For new Mums and Dads: Hold on to the magic (it’s there, trust me!)
Sunrise. The start of a new day. Except, the previous day hasn’t yet ended because you’re still pacing the hallway with your newborn, who has no regard for night and day. Your head is drooping and you’re desperate to lay it on the pillow, but the minute you attempt to sit down (let alone lie down) she screams. Or worse, wakes up. You realise Google is not your friend with all the conflicting baby sleep tips and you’re wondering how many other parents around the world are Googling this same thing, or if you are as alone in this as you feel.
You’re alternating between welcoming the sunrise because maybe the next day and night will be better, and willing the sun to stay away so you can have the faintest hope of sleep that night. Except right when you are thinking this parenting gig is not all it is cracked up to be, those little fingers wrap around yours and that briefest of moments is enough to remind you of the magic of parenting a newborn and give you the strength to go on.
Before you become a parent, everyone tells you about the ‘big moments’. Your minutes-old baby being placed on your chest, and finally seeing the face you’ve been waiting nine long months to see. Or the moment your older child meets their new baby sibling for the first time and you see the recognition in their eyes. Or the collective joy when you successfully venture out of the house for the first time as a family.
What you don't always hear about are the smaller moments that make up the magic of parenting a newborn. None of us get a handy how-to guide in the delivery room (how great would that be!) and we all experience different challenges and moments of parenting triumph. What might be a moment of magic to you, could be an everyday occurrence for someone else.
How to spot the magic
Magic moments are often a reflection of our current parenting struggle. It could be overcoming a thorny issue together, or that perfectly timed smile in the middle of a long night, that helps get you through to the next feed.
For the Mum who is yet to find time to feed herself that day, her moment of magic might be successfully settling the baby into the sling so she can make herself a sandwich (and then eating it without the baby getting covered in mayo!).
For the Mum finding breastfeeding tough going, that feed when she gets the latch spot-on on the first attempt could be the magic in her day.
For the Dad whose baby will only settle on Mum’s chest, his moment of triumph might be finding the perfect way to stack the pillows for him and baby to recline comfortably together for an afternoon nap.
For the Mum feeling totally overwhelmed with the responsibility of raising their little one into adulthood, her sigh of relief might come from a dear friend telling her you don't need to know everything from day one. You and your baby are learning together day by day.
For the parents who have tag teamed sleep every night for weeks, their shared magic moment might be finding themselves studying their baby’s tiny wee fingers and toes after a bath and looking over at each other knowing that despite the sleep deprivation they could not have created anything more perfect.
For you today, your magic moment might be finally sitting down with that cup of tea you have microwaved five times and having a few moments peace to read this!
Celebrate your moments
There isn't a parent of a newborn that has everything together all the time, so when your moment of magic happens, celebrate it! Shout it from the rooftops, tell a friend who understands and will high-five you, or even just do a little internal happy dance. Write it down so that on the really tough days, you can look back over your journal of moments and remember the best parts of the days before. Relish the fact that whatever else hasn't gone well that day, in this moment you have achieved a personal parenting triumph.
But remember, it’s ok if sometimes you don’t appreciate the moment until after the fact. At the time, you might only have enough in the tank to keep your baby fed, warm and safe, and keep yourself from hiding under the duvet. But you can be sure that in bed at the end of that long day, waiting for sleep to come so you can do it all over again, you will remember the magic of that smile. And you will go to sleep with a smile on your face. Whatever the next day brings, there will be tough times and there will be magic. You got this.
When you emerge from your newborn baby bubble and are looking at returning to work, please have a nosy at our website and get a feel for what we do at our New Shoots Children's Centres. And please feel free to contact our centre nearest to you to have a look around. We would love to meet you and your little one!