I have shocking news. I am not a big fan of newborns. Well at least not of newborns who previously resided in my uterus. And while the population of newborns that have fit that description is exactly one, I am not yet inclined to change my view despite the knowledge gained from a college epidemiology class telling me that case studies of one individual are not at all reliable.
Those early weeks with Jillian were incredibly tough. I was overcome with sleeplessness. After a lengthy hospital stay where I got no sleep, I came home with a baby who cried incessantly allowing me no sleep. Then when she would finally drift off for a few minutes, I would find that my mind was racing making it impossible to sleep. The only way I could find to keep her asleep for any significant duration was to hold her. So I slept with her in my arms in the recliner all night long for a few weeks until the discovery of the swing where she slept for the next several months.
I remember the doubts that crept into my head. That I couldn't handle it. That I would never be a good enough parent. That my failure to breast feed would permanently scar her and leave her with a subpar immune system. That this cycle of no sleep, feedings, and diaper changes would go on and on forever. It wasn't depression. It felt more like hyper anxiety. All my senses were on high alert, and I could not calm down. I wore ear plugs to sleep at night because every little sound she made would wake me.
People came over to help, which was nice. But in truth I didn't really want their help. I wanted to do it on my own. It was hard to feel comfortable in my own house when others were there. While their intentions were to help, having guests made me feel like I needed to entertain.
Advice came from everybody. From family. From friends. From the doctor. The internet. From books. However it seemed that Jillian did not follow anybody's advice. And she certainly had not read any of the same books that I had.
What I expected was a baby who slept for a couple hours, woke up to eat, got a diaper change and would fall asleep. I expected some crying...but not what felt like hours of inconsolable crying. I expected a baby that would sleep in their crib. I expected to breast feed. I expected it to be hard...but not that hard. I expected that when I was tired and the baby was asleep, that I would have no problems falling to sleep.
For me, taking care of a newborn was a stressful and thankless job. Sure she was adorable. Sure I loved her more than anybody else in the world. But the endless diapers and feedings coupled with the lack of sleep and self-doubt were all consuming.
Then one day she began to smile. And then she began to bat at a toy in her play gym. And then she laughed. And laughed and laughed and laughed. Slowly she became interactive. The crying spells tapered off. She slept for longer periods of time. I slept for longer periods of time and even without ear plugs. Taking care of her was no longer just work...it was fun! Every day I grew to love her more and more.
Sometimes I see posts from new moms on blogs or on Facebook. They rave about how much they love their precious newborn baby and how wonderful being a new mom is. They seemingly enjoy the sleep deprivation and explosive diapers. I am tempted to reply by saying "I call bullshit". And if they aren't lying, then I'm insanely jealous.
As we near Hayden's birth, these memories come flooding back to me. By comparison, pregnancy is much easier for me. If it were possible to keep her inside for a 4th trimester, I most surely would.
Don't get me wrong. I am excited to meet Hayden. I feel overwhelmingly blessed to be having two little girls. But I know what to expect. Or rather, I know better than to set expectations because she will surely defy them. I suspect that I'll have less anxiety about my ability to be a mom, and that I'll know better the temporary nature of this situation. Of course those worries will be replaced by new ones as I worry about the impact on Jillian and try to divide my attention between the two.
Just under two months left. I'm both excited and nervous.