Albert Einstein was a father of three. Perhaps it is no coincidence then that he developed the theory that time is relative around the same time as the birth of his children. That concept has never been more apparent to me than during the hazy months after I had my first baby.
During the first few weeks of motherhood, time had no meaning. The time the sun was shining would bleed into the time it was not shining, and I wouldn’t understand how it had happened. Perhaps I didn’t notice what the sun was doing because the baby became the centre of our universe and my husband and I were orbiting around him. Time skipped and started, disrupted by my son’s every-two-hours feeding schedule. A pretty intense recovery from childbirth compounded by sleep deprivation meant time wasn’t the only thing that blended together—my emotions did as well. Elation would turn to tears and back to numb fear in what felt like heartbeats. I started to feel less like a human and more like an automaton, moving through the world mechanically and barely conscious, performing tasks and entertaining fawning friends and family with my eyes half closed, riding a high of hormones and love that was all at once thrilling and terrifying.
Soon, days started to resemble days again, but they crept by slowly, as if time had just slammed on the brakes. My first day home alone with my son felt like it could have filled a whole week. So many seasoned parents would smile at me and tell me “these moments are so precious.” And I understood what they were saying, because I was so madly in love with my boy, but I sometimes felt like I was just trying to survive each day. I tried not to watch the clock and count down the minutes until my husband came home/my mom came over/my best friend popped in so that I would have someone to talk to. I can’t count the number of times I said to myself, “Life will be so much easier when…,” followed by any number of things that would happen sometime in the future, like when he naps in his crib, when he can play on his own, when he sleeps through the night, when he can feed himself or when he can talk. Lord, how I wished this baby could talk so I knew what he needed.
But then, one day, my baby was sleeping on the nursing pillow on my lap and I don’t know if he reached for it or if I put my hand by his, but his warm little hand wrapped around my finger and a calmness set in that wiped away the fear and fatigue, and bliss started to settle in its place. And it was like a dam breaking. Instead of looking toward the next moment, the next and the next, I was fully in the moment and able to soak it in.
I learned how to get on the bus with a baby (it seems so simple now, but it was my Mount Everest for a while), I learned how to help my baby sleep, I learned how to finish a cup of tea before it got cold, and most importantly, I learned how to smother (to a degree) my worries and fears and simply enjoy my baby. It was then that time started to accelerate. The clothes that had seemed so huge when I unwrapped them at the baby shower suddenly fit him. I was watching him grow in front of my eyes as he discovered his hands, his feet, his toys, his family. I would look at the clock and wonder how it was already three in the afternoon or how it had already been five months. And I would wish, with everything in me, that I could slow time down or even stop it entirely. All of those times that people said “these moments are so precious” came rushing back to me, because, yes, they were right. They are so precious, and I want them to last.
This story is part of our New Baby Guide. Check it out for more info on bringing home, planning for and surviving having a new baby.