Above: Gemma at one day old.
I feel like I just wrote this post, yet here I am with a post about my four-month-old. Four months old! Officially out of the “fourth trimester,” out of newborn stage, and onto greater things like grabbing, rolling, and bouncing.
When other parents say it goes by in the blink of an eye, they aren’t kidding. I recently put away the last of her newborn clothes and could not believe how tiny she used to be. I’ve made my husband promise that we won’t utter the words “I can’t wait until…” because I want to enjoy every moment at every stage we have with her.
Motherhood has been many things that I expected, and many things that I did not. As I’m watching my little one grow like a weed (a weed I don’t mind having, that is!), here are four thoughts I want to share about my journey thus far.
Gemma at two weeks old.
1. Motherhood is a blast.
It really is. The awesome amount of fun I have with Gemma, and the fun I have as a mother in general, has totally taken me by surprise. It’s probably hard for non-parents to understand what’s so fun about making silly faces or having one-sided conversations with a saliva bubble-blowing person, but those are the little moments I absolutely love about our family. I love it when she erupts into laughter at the most mundane things, I love it when she furrows her brows and immediately segues into a hundred hilarious facial expressions, I love it when she wakes up with an instant smile and wants to play, I even love it when she has a meltdown from being overtired and I have to kiss her cheeks and rock her to sleep.
I find joy in folding and putting away her little outfits, ordering boring things like Japanese booger tweezers, and telling my husband to change an exploded diaper, during which we both crack up and praise her like she just made the Olympic podium.
I’m having a blast with this parenting thing, and my husband is, too. The unfamiliarity of the situation, and the indescribable rewards it brings, makes it so, so fun and exciting.
Gemma at six weeks old.
2. I feel like a superwoman.
Because I work at home, she’s my constant companion. And there are challenges to getting actual work done when half the day is spent feeding her, playing with her, and looking at her. (I once read somewhere that when a baby makes eye contact with you, she’s forming significant neurological connections that aid in development, so I try not to break my gaze until she looks away first. I don’t know how true that is, but since it’s so very enjoyable to make eye contact with her, I devote a good part of my day to it!)
Gemma takes what I call “crap naps,” naps that never last longer than half an hour, maybe an hour if I’m lucky and the stars align. In that 30-minute span, I make a mad dash around the house and the garden to accomplish as much as I can without having her attached to my hip. Laundry sorting. Toilet scrubbing. Nail painting. Crop harvesting. Plant pruning. Picture taking. Blog writing. Book writing!
Miraculously, I check off most of my tasks before I hear her start to grunt in the bedroom. I’ve never been more productive in my life, and I do it all on the least amount of sleep I’ve ever had. It hasn’t been entirely easy since my boobs became the sole source of food for another human, but I credit my husband and all the cooking he’s been doing since Gemma was born. New motherhood makes me eat like I’m a teenage boy, and he strives to keep me (and the baby) well fed every day!
Gemma at two months old.
3. Being a parent has strengthened my bond with my own parents.
I’ve always had a close relationship with my parents, and that relationship was one of the reasons I wanted to start my own family. I love the idea of growing old and being surrounded with generations of loved ones. But being a busy adult with family out of state always reminds me of that popular saying: just like stars, you don’t always see them but you know they’re always there. Sometimes weeks can pass before we call each other to catch up, and thankfully we have text or we’d never know what was going on in the family.
Enter baby. I have been in constant contact with my parents through every means of communication ever since Gemma arrived, and the weird thing is, we feel closer even though we’re not calling to ask how the other party’s been. I mean, we say our hellos and how dos but once the pleasantries are out of the way, it’s all. about. the baby. They want to know how she’s growing, what she’s wearing, where she’s sleeping. They want to know when they can come visit her, or when we can come visit them. They are annoyingly yet sweetly overprotective of her, and they light up in ways I’ve seldom seen. It gives me goosebumps with how enamored they are with her, and how much of a greater bond they have with my husband and me because of that. I feel it’s just as beautiful as having a baby itself, and I know we are incredibly lucky to be able to say that.
Gemma at three months old.
4. Other parents really pay attention.
Until we became parents ourselves, we never realized how much of a tribe there is among parents. But it’s everywhere: at a restaurant, in a store, on the street. Parents stopping to coo at our baby. Parents congratulating us on having a baby. Parents asking if we need a play mat, a high chair, or a box of outfits their own babies had outgrown. Parents so eager to help that for the first month of motherhood, I felt guilty for not helping my own friends when they had their babies.
Early on in our parenting days, Will and I went to visit friends and had to park a block away. As we were walking up the narrow street, balancing a bobblehead baby and a bulging diaper bag up a steep hill, a car appeared behind us and crept along. We moved to the side to let it pass but it didn’t honk, it didn’t signal, it just followed us slowly through the neighborhood and frankly, we were a little weirded out.
By the time we made it to our friends’ house, the driver rolled down his window with a big smile and said, “Hey, how old’s your baby?” He then said he had his own baby at home and knew how it felt to carry such precious cargo, so he didn’t want to rush us or push us off the street by squeezing the car past us. He gave his congratulations with a knowing look as if to say, I get you, before continuing on his way.
It was a strange but sweet encounter, and one of many we’ve had since then. Four months in, we’re still figuring out this parenting thing as we go along, and we’re so grateful to know that other parents are there for us if and when we need them.