It’s already been over a week. John Thomas Whitmore has been home with us for seven whole days. That’s seven days of changing diapers and feeding sessions, seven days of multiple outfit changes and trips to the laundry room, seven days of interrupted sleep, laughter (mine) and tears (his). These past seven days have been absolutely exhausting, but they’ve also been the most amazing seven days of my life.
In the past week and a half, I’ve learned quite a few things as I’ve adjusted to my new life as a mother of a newborn infant, and I know that JT still has a lot more to teach me. From our three days in the hospital to our week at home, I’ve already learned a lot from my time with my beautiful baby boy. For your pleasure, here are just a few things that I’ve learned over the past week:
1.) When you’re packing your hospital bag, don’t bother packing half the items that you think you’ll need. When I was in my third trimester, I packed my bag according to the lists I found online, and with every week that passed, my bag got a little larger. By the time Andrew and I left for the hospital last Thursday, we were laden with my backpack, filled with books, DVDs, and my laptop (because many websites told me that I should have lots of distraction supplies since I should expect a lot of down time during labor and through my postpartum stay), and my “overnight” bag, which contained everything from a bathing suit and flip-flops (in case I wanted to use one of the whirlpools during labor, though in reality I had neither the time nor the energy to do anything but try to sleep) to a well-thought-out outfit to be discharged in (I knew enough to pack maternity jeans and a loose-fitting top, but it never occurred to me that I would just want to leave in comfy sweats). The next time around, my bag will be a lot lighter: sweats and a t-shirt, slip-on shoes, toiletries (the suggestion to pack make-up and shampoo was definitely worth it, but I’ll get to that later), and clothing for my child. You really don’t need anything else.
2.) Showering and applying (minimal) make-up has become a very humanizing experience for me. Since JT pretty much sleeps around the clock at the moment, only waking up long enough for food and a diaper change, I’ve gotten into the habit of showering and getting dressed right after JT and I finish breakfast. Those twenty minutes of quiet time have become incredibly valuable to me. Not only is the hot water soothing as I heal, but it’s also a constant that has carried over from my pre-baby life. Even though my day and night life has changed dramatically, my showers have remained reassuringly the same. My shower time might only last ten to twenty minutes, but I’ve come to look forward to shower time in a way that I never have before.
3.) I never thought that I would be so excited to sleep more than two hours at a time. During JT’s time in the hospital and for the first day or so that we were home, my son rarely slept more than two hours, day or night. By the time I was discharged, I took it for granted that John would be waking me up every hour to two hours to eat, and I had accepted that fact. In all honesty, with my Nook propped up on my leg, I actually enjoy my night-time feeding sessions with JT. With the peaceful silence, John’s big eyes looking up at me, and his body snuggled up against me, I’ve reveled in those quiet moments. But that doesn’t mean that I find myself hoping that there will be less of those moments at night. As much as I love our quiet time together, I also need my sleep. So when I woke up to JT’s cries and looked at the clock only to realize that three and a half hours had passed since his last nursing session, I might have nearly jumped for joy. I was in shock. I was amazed. And I had never been more excited to realize that I had slept for only three and a half hours.
4.) What pregnancy does to your stomach and ankles, a newborn child does to your heart. Swelling is a natural part of pregnancy. As your child grows, inevitably he will need more space. As he makes himself more space, your stomach will swell to accommodate him. Just when you think that your stomach can’t expand any further, you gain another pound and it’s just a little bit harder to climb out of your car. Your body is able to do the seemingly impossible as it swells to permit your child’s growth. The same can be said of your heart when you are entrusted with another life, one that is completely dependent on you for all his needs. In the months leading up to John’s arrival, I encountered many stories that recounted how some mothers struggled to bond with their newborn infants. With each testimony that I read, I became more convinced that I would have the same issues. I was diagnosing myself before I even had the opportunity to manifest any symptoms. But in the hour immediately following JT’s birth, I knew that there would be no such struggle for me. As soon as I laid eyes on my little boy, my heart swelled with love. While my body did amazing things while I was pregnant (and continues to do so), my heart did amazing things when my son was born. I now know what is meant by a “mother’s love.” There’s nothing quite like it in this world, and I consider myself blessed to be able to share this love with my son.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!