How I Learned to Do Nothing During the Newborn Stage

newborn baby feet

"Are you napping when the baby naps?" After the birth of my first child, that was the question I'd often get from people after they'd see my bleary, dark-circled eyes. "Sometimes," I'd say, but really the truth was "never."

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I consider myself a fairly laid-back person, but ironically, I have trouble lying back and doing nothing when I know there are things to be done. So, save for a handful of times, I had a difficult time stopping and getting the shut-eye I so desperately needed during my baby's naps. There was a sink full of dirty dishes; laundry begging to be folded; emails that needed to be answered. How on earth was I supposed to fall asleep under those circumstances? Things. Must. Get. Done. 

When my beautiful, sweet angel fell asleep -- which, truth be told, wasn't very often in the first few months -- I got things done. I cleaned. I paid bills. I prepared things for that night's dinner. And, of course, when I had finally checked everything off my to-do list and sat down to relax for a few minutes, my baby would wake up. 

Needless to say, the first few months of my daughter's life were downright exhausting. I cuddled and played with my sweet baby whenever she was awake, but aside from that, there was never a minute of the day that I wasn't "doing something." If she was sleeping, I was doing. 

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Two and a half years later, when my son was born, things unfolded quite differently. I definitely still had my OCD tendencies, but being that I had a toddler and had long-succumbed to the fact that a house is never going to be neat when there are kids living in it, I was able to do a better job at letting things be. When I could, I snuggled up on the couch and slept next to my son. When he'd finish nursing and was passed out, milk drunk, I'd plop him onto the bed and lie right there with him. I definitely wasn't always napping and snuggling when he slept, but I didn't have the feeling that I needed to get stuff done nearly as much as I did the first time around -- partially because now I was well aware of how fleeting the newborn stage is, and partly because I was just more easygoing about certain things. 

Both of my children know that they could not possibly be more loved, despite their different "newbornhoods," but I definitely think my decision -- and yes, in some ways it was a decision -- to just let things be when my son was first born has affected the kind of mother I am. I'm not, nor will I ever be, the type of person who can live among a mess or who can relax at night when I know there are dishes in the sink, but now I know it's okay to let them go sometimes. 

They say nothing changes you in this world like becoming a parent for the first time -- and they're right; it's the most shocking, life-altering thing in the world. But, even though you've "been there, done that" by the time your second rolls around, I think baby number two changes you just as much. They may not be the one who "made" you a mother, but, in my case at least, they make you a different, dare I say, better mother.  

And who knows? It just might be because of the extra nap-time snuggles.

 

Image via iStock.com/MichaelSvoboda

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