Monday, August 04, 2008

The itsy bitsy baby

Our friends Kathleen and Will recently welcomed their first child into the world. I got a chance to meet Baby Maggie in person last Friday.

Eeeee! Isn't she so cute and tiny? She really is precious. She squeaks and mews and beeps and honks as she sleeps, and it's all just to-die-for cute. It's early, but I think you can already tell that she's going to have just oceans of personality, too.

Anyway, Diane and I met Kathleen, her mother Charlene, and Baby Maggie for lunch at a local cafe. I got to hold Maggie and tell her how gorgeous and sweet and (of course) smart she is. She flickered her eyes open maybe twice the entire time. She just wasn't that into me. Ah well. We've got time to bond.

I actually spent half the time that I held her marveling at how light she was. I mean, yes, newborn babies are tiny. I know that. But I guess it's been so long since my own child was little bitty that I really hadn't processed how great the size differential is between Maggie and William. I could hold her in the crook of one arm, stand up and sit down, lift things with my other arm, and barely even feel a thing. Amazing. It was like (cliche alert!) holding a baby doll.

But on the other hand, when babies are that tiny, you have to do every.single.thing for them, from cradling their wobbly little heads and necks to getting up to feed them every two or three hours, no matter that your body is screaming at you to just lie down and fall into a coma. I felt for Kathleen. It is hard to be a new mother. She's tired. I remember being bone-tired like that. The exhaustion felt like a heavy winter coat that I couldn't take off, no matter how I wanted to. She said she couldn't really tell me what she's been eating recently. I thought back to when William was new, and I couldn't for the life of me remember eating anything either. Did I actually eat? Who knows?

There are times now that I want to throw my hands up in frustration and shout, "I give up." Usually--okay always--those times coincide with one of William's more major temper tantrums. But those moments pass. Usually minutes later, I'm giggling over something he just said or being glad that I can say "Go find your shoes" and that he actually does go find his shoes. But those early weeks of motherhood? Not for the weak. I've never actually run an ultra-marathon (er, or any other kind of race that even aspires to be a marathon), but I imagine the first month or two of being a new mom to be like it. Utter depletion, sometimes approaching zombiedom. Occasional moments of ecstasy or hilarity, followed by tears of exhaustion. Culture shock. So not for the weak. Give me a good night's sleep and the occasional toddler hissy fit anytime.

So, if you're reading this, Kathleen, hang in there. It really does get better. I remember despairing that I'd never get a decent night's sleep ever again, but I did. Babies do eventually hold their heads up, sit up, crawl, stand up, walk, run, demand a juice box, put their own shoes on. They do. They really do.

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