Congratulations! You now have a baby!
Newborns are a paradox. They possess a really low difficulty rating—they haven’t discovered things like existential crises, the charm of your smart phone, or backtalk yet—but also incredibly high—they need you just about every second of every day to do everything for them or they might die. They are pretty weird looking—jaundiced and peeling, wrinkly and hairy in weird places with pointy little butts–except yours is literally the most glorious child that was ever born. No question. You feel bad for other people, having their subpar kids. It’s tragic. Newborns are boring—the “potato stage”—and they are terrifying. Did you know that after you’re born you have to learn how to breathe properly? You do now.
Bright side: Portable
Newborns have one job: grow. To do this, they basically eat a lot and sleep a lot, so if you want to do things during this chapter of your baby, it’s not impossible. Pop them in a bassinet and presto! It’s practically just like before–sleep deprivation and possible trauma to your body, notwithstanding. Once they’ve gotten a semblance of an immune system, take them to the movies or fancy dinner or a coffee shop—they’ll sleep through it all, only waking up for a little milk now and then.
Dangers to Productivity: You.
First, babies have the evolutionary skill of mesmerizing you. You can waste a lot of time staring at them. It can be really hard to walk away and let someone else take care of them for an hour or so, even if that someone is their other parent, who would also like some time to stare at them. Third, you are tired. Fourth, you are learning uncountable new skills. Fifth, you are rebuilding your whole life and—dare I say it—sense of self to include this new person.
Plus, if you are the one that carried that baby, you are riding out a hormone shift that would make puberty blush, while recovering from either the equivalent of a hundred marathons (…pretty sure) if you also ran marathons on your crotch, or major abdominal surgery that may have come with a side of alchemically intense stress-terror. Or if you’re like one unlucky mom friend of mine, both! And if you did not carry your child, you may be helping someone who did recover–making sure they eat, hydrate, sleep, ice, take some pain meds, stop getting up–which is a critical and demanding role. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Suffice it to say, this is not your time to shine. This is your time to be gentle on yourself and to focus on that recovery and those new skills and, oh right! The baby. Celebrate what you do get done. Avoid hard, immovable deadlines, if you can.
Perfect Pages: Wild, Arty Passion Projects
You know that one project? The one you always shift to the backburner? The one where you want to use three different tenses to convey the shifting alliances of the point-of-view characters? The one where you kill the protagonist at the midpoint and reveal that the story you’ve been following was not the one in the foreground? The one that’s written entirely in trochaic tetrameter, because Dies Irae, that’s why? The one where you know it’s probably not commercially viable, yet in the small hours, when your other projects are boring, you still think of how cool that would be?
Man, do that. What’s in your way? You can’t count on getting something solid done, so get something fun done.
Are you sleep-deprived? Of course you are! And with sleep-deprivation comes a wandering brain and weird logical leaps–stuff that might get in the way of crafting something solid and traditional, but might uncover amazing creative insights on something you need to stop being too critical about. The critical part of your brain is probably busy anyway, keeping track of when the baby last ate, how many diapers she’s gone through, and whose eyes does he have exactly? So unleash the wild creative part and do something you don’t need it for.