Hi! I miss you guys. I miss this space. I miss shaping my disjointed thoughts into some sort of order, but . . . well. With a 6-week-old, I am more exhausted than I ever thought possible. My mom once told me that, reflecting back on my own newborn days, she couldn’t believe she could be so tired and still physically standing.
But Mr. Ollie is napping after his 6 a.m. feeding. I had the option of returning to the couch to try and catch a little more shut-eye, too, or popping on here to check in . . . and I chose you, friends. Anyone who has spent time caring for a newborn understands my grand gesture, right?
Oliver has been home for three weeks today. By the weekend, he will have been with us longer than he was in the hospital, which feels like a major milestone. Little by little, the chaos and pain of those early days has begun to dull. Slowly but surely, I find myself dwelling less on the minutiae of the NICU and our complicated early experiences as parents and focusing more on who this fella is already becoming: our sweet, lovable, sleepy baby man.
There are moments I feel very zen — calm, peaceful, in love with this child. And there are times I feel frazzled, worried, anxious. The two often coexist, rearing up within the same day, the same hour. I am in the waning days of my maternity leave, meaning work lurks just around the corner . . . and at one of our many 3 a.m. feedings, I started to panic thinking about how life will look in just a few weeks.
Change. Change again.
Being a mama is hard. I wasn’t naive enough to think it wouldn’t be, but I don’t think I was full prepared for the upheaval. (And broken sleep.)
But who or what can possibly prepare you for parenthood? For those 2 a.m. screams and endless dirty diapers and the responsibility, my God — the responsibility. The all-consuming need of this brand-new human: the one you love with your entire heart, though really? You’re still just getting to know each other.
Sometimes I think about how Ollie was with me for eight-ish months but how he was a concept, really — a beautiful concept that was kicking, yes, but not one I’d processed was actually coming into the world. In the very beginning, especially, I would stare at him in his little bassinet and think, That is a person. We made a person.
A pretty cute one, I think. Though I’m certainly biased.
Our days right now are . . . well, they’re pretty relaxed. Quiet. Oliver is a very easy, happy little baby. He eats every three hours and generally naps in between, so I try to get little projects done while he’s out. Perhaps thanks to his time in the NICU, Ollie is rarely affected by noise. Sudden sounds startle him, of course, but vacuuming? Hair dryers? Televisions? Loud conversations? Nothing.
For all my work around the house, though, I am also trying to relax. I haven’t had this much time off work since getting my first job at 18. Though it hasn’t been a vacation, I have enjoyed a break from the norm — a departure from all my regular duties. I’m catching up on things I normally don’t make time for, like all the movies and TV shows I’ve DVR’ed over the months. Ollie and I watched “The Fault In Our Stars” yesterday — I cried, unsurprisingly — and read together frequently, both his books and mine.
I would have been 39 weeks pregnant tomorrow, so we’re still in the very early days — and his patterns could all change. Preemies sometimes “wake up” close to their due dates, suddenly undergoing a personality shift — or an energy surge. Heck, according to his adjusted age, Ollie is currently -1 weeks old! I suspect things will change.
And I’m okay with that.
I’m learning to be okay . . . with lots of things. Our sudden entrance into parenthood has taught me to adapt, after all — and be loose. Not to plan too much or too far, and trust that the pieces will fall into place with patience. That’s never been my strong suit — patience — but I’m trying there, too.
For all the early mornings, late nights and exhaustion in between, I look into Ollie’s face and feel my heart split open with love. We can already look back at his first photos — taken in the NICU, with wires and monitors covering his little body — and see the tremendous progress he’s made. He’s nearly doubled his birth weight and sized out of teeny preemie clothes weeks ago. (That’s his very first onesie on top of him, below.)
He “smiles” all the time — an adorable, gummy look that usually follows a healthy dose of milk. Sometimes he “chuckles,” too: a long smile that looks like a noiseless laugh. When he’s awake, Ollie is always taking in the world around him — and is already fascinated by ceiling fans. He occasionally makes eye contact, but still seems to be figuring out who the heck we are.
And that’s fine. We know exactly who he is.
And man, we love him so.