My third baby is 4 weeks old. That makes me 4 weeks postpartum. I still feel like I’m living in that characteristic hazy in-between of postpartum. I have so much to say about these past 4 weeks and so much I want to write about. There is his birth story to write, thoughts on our older kids’ adjustments to adding a new family member, reflections and gratitude for all the support we’ve had this past month, my own postpartum healing process, and thoughts on some of the challenges we’re experiencing. With previous newborns, I might have tried to fight this haziness and power through to write all the things and do all the things. But this third time around, I’m going to honor my instincts. I’m not quite ready to harness the brain power needed to write everything down yet. I’ll be ready for more eventually, I know I will. But for now, I offer something short and simple.
I think I am finally learning a lesson that I believe all newborns have come to teach their parents. It’s really quite simple. My new baby, and this season of life with three young children, is teaching me the important lesson of slowing down. Even with the tremendous amount of help and support that we’ve had during this postpartum transition, slowing down and letting go of everything non-essential has been crucial. And I’m realizing that so many things that I thought were “essential” really are not. Here’s our list of essentials right now: meeting our kids’ basic needs, nurturing each of our children, meeting my needs to heal from pregnancy and birth, making sure my husband can get his work done (must pay the bills!) and also find some semblance of self-care (this man runs himself ragged for his family), and sleep for all of us. Honestly, that’s it. There has been more takeout than usual, we have left dishes in the sink overnight, we have forgotten to put out the garbage and recycling, and there have been toys on the floor for weeks. But we have had many slow days in which the older kids have had time to cuddle the baby and we have had time to cuddle the bigger kids and make sure their world maintains some semblance of normalcy. We have prioritized our relationships during this time.
I can’t say that I’ve fully embraced this idea of letting go of the non-essential and slowing down, and I find my brain fighting it at times. But every time I try to take action and complete some household task, this little newborn of mine reminds me to take it easy. He truly prefers to be held and he’s not afraid to let us know. Putting him down while he sleeps so I can get something cleaned or organized just isn’t happening. Within moments he cries, reminding me that I need to sit down, snuggle him, and just continue to cherish our time together and let myself fully recover. When I feel frustrated with my inability to get anything else done, I remind myself that he is helping me learn this important lesson. He is telling me, “slow down, be present with me now.” And what could be more important? I hope to remember this lesson, to hold tightly to it, and to carry it with me even when our kids’ needs are less than they are now. Because, these relationships with each other, they are what it’s all about. There’s nothing better than these sweet moments spent together, building a lifetime of connection and trust. I’m so grateful to finally be learning this and so grateful to this sweet little baby for showing me the way.