They say that nothing can really prepare you for life with a newborn, and it seems even having done it three times before isn’t enough. You really do forget what it’s like. The intensity of it all. The absolutely unrelenting need they have. To be with you. To have you. To need you. And for such a short, yet never-ending time, you are theirs.
You are 100% on call. In demand. Needed. Wanted.
What you want, need or demand doesn’t always get met. You are not enough any more. This tiny person, so helpless yet so powerful, has taken all the glory. And while people say that you are important too (are you sleeping while the baby sleeps? You really should, you know) they really don’t mean that like they did a few months ago. With baby on the outside, attention has shifted- and so it should. And yet, with all the wanting and the needing and the demanding, it would be kind of nice for people to remember you once in a while.
My truth about life with a newborn is simple. It’s the hardest job around. It is 24 hours a day. It is intense. The night shift can be gruelling. The feeds can be draining. The outings can be exhausting. At present sleep is the biggest issue in our lives, and being sleep deprived makes all the rest that much harder too.
I am starting to feel as though there is nothing more to my life than school runs and swimming lessons and some kid’s birthday party and nappy changes and grocery shops and having to fit all of that around breastfeeding and paid work and housework and… you don’t get to eat until 2pm, you don’t get to shower til someone comes to relieve you for ten minutes, you don’t get to sit for longer than ten minutes unless you are feeding and…
it’s hard. It’s unrelenting. It’s life with a newborn, and three others chucked in for good measure.
And then you do something simple. You bundle the kids in their winter coats and place your newborn in the pram, wrapped in a blanket and mittens on hands. You get the bikes and the helmets and the scooters and the welly boots, and a bag for treasure and pennies for sweets. You close the door behind you and you step out into the world. You leave the washing that needs hanging and the pots that need washing and the bedrooms that need exterminating and the homework that needs checking and the dinner that needs making and the chaos that needs… something. You leave it all for an hour in the winter’s sunshine and you finally FINALLY enjoy all four of your children at once.
To see them smile. To see them laugh. To see them enjoy being together. To listen to their conversations and realise that in the middle of the whirlwind they have been evolving without you. They have been smiling and laughing and talking all along. And you have been buried under the nappies and the sleep deprivation and the all consuming breastfeeding and YOU have not been living the life right. Yes, life with a newborn is hard and to say otherwise is just not honest. But it is so so so short lived. And soon the house will be restored and sleep will stretch a little longer and order overtakes the chaos once more. I know, because this is how it goes.
And then there is this.
The first smile. Doesn’t it always come just when you need it? When you feel you are about to break, your body and your mind can take no more… the smile lights your being once more and sets you straight. Of course you can do it.