This is Day 9 of our series on “Surviving & Thriving with a Newborn” — part of the 31 day writing challenge hosted by the Nester. Every day in October I’ll be sharing a tip about how to make the most of and enjoy the sleep-deprived newborn days. For a list of all the posts in this series, click here.
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With the arrival of a new baby, life as you once knew it will never be the same again. Now, you and your family must wait for a new normal.
This afternoon I was holding my sleeping baby while the toddler snuggled up against me on the couch. Seconds later all three of us were covered in vomit. My 2-year-old, who’d been complaining all day of a tummy ache, just sat there, chunks of food dripping from her hair into her face, while I cried to the 5-year-old to bring me a trash can. Ugh.
And that was not the low point of our day.
Earlier that morning, the 5-year-old hit her little sister and called her a name. Then, my 3-year-old threw a plastic teapot in a fit of anger. The toddler landed herself in a time-out in her crib for whining, which morphed into screaming and woke up the baby. And this behavior seemed to cycle back through over and over until, at one point, we were all in tears.
To say that today was a rough day would be an understatement. It was. I see some character issues in my girls and in myself that need addressing. Lack of routine and structure is gravely affecting morale. We’re five weeks in to life with a new baby, and we still haven’t found a new normal in our home.
It’s frustrating to me knowing that our life will never return to the way it was before Abigail when we had a daily routine of chores and school that worked so well for us. Now, everything revolves around the baby. If she wakes up early from her nap (or never goes to sleep), then we stop and tend to her. If she needs feeding, I feed her and the girls chat her up.
Right now the baby is still a novelty, and the children so desperately want to hold her and love on her. So, they smother Abigail with kisses and praise her cute smiles. School work is neglected; chores are taking a back burner, and that’s okay because we’re all adjusting to life with a new baby. We’re all getting to know Abigail, and she’s getting to know us.
The girls are trying to find their place — where they fit — in the new normal, and I know that acting out is one way they’re doing that. It isn’t acceptable, but I understand. In a way, I’m acting out too when I lose my cool and spout off something I shouldn’t have said.
So, we sit down and talk, and I explain to my girls that one day we will get back into a good routine again. I hug them and say, “I love you.” One day there will be a new normal — just like there was when I went from being a single woman living alone to a married one trying to figure out how to live with this man. And just like there was each time I brought home a new baby from the hospital.
There were challenges each time, but we waited and eventually we landed on our two feet. The whining and fighting will probably never end, I know, but with time, they will slack off. Pretty soon we’ll figure out a routine for school and chores that coincides with Abigail’s naps and feedings. It won’t be long before we find a new normal for our family. But right now, we’re here, in the newborn stage, and it’s tough. But it won’t last forever. For now, I’m just going to try to hang on and enjoy the ride while we wait for a new normal.
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