Yesterday, Eden was three weeks old.
It feels like a parenting faux pas, but I can’t help but compare my two girls in their first weeks of life, and my experience of them. I know I probably shouldn’t compare, but it’s hard not to when the adjustment from none to one was so different from the adjustment from one to two. I have regularly heard moms muse on what adjustment is harder; now I can answer the question for myself. Without a doubt, this adjustment has been far easier.
Two weeks after we brought Isabel home almost 2.5 years ago, I remember sitting on the edge of our bed with a cluster feeding baby in my arms and bursting into tears. Mark was soon going back to work, we had yet to introduce a pacifier due to a fear of nipple confusion, despite breastfeeding going remarkably well, and Isabel hadn’t settled off the breast for hours. I sat on the edge of that bed, wondering through the tears I couldn’t stop what the hell we had done to our lives. In that moment, our lives as a childless couple seemed idealistic and comfortable and utterly lost, while the future ahead seemed exhausting and filled with difficulty.
This time around, I believe I am emotionally stronger and more confident in my parenting choices. We’ve introduced a pacifier – though Eden seems completely uninterested in taking it. We’ve embraced bedsharing – a move we didn’t take until 6 months or so with Isabel – in the interest of getting as much sleep as possible. We’ve been returning to real life and routine far earlier, purely out of necessity.
But Eden is a different baby than Isabel was. In her, I see the needs of the fourth trimester far more clearly than I saw them in Isabel. Eden does not stay asleep unless she is touching me. She will not lie on her back, and if she does, she sleeps noisily, grunting and squealing until she wakes after just a few minutes. Even our swing can rarely keep her happy for longer than 10 minutes. She adores being carried in a carrier, or just tucked in my arms as Isabel and I read books on the couch. While she craves closeness with her mama, she doesn’t comfort suck in the same way her big sister did as a baby, which makes soothing both easier and more difficult.
While we have handled the change in our family remarkably well, it hasn’t exactly been easy. On the first day that I was on my own with both girls, I found myself sobbing as I read The Blue Hippopotamus to Isabel, my big girl tucked in her bed, my little girl squalling against my breast. Never again, I realized, was I going to have the luxury of lingering over books with Isabel, reading to her until she fell asleep against my shoulder. Nap time was no longer going to be the sweetest time of our day.
That was a mere four days post-partum. My sense of loss has held true. Nap time isn’t easy. But, every day, she still naps, and every day we’re finding other sweet moments to cling on to instead. Every day gets a little bit easier.