Sweet Aching Baby Love

by kelly

November 2005 – She’s about 3 months old here
Originally uploaded by Koog Family.

It’s true what people say. . . and what I knew when I was pregnant. . . That you just don’t know what to expect until that baby finally arrives.

Some friends of ours will be having a baby soon, and we (Emma too!) had dinner at their house a couple of weeks ago. The mother-to-be was eight months along when we were there – as pregnant as the day is long. But when I was talking about having a baby, she told me that she just doesn’t know what to expect. How will it be? It being life with a baby.

I remember that feeling. That months-long, sometimes happy, often anxious wondering. The not knowing.

It was a relief to finally know what it felt like to hold my little baby in my arms. By the end of the third trimester, it was a physical relief as well as an emotional one. And I’m now convinced that the labor and delivery process stirs up a cocktail of love hormones that carry you through a blissful high for about three days.

It’s on about that fourth day that you start to notice that you’re exhausted. And that this baby is crying a lot and needing attention almost more often that you can give it. But you wake up every time. You come groggily and willingly to her side because you have to. You have to for her, and you have to for you. There’s no other choice.

I’m very happy for our friends who will be having the baby soon. Part of me feels sorry for them, though. I know that they’re in for a very steep learning curve. If things go in their house like they did in ours, they won’t get a full night of uninterrupted sleep for months and months to come. And then there’s the not knowing. The not knowing yet how to give a bath. How to nurse. How to prepare a bottle, when it’s time for that. Is this normal? Is that normal?

We were addicted to baby books for at least the first four weeks straight. Actually, I can’t remember when we stopped reading the baby books. At some point, we found our confidence and the books fell away. And then the baby helped by eventually learning to hold up her head, which meant that she could be carried around the house sometimes in one arm, instead of always two. And later, just when we thought our hearts would break from the lack of reciprocity, she learned to smile at us and reward us for all our nurturing and mush. Then she learned to sit. And finally, to play with toys on her own while – get this – we can actually take care of something else for a few minutes. And she becomes more independent, in her still very dependent way, each day. We’re out of the woods now. I started feeling that way as soon as she was five months old, or earlier, but I feel more and more that way every day – that the hardest part of her tiny infancy stage is over.

And at our friends’ house, soon, together with all that joy and new-found love, there will be the tiny, high pitched cry. The literally sleepless nights. The rocking of the baby in the dead of night for hours. The looking at the watch and knowing that it’s 3:00 a.m., and you’ve already been rocking for two hours. The wondering when he’ll just fall asleep. Just sleep. The not knowing.

We’ve come a long way already on our parenting journey. And our friends will travel the same road. They’ll arrive in the same place we have. But they’re going to look and feel like they’ve been hit by a truck at least a few times before they get there.

And so I’ll do the only thing I can do. I’ll do the only thing that anyone can do. And people do it all the time. Now I know why. I’ll give them a baby gift, and keep them in my thoughts. Their sweet aching baby love will pull them through.

3 Responses to “Sweet Aching Baby Love”

  1. Editor B Says:

    Xy and I were thinking maybe of having a child, or trying. Way to bolster our confidence! Thanks!

  2. Kelly Says:

    Ha ha and Awwww. You should do it!

    There’s nothing like it if you want to discover a whole new place in your heart that you didn’t even know you had.

    And even while you’re going through the sleepless night part, you feel happy (if tired). It’s in retrospect that I’m amazed we got through it. And now I feel accomplished about it! I’ve learned a lot. So the hard part is very survivable. The months do pass by pretty quickly, after all. And every time you look into that little face, you know that everything is right with the world, and that you and the little one will figure it all out together… :)

  3. Kelly Says:

    Plus, I’m kind of an emotional type, too… Paul’s been saying all along that it’s not so hard. Of course, he said that during the pregnancy, too, which I found, um, amusing. (: