So often when Monsieur was a baby I was told to treasure each moment, that I won’t know how quickly the moments pass by until they’re gone. Every mum has heard advice to that end. I used to think to myself, “I *am* treasuring this time. And it doesn’t feel like it is passing too quickly”. Because it didn’t. Each stage and age with Monsieur, I have felt pretty present for and that I have been appreciating them. The tough stages maybe not so much! But I’ve never felt like I missed out on a stage, or wished that I could go back in time to a particular age. I still don’t. Monsieur is growing up to be such a delightful (most of the time) boy and wishing to go back to an earlier age would feel like going back to a time which was harder and not quite as much fun.
I certainly have never understood how gooey people can get over a newborn baby. I’ve heard so many people express how you forget how little they are, to treasure every moment (of course – it is the mantra bestowed upon all new parents by older, supposedly wiser parents), that they wish they could go back to their children’s newborn days. I’ve heard all these sentiments and thought, “No way. I’m happy to be past that.”
Until now. There was a 2 day old baby at Monsieur’s swimming lesson yesterday – the third child already attending older siblings’ activities! (Off topic, but I am completely in awe of that mum! The day after having SnuggleBub I was still bed-bound and a bit loopy on morphine and here she was, bringing her children and new one to swimming lesson. Just, wow!)
The newborn baby was so small and cute and sleepy, still with vernix remnants on her head, and I completely melted inside. I desperately wanted to go back to SnuggleBub being so young and little. She didn’t seem little to me at the time, not the way Monsieur did. Seeing her now though, I know she was still so little and I just really want to go back to that for a day. I suddenly felt so sad and bereft that her newborn days are already gone. The emotions that parenthood unlock are truly brutal sometimes, not to mention extremely illogical and impractical.
I feel like the first three months have gone by in the blink of an eye and I missed it. I haven’t missed it, not really. I just didn’t expect it to go by so fast. It feels like just a couple of weeks ago that she was born, not three months. I feel like I should have spent more time watching her sleep, cuddling her, completely banned my phone from the feeding chair – except that then I wouldn’t have any photos to remind me of those days which are fading so fast in my memory. That makes me sound so old! But it’s all the new memories of SnuggleBub and Monsieur which are filling my brain, pushing out all but a few poignant details from their earlier days.
I think what makes it so different this time is sleep, and the first child. This whole baby experience is so different without the profound sleep deprivation. It sounds gloomy now, but I had been viewing the pregnancy and first year as being things we just had to get through. Once we were past them, then hopefully we could start to enjoy having a second child. I honestly thought that there would be very little joy and a whole lot of “just surviving” happening in the first year. I was certainly right about the pregnancy. Each day was simply a matter of surviving it. It is very lucky that my first pregnancy wasn’t as rough as this last one. We would have stopped at one child, had that been the case. I wasn’t right about the first year though. So far, I am loving it and truly enjoying the time with SnuggleBub. I am having fun! And there is so much joy, with this beautiful child, who was the subject of many a midwinter wish.
Days also go faster when juggling the needs of a bub with the commitments and needs of a five year old. It seems obvious now, that time would speed by in a continual round of kinder runs, swimming lessons, feeding the baby, sleeping the baby, playing with them both. Again though, I was assuming that I would be doing it all through the heavy fog of sleep deprivation, which would make the days stretch out endlessly, and make every step as difficult as if I had iron balls tied to my legs and I was walking through waist-high tar.
About a month ago was when I first realised that this time was speeding past. I started leaving the phone alone during feeding, not worrying about spending an entire day rocking her, letting myself get lost in her smiles without feeling guilty that the washing didn’t get done for yet another day.
That said, I still don’t watch her for hours while she sleeps. Quite apart from her no longer sleeping for hours during the day, that is the best chance for me to do some things which help keep my sanity; and I still pull out the phone to take photos during feedings. I simply limit it to 1-2 feedings a day! Or try to anyway; just don’t ask how many photos I take in a week! Second sibling syndrome is not happening here. There are WAY more photos of SnuggleBub than there were of Monsieur at the same age. Most of all, I am trying to see her for as small as she is, so that I don’t look back in three months time and say again, “I just didn’t see how little she was. She seemed so big to me, I can’t believe I missed her being so little”. I can also console myself that when the future comes and time travel is possible, I can jump back for just one day of her being a newborn again!
Just over a week old – so tiny!
13.5 weeks old – so much bigger, but still small.