Navigating Another Newborn

A transcript of this episode of Strength In Words, ruminating on the first week home with a newborn, the second time around. Baby's first days of life are amazing, but the first few weeks with a newborn are the hardest - even when you've done it before! 

Well, it has been quite a week here at the Strength In Words headquarters, as my family and I welcomed a new baby into our home. This is my second baby, but my first time becoming a mother to a new baby while living close to two sets of grandparents. I feel incredibly thankful to have the benefit of lots of extra help and very happy distraction for my toddler so that I can enjoy a few moments with just my new baby. I am also lucky to have had a VERY straightforward birth the second time around, and my physical self already feels better after a week than I did after 6 weeks with my first baby. I can see how that affects my emotional self, my ability to “roll with the punches,” and enables me to write down little thoughts and musings to be shared with you today!

The first time around, the early days and weeks of parenthood – in particular, motherhood, is often a blur of wonder and awe, vulnerability, feelings of elation mixed with absolute frustration. A new world where hormones and effects of sleep-deprivation rule, for better and for worse! For me, so far, the second time around feels similar… but I could call it a “lite version.”

Photograph by Penelope VanTuyl

Photograph by Penelope VanTuyl

I trust myself more. I trust in the process of parenting an infant… I already know that there are tough stages, and I know that those inevitably end (always to be replaced by something else new and challenging in a different way!). More importantly, having done it before (albeit with a very different human being!), my partner and I have a nuanced sense of the fact that changes will come, as well as how they might look and feel. This knowledge helps me on so many levels, and while dealing with so many different parts of newborn-land, whether it’s sleep-related, feeding-related, or simply feeling like I know what feels “normal” or not. I can trust my gut. I know I’m not likely to break my baby. I also know that I’m incredibly lucky to even have the ability to sit and reflect on all this, to have had two healthy and relatively uncomplicated babies.

One thing that’s really been throwing me for a loop is what I’ve been referring to as “time traveling” – I sit here with this tiny baby, who often looks very similar to my first baby, and I’m taken back to those days with my first, remembering and recalling, comparing and contrasting, and activating something akin to muscle memory about how to hold him, how to move with him, how to calm him… and then I look up to see this GIANT of a toddler – this big boy who just over a week ago seemed still such a sweet little monster – running and giggling and thinking and talking… and I can’t quite believe that all of that happened so fast. I also cannot believe how HEAVY my big boy has become – the first time I picked him up after having my newborn, I felt he must have gained 10 pounds overnight. These moments of cognitive dissonance have taken me by surprise, and I’m finding it fascinating!

Of course, there are moments – many moments – that are less than “fascinating” and more about survival, many moments of feeling like I’m failing to meet my older son’s needs, and utter terror and panic about how on earth I’ll be able to do this. It’s mid-morning, I’ve had the luxury of a little lie-in with the baby, and my husband and toddler have gone to the grocery store, so I get to sit here with my coffee and feel relatively normal, able to speak to you and enjoy the moment… but you should have seen me last night at 3am, crying on the toilet while my husband rocked the baby on the yoga ball, because I couldn’t calm my baby and I was overwhelmed and I just needed to hit the “reset” button.

But… you do “get through it,” don’t you? You just “get on with it.” And you learn coping strategies. And you remember to take it easy. And you try not to freak out about everything. And patterns form, and everything changes, and then they become more independent, self-sufficient beings, and you wonder where it all went…

I want to sing a set of songs now that I’ve been singing to my older son since he was born, as a sort of lullaby medley. The first of these songs, Down In The Valley, you can hear on my album, Strength In Words: Music For Families, available for purchase directly from my website, or on iTunes and a number of other digital media outlets. These songs, for me, have become so intertwined with infant and toddlerhood in my home, and I want to share them with you. [Listen to podcast episode 39, above, to hear these songs!]

As the creator of The Heart Of It, the infant curriculum for families and educators who work with infants 0 – 12 months, I’m very excited to get to follow my own curriculum now as a parent! I know that it will continue to evolve, just as I do as a mother. For those of you currently following the curriculum, I can’t wait to chat in our private Facebook group as an active “participant” going through it alongside you. For those of you who’ve been thinking about purchasing the curriculum, have a look at The Heart Of It – it’s a great gift for any new or expecting parent, grandparent, caregiver, or any educator, therapist, or medical professional who works with infants!

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Strength In Words. If anything in particular in this episode resonated with you, leave a comment below!

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Ayelet Marinovich, M.A. CCC-SLP

Ayelet Marinovich, M.A. CCC-SLP, is a pediatric speech-language pathologist specializing in work with pre-verbal infants, toddlers, non-verbal children, and their families. The Strength In Words podcast and blog were created as an additional resource for families of young children with infants & toddlers of all developmental levels. It is not intended to be a substitute for speech and language therapy.