We have proudly bore the title of parents for 2 weeks now and are slowly but surely finding our way through the topsy-turvy terrain of caring for a newborn. It’s been better, sweeter, and at times (usually in the wee hours of the morning), much harder than we imagined. It feels like any given day, any given hour, can hold the highest highs and the lowest lows.
I stood with Juliette in my arms in the nursery the other night, bouncing and shushing until I was short of breath, watching the clock tick its way past midnight, crying tears of frustration as she wailed in my ear. How could she possibly be hungry again? I fed her thirty minutes ago. Couldn’t she give my sore breasts a break? Was I producing enough milk? Or was she just an over-eater? Why did I let her take that long evening nap, right before bedtime? My mind ran amuck, all sense of reason lost in the mix of too little sleep and too many hormones. But once I worked up the will to feed her again and laid her quiet, milk-drunk little body across my chest, I was reminded that she’s not trying to be difficult – she’s just trying to figure out life on the outside, and the learning curve is steep, for her and for us. This mutual vulnerability sometimes results in tears, but it also results in a kind of closeness I’ve never known before. There is no match for the feeling of her collapsing against me after a big meal, her serene, satisfied face saying “thank you”.
As I’m feeling stronger and Jules is more alert, we’re embarking on mini family outings to break up our long, quiet days at home. We took her out to the Columbia City farmers market on Wednesday night, eager for fresh air and a short walk. Shane and I tucked her into her car seat and then playfully argued over who would get to push the stroller and enjoy the best view of her curious, wide-open eyes. It was fun to join the ranks of other neighborhood families, to see cider for sale and sense the onset of Fall. But then Jules started to fuss as I lingered by the freshly picked apples. We headed back to the car, wanting to keep her happy and squeeze in a quick run to the grocery store before going home. Halfway to PCC, the girl totally lost it – we called it quits on our fun family outing and turned the car around just as her crying morphed into full-on purple-faced shrieking. Shane became frantic as we waited at a stop light, begging me to do something as her periods of suspended breath between wails grew longer and longer – he thought she was literally crying herself to death. I assured him that she’d be fine, but by the time we made it home and pulled her out of her (apparently tortuous) car seat, my nerves were shot. Hearing her cry like that and feeling powerless to stop it had left me tired and anxious – I cradled her in my arms and sighed as I wondered how many more years of on-the-road meltdowns we had in front of us.
Every day holds one or two (or 15) moments of doubt or fatigue; thankfully, every day is also full of precious nuggets that outshine the tough stuff. A smile, a goofy cross-eyed gaze, a quiet minute to stop and stroke her soft brown-and-blond hair – these are the joys that get us through the day. When she drapes her arms across my body after a good feeding or nuzzles against Shane to watch the Giants game, all is suddenly right in our little world.
And, by popular demand, the latest photos…
I’d like to think she was smiling at me, but the sounds coming from her derriere suggest there was something else going on:
Best natural highlights I’ve ever seen:
Passed out. One of these days I’ll learn that I should be napping while she’s napping, rather than obsessively taking photos of her:
Feelin’ fresh after her first shower:
Sleeping the day away on her 2-week birthday: