With new babies, you expect certain things: crying, cuteness and a lot of dirty diapers (although the reality—and expense—of so many nappy changes is shocking even though you knew it was coming). I read What to Expect When You’re Expecting just like every other mama to be in this country, but I’ve been caught off guard by a handful of surprises these first few weeks.
The Baby High
For the first five days or so, it felt like I didn’t need sleep. With the birth of Edith, I became this supermom who substituted staring at her newborn for REM. Sometimes, 15 minutes after I lay down for a nap, Eric brought a crying and hungry Edie to me with an apologetic look. “Don’t worry!” I’d say cheerily. “I feel rested!” I never nodded off during nighttime feedings and looked forward to the awake period Edie usually had between 3 and 5 a.m., when we’d have long conversations. (Ok, I talked at her and she squeaked, but still.)
Imagine my disillusionment when I realized I was not a superhuman and actually did need sleep. Whatever causes the baby high wore off or the string of nights with only two hours of rest caught up with me and I crashed. Now I fight off dozing during nighttime feedings by checking Facebook and pinning birth announcement ideas.
Edith makes the noises that, if they could be printed, would become an aww-oozing Hallmark card. She coos, squeaks, sighs and makes the satisfied lip-smacking sounds that this kitten does. I imagine these sounds had an evolutionary advantage: Darwin probably favored them over the babies who sounded like a velociraptor.
I was unprepared for the other noises, though. She snuffles like a pig when she’s hungry and looking for milk in all the wrong places (like Eric’s nose). She grunts like a cantankerous and disapproving grandfather. Her burps could match up to any Red Dog-swilling dude’s. Her hiccups are worse than a sorority girl’s at closing time. And she’s such an enthusiastic eater that she can’t keep quiet about it. When I was at a group midwife appointment, the midwife looked at me like, “Seriously?” when Edie went to town on her morning snack. (Correction: her fourth or fifth morning snack.)
The aggro nursing
At an earlier group midwife appointment (the diabetes check that made me cry and almost faint, I think), they showed a breastfeeding video. In it, all the mothers smiled down at their babies who were peacefully suckling. It was like a Vermeer painting: placid and side-lit.
Cue Edith. Her feeding style is more like a Motherwell. (Ironically.) Once she’s latched, she’ll thrash her head like a dog killing a squeaky toy and kick her little legs. Of course this isn’t pleasant for my war-weary nipples. I just hope it serves some purpose (stimulating milk production? exercising muscles?) because that would make it easier to bear. Ouch.
I’m sure Edith will bring plenty more surprises along with the more common baby traits. There’s always one guarantee: a whole slew of dirty diapers.