By Guest Bloggers Laura and Jeff Handler
People say the first few months are the hardest for new parents not only because you’re trying to operate on three hours of [non-consecutive] sleep, trying to come to grips with an acceptance of lost independence (that all seasoned parents had warned you about), and meanwhile trying to maintain a healthy level of patience and communication with your spouse, but also because there’s often a “lack of return” from your newborn who eats, poops, cries, sleeps, cries, eats, poops, cries, sleeps, cries, eats…on repeat 24 hours a day.
But our first night in the hospital with our son, Casey, my husband and I received the first of what we (of course as his adoring parents) would consider “a sign.” Trying to cherish a few quiet moments as a new family, Jeff held our little infant fast asleep on his chest as I got out the book On the Night You Were Born. Halfway through the book, I was reading,
“Not once had there been such eyes, such a nose, such silly, wiggly, wonderful toes.
In fact, I think I’ll count to three so you can wiggle your toes for me.”
No lie, without missing a beat, Casey stirred his legs and gave us a little wiggle. We looked at each other, both equally incredulous of what we had just witnessed. Infant reflex or not, it was an uncanny, magical moment that was timed just right. “It’s like he knows!” I said.
Fast forward a few weeks later, to yet another middle-of-the-night feeding. Trying to keep my eyelids open, trying to ignore the stiff pains in my neck, back, and hips, and trying to get Mr. Fussypants to settle enough to latch on properly, it was one of those moments when you just feel like you’ve had enough. As I struggled to garble coherent words to coax Casey to focus and eat so we could both go back to sleep (as if that would help), he instead turned his head to look up at me with those big blue eyes of his and give me the biggest smile his five week old mouth could muster. “Seriously?” I thought, as a wave of delight and relaxation washed over me. How could I be frustrated with that look? It’s just like he knows when I’m on the brink of defeat and in need of a little love.
Most recently my husband had a pretty crummy day at work and came home in a foul mood. Ready for a break from the day, I handed Casey over to him and they went upstairs for some tummy time and, apparently, a boys’ talk. Laying on the floor next to him under the playgym, Jeff met him at eye level so he could explain the cruelties of the adult world and frustrations of business life. After venting for a while and starting to feel a little better, he paused to look at Casey and asked, “So what do you think about that?” Casey fixed a concerted stare back into Jeff’s eyes, and responded by unleashing a huge, diaper-blowing poop. Clearly he was in agreement that it was a load of crap! Recounting the episode to me later with a much more pleasant disposition, Jeff laughingly just shook his head and acknowledged, “He knows!”
While these stories might seem insignificant to some, undoubtedly you have your own recollection of those times when your child just seemed to know when you needed a break. For years to come, these are the memories that will remain and the stories you will retell as he or she gets older. In the early stages of parenthood, they might be few and far between the bouts of crying, blowout diapers, and stains of spit-up, but they remind us of why it’s all worth it. So treasure them. Write them down. Capture mental images of them and store them away for a time when you’re feeling low. Most likely your meltdown is just another magical moment waiting to occur.