Tag Archives: infancy

Parenting a Newborn, in Three Acts

23 Jan

Our daughter, Annabelle Gwendolyn Speed, was born at 8:32 a.m. on Jan. 10, 2012, and I sure love her.

When they put the wiggling, wide-eyed little girl on my stomach moments after she arrived, I looked down at her and saw the most gorgeous human being I’d ever laid eyes on. I had expected myself to be more superficial, analyzing her looks and trying to determine if she were objectively attractive or not and hoping I’d be able to attach emotionally right away.

Instead, it was clear the second I saw her that there would be no objective way to view her.

I saw somebody tiny and brand new, and somebody who was a part of me. A stranger on the one hand, she also felt like somebody I had known forever. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able adequately to explain the familiarity I felt with that mere seconds-old creature.

Since those first exhilarating days, during which I had something quite the opposite of the Baby Blues and more like a sort of Baby Euphoria (which partly derived from the knowledge that the dreaded Labor and Delivery had gone smoothly and were behind me), the initial excitement has transformed into a more tempered sort of happiness that has been peppered with some extremely challenging moments as well.

What most stands out to me about the newborn days so far is their cyclical nature, rotating through three stages over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and … you get the point. These are tedious – if precious – first weeks.

It all starts with the …


During the Blissful Stage, Annabelle is either peacefully asleep or “quiet, alert,” observing the world around her. We feel like she is literally a doll come to life – a perfect, innocent little being whose primary role is to be cute and snuggly. In complete awe of the life we’ve created, we feel like we could stare at her for hours. But of course we can’t, because we need to take advantage of the …


Annabelle is still sleeping but we know our time is running thin, so we have to compress all that we used to do in a typical day into the few sacred minutes we have to ourselves. It’s time to make dinner or clean up or take a shower or post photos to Facebook (I actually count that as “productive”). It’s a lot of pressure to take care of everything in the few free half-hours we have scattered around the clock. But tend to the chores we must because around the corner, staring us down, is the dreaded …


Suddenly all hell breaks loose, and I’m not exaggerating. Annabelle pulls out all the stops: purple face, bleating cry, quivering lower lip, flailing arms. I’m sure it’s old hat to seasoned parents, but our own fragile nerves are so easily shattered. It’s like our daughter is suddenly possessed.

We kick it into high gear, nursing her, changing her, walking laps around the house with her, using mind-control tricks from “The Happiest Baby on the Block” on her. And usually one or some combination of these things works, and just when our sanity is threatening to disintegrate into a puddle of madness, our hard work suddenly pays off and we melt happily back into the Blissful Stage, just in time to remember it’s all worthwhile. It’s all … worth … wh … zzzzzzzzzzzz…..