A tiny head is resting on my shoulder — full snooze, mouth wide open. I can feel every rise and fall of her chest as she breathes. The scent of her breath is hypnotizing, and I kiss her face a thousand times. At this moment, I feel an otherwise unachievable level of happiness and peace. My perpetually racing and anxious mind is remarkably calm. It is a moment like no other, a high like no other, these newborns of mine.
I am mesmerized by the magic in their details. A newborn’s smooth skin, perfectly curled eyelashes, and folded ears. Their thin, long fingernails and tiny wrinkled toes — oh God, don’t even get me started on the fucking toes! The smell of their freshly bathed hair and the little folds of their neck. The startles, the yawns, the sneezes, and the stretches — to witness it all feels like I have uncovered the secrets of the universe. I could marvel at their site for an eternity.
I am comforted by their attachment. The bond is so uncomplicated yet intense. This perfectly symbiotic relationship in nature is life sustaining for both of us. For me, oxytocin is better than Celexa.
There is no fight for independence, no pushing me away or wiping off my kisses, just complete surrender to my obnoxiously suffocating love. I wish I could smother all my kids in this love forever. Holding them, nursing them, and wrapping them around me in tangled Scandinavian fabric carriers overrides my overactive nervous system and quiets my restless mind.
It is my truest euphoria, where I am most comfortable, and when I feel the most complete.
I am relieved by and grateful for the life-restrictions that newborns bring. Pressures to attend and participate in all of life’s bullshit melt away in the first couple of months with a new baby. Days are spent in spit-up stained sweatshirts, under cozy blankets, with little outside distractions. Older siblings crowd the couch for family movie nights, and despite the inevitable chaos, it all feels really good.
Unfortunately, this newborn phase is brief. I guess it has to be, since it’s so all-consuming and exhausting. It passes in a blink and leaves little trace behind. Crusty umbilical stumps fall off, toes get stinky, and swaddles get packed away. Today, as my fourth and last baby toddles around the kitchen saying my name, I feel intense grief.
It is a greedy and selfish kind of grief, one that I often feel guilty even acknowledging. Because, I am simultaneously so grateful. I am in awe of the gifts I have been given. But I can’t help wanting more.
I want to continue moving forward with my four growing, changing children. I also want to do it all with a tiny human treefrog snuggled on my shoulder because I simply can not fathom never feeling that joy, that high again.
So how do I quit?
Right now, I am aiming and working tirelessly for a mindset shift. I am leading with and focusing on the gratitude I feel for what I have right now, rather than what is behind me. I am trying to get excited for the oncoming life stages I have yet to experience. I am trying to envision a life with pockets of freedom that comes with older kids that can walk, feed, and toilet themselves. I am setting limits on my social media intake because Zuckerberg is littering my algorithm with coo-ing infants set to gut-wrenching music. Perhaps most importantly, I am offering myself time in the hopes that someday it won’t feel so devastating.
Someday I will see a new baby without wishing I had another one of my own. Someday I will scroll through old hospital photos and not feel a desperate longing to go back. Someday I will find that newborn baby bliss in other areas of my life. Someday. Not today, though.
Samm Burnham Davidson is an ex-lawyer mom of four who swears a lot. She lives in Beverly, Massachusetts and can be found on Instagram @sammbdavidson.