Nothing prepared me for how sweet our son would be. My husband laughs because I’m always asking him, “Can you believe how sweet he is? Can you believe he’s ours?” He is officially seven months old, so here are seven things I don’t want to ever forget about this sweet boy at this moment in time.
1. His eyelashes are a mile long, like my husband’s. When he cries, his tears pool in his lashes, clumping them together.
2. When we lift him out of his crib every morning, he gives us a huge smile before turning his head away in shyness.
3. He has started to do a deep belly laugh. More often than that though, he does a silent, open mouth laugh, throwing his head back.
4. His miniature hands are like perfect starfish, always reaching to hold my hands or memorize the shape of my face with the pads of his fingers.
5. His feet chubby feet resemble a pastry piping bag that’s a little too full of frosting.
6. He loves to “stand” on his changing table and does the sweetest little jig, so proud of himself.
7. When rock him in my arms, telling him that I love him, his dark eyes stare, unblinking, up at me.
People always talk about your baby’s firsts. The first time they giggle (the best sound in the world). The first time they roll over (scary!). The first time they eat solids (avocado was not a hit).
What people don’t tell you about are the lasts. The last time they fit into newborn size diapers. The last time they wear the tiny blue and pink striped cap from the hospital (see right). The last time they sleep in their swaddle, because of said rolling. The last time their cry sounds like a newborn cry.
The firsts are exciting for sure, but the lasts are what make my heart ache.
After being diagnosed with postpartum depression, which manifested mainly as anxiety for me, I worked with my doctor and a therapist to find ways to cope and start to feel better. I’ve often heard people discuss “feeling like themself again” after having a baby, but I don’t think that the goal should be to return to your former self. How could you? I read somewhere that a mother is born alongside the baby and I believe that.
In addition to medication and therapy, I worked hard to find tactics and routines to help me each day. I hesitated to write “get through each day,” but that’s truly what it was for my first few months as a new mother. In some ways though, my postpartum struggles prepared me for sheltering in place. I’m lucky to be healthy, employed, and living close to Golden Gate Park, but I have really missed making plans and having things to look forward to beyond Zoom calls and nightly walks. I do think I would have slipped back into the melancholy mood of early motherhood without some of the tools I’ve implemented below.Getting ready every day. Some days, I just changed into fresh pjs, but I still showered and maybe even put on some makeup. Now, instead of saving favorite clothes for when we are going out into the world again, I wear them even if I’m just on Zoom work calls all day.
Breathing in fresh air early in the day. There were days when going for a walk seemed so hard but I did it every. single. day. I notice a huge difference now that we are sheltering in place if I don’t get fresh air in the morning.
Implementing weekly rituals. We’ve been doing Taco Tuesday, Negronis and pizza on Fridays, and pancakes on Sunday. Little things to make these monotonous days feel a bit special.
Listening to music! Somewhere during the early days of motherhood I realized I’d stopped listening to music completely.
Completing small tasks and celebrating small wins. I realized that when I wasn’t working I had to shift what productivity looked like and also face how much productivity was tied to my self worth. While being productive isn’t everything, I am extremely goal oriented and it is crucial to my mental health to feel like I’m not stagnant. I finally reached a happy medium where I felt more comfortable not getting as much done, but set small goals that I can check off, even if it’s just going through photos on my iPhone.
Everyone talks about the ‘witching hour,’ that time (which is usually two hours – by the way) during which babies get fussy and can’t be calmed down. While I didn’t expect how truly helpless I would feel during W’s ‘witching hour’ when he was a brand-new baby, what I wish someone would have told me about was the ‘what if’ hour. For me, the ‘what if’ hour typically strikes at 2:30am. I spring awake in bed, check the monitor, now that W is in his own room, and my mind starts its usual loop of worries.
What if he isn’t breathing?
What if I’m not a good enough mother?
What if he could sense how hard it was for me in the beginning?
What if he doesn’t know how much I love him?
What if I fall asleep and don’t hear him crying?
What if he wakes up scared and needs me?
What if I don’t remember how to do my job when I go back to work?
What if William forgets who I am when I’m back at work and he’s in daycare?
The best moment of the day is opening up the nursery door in the morning, the smell of coffee hanging in the air from the kitchen next door. As soon as I turn on the light, W sneezes and smiles up at me, shrugging his tiny shoulders in pure excitement, like he can’t believe how lucky he is. And I can’t believe how lucky I am.
The best moment of the day is when W is down to sleep. I’ve kissed his warm little head, sung our special song, and closed the nursery door. W stares into my eyes one final time before his eyelids flutter closed, his long eyelashes making shadows on his cheeks. The sound machine is whirring and my husband has poured me a glass of wine.