I believe the common wisdom is that if you can do something— exercise, resist a cigarette, eat your veggies — for 21 days it becomes a habit. I’m not sure this same logic applies to parenting newborns.
Today is day 23. 23 days of getting to know this sweet face. 23 days of baby noises and baby cuddles and sweet baby smells.
And 23 days of not enough sleep. 23 days of feeding every two to three hours. 23 days of spitting up and diapers.
I hardly remember what life was like before he was part of it. I can’t revert back to not knowing him. But I do remember what it was like before.
I think the 21-days rule works backwards with babies. After 21 days you do what you do not because it’s a habit but because it must be done. Instead of feeling like the new freedom of carefully chosen ritual it starts to feel a little bit like chains – there, tethered, rattling.
I’ve been sick for the past 10 days or so. Just a horrible cold (with some pink eye thrown in for good measure) but the most sick I’ve ever been. The timing, needless to say, has not been great.
I’ve reached the point where he wakes up at night and I think, No. I try not to look at the clock and calculate how much sleep I might get before the next feeding. I do think about when I last changed his diaper and wonder whether I really have to do it again.
The newborn nights are tired, but they come with the sounds of soft breathing and the weight of a silky head on my shoulder. In many ways the days are harder.
I don’t do well without a routine, and a routine is something we are decidedly lacking. If any habits are being formed here, they’re bad ones – trying to sneak in extra sleep in the mornings instead of accepting that daylight has come, choosing to lie down instead of eating, getting dressed in only the very loosest sense of the term.
I’m starting to feel better (please let this cough go away soon) and am trying to force myself to do things that will help me feel better. Yesterday’s walk in the snow with a snuggly baby in the carrier was good. Getting up to eat breakfast is now on each morning’s agenda. Finding things to play with Connor so he doesn’t get bored is important for my sanity.
I know there are things about this phase that are hard. But I also know it’s temporary.
After all, it’s only day 23.