It is with great trepidation that I share the photo below… because I look like crap! I just had a baby, a gruelling 60 hours of labor that resulted in a c-section. [No, I am not exaggerating.] Welcome to having a newborn!
The night previous was our first night home. At 2 a.m., the baby started to cry, it was time to nurse…again. I asked my husband if he could grab “the baby” out of the crib for me while I went to the bathroom. His response? “What baby?!”
Nothing could have prepared me for having a baby. I don’t mean to be negative. The best word to describe all I was feeling was totally and unequivocally overwhelmed. I turned to my husband in tears, after having spent 45 minutes nursing [fighting] our new baby and said, “I am never going to be able to leave the house again!?!” And in that moment I felt it to be true.
It is amazing how powerful our emotions are.
As women, it is amazing what our feelings tell us. And immediately after having a baby my “feelings” were turned way up! Kathleen Nelson put it well in her book Motherhood:
It feels like your life is being poured out. No one is “catching” your life and your sacrifice. No one is seeing your life as you pour it out. It feels like your life isn’t making any difference; rather, it is just being swallowed up by the endless routine of motherhood…Yet just because it feels like that, it doesn’t mean it is true.
Here is a secret about me: I hate bullet points! I hate trying to sum up all we learned in an experience and marking it with a dot.
But here I go, making a list of the things that helped me through those early weeks of motherhood.
Do this during your first weeks with baby:
- Set baby goals. One of mine was to get out once a day. This might mean a trip to the mailbox or a small walk. If an outing wasn’t happening, then my goal might be “wipe down the kitchen.” or “shower.” This helped me to feel like I accomplished something. With subsequent kids, I looked forward to the milestones – one week (nursing would be getting easier), week 2 (most my c-section pain would be gone), week 4-6 (start exercising again), week 8-10 (baby sleeps longer at night) etc. I kept my eyes looking forward, not on the hardship of current circumstances.
- In light of looking forward, don’t forget to look down and enjoy. They really do fly through the newborn stage. It is short as is all of childhood. My father-in-law told my husband (in regards to our boy), “Hold his hand every time he lets you. One day he won’t want to anymore.”
- Allow your husband to encourage you. Sounds stupid, eh? But we’ve all heard someone say, “You’ve never had a baby. You have no idea how hard this is!” Most the time our husbands are just trying to encourage us. Chris would say, “this is just a season, it won’t always be like this.” I would think, “You don’t know anything about what I am going through.” But he was trying to encourage me. And the truth? He had a little more perspective. A little less emotion. And maybe a little more sleep. He had better eyes on the big picture than I did.
- Consider scheduling your baby. [There I said it, yikes!] I know this is controversial. I am probably being blacklisted as we speak. That is why I have dedicated my thoughts on this topic to its own post- coming in a few days. So check back to get the whole story. The short of it is- I believe having a routine/loose schedule is better for the baby and for you. And gives everyone a decent shot at sanity.