New moms and moms-to-be are constantly bombarded with advice. You should swaddle, don’t co-sleep, let them cry, formula fed babies are doomed to repeat the 3rd grade, etc. Well, just like every pregnancy is different, so is every birth and every baby. There are things that work great for some and not so much for others. Well, my baby is still alive and I haven’t pulled my hair out, so I must be doing something right. I’ll share what has worked for me in the last 3 weeks. Take it with a grain of salt, but hopefully you get something out of this – even if it’s just a laugh.
For those that are new here, I’m a first time mom. I am 24 years old and I’ve never EVER been around babies. The second he was born and they placed my gooey baby on my chest something in my brain clicked. I think it was my mom button. From that moment on, my purpose in life is to make my child happy. That doesn’t mean getting him the best bouncer Babies R Us has to offer… I mean it is my responsibility to make sure that all of his needs are met. Food, shelter, warmth, change his diapers… basically anything to keep him from crying.
When you’re in the hospital you have the nurses to rely on. They stop in, check his vitals, change diapers, check your giant pads and bring you anything you need. That minute when you put your baby in the car seat and the nurse waves “goodbye” everything changes.
Let’s talk about this car seat… I suggest you practice with a teddy bear before the big day. Practice a few times actually. I thought I had it figured out. I’m ashamed to admit that we couldn’t figure the damn thing out and I ended up putting a blanket over him and holding onto the car seat myself. Our straps were just long enough for Mr. Teddy and we couldn’t figure out how to get them longer to fit out little one. (Yes, I’m still going to try to pass this off as a guide to new moms…)
Some new parents have their friends and family bring them meals for the first few days or so. We didn’t have that, so we had takeout. I think my husband drove through every single drive-thru in our city. I was SO sick of fast food and it made me feel miserable. Try to have a couple meals made ahead of time in the freezer. Or even have some easy/quick meals ready to go.
If you’re planning on breastfeeding, try to have some snacks that you can just grab & eat. Fruit cups, nuts, cereal bars, etc. Eating throughout the day will keep your supply up. I keep trail mix, craisins and some water next to the rocking chair I use to nurse my baby. It’s awesome.
Oh… the breastfeeding. First of all, if you choose formula, good for you! Don’t let people give you a guilt trip over it. My husband and I were both formula fed and we progressed enough in life to have a human of our own. However, if you’re going to have your sweet little newborn tug on your nipples, here’s my advice. (Again, take this with a grain of salt) The first few days we were home were a little rough. My milk hadn’t come in yet. I know they say that colostrum is all they need and it’s quality over quantity, but my baby didn’t get that memo. He screamed and screamed and when I couldn’t take it anymore, I gave him an ounce of formula that the hospital gave us. He was completely satisfied, he stopped crying and I was able to get a nap. I beat myself up for “giving in” to the ease of formula, but then I realized that my baby was happy and satisfied. What should I feel guilty about?
The first 2 weeks of breastfeeding were horrific for me. He had a shallow latch which is very painful. I would get a stinging pain from my nipple to my pinky toe. I was in so much pain it drove me to tears. Mind you, I had an all natural labor (not because I wanted to) and I did not shed a single tear. I stuck it out though, and with the help of Lanolin cream (buy it for your hospital bag, ladies), heating pads, and hot showers I was able to do it and it doesn’t hurt nearly as bad.
Mmmm showers. Hot, steamy showers. A 20 minute shower will literally change your life. I remember the 2nd day we were home my mother-in-law watched him while I took a shower. I was able to shave my legs without the use of a handicap rail (see ya pregnant belly!) and I had just a couple minutes to myself to relax. I was operating on about 2 hours of sleep but I felt like I just got back from a relaxing trip to paradise. Even if you have to call someone to watch your baby for 30 minutes, do it. Showers are amazing.
Now, I’m one of the lucky moms that did not suffer from postpartum depression. It’s no laughing matter and I don’t want to make light of what is a serious issue. If you believe you are showing signs of depression, please call your doctor. We go from having a roast beef sized hormone factory (placenta) to nothing. It’s a big adjustment. There were a couple days where I was feeling pretty bad though. I would look in the mirror and just see a tired mom. I didn’t feel like me. I decided to take some time while the baby was asleep to do my makeup and hair. I felt so much better about myself. Even if I sound totally vain for saying this, it did help me.
Sometimes even that mom button doesn’t always send you the right message on how to help your baby. There have been times when Colton was crying and I went through the checklist. Are you hungry? No. Do you have a dirty diaper? No. Do you want to be rocked? No. WHAT DO YOU WANT, KID?! Sometimes they cry because they’re working on a big poop or maybe they’re gassy. Sometimes they’re overly tired. When Colton gets fussy for “no reason” I usually get my blow-drier out and give him some white noise with warm air. He loves it. I have also tried putting him in his car seat and rocking it. Every baby has their “thing” that gets them to be quiet. Explore different methods and find out what your baby likes. If nothing works and you get totally stressed, walk away. Make sure your baby is in a safe place and just walk away for a minute or two. You’ll be surprised at how much this actually helps.
Just like the shower, naps are phenomenal! I wanted to punch everyone who told me to sleep when the baby sleeps. Honestly though, you should when you can. My baby usually sleeps for 2-3 hours at a time. If I have caught up on The Voice & Modern Family and all of the laundry is done, I sleep. It’s always fun to cuddle with your baby too.
Ah, yes. Sleeping arrangements. I always said that I would never co-sleep with my baby. They would be in their crib from day 1. Umm.. that didn’t happen. Colton sleeps great in his crib and Pack n Play. The thing is, I don’t. I was constantly waking up to make sure he was still breathing so I ended up sleeping with him in my arms. We ended up buying a co-sleeper that helps a lot. Do what works for you.
Know that you’re going to have moments where you feel like a complete failure. I’ve not compared notes to other moms, but I have a feeling that this is normal. I’m not a very religious person, but I do believe that God chose me to be Colton’s mom. If he didn’t think I were capable, he wouldn’t have chosen me. This is a learning process and we’re not meant to have all of the answers just yet.