Becoming a Mom is a wonderful, scary, life altering journey that no one is really ready for. Think back to the conversation you had when you decided to have a baby. The discussion about about having enough money, or time, or help. My statement was most likely similar to most women, pleading with my husband, “We will never have enough time or money, but I want to have a baby.” So we did in fact have not one, but three babies over the course of four years. So here is my advice on surviving the first days with baby.
- SLEEP: This title is in capital letters because it is simply that important. Sleep as often as you can. If someone offers to sit with the baby, tell them yes please, and then go take a nap. Don't do laundry, or dishes, or anything else. Sleep is so important and although we can live without it, we don't function well and everyone suffers.
- Breast or Bottle You Decide: This is 100% up to you. It is your body, and here is the best part....There is no wrong answer. You will in fact be feeding your baby, so either way you are doing your job. I have done both and I can tell you that all three of my kids are alive and thriving at the ages of 9, 6, and 4. They all took some from the boob, and the rest from the bottle. It is up to you and you alone to decide.
- Eat: Don't forget to feed yourself. Eat what you want, when you want. You need to have enough energy to take care of all of the people living in your tiny village. Keep up your energy and don't even think about “losing the baby weight” at this point in time. You will need all of the energy that you can produce to not only physically take care of baby, but the mental struggle is just as real and just as exhausting.
- Accept Help: You are home with your miracle and he hasn't stopped crying for a solid 60 minutes. If your husband, or mother in law, or best friend just so happened to stop by, pass that baby over. Take a shower, a nap, or paint your toenails. Take a deep breath and know that it's OK to accept help and take a break. You are a better Mom when you accept help, the more the merrier.
- Give up the guilt: Mom guilt is self imposed. It is pretty much the same thing as the Boogie-Man. We all know that the Boogie-Man isn't real, but tell that to a 3 yr. old who insists that he is in his closet. Mom guilt can only wreck us if we allow it to become part of us. For many years I struggled with this daunting guilt. It is not productive or realistic to think that I will be able to be everything all of the time. Let the dishes sit, the laundry pile up, and the toys remain on the floor. I guarantee that they will still need attention tomorrow, so sit in a rocking chair with your baby and be still.
- Cry: It feels good to let it out. Crying is an acceptable emotion, especially if you just gave birth to a baby. You are not weak, or out of control if you cry or show emotion, you are simply human. Crying will give you an outlet and help you feel better about the current situation, even if your crying about an ASPCA commercial. I get it, I have done it, and I will most likely do it again.
So let yourself adjust to having another person in the house. When my first born was two weeks old I called my mother and cried for at least an hour. He was a colicky baby who only wanted to nurse. I remember telling her, “He is like an angry house guest that won't leave. I know I am supposed to love him, but he just cries all the time.” As soon as the words left my mouth I felt bad, but what my Mom said I will never forget. “He won't cry forever. Give him to your husband and go take a shower.” She was right, the crying eventually stopped and then I had more babies :) So relax and give up the guilt. It is only welcome at your table if you offer it an invitation.