The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
- Elizabeth Bishop
Ah, the newborn haze. This is me just after we brought Alba home from hospital. Our hospital stay was lengthy, as Alba was born with gastroschisis (a condition where the bowels are outside of the body), meaning that she needed to have a few weeks in NICU. If you look at this image, you might see a mother, happily breastfeeding her child, relieved to be back in her own home. To a certain extent, that's what I see here too.
What I forget, perhaps, are the little details. The way her hair felt when it was so straight and silken, compared to the curly mop she now sports. The way she smelt after being freshly rubbed in cottonseed oil to help her scaly newborn skin. The frustration that we both felt at our difficult breastfeeding journey, after so many weeks of her being nil-by-mouth or only fed through TPN. The fact that the arms of her 'tiny baby' sleepsuit had to be rolled so many times so that her little hands, scarred from cannulas, could grasp at my hair.
Forgetting is perfectly normal. As Elizabeth Bishop's poem 'One Art' suggests, it's almost as if many things seem destined to be 'lost', or in this case forgotten, but we rarely see this process of forgetting as 'a disaster'. One theory as to why we forget is that, in our day to day lives, we focus on understanding the world, not remembering it. As Robert Kraft explains in Psychology Today, "We don’t approach new events in the world with the primary goal of remembering them. We appreciate, manage, enjoy, negotiate, confront, praise, love, argue, get through — all ways of understanding." When is this more true than in new parenthood? We can feel all of these deep emotions and experience these new events on a daily basis, many for the first time, but we have a desperate need to understand them. To understand what our child needs from us; to understand our redefined self as a parent; to understand how to survive on only a few, broken hours' sleep.
Speaking of sleep, the Harvard Medical School cites lack of sleep as "the greatest unappreciated cause of forgetfulness". So is it any wonder that we find, a year or even months down the line, that we have forgotten some of those precious details from the newborn haze? And, surely, forgetting such precious memories would be seen as 'a disaster' by most?
But never fear! There is an art to not forgetting, and one of the most potent ways of improving recall is to write. Through writing down our memories, research has shown we are doing two key things. Firstly, we are actively engaging or re-engaging with that information, telling our brain that is has significance. This will therefore mean that it is more likely to be stored into our long-term memory, especially if we are recalling that information a short time after the actual event. Secondly, we are creating a cue for memory. This way, even if we do forget, when we read our recordings back we will trigger that memory in all of its beautiful detail.
A fear of not forgetting the small moments that matter with Alba was what drove me to create Month of Sundays Childhood Journals. A first year baby book just wasn't enough, as her childhood didn't end there. I wanted a gorgeous keepsake that would help me to take a trip down memory lane and keep all of those precious details safe. That's why our Journals allow you to document all of the memories and milestones from pregnancy to the eighteenth birthday, ensuring that nothing is missed or forgotten. I hope, this way, that our Journals help others to discover the art of how not to forget.