Soon after Josephine was born, a friend who was about to be due with her first baby asked me how motherhood was. I responded something along the lines of how it's like falling in love with the coolest person you ever met and she's already head over heels in love with you. But also the most completely exhausting thing ever.
Parents like to say that non parents don't know what tired is. Here's the thing about that: I have been this tired before. As tired, even, as I was those first few weeks. At Close Up, I worked six days a week, fourteen hours most days. I was this tired. The difference was that I had Saturdays off. While the sleep deprivation of new parenthood does get better over the long run, there is no day off coming once a week or any time in the foreseeable future.
Parents also like to say that you don't know what love is until you've had a child. I can't agree with that. Love is love. This love is just more...concentrated. Yesterday, we were out for a walk and a bee was buzzing around us. I'm afraid of bees. Kind of ridiculously so. But I realized that if this bee were to land on Josephine, I wouldn't hesitate to grab it off of her. This is love, for sure, but also knowing how entirely reliant she is on me. There's also realizing that no matter how desperately I wish for her to sleep longer or how much we enjoy the rare time out away from her, after a few hours I start to miss her. So that's different.
And people are always telling you "sleep when the baby sleeps". I thought maybe the sleep deprivation would help me overcome my lifelong inability to nap, but unfortunately it has not. No matter how completely exhausted I am, I'm still unable to sleep during the day. Even if I could though, it certainly wouldn't always be practical. Not until I can also cook when the baby cooks, shower when the baby showers, clean when the baby cleans, and pump when the baby pumps. (I know some people shower with their babies but I cannot even conceive of how that could possibly work and am uninterested in trying.) Right now, we're in a sweet spot where she can entertain herself on her playmat but not move off of it, so I take advantage as often as possible, including carrying it upstairs to put outside the bathroom door so I can shower with the door open while she plays.
We never did manage to start nursing and I have made my peace with that. I'm still pumping, though I've cut all the way back to only three pumps per day to save my sleep and sanity. So she gets about 2/3 of her daily calories from breast milk and has formula for the rest. The guilt doesn't stop - guilt that I choose my comfort and convenience over her getting more milk along with simultaneous guilt for having to try to stash her somewhere so I can pump while she's otherwise occupied - but she's fed and growing. With some trial and error, we found a formula (Gerber Good Start Soothe) that she likes and doesn't make her spit up any more than breastmilk does. I'll get my flu shot this week and hopefully pass along enough of my immunity from it to protect her, particularly since we'll be flying in November and December.
One thing I was told that I can totally agree with is that three month-olds are pretty great. She started really smiling and is just so damn happy to see us, even at 3am. If I sit next to her while she plays on her playmat, she'll look over every so often to see if I'm still there and then she grins like crazy because I am. She talks and sings all the time and loves it when we repeat her sounds back to her. And it seems like she's doing something new every day. She used to just bat at the toys that hang above her, then she started grabbing at them, then holding and even adjusting her grip. Who knew how proud you could be of a person for holding her head up for longer than she used to?
And I get now the deep ambivalence parents have toward their kids growing up. I'm so glad we're through those first bleary weeks of no sleep, but that didn't stop me from being sad about packing up her newborn clothes (and soon after, her 0-3 months clothes) and missing how easy it was to get her to sleep on my chest, tiny head tucked under my chin. I love her at this age, but I also can't wait to see who she'll become as she gets older. Not that I have any power over the relentless march of time anyway. She'll grow up whether I want her to or not, so I take pictures and videos and send her an email every month telling her what she's been up to so she can read them someday, but also so I can look back and remember.