. It made me realize that a whole lot of parents– possibility the vast majority– don’t particularly enjoy the newborn stage. The weird part is that I really, really do. In fact, I’ve always said it’s my favorite stage. I just never noticed until now that I’m in the minority with this feeling.
I totally get why many parents find this stage challenging or unpleasant. Yes, it’s hard to adjust to getting very frequently interrupted sleep at night, every night, for weeks or months (or years) on end. Yes, breastfeeding can be challenging (even painful), tiring, and stressful in the beginning. And yes, having a totally helpless baby who needs you for everything around the clock is a big adjustment. Postpartum hormonal changes and the emotional impact of such a huge life change can also cause mood swings, depression, and anxiety. It’s a very demanding time in a parent’s life, especially a mom’s life, for sure!
But for me, it’s the most precious time. I’ve been waiting with so much anxious anticipation through a seemingly endless pregnancy, and now I finally have my prize, my treasured child in my arms. I finally get to stare at her and memorize all the details of her tiny face. I want to savor every moment of it. It goes by so fast, and babies change so much in this time. I know it won’t be long until my little baby is a rambunctious toddler, and probably driving me up the wall!
I love this newborn stage where all baby does is nurse and sleep and then wake up and stare at me for a few minutes before doing it all again. I treasure the long hours of laying with her sleeping in my arms, or on my chest. (Of course, I also enjoy breaks when daddy holds her or she’s content in her swing for a little while!)
I know it’s not like that for everyone. I’m blessed to have so much support, and my husband’s awesome paternity leave benefit. My six and three year olds are also fairly independent around the house, so it hasn’t been too overwhelming to add a newborn to the mix– at least not yet. So far, my baby is generally content, and we’re both recovering well from an uncomplicated pregnancy and birth. We have a lot going for us! Overall, this transition period has been very smooth for us, and I’m thankful for that.
The newborn stage really is so special to me, and one of my most favorite stages of parenting. Possibly the hardest part, especially this time around, is the knowledge that this is our last biological baby. I’m still hoping to adopt another baby down the road, if it’s God’s plan for us. But there’s no guarantee that this plan will come to fruition, and even if it does, I know it won’t be exactly the same.
If we do get to adopt another baby, I won’t be giving birth and bringing my brand-new baby up to my chest for the first time, bathed in the hormones and triumph of childbirth. I may not even be able to be in the room when my baby’s born. I won’t be breastfeeding (though some adoptive moms do induce lactation, I’ve already decided not to go that route), so I’ll be bonding in a different way than I have with my three bio babies. I may not even co-sleep, since that’s safest and most beneficial with a breastfeeding baby; though I would still room-share.
It’s also possible that this will be our last baby, because adopting a baby might not be the plan God has for us. We won’t know until we know, most likely a few years from now when we’re actually in that season.
Anyway, my point with all of that is that this time is even more precious to me this time around, because I know I’ll never experience it in the same way again. Knowing that has caused me some feelings of sadness that I, personally, haven’t experienced after the birth of a baby in the past. (Baby blues are very common, but I’ve never felt them before this).
It’s a little scary in a way to think about my life from here on out, because so far the births of my three children have been the “pinnacle” moments of my life– and now that’s all over. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking and emotionally pivoting into what’s next for me; even only nine days postpartum, that was where my head was at! Now I’m three weeks postpartum, and I’ve calmed down a bit about the future, but it’s still on my mind often. I’m always thinking about what’s next. Which is all the more reason for me to try my best to stay in the moment, in this beautiful and fleeting newborn stage that I love so much.
It’s not without its challenges, and I don’t judge any parents who don’t enjoy the newborn stage and just want to survive it. But for me, it’s one of the best stages of parenting and life in general. Falling in love with the baby I’ve been waiting to meet for months, and getting to do almost nothing but hold and snuggle and nurse her all day and night; this is heavenly. Yes, it’s hard, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Pregnancy, I would gladly fast-forward through, but not the newborn stage. For this, I’d rather have the ability to slow time down. Since I can’t, I’ll just have to enjoy it as much as I possibly can before I blink and it’s over.