Let’s be honest: the first few weeks with a newborn is strange. You’ve waited nine months imagining your new life ahead of you, and somewhere in that wonder world fantasy of flowers and rainbows was your doe-eyed newborn child sitting calm as a monk in a Moses basket. And every time you looked at her, you couldn’t imagine loving anything more.
The reality of this fantasy world is your house is a mess, your newborn seems to be forever crying, and that doe-eyed look is really just a blank stare that says, “You have no idea what you’re doing, do you?”
That’s because for the first few weeks, your child is truly alien. That “fourth trimester” stuff you read about is true: babies are born too soon to come out with the typical emotional qualities you build relationships on. They’re all reflex. Their actions are involuntary. They sleep, they eat, and they poop. They also cry. A lot. And it’s entirely out of their control.
So for the first few weeks you’re forever searching for y. Y stands between happiness and misery. It’s the difference between tired and rested, stress and serenity.
crying baby + y = happy baby (& happy parents)
Searching for y is detective’s work. You frantically examine your baby for clues. Sometimes y is as simple as picking her up or changing her diaper. Other times you’re a circus performer holding your swaddled baby on her side bouncing atop an exercise ball and desperately shushing in her ear.
Sometimes it’s simple. Sometimes, it’s really, really hard.
Parenthood seems to use a part of the brain you’ve never previously accessed. Or at least it feels that way. There are moments of helplessness and frustration I’ve never experienced before. Many times, the challenges sneak up on you. Things are fine, and then suddenly they are totally not fine. And it doesn’t matter if you’re exhausted and in the middle of dinner. Y must be found.
And then one day something happens. You’re looking at your child, maybe you’re talking to her. Suddenly, her eyes widen and her face starts to move. Her mouth opens, her cheeks tighten, and her entire face brightens. She looks you directly in the eyes and smiles. It’s the most pure, honest, most perfect smile you’ve ever seen. It fills your entire body. You’re helpless and totally enamored. Just like that, this thing that was previously alien and unknowable becomes human before your eyes.
This smile is so many things. It’s rewards are immeasurable. It becomes the foundation of your growing relationship. It’s affirmation in the face of adversity. It’s a gesture that shows, in her own way, she cares. That she understands who you are. It’s the first in a lifetime full of firsts.
This smile is so many things.
Searching for y then becomes searching for why.
Why the restless nights? Why the complete frustration and total helplessness? Why bother?
Because that face. That singular bond. That most gorgeous, most beautiful, utterly adorable smile.