After months of anticipation, and ages of waiting, motherhood arrives. Whether it is a scheduled C-Section, induced or natural labor, after all of the waddling it is here. An intense journey that fully pushes us to our limits and shows us that we can do things we had no idea we could, we meet our prize. Intrigue, love, wonder, amazement at the process and the joy.
The process is physically and mentally taxing. At times, I think that Mother Nature is cruel to place so many physical requirements on the mother. The pregnancy, the birth, and then the physical care of the newborn. Add to that the physical requirements of a postpartum body, needing simultaneously to recover, restore and supply for a baby. The entire process is nothing short of amazing and draining.
This may sound like a bit of a rant. To be honest, it is. There is a point to it. There are things us moms can do to take care of ourselves and prepare ourselves for this journey. As moms we often forget about ourselves. In a life where getting a shower is a luxury, can we really take care of ourselves? Well, maybe not to a level we did pre-kids, but there are things we can do to get off on the right foot.
Before having the baby, plan & prepare. Stock your freezer with prepared or purchased meals. Collect lists from your favorite take out restaurants. Make lists of things that folks can do to help you when they visit. Plan help – friends, family, neighbors. And, check out my article on the gear to have on hand.
Get back up. Plan who is going to help you when you get home from the hospital. Don’t end up like me after my second child. My first day home, my husband was back at work and I was taking care of both boys. My older son was in the process of weaning off a medication that caused him to have uncontrollable crazy tantrums. Sometimes they’d last for over an hour. No joke. Anyways, by the end of that day, I was so exhausted physically and mentally. A friend came by and brought dinner. I was so grateful and thankful for the mere presence of my friend, but embarrassed that my house was a mess, my son was having a tantrum and the baby was screaming. That said, her being there was a gift. Later that week, I asked another friend to come by to help with bathtime. Again, I was grateful beyond belief.
My point is simple – secure help. If you don’t have family in the area or if they were like mine unavailable, then call upon friends to come help or if you are in a position to hire help, then hire as much as you can afford.
When you are in the hospital, get all the help you can. There are tons of resources while you are in the hospital. From lactation consultants to the nursery, there is a huge support network there to help you recover. My biggest advice is to utilize the professional babysitters and get some sleep. It could be months or years until you’ll get to sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time. I’m sure Dr. Sears, the proponent of attachment parenting would disagree with me, but seriously, adjusting to life with a newborn and taking care of one is so difficult. Why not get some sleep?
With my first son, I kept him in the room with me the entire time. I felt a duty to care for him every minute (and I still do). But with my second son, I still feel this connection but knew that I’d be going home to taking care of two boys. So, I took advantage of the newborn nursery. The first time I sent him, I was a little hesitant. But as soon as he was wheeled out, I crashed. He was brought back in three hours later. And, then after a bit he went back. I crashed again.
Use a lactation consultant – Another huge resource at the hospital are the lactation consultants. Before I tried nursing, I had friends who made it look so easy. It was like something out of a movie – the baby calmly and happily latched on. Mom had a conversation while nursing. Then baby detached in a happy milk coma. With my first son, I had major issues getting him to latch properly. Nursing was a bloody and painful experience. Who knew it didn’t have to be that way? I sure didn’t. With my second son, it was much easier, which I attribute to the refresher course given by the lactation consultant while I was in the hospital. Whether you’re a veteran nursing mom, or not, using a lactation consultants is totally worth your while.
No one talks about it. So here goes – You go from being able to control your schedule to having to spend endless sitting on the couch, laying in bed or rocking in a chair feeding baby. When you’re not feeding the baby, if you have a fussy baby, you are soothing the baby. With my first son, this meant spending hours bouncing him on an exercise ball. The ball was fabulous at first as it made him so happy, but as the months went on, I began to loathe that ball. It was a bit like a prison, but the only thing that made him happy. So, anyone who came to visit took a turn on the ball.
How do you make this easier? Well, why not have books downloaded on your kindle or smartphone so that you can easily access them during those late night feedings. You’ll eel more connected anyway. In addition, like I said above, plan for help. One of my girlfriends put it best when she said get all the help you can afford. Whether you hire a nanny or swap I owe yous with your girlfriends, there are tons of creative ways to make it work.
Well, thanks for reading. I appreciate having this platform to share tips from the trenches. I’d also love to hear yours.