“My friend had a baby and there’s one thing I couldn’t stop thinking about.”
Yesterday there was a Facebook post I’d been waiting for – two dear friends who’ve had a tough few years, welcomed a beautiful baby girl.
As I smiled at the picture of her, texting well wishes and requesting more photos from the proud dad, I found myself thinking back to those first blurry hours and days after my son was born – the exhaustion, the relief, the elation.
I remember the sudden rush of visitors, my sleeping bundle passed around to new grandparents, aunts and uncles as I sat up in bed, ravenous after labour, eating Vegemite sandwiches. And the unfamiliar sounds of the hospital in the solitude after they left.
The all-over soreness too and the shattering post-adrenaline fatigue. The strange absence of my baby’s kicking after months of it, stronger and stronger as the weeks wore on.
The way the room was full of my son’s name; its newness. And lying alongside him, me in my bed and he in his plastic crib, staring at him, drinking him in, in the quiet early hours of that first morning.
I remember marvelling in his tiny nose and his perfect little ears, counting his fingers and watching him breathing. The midwives coming in and out of my room in cycling shifts, each unwrapping and swaddling him differently, with practiced expertise. And the night sweats no one warned me about, jolted awake by hungry newborn wails, swathed in cold, wet sheets.
The stomach-clenching memory too, of being hit by a sudden terror, the humbling realisation that I had no idea what I was doing.
That in a few days we’d be leaving hospital with this tiny new person who was completely dependent on us and how on earth were we going to cope?
I remember the first slippery bath, my husband holding our son with a gentle strength, guided through the steps by a patient midwife. And “going home” day - brimming with fear and apprehension and at the same time, an overwhelming desire to collapse into my own bed and begin our new life as a family.
I think of my dear friends, the brand new parents, and all that’s to come. I think of everything they’re about to learn and the way their hearts will be stretched and seized.
Of the first six weeks when night and day blur, the pacing and rocking and patting and the first soul-lifting smile. And I think of how precious it all is. And what a privilege, too.
Welcome to the world all the beautiful summer babies, born over the last few weeks. And to those little ones almost ready to join us: we’re watching for the announcements, we can’t wait to meet you.
What do you remember about the first few hours and days with your baby? Are you waiting to make or to hear a birth announcement?
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