Baby BlissAlisa Ikeda
When you're expecting, people go on and on about how exhausted and bleary-eyed you're bound to be after many a sleepless newborn night, torment you with mental images of pacing the halls with a wailing little tyrant of a baby, bombard you with jokes about poopy diaper duty and baby burping, raz you about romance and sex becoming distant memories. But did you ever notice that most of those people are the ones who don't actually have kids?
Then there are the seasoned parents—the ones who give you a quietly encouraging smile and a knowing nod of the head, the ones who look at you wistfully as they are reminded of their own baby's infancy. They have the privilege of knowing firsthand what you will soon: that those initial weeks and months in babyland are nothing short of magical.
The New-Parent Stupor
It starts in the delivery room. Just when you're so physically and emotionally spent you can't see straight, it happens: you are utterly invigorated by your baby's first gurgled cry. You find yourself laughing and sobbing at once as you hold in your arms this babe fresh from heaven. You are bowled over by your little one's petal-soft perfection and out-of-this-world beauty. New moms feel wondrously powerful—giving birth is no small feat!—and new dads bubble over with tears of exhilaration. Never have you been so naturally loopy. Dog-tired, you can't sleep a wink.
Leaving the hospital is a glorious but nerve-wracking experience. What a thrill! This baby is yours, all yours! But wait—they're actually trusting you to take the fragile little guy home? No instruction manual? No medically certified support staff? What are new Mommies and Daddies to do?! Take comfort in the groggy fog of early infant madness that has already enveloped you. Part dream-state, part adrenaline, part rapture, part glee, and part pride, that new-parent stupor will somehow get you through the inevitable shell shock, countless crying jags (your baby's and yours), and days on end without a shower or a square meal—and with a big goofy grin on your face to boot.
Baby Makes Three
Who'd have thought you'd be giddy at the sight of your partner falling madly in love with another person? Ah, but you are, thanks to a delicious romantic euphoria that blankets the household when baby arrives. Eavesdrop on your honey as she softly sings a lullaby to the wee one at her breast. Peek in at your love as his littlest sweetie falls fast asleep on his chest. Dare you not to get teary as you feel that old first-date flutter come back with a vengeance.
As two become three, the dynamics of your relationship naturally change. But did anyone mention it was for the much, much better? Sure, there are the dirty diaper negotiations and the tedious arguments over whose turn it is to do the dishes. But there's also the intoxicating revelation that together you made a full-fledged human -- the very embodiment of your love. It's no wonder you can both marvel at your creation for endless hours of delight. And it's no surprise that your wedded love and mutual respect grow exponentially as you watch one another evolve into Mommy and Daddy.
Indeed, zany spontaneity is effectively gone now that you have a darling little dependent. But be honest with yourselves -- was it ever really there, or was it just the option for spontaneity that felt so indulgent? Think about it. How often did you actually take off for a Hawaiian vacation on a whim? Well, now you can't. You can, however, enjoy pizza and a beer on a hammock in the backyard or Chinese takeout by candlelight in the nursery. Think of it as romance redefined.
What Really Matters
A new baby gives you an instant dose of perspective. It hits you that thrilling moment the doctor cries out "It's a girl!" or "It's a boy!" Then and only then do you realize it truly didn't matter one bit. You are simply overjoyed by the very miracle that is your baby.
Small things become sublime pleasures to new parents. The peachy soft head of your wee one. The sweet-smelling warmth of her. The way his little hand clutches your finger so tightly. Her first actual teardrops. Tiny yawns and sleepy baby smiles. (Gas, they say? Oh, please.) Stolen moments in the softly lit wee hours of the morning when you and your baby are the only ones stirring. The pride that overcomes you when someone comments on the beauty of your baby. The way romantic songs on the radio so eloquently capture your newest love affair. Snuggling as a threesome in bed on a Sunday morning. These are the things that matter. These are the things that bring you unadulterated happiness.
By the same token, big things become much less daunting. Old stresses relax, persistent worries quiet down, and challenges become surmountable. Somehow, eight-pound bundles inspire daring career and lifestyle changes and dramatically altered goals as their parents come to understand with immense clarity the words of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much."
Nothing flies faster than babyhood. Revel in every delirious moment.Alisa Ikeda is a writer and editor in Marin County, California, with a B.A. in sociology and a background in book publishing.
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