4.20.2015

Welcome, Baby Jude: Thoughts on Mothering a Newborn



Our little one has arrived! Jude Cedar is five-weeks-old and we are making our way through these first weeks of becoming a family of four. Our newborn boy is amazing. Filled with all the beautiful things that only newborns can emulate. The raw beauty that radiates from their primal being. The intense fragility. The vulnerability. The tenderness. And also the sheer will to survive. It's humbling. And heartwarming. And rocks my mothering center on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Suffice to say I am in love with this tiny boy. In love with mothering new life again.



But this epic time of transformation does not come without its challenges. As any parent knows the first few weeks of life are also relentless on the caregivers. Newborns need to be fed, diapered, coddled, comforted, and tended 24 hours a day. They typically sleep and feed on a two-hour schedule, maybe a three-hour stretch, if we're lucky. This pace is something I've forgotten. A sort of common amnesia of parents that I'm convinced is programmed to protect the evolution and procreation of our species. No, really. It's true! We have to forget the physical demands of pregnancy, labor, and newborn care in order to have subsequent children. My labor was a dream compared to my labor with our older son, but that's another blog post.

Of course, I feel much more confident mothering a newborn the second time around. I have my systems and my preferences and my familiar bag of tricks. I know that I can feed, diaper, coddle, comfort and tend to my newborn with a good shot at satisfying his needs about 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time is anybody's guess. But now I don't take it personally when he's fussy or when I've cycled through my list of usual newborn needs--nursing, diapering, burping, sleeping--and he's still unsatisfied. I just do what I can and wait for the moment to pass. And this time I know that it will.

But tending to a newborn and simultaneously tending to a three-year-old is something that is not yet in my bag of tricks. Suddenly my preschooler is so old, so communicative, so independent, and also so complicated. Mothering a newborn is somehow basic. It's exhausting and relentless, of course, but it's also parenting his basic needs. And the bursts of exhilaration and amazement and reveling in new beautiful life are enough to power onwards. But mothering a preschooler who talks, walks, jumps, runs, and has his own preferences about food, sleep, socializing, entertainment, communication, and asserting his independence on the world is much more complicated. Of course, mothering a teenager is something that I know nothing about but that must feel more complicated than anything I can imagine.


But this time around I know that time is precious. Sleep is precious. And working from home is also precious. I know to have projects lined up in my studio so when I get 10-30 minute breaks I can pick up my work and put it back down again without having to plan. I know that if I've been up with Jude every two hours all night long then when it's finally time for my three-year-old to nap I can rest on the couch with my newborn babe while my older son sleeps. I know that if my husband offers to take the baby out to the living room at 5am I should let him because that means two more hours of sleep until my older son is awake and standing by my bedside. And I know that two hours is enough to make a difference the next day.

I also know that this will all pass. For better and for worse. For better, as we will sometime sleep through the night and manage the insurmountable piles of laundry and learn to parent two boys at once. For better, as I will return to part-time childcare and part-time studio work and my work/ family balance will appear more like a functioning working mother and less like a sleep-deprived, non-stop tending, one-sided sloping mama scale. For better, because we will gain confidence and grow accustom to this new family structure and we will be better for adjusting and growing and allowing all this raw love in.

But for worse, because these newborn days are really so precious. So tender. So magical. So intimate. And so very new. And the thought of losing them to the complicated needs of an older child makes my heart sink a bit. A preschooler is full of joy, don't get me wrong. But babies really are pure magic. And for worse, because the moments of this tiny human wanting nothing more than to be held, fed, diapered, coddled, comforted, and tended in very basic ways will also pass. And I will miss them. And while my mothering center will continue to be rocked and swayed and pushed and pulled on a daily basis it will not have the same power, the same presence, the same life-altering sensibility that it has when parenting a newborn. So I try to practice mindfulness and be present as much as a sleep-deprived mama possibly can.


Suffice to say, I am humbled to be the mother of these two beautiful little boys. I am honored to shepherd them through their days and to muster the courage to keep making meaning of my own days too. I am filled with love and awe and confidence and questioning and gratitude and generosity that only new life can bring. More simply, Jude Cedar, welcome to this world my little star. You are already one-month-old. Sigh.

xoxo,
k.

PS--I will be posting here every two weeks through the end of May. In June, I plan to return to my weekly Monday schedule but for the next six weeks I still need to take it slow in my work rhythm. Thank you for joining me here and for being flexible while I figure my way into the parenting of two young boys. I have some fun workshops, events, and projects lined up for summer and fall so I will return to studio posts soon enough. Thank you, friends.

4 comments:

  1. Katrina,

    I loved this post. You said it so perfectly. I also love the little onesie that Jude is wearing with the embroidered ONE on it... so much cuter than some of the fancy store bought ones. I just love it. And your older son? What a darling little guy. Oh, they grow up so fast. My little grand-daughter, Jillian, turned seven today and I just think, how is that even possible? Big sigh. - Dori -

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    1. Thank you, Dori. I cannot even imagine the joy of having grandchildren. What an honor that must be. And not just any grandchildren but beautiful Andrea's grandchildren! I'm so happy for your insight and for you visiting here. xoxo

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  2. Congratulations again. And I totally hear you on the difficulty of mothering a toddler and a newborn. It remains for a while because I now have a toddler and a pre-schooler and I'm still having some of these issues. But the love that they show each other is absolutely amazing.

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    1. Oh my goodness. The split attention of mothering two little ones at once is no small feat. But I also know that this feeling of being a fish out of water will soon pass. And soon this newness will just be the norm. And oh, the joy of having a newborn again. It gives me great comfort to know that there are mamas like you & me everywhere! Making magic with what we are given. Doing the best we can to get it all done and accepting when we just can't. xoxo

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Thank you for your comments, friends. I like to think we are creating a dialogue in this space--building a virtual community.