As I was walking into Toys R Us today I happened to look over and notice a couple heading in just behind me. They were brand new parents, made evident by the gingerly waddle the mom took, with her husband holding onto her arm helping her traverse the parking lot, new baby in the carseat. I took that same walk a little over 2 years ago, with the entrance to the store feeling like miles away as I took each painful step.
I feel like that trip to Babies R Us, days after bringing home babies, is a rite of passage for new parents. You are deer-eyed and in a state of shock over what is happening at home and with your body. Heading out to the store desperate to get that thing that is going to miraculously fix whatever crisis is happening at your house, usually having to do with sleep. For us it was something to prop the boys up because they were having issues with reflux after eating, which inevitably would help them sleep better, right? For my brother and sister-in-law it was the Twilight Turtle. I wondered what it was for these new parents? It was a mixture of relief to get out of the house, even for a brief period of time, and fear that the trip was taking too long and the babies would be melting down or starving to death at home.
So much went through my head as I briefly took in those new parents. A twinge of sadness for time gone by. There is something so inherently special about those first few weeks home with such a tiny human. And yet, I know I can only write these words now that time has passed. I can remember those first few weeks as cozy days spent in bed with us getting to know each other. Babies bunched up against my chest. But in actuality, it was quite different from the memory. I was a disaster the first few weeks home. It was like a truck smashed into my body dismantling my brain and leaving a trail of blood behind me for weeks. I remember people talking to me and myself either crying or desperately trying to form a sentence but unintelligible ramblings falling out of my mouth.
It is funny how we romanticize the newborn stage when we see a new parent, maybe it’s because we will never be that again. Whether we have more children or stop where we are, those beginning days as a new parent are one of the “first’s” in life that leave a lasting imprint on you and will never be repeated again. That is probably where the feeling of longing for a newborn baby comes from, the knowledge that it will never happen again.
That couple and I split off in different directions once we entered the store, them to the baby section and I to the toy section to buy some tools for our playdough activity that we would be doing later that day. Because that is the stage we are in now. A time of independence where I don’t question what I am doing every minute of the day, just a few times a week. A time where I am getting some sleep and a meal once in a while. I am not going crazy to suggest that it is all easy peasy in the 2 year told twin phase, however, it is certainly not as much a struggle as the newborn phase. I am grateful to have experienced it but also grateful I don’t have to go back.
As we parted company, this new mom and I, I gave her a small smile of understanding and acknowledgment of what she was about to undertake and then sent her a silent, loving, welcome to the club.