“It gets better.” I remember reading this time and again during our first two weeks with James, when I was googling things like, “death by sleep deprivation.” It gave me hope then, it really did. Still, I wondered when we could expect Better to show up. Six weeks, three months…they seemed so far away from where we were.
But today, four months in, it was true. It’s as if I just woke up one day, around his 12 week mark, and everything was just…better. Our life as a little family of three felt natural, good. All of the initial fears I had—they had evaporated. I think about all the lost nights of sleep, the hours I spent crying and desperately searching for a way to comfort my inconsolable newborn, the grief I held onto for a past life—and it all seems so insignificant now, even with just a few months’ perspective.
Sometimes I’ll catch myself complaining and laugh, recognizing that I might as well be complaining about having to pay taxes after winning Powerball. Because the truth is, we hit the jackpot with James. Not a day goes by when Daniel and I don’t look at each other and ask, “How did we get so lucky?” It is so easy to give everything I have to him because he is so easy to love. Even if he’s hysterically crying, once I make eye contact with him, he’ll pause and smile. And that wide, gummy smile is this blindingly bright, tingling and warm sunlight falling all over you.
You do lose a lot when you become a parent—mostly freedom, time, and sleep—and in the beginning, it’s jarring. But then you begin to realize that you’ve gained so much more than you ever had. And it just keeps getting better.
My Favorite Moments
I know it’s not ideal for James, and as I’m sure some would argue, for me either, but I hold him for all of his naps during the day. He won’t really sleep otherwise. All told, it amounts to about 5 hours a day, together in the quiet dark of his nursery. There are definitely times when I want to get up and do something as basic as go to the bathroom, but I want him to get good rest more. And these are some of my favorite moments. Lots of times, before falling asleep, he’ll stare up at me and smile so much that he distracts himself from sleep. It’s the sweetest thing. Or he’ll start doing these long coos, in different pitches and tones, almost as if he’s trying to talk to me. I coo back, of course, and sometimes we’ll stay like that for ten minutes, just smiling and cooing.
I love holding him, snuggling with him, smelling his head, and hearing all the tiny noises he makes when he dreams. Someday he will nap on his own, I trust that. Someday I won’t get to hold him like this, to be this close and still with him, and it makes me weepy just to think it.
Month 1 Highlights
– He met DeeDee
– First real bath. He loved it
– Auntie Rachel began coming over once a week to stay overnight and give us a full night’s sleep
– First walk around the neighborhood in his stroller
– First real smile. I was holding him and my mom walked in, smiled at him and said “Hi!” He grinned from ear to ear. He loves her.
Month 2 Highlights
– Began cooing and attempting to mimic the sounds we’d make to him
– We went apple picking at a local farm. I wore James in my Lillebabe carrier and he slept the whole time…until we woke him up for pictures in the pumpkin patch
– We dressed him up as a skunk for Halloween
– 2 month check-up at the pediatrician. 14.5 pounds, 85th percentile for height and weight. 100th percentile for head circumference (makes sense given how large Daniel’s and my heads are). First set of vaccinations. He bawled. I cried. He was uncomfortable for the whole night afterward, crying on and off for hours.
Month 3 Highlights
– First laugh
– Began rolling over from his tummy to his back
– We implemented a schedule, with a structured bedtime routine
(bath, bottle, books, bed).
– During bath time, we started letting the faucet run into his tub and watched as he scooted his bum forward and lifted his little feet into the stream.
– First Thanksgiving!
Month 4 Highlights
– First Hanukkah!
– Made Christmas cookies with his aunts, Rachel and Kate
– First Christmas!
– First New Year!
– He’s been cooing and babbling for months but this week he started screeching nonstop and it brings him so much joy.