Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love the catalogs that come in the mail full of holiday scenes and gifts galore. I love how no matter where you go you hear holiday music. And I love having a tree decorated with lights in my living room. When I found out I was expecting in the month of March, I was excited that we would get to celebrate Christmas with my son the same year he was born. What better way to be welcomed into the world than with a whole month’s worth of holiday lights and music?
When my son arrived in early November, caring for a newborn floored me. By mid-December, I had a slightly better handle on some things (I could change a diaper in 5 seconds flat), but I was more sleep-deprived than ever. And, I hadn’t given Christmas a second thought. My family had decided to come to Los Angeles for the holiday so we wouldn’t have to travel, but that meant that we were hosting all the family gatherings at our apartment. We didn’t have a tree until the day before everyone arrived (if I remember correctly, my dad ended up stringing the lights because we didn’t have time) and, while it was great to have lots of family around who wanted to hold the baby, I still didn’t quite have the newborn-nursing-parenting thing down.
To wit, when I went to the airport to pick up my brother, I took my son with me thinking that he would sleep in the car. I also took along a bottle of breast milk because, in my sleep-deprived and newbie nursing state, I thought that if he got hungry, I might not feel comfortable nursing him while out, so I would just give him the bottle. Easy peasy. I somehow ended up in the wrong parking lot at the airport, so the trip took longer than I expected. When my son woke up hungry, he wouldn’t take the bottle, so he just got fussier.
I finally realized, Wait, I can nurse him in the car, but by then I was frazzled by his crying and trying to find my brother, and I couldn’t get my son to latch on. As a result, he ended up crying the entire 45-minute ride home, my brother navigating in an unfamiliar city while I sat in the back trying to calm my screaming son in his car seat. When we finally got home, and my son was fed and settled, I was standing in the kitchen with my brother who said something like, “How’s it going?” I laid my head on his shoulder and said, “Having a baby is so hard,” and started crying.
I made it through the holiday—and even ended up hanging a few ornaments on the tree—but it was rough and, in the end, I was happy when New Year’s came and went and we could start anew. This year, roughly three years after my son’s first Christmas, the holiday feels extra special. Everyone is sleeping through the night on a regular basis, my husband and I are in a parenting groove of sorts, and to kick off the season this weekend, we’re going on a special train ride to pick out our tree. I can’t wait to get it home, string up the lights and decorate it with my son.