Monday, April 20, 2009

Things I'd Forgotten About Newborns

In the later stages of a second pregnancy you have a faint recollection of the lack of sleep, of the bodily fluids leaking from every orifice (the baby's not yours - well, yes yours too if I'm being honest), and when you pull that breast pump down from the loft you remember the joy of sitting in your office praying no-one will walk in on you doing your Daisy the cow impression.

Babies are like crack. You know they're no good for you but you just can't stay away.

Even in the space of only three years there are some things I'd forgotten about infants, and if you're pregnant right now, they're not all bad trust me:

  • Firstly, they smell so good. Yes I know you think you remember this but you don't. I can't stop sniffing her head. When did Anna's head stopped smelling this good? Somehow it's morphed in to a preschooler head smelling of dirt, grass and if I'm lucky watermelon shampoo. Lucy's head must be pure pheromones because it is a smell that provokes a fundamental biological need to protect and nurture. And trust me, neither of those two are my forté. Which is why I keep sniffing her head.
  • Newborns are noisy. You might remember the cooing, chirruping and maybe a bit of squeaking, but I'd forgotten the grunting. Honestly, the noises that can come out of that girl while she's still asleep are astounding - sometimes she can sound like a fifty year old Scotsman on the toilet.
  • How lovely nursing is. I'll admit it can be inconvenient when you're in the middle of something, such as screaming through traffic whilst late for an appointment, and you can't whip out a boob like a bottle from the front seat and feed her in the backseat (actually, a few more months of nursing may leave my boobs capable of achieving this feat) but it's so wonderful to be able to sit down, cradle your baby and make them blissfully happy. When I get ready to nurse Lucy and put her on her side she actually laughs at the thought of what's coming next. Sometimes mid-boobing she'll look up, my nipple clamped in her gummy mouth and grin at me, her eyes communicating the infant equivalent of 'we are having SO much fun'. It is indescribable to be able to make them absolutely, perfectly content. For the last time in their lives. I need a photo of her when she's finally sated, with just enough energy to pull off the boob, a trickle of overflow running down her milk-coma face. I'd like that photo, except it always has my giant zeppelin breast in shot, so it's not for public viewing, sorry.
  • On the same topic, I'd forgotten how their schedule is your schedule. With Anna being 3 we'd achieved that blissful stage of quasi-self sufficiency. No more diaper bag, no 'I can't meet you at 10am she's about to nap'. Freedom. Newborns are tiny Nazis. When they need something they need it yesterday. They're never a little peckish, they are ravenous and why aren't I eating, wail, wail, wail. Your only coping mechanism is to skilfully anticipate their needs - case in point when I drop Lucy off at Jen's house in the morning and tell her "she's either going to want to eat..... or sleep .....or maybe wake up, or she could be pooping. I really haven't the slightest idea." Thanks! That's skilful parenting. I'd honestly forgotten how tricky it is to be so tied to their schedule. You can't be somewhere at 3pm, you'll be there after they've finished eating, or after you've cleaned up that explosive poop. I used to hate people who said 'you should sleep when they sleep' because after all, aren't babies supposed to be adapting to your schedule rather than you to theirs? But no, they rule with a rod of iron and you will cave to their demands.
  • How heavy that infant car seat is and how your black and blue shins make you look like you've been having frenzied sex on the carpet night after night when in actual fact you've just been banging that damn car seat in to your legs each time you leave the house.
  • and finally, and most critically, the buck stops with you if you have boobs. Yes babies can drink formula or re-heated breast milk from a bottle, but if you have the boobs any person holding the baby who is tired of holding the baby will say 'I think she just needs feeding'. Sometimes they will hunt you down just to say this. I spend a great deal of time hiding under furniture while LK paces around the house trying to find me.
Case in point right now (she wrote, whilst typing r-e-a-l-l-y- quietly).

12 comments:

Hyphen Mama said...

I miss the baby smell SO MUCH! I think Mack's yummy baby smell left when he was around 4 months. I had a head cold and was congested for several weeks, and when I got my sense of smell back the smell had GONE AWAY. I was traumatized.

Ali said...

Oh please don't remind me! We have pretty much decided to stop at 4 children. I will always be clucky and do not need more reminders of what I will be missing out on! Mmmmm, babies.

Daffodilly said...

I can remember thinking how mundane at times it was to have a tiny baby as your world turns upside down: feed, burp, diaper, sleep...then housework or & work. However, that soon disappeared as they are just so gorgeous and this period is for such a short time..enjoy it! If you can find a way to bottle that delicious smell we could all be millionaires!

Sugarplum's Mom said...

Yes! baby snorts! I love baby snorts!

Expat mum said...

Ooh that smell. Baby heads. However, I love the smell of little kids' sweaty heads when they come in from racing around the park in the summer. (not so much now.)
Can't agree with you about the nursing as mine was agony and very upsetting (and a failure three times), but I'm envious - and happy for you.

Veronica said...

You know I spent this whole post nodding my head.

Lynne's Somewhat Invented Life said...

What a lovely post. Thanks for all the startling and lovely memories.

Antonia said...

I knew you were going to say grunting. The question of Shall We Have Another One was discussed for the first time in this house a couple of days ago*, and I'm spending most of my time trying to remember how long the newborn insanity went on for. Mainly, I remember being woken up by grunting, a lot.

*Him: "No, I like the way things are now." Me: Mmmmmaybe. Still thinking about grunting.

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