Penny will be 12 weeks old tomorrow, which is sort of a mini-milestone for me. During my pregnancy, when reading up on what to expect, it was explained to me that the first 3 months of a newborn’s life are like the “Fourth Trimester.” Babies are born after the third trimester for practical reasons (basically, if they waited any longer that this to be born, their large heads would not be able to fit through the birth canal), but are really still wishing they were in the womb. The world can be very overstimulating, and babies are calmed by conditions that recreate what it was like for them when they were inside their mommies’ tummies. This is why swaddling and white noise can be so effective in calming a newborn, and it is also why newborns tend to be so fussy. Supposedly, after those first 3 months, babies seem to officially wake up to the world, and are able to tolerate being functional members of society much better.
Since having Penny, I have repeatedly told myself and Kevin during those more trying times, “this is only temporary.” On the nights when she would be inconsolable, the knowledge that things would get easier comforted me on some level, but I didn’t truly believe it. When you are in the throes of first time parenthood, it can be hard to see the forest from the trees. You feel like the stage you are in (waking every 3 hours at night, never catching up on sleep, trying to keep your increasingly more grouchy baby happy) will last forever.
Well, I am here to tell you that it doesn’t. And while it doesn’t feel like a switch has flipped overnight, it has been a very gradual and pleasant change. Each day seems to get just a little bit easier. Penny interacts with her environment more and more every day, and truly enjoys being a part of this exciting world. She is showing an increasing desire to become more mobile, and though she hasn’t rolled over yet, those wildly swinging legs tell me that it is only a matter of time. She smiles so easily at her mom and dad, and is becoming more generous with smiles for others as well. She loves to have conversations with us, where she coos and giggles and we talk back. Penny is mesmerized by simple toys and soft textures and ceiling fans, and loves when we take her out. As long as she is in her carrier on daddy’s chest, she is content to people watch and cat nap for hours. She has also come to love her sleep (thank goodness, because so do we), and sleeps for about 10 hours straight every night. In her crib in her room, I might add.
As Penelope embraces her new world, I find myself fully embracing mine as well. In spite of all the planning and preparing, I still felt as though I was thrown into motherhood at first, and in the early days, I quickly learned that it was all about survival. I did what I could to get through each hour and each day on minimal sleep, exhausted from all of the on the job training. Now, twelve weeks in, I feel as though I am able to step back, breathe, and just take it all in. I am feeling very comfortable in my new role, and become more confident every day.
One of my favorite things has been sharing my experiences with other new mothers. I used to roll my eyes when I would see mothers get together and excitedly talk about diapers and the pros and cons of pacifiers and how their child “may have batted at a toy on purpose last week!” And now I totally get it. Becoming a mother has opened me up to new friendships and experiences and a whole slew of new topics to talk about. And yes, the pros and cons of pacifier use is a worthy topic of discussion. But even more worthy to discuss is how becoming a parent forces you to become more than you ever could have expected. I am still me, but I am so much more, and only Penny could have made me that. I am so happy and lucky to have woken up to such an exciting new world where I get to be Penny’s mom.