Very often, you will hear people tell you that childbirth is painful, but the minute that baby is put into your arms, you forget all about the pain. Although this is not entirely true, it is amazing how quickly we manage to forget pain and suffering when it is accompanied by the wonderful thing that is a baby.
My cousin has just had a baby. I give her a call to find out how she is doing. As I tell her that she is welcome to give me a ring anytime she wants to chat, or cry or laugh, I think to myself that she probably won’t. When you’re in that space, that space where every waking moment is spent feeding, burping, changing and then praying that the baby will go back to sleep so that you too can get some rest (or find the time to run a comb through your hair, or brush your teeth), you forget that you can ask for help. It’s very easy to tell someone else to ask for help when you’ve forgotten how impossible everything seemed in those early days.
But we manage to forget very quickly. Those of you with really tiny babies won’t believe what I tell you here. My baby is 4 months old and I can hardly remember what it was like to have a newborn. I’ve forgotten that feeds can last for 30 minutes or more. I’ve forgotten that babies don’t always smile. I’ve certainly forgotten those days where your eyelids feel like lead because babes was going through a growth spurt and woke you up every 90 minutes. So I promise you it really does get better and better and better!
I was recently invited to a lunch with a number of other mothers who all have babies of around the same age. It was wonderful to sit around a table and share baby stories. As one of only two mothers who was not a first-time mommy, I felt very experienced compared to the lady whose baby is only 3 weeks old . Despite knowing how annoying it can be to have everyone tell you what to do, I can’t help it and I soon find myself dishing out advice and stories as if I have seven children.
A couples of days later, I visit the NICU to drop off some donor breast milk. I run into one of the wonderful nurses who had made my day every day she looked after my tiny baby. I’d forgotten how hot it gets in there! All the memories of those 15 days of hell come flooding back.
But this time it’s bittersweet. I look at all the mothers in the ward sitting with their babies and I have an urgent need to tell them that it will be OK. Just look at my little princess, I promise you mommies, they get bigger and eventually they get to leave here. They grow into their too-large newborn baby clothes and they sleep less, eat for shorter time periods and start smiling! In no time at all, you will have to strain to remember what it was like right at the beginning, so heed the words: “Enjoy your baby while he or she is still little, because they grow up too fast!”