When I gave birth to my third son, Colin, on November 13th, he came out a stranger. Sure, there was an instant love and familiarity, but I still didn't know him. Would he be calm, or high strung? Laid back, or fussy? A good or bad sleeper? A good or bad eater? Serious or silly?
I had no idea. And it is that unknown that I think makes the first weeks of the newborn period so scary.
On my first day home alone with Colin, I was petrified. You would think the third time around that I would avoid the whole oh my god, don't leave me alone with the baby, I don't know what I'm doing anxiety, but alas, it gets me every time. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get him to sleep. That I wouldn't know what to do to soothe him if he started crying. That he and I would both be miserable, and exhausted.
I'm not going to lie, those first few weeks were rough. But then, slowly but surely, I started to learn about my precious son.
I learned that to get him to sleep, he needs to be rocked for at least 20 minutes. I learned that when placing him in his crib, you have to keep your hand on his stomach for at least 30 seconds before exiting the room. I learned his hungry cry from his tired cry, and I learned exactly the right bouncing motion to do when trying to calm him in the bjorn. I can tell when he's about to poop and I know when he needs to burp and I know when he's likely to get sensory overload. And, most importantly perhaps, I know exactly what it takes to make him do a wide, joyous smile.
I know him now. So well. Better than anyone.
People often refer to their kids or infants as "mine." My baby, my son, my daughter, etc. Really, they aren't yours. They don't belong to anyone. They are their own people, and we are just the lucky ones that get to watch them grow up and guide them as best we can.
But right now, he sure feels like mine.
I made him, after all, just recently. I made his fingers and toes and skin and precious cheeks. I helped him get out into the world, which, lets be honest, was probably more traumatic for him than it was for me. But we were in it together. And when he made his appearance, we stared into each other's eyes and knew we were meant for each other. I fed him, from my own body, and have continued to do so ever since. He knows my smell, he knows my touch, and he knows my voice. And I know his every crevice. He spends every waking minute with me, quite literally.
We are inextricably linked right now.
This link will evolve as time goes on. In the not so distant future, I will stop being his food source. He will stop napping in my arms and instead fall asleep on his own in his crib, until he is in a bed and he doesn't need a nap anymore. He won't need to be rocked, and he won't need to be held, and in fact, there will come a time when he's too heavy for me to hold anyway. He will speak and he will walk and he will form his own likes and dislikes and distinct personality. I will continue to learn him.
But there will come a point when I am not the person that knows him best. And when the link he shares with me will be extended to others - to his brothers, his father, his friends, and ultimately, his own family. He will cease to spend every waking moment with me, and in fact, as the years go by my time with him will only decrease.
It's hard to imagine.
But right now - in this short snippet of our lives - he is as close to mine as he will ever be.
I can't wait to learn more.