Wow, I can’t even believe it has been a month since our baby boy was born! So much has happened in these four weeks. Not only did we welcome our son into the world, we also moved from Oklahoma to Pennsylvania. It’s been a lot to say the least. I’ve learned a lot about being a mom, although I have so much more to learn. I’ve compiled some of my biggest lessons, honest realizations and supplies for survival. Comment below if there is anything you would add!
What I’ve Learned:
- You have to be solid with your partner. You will absolutely be exhausted and stressed, so it is incredibly important that you are on the same page as your partner and connected. A new baby can put significant pressure on even the strongest of relationships. You will want to discuss responsibilities, strategies for helping each other, and be real about where you are struggling. Being a parent is NOT easy.
- Research is great, but be careful about it. The Internet is very valuable for a new parent, but it can also be very dangerous. There is a fine line between educating yourself and getting way too much information. Take everything with a grain of salt and be willing to do some trial and error. It can be very helpful to find different tips for dealing with certain situations, but you may have to try a variety of strategies. When it comes to baby’s health, it is always a good idea to defer to your pediatrician/on-call nurse over the Internet if you have any concerns.
- Check in with yourself and have an accountability partner. Postpartum depression can be a very real challenge in the fourth trimester and it can be difficult to identify in yourself. I, thankfully, didn’t struggle with this. If you are, please know that you are not alone! Many women struggle with the baby blues and that does not make you a bad mom. Make sure your partner is aware of the signs to help identify symptoms if they come up. You may also want to have a buddy who you can call/catch up with when you just need a moment! This can be anyone, just make sure you have someone you trust and who would be available.
- You will find a new normal. Your schedule will obviously change significantly, but you will eventually be able to bring things back into your day. Some great advice we got was to just try to do one thing each day. That means, one visit or one chore or one outdoor venture. Don’t try to do too much until you feel like you can handle it! Also, give each other chances to do what you need. Make sure you each have time to shower, an opportunity to exercise, a little break to catch up on emails or get some “me” time.
My Reality Checks:
- Day/Night confusion is a real thing! We were not at all prepared for this and couldn’t figure out why our sweet boy would sleep like a champ during the day and be up all night. For the first couple weeks, he was basically wide awake from 10:00pm to 4:00am. It was not fun. Once we read up on day/night confusion and some tips on how to help baby adjust, we began seeing significant improvements.
- Breastfeeding is awesome but it can make you feel chained to your baby. I have loved the chance to breastfeed. Right now, our son eats pretty frequently during the day and that sometimes makes me feel like I’m not only chained to him, but also to the couch. I feel like I spend all day sitting down in a hunched over position. I didn’t prepare for how taxing a nursing schedule can be and how intentional I needed to be with my time while he is sleeping.
- You know your baby. Trust your instinct. If you don’t feel like your mommy instincts are strong, that is totally okay! You will become more comfortable with your instincts are you and baby figure each other out. If you feel like something is off, trust yourself. If you want to call the pediatricians office just to make sure that your baby is okay, do it. If you need to make a call about visitors, you should feel confident making it. Everyone is going to have an opinion or recommendation for you. A lot of the advice will be great, some will not be. Just remember, you are the mom and ultimately the decision is yours.
- Don’t forget about YOU. When you are feeding a little human every 2-3 hours, it can feel like there is no chance to be you. As I write this, my son is sleeping on my chest because he has decided that, today, he doesn’t want to stay asleep in his bassinet. It can be really challenging to make time for yourself and you’ll need to ask for help. Your partner can take care of household tasks or hold the baby while you grab a shower. Family and friends may happily come over to hold the baby while you go to a fitness class or grab a coffee with a friend.
- Sleeping when baby sleeps is really not as easy as it sounds. At night this is obviously pretty easy, but isn’t as much time as you might think. During the day, those 2-3 hours in between the starts of nursing really doesn’t leave much time. During that block, you will have to nurse, burp the baby, do a diaper change, engage the baby in activities for stimulation (during the day), and get the baby back to sleep. During the day, our son doesn’t sleep in very long blocks of time. Sometimes, he is only asleep for an hour. I have to prioritize what I am going to accomplish during what will end up being a very short time. I have a list and use task management software (Asana and Evernote are my favorites). Figure out whatever works for you to know what needs to happen. (Make sure you keep in mind any items that friends or family could help with!)
- Not matter how much of a control freak you are, ask for help. I’ve already mentioned the importance of asking for help. Having an extra set of hands can really help you get things done around the house, get a break from baby, and get some time for you. And people are probably chomping at the bit to hold your bundle of joy.
- You will absolutely be spit up on, peed on and/or pooped on. Just accept it and commit to doing lots of laundry. I’m pretty sure I’ve done laundry almost every day since we brought our son home. Poop stains, especially once it is the yellow mustard color, do not come out easily. We’ve definitely “marked” a number of items in a short time. We’ve also had to clean up projectile poop off of the wall and floor at least twice. (Pro Tip: Baby wipes are GREAT at getting poop out of the carpet and off the wall.)
- Newborn Lounger – We have loved this Boppy Newborn Lounger. Sometimes, you just need a safe place to leave baby while you do something. This lounger is great for giving me a minute to get situated or use the bathroom.
- Boppy Pillow – Getting a nursing pillow is ultimately your decision, but I have found it incredibly helpful. We love the Boppy Nursing Pillow. You can get a number of covers to connect it with your nursery theme!
- Dr. Brown’s Bottles – We did a lot of research and decided on these since they are designed for gassy/colicky babies. Our son has struggled with gas a lot so this was important. You will want to definitely do some research and probably try a few options for your baby!
- Burp Clothes (Get a ton of these!) – Get whatever brand you want! (You can also make these if you want to.) Just make sure you get a ton. This is not the place to buy super nice, fancy items. Burp cloths will get dirty fast. Be prepared to wash these regularly.
- Pads for you – Get whatever brand you like. And get a variety of sizes. You will get a bunch from the hospital, but you’ll want some supplies at home. (If you don’t get a lot at the hospital, feel free to ask the nurse for some on your way out!)
- Ice packs – Ice packs can be helpful for any “down there” pain you have and to help with engorgement. Around week 3, it is very common to struggle with engorgement or even mastitis. Boob infections are NO JOKE. Having some ice packs around can provide some really welcome relief.
- Cheater swaddles – You’ll be taught to swaddle in the hospital most likely. We had swaddles at home and they are just not as easy as the hospital blankets. In the middle of the night, it can be challenging to get the perfect swaddle so having some cheater swaddles can be helpful. We loved the convertible Halo Sleep Sack, SwaddleMe Original Swaddle, and aden+anais Wearable Blankets.