New parents forget what life was like. It's like a fuzzy picture behind tinted glass. I kind of remember having time to myself and many fewer things to worry about. I sort of recall a time when my son's little face wasn't the first, middle, and last thing on my mind every day.
New parents forget to talk to each other. And I imagine that people who are single parents forget to communicate with their dearest friends during those first few weeks. Anyone who comes through our door (including ourselves) is there for the baby. That's a good thing, but a few nights ago my husband and I had some help from my mother in law and instead of going right to sleep while she had the baby, we went into our room and talked for an hour about random things. And then we talked about our three hellacious days of attempting to induce labor in the hospital. Because in nearly a month of sleepless nights and hurried days with a newborn in our home, we hadn't really seen one another.
Today a good friend said, "It might be wise to consider what your new normal might be rather than trying to reestablish your old normal."
What does a new normal even look like?
1. Sleep when the baby sleeps - people were saying it to us before Trotter was even born. So many people said it that we were tired of hearing it . . . but they were right!!!
2. Baby sling. Or baby wrap. Any baby carrier that gets my hands free and calms him down. Turns out he likes to be swaddled close to me even at 4 weeks.
3. Put the baby down and call a friend if you need help. People told us we should reach out if we felt discouraged. We nodded and smiled and then found it difficult to do for the first few weeks. There's this part of your brain that tells you, "You should be able to do this all by yourselves. Your parents will be disappointed in you if you can't take care of your own baby." But here's the thing - the help wasn't so much about caring for the baby. We're getting pretty good at that. It was about caring for ourselves. Because . . . NEW PARENTS FORGET. The helpers we've called have come to care for us. And there's no shame in that.
4. Pray. Pray when the baby sneezes and it freaks you out. Pray when you are up at 4 a.m. again and the inconsolable crying has begun for the 14th time in 24 hours. Pray when you realize that you're close to being dehydrated because you haven't had time to get water. Pray when the baby wants to nurse for the billionth time this morning and you don't think you can handle it. Pray. Pray. Pray. Don't try to trick yourself into doing this without talking to God about every single insecurity. Accept the grace up front because you won't be perfect. None of us are perfect.
5. Remember who you are. Your baby is awesome. But you are a person, too. Remember the things you love and try to do one of those things every few days. Just for a couple of minutes.
#5 seems impossible, right?
I love the piano.
I can't go long without playing it. Or singing.
I've played the piano 5 times since my son's birth (a month ago). Yesterday I managed to get him snuggled into a sling for the first time and found myself walking around the house with a drowsy baby and two free hands. I sat down at the piano and opened a book of Chopin. I played several Mazurkas quietly with my baby snuggled up to my chest. It was the best. And it makes sense. He heard Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Scriabin, and Brahms while he was tucked away under my heart for 9 months. Why shouldn't he sleep right through more of the same?
(first Mazurka I'd played since before he was born - a simple one, but one of my favorites).
But new parents forget.
We forget how to be people.
I wrote one stanza of a new song at 3 a.m. a few nights ago.
It's just one stanza, but one stanza is something to shout about when you haven't written in over a month. Baby steps (for mom and dad).