When a baby is born

Today I had the privilege to go to the hospital and visit a baby brand new and fresh to the world.  He was perfect.  His name is Jonah.

On the way in the hospital I ran into other friends there to visit baby Jonah.  When I walked in the room it was filled with family and friends.  This baby is loved like crazy.  So, obviously, are his parents.

When I see a brand new baby I’m always flooded with memories, thoughts, advice, and hopes.  I didn’t verbalize any of these; I was too busy soaking in Jonah’s new baby-ness and the love in that room (and making sure my kids followed the don’t-squish-the-baby rules we’d established before going to the hospital).

So, here are some of the things I want Jonah’s mom and dad to know.  None of them are earth-shattering, they’ve all been said a million times before but they’re the things that come back to me each time I see a baby so new: 

  • Welcome to the fog.  The world will seem fuzzy for a while because of your intense focus on day-to-day survival.  Don’t panic – the fog goes away.
  • Nothing in this world makes others want to give advice like seeing a pregnant belly or a new baby.  Take some; leave some; smile and nod.  (That also goes for any advice I may give in this blog post!)
  • The world will not look the same.  It will be more beautiful, more scary, more breathtaking, more tragic.  Prepare yourself.
  • Things are going to leak that never leaked before.  Avoid jumping jacks.
  • Forgive yourself; forgive your spouse. 
  • Protect your marriage with the same intensity you use in protecting that baby.
  • Poop is going to become a frequent topic of conversation.  You may, in fact, find yourself describing color, shape, and consistency to friendly strangers.  Poop matters.
  • No matter how prepared you thought you were; you aren’t prepared enough.
  • No matter how tired you thought you were in pregnancy; you’re going to feel ten times more tired as new parents.
  • No matter what you thought parenthood was going to be, it’s going to be more.  More beautiful.  More scary.  More emotional.  More hilarious.  More anxiety-provoking.  More awesome.  Just more.

When I was pregnant with David, I heard this quote from Elizabeth Stone:

 “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

 I thought it was beautiful.  To me it was about the love you feel for your child and how your heart will forever belong to them.  I’ve come to appreciate that quote in new ways over the past decade.  My initial reaction to the quote was correct; it is a wonderful thing to love someone so completely.  What I didn’t expect was how gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, and soul-shaking it is to love someone so much.  You’ll have to watch Jonah stumble and fall.  You’ll watch him navigate the mean politics of the playground.  You’ll find yourself not fully breathing all day long on his first day of school.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  But if it weren’t so hard it wouldn’t be so amazing.  And it truly, truly is amazing.

Kacey and Jacob, I wish for you patience with each other, joy, laughter, sleep, and a lifetime of watching this beautiful person grow into the man he was meant to be.

Jonah, there has never been a baby more loved, more appreciated, or more anticipated.  Welcome to the world little man!

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

(What words of wisdom, thoughts, memories do you always want to share with brand new parents?)

22 thoughts on “When a baby is born

  1. Your bullet points captured the parts people so often do not tell you about having a baby.

    I wish someone had said something about the jumping jacks…

    I love that new baby smell – especially when I know I don’t have to be up all night with it anymore. 🙂

      1. If having a child “is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body” (a gorgeous quote, I agree), than what it means to lose a child is that much more evident.

  2. I love your piece…again. I agree with previous posters on the jumping jack comment!! In this time of uncertainty, a new life refocuses one’s attention and priorities. I remember hearing years ago that a new little life is God’s way of saying the world should continue…

  3. Every stage is fleeting, even when the tougher stages seem to drag on for years. And yes, you will repeat things your mother told you and you swore you would not tell your kids.

  4. Love the list!
    The best thing anyone ever said to me was “Don’t expect anything for the first 8 weeks, just survive them.” It was so true. If you can make it through those first weeks sane and safe, you’re good!

    1. I completely agree! It’s harder than you think it’ll be but, without even realizing it, it gets better. I can remember, with each baby, a moment where I felt a suprising, “okay, I’ve got this” feeling. And it was around 6-8 weeks!

  5. Beautiful piece, Mama!

    The saying by Elizabeth Stone resonated deeply with me as I held my firstborn for the first time – in the NICU. I had never known that love like mine for him existed, until that moment. I will never, ever forget it.

    Advice: This too shall pass. All too soon, this too shall pass.

  6. The coolest thing I think about when seeing first time parents to be (especially moms), is the fact that no-one can tell, in a way they will understand, how different their lives will be. And I do not talk about the practical part of it, that they might grasp on forehand.

    I am talking about the new dimension of love and all the things you described in this post. A dimension you didn’t even understood existed (and let’s thank someone for that, it would be the cruelest thing for people who for one reason or the other choose not to have babies).

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