The Early Days with a Newborn
On my last post, "Lies Parents Told Me," reader CrazyBunnyLady asked me a few questions. Rather than answer them in the comments, I thought I’d answer them here, so you guys could give your input too. After all, every family is different (especially when it comes to newborns), so different perspectives would be great!
How scary is it that first day when you know they are going to kick you out of the hospital and you’re going to have to take care of a little person on your own (with your H, but without docs or nurses)?
Y was apparently not nervous about this at all, and I think his confidence rubbed off on me – so my answer to this is probably atypical. We were asked to stay an extra day because Charlie was small and apparently having a hard time regulating her temperature (I still think the thermometer was broken, for the record). Although the hospital is full of a lot of very helpful people, it’s also full of a lot of interruptions. Y had nothing but an uncomfortable pull-out chair to sleep on, and we were both exhausted. When we were told that we had to stay the extra day, we were super irritated – we weren’t worried about learning to take care of her (after all, we had our parents’ help), and we thought home would be more relaxing. So we weren’t really worried about getting kicked out of the hospital - I just kept thinking to myself, "if they can do it on 16 and Pregnant, you can do it too." Perhaps I was in denial.
Do those first few weeks seem impossible, or do they fly by and then you don’t remember them?
I can’t remember them now, so I’m really thankful that we had our iPhones and took a ton of photos and videos – even of the crying, because her cry sounds much different now. I do remember having a hard time emotionally. I had some postpartum issues in the first two weeks or so; I remember having a lot of anxiety and some mild depression. I called my parents at 11pm once, crying because I had no idea why I was freaking out and Y wasn’t doing a good job calming me down. The moral of that story is to have a support system that extends beyond your partner, because s/he is also exhausted and stressed out.
That being said, the early weeks were nothing compared to colic. At about three weeks, Charlie started screaming her face off, and we couldn’t stop it. It was exhausting and horrible, and we felt pretty alone. I swear, it seems like no one mentions colic on their blog, and at the time I only knew one person who admitted to having a colicky baby. It’s as if people are ashamed that their baby is colicky, or they think it reflects badly on their baby (or maybe they worry it reflects badly on them as parents?). Charlie was colicky and it was awful. I’m going to write a post about this in the future, because Charlie’s problem was due in large part to food intolerances (through my breastmilk), and I think that problem is a LOT more common than people know. But I digress.
The answer to your question, in short, is that they sometimes seem impossible, but they certainly do fly by. It was over before I knew it, and now I can’t believe my baby is over seven months. In general, time passes a lot faster now. It’s important to try to appreciate every moment (even the hard ones), because once they’re gone, they’re truly gone forever.
Do you recommend having a mom or sister or other family members over to help, or is it more a private time that may get too crowded?
I would recommend having only your partner in the delivery room with you, and maybe a doula if you choose. Labor & delivery can seem like a marathon, and it’s an amazing bonding experience – I think having other family members would be distracting and possibly stressful…but of course, that’s just me. I don’t want people talking about food or television while I’m pushing an entire human being from my loins. But, like I said, that’s just me.
However. After the baby is born and you’re back home, I say ASK FOR AND ACCEPT HELP AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. The most helpful thing anyone did for us was my mother-in-law, who did our laundry for two and a half months. It was wonderful. We laundered the baby clothing (which doesn’t need to be folded), but she took our laundry home and brought it back folded. Thank god for her. My mom was also super helpful, coming over to make us healthy meals and put healthy snacks in the fridge in the early weeks. Cooking isn’t exactly a priority, and you’ll start to feel like crap pretty quickly if you’re surviving on take-out.
That being said, don’t let people take your baby from you if you don’t want them to. Aside from having someone watch the baby while you take a shower or have a moment to yourself, you probably don’t need help with the baby as much as you need help with the house. My advice is to only invite people over who will do your laundry, bring you food, or clean your kitchen. This time is for you and your partner to bond with your newest addition, not watch as s/he is passed around to every member of the family but you.
Thoughts? Anyone have personal experiences to add?