The Thick of It :: Newborn Reflections


Not so long ago, we were driving with a nine-month-old Eowyn in the back seat. Somewhere between the mile markers, we meandered to the topic of blessed newbornhood.

Ben was the first to say it, but we both agreed: "I don't know if I like the newborn stage."

Back then, when we  had a considerable distance between us and those sleepless nights, it seemed quite alright to speak that truth.

The newborn cuddles are sweet and it's nice when the only requirement is to feed them, change them, and keep them clean. Remember how they just snuggle all day?! And the itty bitty clothes! Heart eyes.

But the lack of sleep. The newborn cries. The healing. The straight up delirium. The leaky, sore tender bits. The perpetual dirtying of all furniture and clothing. The constant mental battle of his needs, her needs, their needs. The straight up fog of it all.

Oh yeah...that. Newborn babies are hard. Well, at least our newborn babies are. God wasn't kidding when he said the curse would bring increase to our pains in childbearing.  It's all a bit more painful than I wish it would be.

This time around, I had high hopes that it'd be different; that I'd be different. I had friends who had 'harder' first born children and a super chill second. While the verdicts still out, it doesn't look like we'll be arriving in super-chill land. I thought perspective would hold its weight in gold and that we would handle the sleep deprivation and the juggling act like saintly pros. After all, we know it will end this time around.  We know that the newborn stage leads to the 4 month old stage, which leads to the stage where they start actually smiling. and laughing and being awesome. We much prefer that stage to this one; the staring blankly at your soul and breaking your heart with their crying.

But perspective doesn't hold its weight quite like I hoped it would and the sleep deprivation still sucks. (Side note: It makes total sense to me why governments use it for torture.) I, also, turns out still run quite poorly when functioning on two-hour increments of sleep. Womp. Womp.

And so the newborn equation produces the seas of emotions all new parents get to swim through. And they sure are some waves. Our toddler acts out loud what we all are feeling under layers of skin and slate faces. She's always had a flair for theatrics and seeing her act out what we're all feeling is simultaneously the most desperate sight and most honest-breath-of-fresh-air sight all rolled in to one.

"I know baby girl, this is all just...hard."

And then. God Bless. They ask the question. The question that levels a mom and makes her feel all sorts of inadequate if she doesn't have the right answer. "How's he sleeping?"

Yeah...we're praying about that.

It's easy to compare, yet it's hard to compare. The beauty of the haze is that one can't remember much after it. Was Eowyn harder than this? Easier? What week did she go 6 hours through the night? What did we do to soothe her in this season? Who knows. I'm still sorting through how a month has suddenly passed us by.

This child is both easier and harder, I think. He figured out his nights and days super fast and is in fact a better sleeper than our first, (again, I think...) but is more fickle in a myriad of other ways than I remember. It could be that he has to work through a shrieking, singing toddler during all his day hours...but, I digress. It's all a bit of unwrapping a personality and unraveling a momma's sanity.

But, as we all know, the pieces get put back together ever so slowly. We'll figure it out in time.

And so we dance through it. Literally and figuratively. Taylor Swift can get even the grumpiest of cats in this household to shake some hip. After a few songs, my little thunder puts her head to mine-nose to nose-and I know that we're having a moment of solidarity. "We got this." She gets quiet and I get brave.

And so we talk through it. I've learned to be more honest this time around without feeling the need to avoid the desperate glances. Letting the honesty land where it may.  I've learned vulnerability makes us all a little more able. I've learned more emotion words. I've learned it's okay if we feel really good and really hard things in the same body. I've learned feelings don't always require a follow up action to make them go away.

And so we laugh through it. The funny newborn faces, the leg and bum hair on our little man-baby. Eowyn's ridiculousness. Calling me "sugar" and annotating every show and book. Laughing when the diaper needs changing again and the sheets are getting washed more than they ever have, (and the mom of this house isn't getting washed as often as she should.)

And so we escape a bit from it. Ben is an even better dad this time around, and lets me leave often. I walk slowly to the store to get some milk, letting my head lighten with the cold air. I find pinterest recipes to make-just to do something that isn't baby related. We stay up late eating the product of those recipes, and watch silly shows and talk about politics and the world and sports (what the?!) and all sorts of stuff just to remind us that we are 'us' and they are them.

And so we pray through it. Every night with hands on his little head, praying for more than three hours. Pushing down the pride of wanting to have all our stuff together and laying it on the table through blurry eyes that we don't have our stuff together and this kid is something else entirely. But we know who created him. So we go back to his Creator. Oh, and Jesus please bless that first born who's been amazing through all this. We pray over our marriage and we confidently remind ourselves that just like every season of 'hard,' God has a way of making incredibly beautiful things grow out of it.

I'm well aware that just like all the other old ladies in the shopping malls, a newborn will once again, in a few years, conjure up glittery smiles and twitterpated glances from yours truly. I know that I'll reminisce when my toddler is defiant and I'll comment to Ben how it was so easy when he was just a newborn.

So in the meantime, I'll fight to inhale his little newborn self. I'll listen to his newborn cries and let them shake my heart and praise God for making me a mom again. I'll continue to give Ben my nightly update and my percentage of capacity every morning (running at 7%). I'll look my girl square in the face when she's doing so well and we'll cover ourselves in grace (especially when we're feeling edgy) because it's either that or we'll all get too ragged. I'll allow myself the big heavy sighs when baby spit up runs down my entire body, and the baby starts acting hungry again. We'll savor the sweetness of good food, and sunny skies and keep buying tulips to make it all feel a little lighter.

And I'll just keep taking pictures because I know I won't remember any of it and I'll keep repeating to myself "The only way through is through."

The only way through is through.


  1. Ugh my heart just explodes with YES and AMEN, MOMMA! I love the way you process and seriously the way you talk about you and E is really helpful - toddler days have been super hard lately. But I love the imagery of your words. Love you, friend. Keep going. You've got many more hands on your weary head praying right alongside you.

    1. This is so encouraging, Alisa. Thank you for your encouragement and prayers. Glad to have friends who are on the other side of it all.