1. First and foremost, if someone offers to stay with you immediately following the birth of your new baby, TAKE THEM UP ON IT.
While I was still pregnant and naïve to the ways of motherhood, I assumed that I wanted our little family to bond alone in the early days. Company can and should come LATER.
Wrong. So very wrong.
I have no hesitation in saying that if I didn’t have my mom and my mother-in-law staying with us off and on for the first 2-3 weeks that I would have completely jumped off a cliff. They were the ONLY way I was able to find a moment to do those necessary things during the day. Like bathing. Or remembering to sleep. Or eat. Or cooking me food to eat. Just remember they’ve done this before, and if you’re still here, well they must have done an okay job.
2. Modesty? What’s that??
Once upon a time I might have used the word ‘modest’ to describe myself. But once you push a baby out of your body, modesty takes on an entire new meaning. Breasts are no longer sexual. In any way. If you told me when I was pregnant that when my baby was 5 days old I would be walking around (quietly sobbing) with my nursing gown pulled down like a skirt—completely topless—in front of my mother-in-law, I would have told you that you had too much to drink. Now I’m not saying that happened, but just be ready, you know, just in case.
3. Understand that laundry will never be “done.”
My husband and I aren’t big on buying new clothes, so in my pre-baby days I did laundry pretty often, or risked being stuck with nothing to wear. So there were times when the hamper would be empty.
By the time I finish typing this sentence, the laundry hamper will acquire 6 new items that need washing.
I also used to wear outfits more than once before washing (gasp!) but now the idea is laughable. Why, do you ask? Because burp clothes get saturated every hour, onesies get pooped on. Swaddle blankets get sweated on. My shirts get spit-up on. Everything I own and wear gets breast milk on.
Everything else gets peed on.
Needless to say, my husband doesn’t even comment anymore if he walks in the door and the baby is only in a diaper and I’m in my underwear.
Really, it makes perfect sense to just not wear clothes at all. But then I remember that little annoying thing about bleeding for 6 weeks post-partum, and also leaking breast milk continually for the foreseeable future, so it’s not going to happen. Just resign yourself to the fact that the washing machine will be running at all times during the day and night, and luckily the dryer puts the baby to sleep so it’s really not that big of a deal.
4. New life skills.
I never thought that being able to use my feet almost as efficiently as my hands would be something to brag about—but let me tell you, when you’ve got a sleeping baby (which feels like a 14 lb bag of wet sand) in your arms, being able to pick up a dropped pacifier with your toes feels like something to add onto your resume. Other contenders vying for a spot on the ol' resume include the ability to fold laundry in the dark, the dexterity to type an email with 2 fingers, and being able to withstand hours of non-stop crying without losing you ever-loving mind.
5. Shower = spa day
In my childless days, taking a shower was just part of a daily routine. Like brushing my teeth or going pee. Something I neither looked forward to nor dreaded. Just a part of my day.
Now, taking a shower has two contexts.
The first: when I’m home alone with the baby. I wait until she’s asleep then sprint to the bathroom to turn on the faucet, constantly running back and forth to check on her while the water is warming up. Once I’m fooled into thinking she’s actually asleep, I dash into the shower and wash my hair with one hand while I shave my legs with the other (let’s not talk about how long it took me to attempt to care about shaving my legs). The right side of my face and head remains unwashed so as not to obstruct my hearing. What if she cries??
I’m freezing by the time I get out because I’ve left the doors wide open and I can’t have that noisy space heater on anyway. I quickly get dressed so the aforementioned bodily fluids don’t start leaking. Now I sprint back to the pack and play before she realizes I’ve gone.
Now, the second context: when my husband is home with the baby:
The bathroom has become my own personal sanctuary. The showerhead: a masseuse to ease the tension that has been continually building in my back from lugging the wet bag of sand around all day. I stay in the shower until the hot water runs out, listening to iPod as loud as I like and taking my sweet time doing those post-shower routines I used to know, like putting on lotion or caring enough to notice whether my clothes match.
Everyone knows new moms don’t sleep. I literally plan my entire day in 2.5-3 hour increments. I barely know what month it is anymore, let alone the day of the week.
In the first 2 weeks of new baby, night and day literally had no significance to me. Sleeping at dinnertime and being awake at 3am is not unusual.
But I hate it when people tell pregnant women “sleep while you can! You won’t get any once that baby gets here!” As if you can ‘build up’ your sleep supply. It’s like saying “drink water today! You won’t have any next week.” In case no ones knows, your body can’t store sleep. You will not be LESS tired as a new mom because you got plenty of sleep while pregnant (which isn’t possible anyway).
So no advice on this part. Though I will add, try not to be in labor for two and half days like myself. Because if you start out motherhood with no sleep under your belt for 60 hours, you’re in a losing battle.
7. Do a newborn photo-shoot. But don’t let the sleepy poses fool you.
Seriously everyone, go find a newborn photographer and give them a hug. Because it has got to be one of the most difficult jobs out there.
Newborns supposedly like warm environments, so DON’T show up to the studio in jeans. The blast of the multiple space heaters will baffle your already confused hormones and send you into a sweat-induced state of delusion where you observe photographers and their assistants attempting to rock your sweaty baby to sleep so they can manipulate their little limbs into Anne Geddes style poses.
The photos are usually taken before the baby is 2 weeks old, so this may well be your first trip out of the house. If you want to ensure you’ll have a miserable time, say to your husband, “we won’t be gone that long! We don’t need to take ____” or “we’ll be home before it’s time for her to eat again.” See the 2 corresponding pictures for the “finished product” and the “behind the scenes” version of newborn photography.