I’ve blissfully made it through survived the first 12 weeks of parenthood!
I think that deserves a little celebration. It is so crazy how much has happened since November 17, which at this point feels like was years ago. I’ve watched Eve go from this tiny, 8-pound little thing who spent most of her time sleeping, to this amazing little baby who smiles back at me, coos, and is awake and alert a good chunk of the day.
Obviously I am still very knew at this parenting thing, and like every parent I am constantly learning on the job. But while it’s still fresh in my mind I wanted to share some tips for my fellow new moms.
1. Find a supportive community
Parenting is hard. Anyone who tells you otherwise either a) has never been a parent themselves, b) blocked out from their memory the challenges that come with being a parent or c) is lying to themselves.
One of the things that has really helped me so far, especially during those middle-of-the-night feedings when I was feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, was having a supportive community to which I could turn, but online and in-person. These ladies have made me laugh when I have felt down, and hearing other moms’ struggles has been so reassuring. Don’t know where to start? Check out Meetup.com or see if there are any Facebook groups for moms in your area.
2. Go on a “test run” outing
Although I had been out of the house plenty of times with Eve while Sam was on paternity leave and with my sister when she came to help, initially I was weary of taking Eve out of the house by myself. I found going on a quick errand to some place close to my house helped me build up my confidence for taking her out for longer periods of time, as well as to places farther away. If she started to fuss, I knew I could quickly get home instead of feeling flustered when I was out in a public place.
3. Anticipate it will take you much longer to get out of the house than it used to
I’m generally a pretty punctual person; I actually get quite anxious when I’m running late. Having a baby makes being on time nearly impossible. Inevitably she will poop or decide she’s hungry just as you think you are ready to leave the house. I’ve started to tell myself I want to leave my house 15 minutes before I actually need to leave it, because only then will I actually leave on time (if I’m lucky). That is on top of getting ready to leave the house about 20 minutes earlier than I did in the pre-baby days.
4. Practice feeding in places other than your home that feel comfortable for you
I’m the type of person who looks around me when I’m changing in the locker room at the gym to make sure now one is around before I quickly change my clothes. So the thought of whipping my breasts out in public to feed Eve those first few weeks–Hell no!
Errands and walks around the neighborhood were timed so that we would be back at home in time for me to feed her. Eventually I realized that I didn’t want my boobs and Eve’s need to eat to completely rule my life. I found practicing to feed her at home with a cover and at friends’ homes slowly gave me the confidence to be able to feed her in much more public places.
5. Limit your expectations for what will get done in a day
Do you have a to-do list like me? Take the number of things you used to get done in a day, and divide it by ten–that is approximately how much you will actually get done in those early sleep-deprived days. Sam and I quickly realized after Eve was born, that in addition to feeding and changing her, we were lucky if we got maybe two things accomplished that day, and they still usually revolved around Eve (giving her a bath the first few times was our big accomplishment of the day). It took us about a month to get her nursery in order, and it’s still a bit of a mess.
6. Give yourself permission to cry
When the discharge nurse at the hospital told me that I would have the Baby Blues for about a week, at first I was like yeah, yeah, whatever. This is what that first week looked like: Cried because the baby wasn’t sleeping? Check! Cried because she was crying? Check! Cried because I spilled orange juice all over the kitchen floor? Check!
You will cry at anything and everything, and that is ok. And even after your hormones have leveled out a bit, you will still cry, because parenting is hard, and you will feel guilty and happy and sad and frustrated and overwhelmed, and it is ok!
7. Ask for help
I hate asking for help. Not because I think I can do everything myself, but because I don’t want to be an imposition to others. But when your friends and family offer to put the clean dishes in your dishwasher away, or cook you a meal, or hold the baby so you can take a shower, take them up on their offer. Or if they haven’t yet offered, don’t be shy about asking them. Especially now that I’m a mom, I know when my friends have babies I am going to be finding little ways to help them because everything helps get you through the day, especially in those early weeks.
8. Stay away from Google
According to Google, every little thing your baby does (or does not do) could be a of sign of something being wrong. Save yourself from a potential freakout and stay far, far away from Google. If you’re really concerned, call your pediatrician’s office. Don’t worry, they’ve heard it all.
9. Feel free to ignore people’s advice
Yes, I am giving you advice, and so will your mom, your neighbor, that random old lady at the grocery store. Feel free to smile, give a little thank you, and promptly ignore whatever they (myself included!) told you. Take what works for you, and feel free to throw the rest out the window.
What words of wisdom do you have for new moms? What do you wish someone had told you before you had a baby?
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