We survived!! (the twelve week newborn stage)
Our beautiful Willow is twelve weeks old tomorrow. For many reasons, twelve weeks is a big milestone – mostly because she will no longer be classed as a ‘newborn’. Many parents mourn the loss of the newborn phase however I am not one of them and neither is Daddy T.
Don’t get me wrong, newborn babies are adorable. They smell incredible (I’ve never understood how – they just came out of another human being and they smell delicious – wtf?!), have the cutest teensiest hands and feet and are generally sweeter than Thornton’s white chocolate, but they are also bloody hard work and in the early days the rewards can be hard to spot.
Feeding can be relentless, the poo they produce is revolting and the only smiles you get in the early days are to signal a trapped burp (and the possibility of looming vomit) or a surprisingly large fart (and potential shitatostrophe). You basically spend six to eight weeks keeping a tiny human alive with very little interaction at all and, in all honestly, you can end up feeling a little used.
Life with a newborn is difficult – you are exhausted by night feeds when your body needs rest more than it ever has done before. Your hormones are all over the shop and your emotional state isn’t helped by the fear that comes with being responsible for a fragile new life. Although they are much stronger than they look (did anyone else think ‘OHMIGOD he’s going to pull her legs off!’ when the paediatrician did their newborn exam?!) it can still be pretty terrifying when you’re consumed with concerns: Are they feeding ok? Should they be sleeping this much? Is that poo a normal colour? Why won’t they stop crying? Will it ever take me less than 2 hours to leave the house again!!!?!
New baby snuggles are amazing, you can be safe in the knowledge that you can’t ‘spoil’ them and the bonding that happens while they stare into your eyes when feeding really is wonderful. Having said all that it really is just eat-sleep-poo-repeat which can be pretty tedious. Oh and don’t get me started on the whole ‘having to support their neck’ business. I’m so grateful our girls were freakishly strong newborns who held their heads within the first couple of weeks.
When Willow was really tiny I really did saviour the night feeds, despite how tired I was. Special moments where we would sit together in the dark, Daddy T and big sister Rose would be fast asleep and I would just enjoy the feeling of Willow’s warm, snuggly body in the crook of my arm – but life with a toddler and a baby has meant that ten weeks later, I now stumble down the hall to Willow’s room and feed her with one eye open during the night, hoping she’ll drink enough milk to help her sleep a decent 5+ hours but that it won’t take too long, so I can get back to bed.
Researchers into pregnancy and birth often refer to a ‘fourth trimester’ and I agree that babies could do with another few weeks in the womb. When they are newborn they aren’t really physically mature enough to be here which is why parents can encounter so many additional digestion-based stresses – reflux, colic, diarrhoea. All of which tend to work themselves out by 12 weeks. Phew.
For anyone about to go through the newborn phase, I recently read a very useful tip – take it in two week increments. Things with a newborn get better every fortnight. It’s all about survival – and in just a few weeks time you’ll experience less frequent feeding, less vomit, slightly less poo, colic will be on it’s way out (or the threat of it looming will disappear), and there will be smiles, cooing instead of crying and heart-melting giggles aplenty – oh and the promise of a lovely big chunk of sleep will be on the horizon as they no longer ‘need’ night feeds at twelve weeks old. Apparently. (I’m very excited about my 12 hour sleep tomorrow night. Ahem).
By twelve weeks old your baby is probably going to be settling into a vaguely recognisable routine (I’d recommend starting with a set bedtime, especially if you have other children), which means you’ll have your precious evenings back in no time and also they might be awake enough in the daytime to want to ‘play’ (Willow is loving her play gym this week, and has started to hold and shake rattles). Even if none of that applies to you just yet, as the three-month mark approaches your baby will almost certainly break into a cheek-squishingly massive grin every time they hear you walk into the room and that should be enough to prompt you into feeling quietly confident that you might just be nailing this parenting malarky after all.
Here’s to Willow’s twelve week birthday – she’s coped with the ‘fourth trimester’ pretty well – and, amazingly, so did we!
We survived!! (the twelve week newborn stage)