Saturday, October 22, 2011

Why I Love the Newborn Stage

What is it about the newborn stage that we parents love? I love it. I laugh and joke about the diapers and the screaming, but I really do love this stage. This may seem counterintuitive to folks who don’t have children, especially when they ask me how it’s going and I respond with something like this:

I’m tired. Even when I was in college I don’t remember being this tired. There’s something that makes you feel grumpy and pitiful inside when a child is screaming to the best of her ability less than a foot from your face. It’s loud. It’s bothersome. And unless you can figure out what’s causing it, she’ll keep going on like that until your eyes are bloodshot and you seriously think about driving to Wal-Mart with a sign like those people who give away kittens as you’re going in for eggs and milk. I think new Army recruits get more sleep during the first week of boot camp than I’ve gotten in the last three.
My friends with children either nod knowingly or laugh maniacally, depending on the age of their youngest and whether or not they think they’ll have another. My friends without children give me a puzzled look and say something like, “Reason number forty-three why I don’t want to have children.”

Daddy's Sweet Heart: You bet she is!
But the friends without children are missing it. I love the newborn stage. Like I said, this is counter-intuitive to some, so I’ll try to explain it as best I can.

I think the reason we all love the newborn stage is because a newborn is so needy.

The only thing Abigail can do for herself is vacate her body of fluids (poop is not a solid for newborns), suck, scream, and sleep. She prefers to do the first when we’re getting ready to go, the second when we are with company, the third while we are sleeping, and the fourth when we can’t take a nap. She’s more or less inconvenient.

But that’s the point. Abigail can’t use the bathroom by herself, make her own food, deal with her issues, or go to bed and wake up at a decent hour. She’s incapable. She’s dependent.

Dependency is the key thing. When she moves on to the next stage she becomes a little less dependent on mommy and daddy. Though we talk about how much we wish they’d sleep through the night, when she finally does, it will mean she’s taken another step towards independence. She no longer needs me to get through the night.

Time goes on and she doesn’t need mom to feed her. Doesn’t need dad to change her diaper. Doesn’t need us to rock her to sleep in our arms. Little by little Abigail will grow independent of us. Eventually she’ll develop friendships—growing independent of our social interaction.

Time and time again when Abigail exhibits a little more independence from us we’ll look back to this stage and remember. When she goes on her first sleepover, we’ll remember how she couldn’t sleep for a few hours without one of us near. When she gets her license, we’ll remember how she couldn’t move without one of us carrying her. When she goes to college, moves out, or gets, we’ll remember that for a brief moment in time she was all ours and her whole life revolved around us.

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