This blog post has been running circles in my brain for weeks just waiting to be written, but as you will see from below, there is good reason why it is only now coming to fruition.
When I published my last post I was 39 weeks pregnant. Now we have a
10 11 12 week old! Time flies and all that jazz, I suppose. This post is about what’s happened in the in-between weeks, and what I’ve learned about having a newborn.
Our son Henry finally arrived on March 5th, eleven days past his due date and after 36 hours of labor (hence the “finally”). His complete birth story is one for another time, but I will say that the moment they placed him in my arms was breathtaking and sacred; after so many months of waiting, this screaming, squirming tiny human was suddenly there. And in that moment, everything changed. Everything prior to that moment is “before” and in this new “after” nothing is the same as it once was.
After two delightful days in the hospital, we were sent home with a cart full of goodies and supplies, a newly filled carseat, and all the staff’s best wishes for a good life. Although our childbirth and breastfeeding classes had prepared us well for what those first few weeks at home would be like, I was still caught somewhat off guard by the intensity of the exhaustion and healing process. Regular household chores suddenly become behemoths, and getting up and ready for the day spends what little energy I have available. Practically all of the time is spent feeding the baby, and what little time remains in-between my body demands that I sleep.
One evening towards the end of March, Christian and I took the baby and went to Panera for dinner. It was while eating that I had The Revelation: this season of life with a newborn requires me to “Pick Two”, just like you do at Panera. After the required tasks of nurturing and feeding my child, there is a small margin in which to get other things accomplished.
Every day I can choose to:
- Take a shower OR eat breakfast
- Go on a walk OR take a nap
- Load the dishwasher OR put laundry in to wash
- Read a book OR write in my journal
- Sweep the floor OR clean the toilet
- Cook dinner OR fold a load of laundry
- Visit the doctor OR go to the grocery story
- Sleep OR write a blog post (you can tell which one won most often in this category)
Pick two, and that is the limit for the day. I quickly learned that my get-things-done, pack as much in a day as I can attitude had to take a hike, otherwise I would wind up frustrated and upset in trying to do too much. This season of intense change begs for a slow, simmering pace. One where priorities shift and beauty is found in recognizing my limitations.
March was a blur. I can’t really tell you anything that happened outside of our little townhouse, but I can tell you that inside our little home I learned to rest and spent lots of time cuddling our baby. I learned that tears are good, and sleep is better. April is slightly clearer, but only just so. The experts tell you that you need 6 weeks to recover after having a baby. I will tell you that I thought I felt better after 6 weeks. Then week 7 came and I felt even better. That upward trend continued until week 10 when my body felt back to normal and I felt completely healed from the birth.
Ever so slowly as the weeks progress my energy has allowed me to add a third or fourth or even fifth thing to my day. But as a routine begins to develop, as naps get longer and feeding times get shorter it is easy to begin to hurry again. To pack the day with a multitude of good things that ultimately wear me out. In this season I am learning that limits are a good gift, and that when I listen and slow down there is beauty and grace to be found. I am learning to extend more and more grace towards myself and others, to “pick two” and do them with excellence, to focus on what is best over what is good.
What season are you in right now? Where do you need to recognize limits and allow the pace to slow in order to find what is best? Where do you need to extend grace, either to yourself or others? May we slow down and see with fresh eyes the beauty that is waiting for us.