It really is amazing, how fast you forget.
Fellow HDYDI mom Rebecca and I had the pleasure of visiting the delightful Mommy, Esq over the weekend. We both remember how nice it was to have people bring real food and company in those newborn days, so it was time to pay forward the favor people had bestowed upon us back in the day. We had a great time visiting with Mommy, Husband, and the practically-perfect-in-every-way Penny and Ned, a mere 12 days old. Nothing like seeing a pair of newborns to make you realize how much has changed.
For one thing, cliché though it may be, I honestly forgot my kids were ever that tiny. Oh wait, you mean my daughter was a full pound and a half smaller than those babies? It was really incredible. Those teeny tiny heads, skinny little legs, swimming in their clothes. But that used to be me. Those used to be my kids. You also forget that they used to stay where you put them, that their cries were so quiet, that they used to just sleep all the time between feedings.
I came home and M asked me if being around such little ones made me want more. Um, no. No, it didn’t. Or, at least, no more than my occasional wonderings. I didn’t get all goopy and wanting more, because sweet and tiny and perfect as these two were, I’m still close enough to remember. While I’ve physically forgotten how little they really were, I haven’t forgotten the number of times I cried while struggling to breastfeed. I haven’t forgotten the days when Daniel would only nap in his swing, nor have I forgotten the four seemingly endless days when he refused to sleep altogether. In hindsight, I can say “oh, it was only four days!” But at the time, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it through to see the next one.
The newborn phase was so hard. I didn’t even really think about it at the time. I was just in “roll with it” mode. Sure, it was hard, but that was no surprise, right? What else was it going to be? I didn’t complain a ton (I don’t think!), and I didn’t lose my shit or burst into tears in front of other people. I stayed pretty calm most of the time, and we got out of the house to classes and lunch and running errands. Family who visited kept commenting on how amazed they were at how calm I was. I think they just expected me to be disheveled and speaking gibberish all day long, instead of being (occasionally) showered and standing upright. But in truth, it felt chaotic and overwhelming and uncertain. In truth, there were days when all three of us were crying hysterically. In truth, I had no idea what the hell I was doing.
I didn’t ask for help. I didn’t have family nearby, I didn’t hire anyone aside from a cleaning lady (oh, and thank god for the cleaning lady). I built a little network of twin mom friends and my new mom class, and that was great. But most of the time, I was on my own. M, night owl that he is, took the night shift and let me get a good chunk of sleep, which certainly helped in a big way. But looking back, there’s a part of me that can scarcely believe I survived that first four months. I can’t believe I didn’t get more help.
Then again, I’m still me. I’m stubborn and independent. I don’t really like having extra people in my space. I’m a little bit of a control freak. So maybe if I did it all over again, it would be similar. I still probably wouldn’t put down the cash on a night nanny, even though I know people swear by them. I still probably would not allow any of the grandparents to stay at our house (a rule we laid down when we first told them we were pregnant).
But maybe… maybe I’d take a few more people up on their offers for food. Maybe I’d get a postpartum doula or in-home lactation consultant. I guess, with the benefit of hindsight, I’d have more of an idea what I actually want, and what would actually be helpful.
I also know this: for as little as I knew, for as much as I was just kind of winging it… they’re just fine. They’re healthy, they’re (mostly) happy, they’re growing, they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. And in the long run, it gets so much easier, even as other things get harder. I’m not sure why I feel like it’s easier, now that they’re crawling and getting into things and falling down and hitting their heads and skipping naps. And there are days when it’s super hard. But maybe it feels easier because I know them better, because I’ve gained confidence, or because the good times are so much more fun.
Anyways, there’s nothing like flashbacks to make you marvel at how far you’ve come.