When I came home from the hospital after giving birth, I was struck by the helplessness of the tiny creature nestling in my arms. Completely, utterly helpless. The only two things she knew how to do were suck and cry. Her needs consisted of food, warmth, cleanliness, sleep and love. The most basic, inherent human needs.
And it was my job to care for her. To comfort her when she cried, to discern an inflection in these cries which would tell me if she was hungry, needed a change, had gas, etc.
I became physically tired, but also emotionally – it hurt so much to hear my baby cry! Calmer, veteran mothers told me simply, “She’s a baby. Babies cry.” I could not accept that, so I frantically tried to discern what she wanted, keeping bottle, clean diaper, spit-up cloth on hand at all times so I could figure out what the problem was and address it asap! My franticness, though, just made me more and more addled. And the more addled I got, the harder it was for me to fall asleep (when the baby slept, of course. Sleep when the baby sleeps, these veteran mothers said.). And the harder it was for me to fall asleep, the more tired I was, and the more addled I got!
Oh, the circle of life. It lasted about a month, but it felt like forever. So I had two choices: either calm down, or go crazy. I preferred the second, but my husband strongly supported the first. (Since neither could convince the other, we ended up compromising.)
It’s only now, that baby is nearing the benchmark of a year, and my wits have somewhat returned, that I look back with twenty-twenty hindsight and realize that besides for taking care of baby, my needs consisted of the following (in priority order):
- Communicate with my husband (about the baby)
Yes, I’m embarrassed to say that shower was last. But hey, clothes aren’t even on the list. In that first month, I really had no other needs, desires or wants besides for these basic, inherent human ones.
Exactly like my baby!