First Week With Baby? Here’s What I Remember.
We just celebrated my son’s fourth birthday. We threw a Paw Patrol themed birthday party and made a birthday cake and at the end of the day, I sat down with my coffee and did what I do every year – flipped through photos of his birth, the day he arrived in the world and made me a Mama, and I wondered how it is that so much time has passed? All of a sudden, the feelings I went through that day and in the days that followed came rushing back.
I thought about those first few days at home. While most of that first week is a blur, here’s what I remember. I hope a new mama or soon-to-be mama can find some comfort, or laughter, in these words:
Sleeping in 2-Hour Intervals
When I asked my mom friends if it’s true you never sleep once you have kids, they said: “you will sleep again, just not anytime soon”. And, they were right. My new baby woke me up roughly every two hours. Now, this wasn’t as bad as it seems. I was actually ok with the interval sleep pattern. Every two hours, I’d wake up, change a diaper, feed, then lay him back down and fall back asleep to repeat again in another two hours.
Where things got rough was when he started waking up after 40 minutes, then 3 hours, then taking an hour to fall back asleep. That’s when I started to lose my mind!
My advice for new Mamas: enjoy those first few weeks of predictable waking up and know that sleep will eventually return to your life, just not anytime soon.
Leaking … Everywhere!
I expected the spit up. I expected the poopy diapers and explosions – yes, those happen. I bought the wipes and the baby cloths thinking I was prepared for every mess my baby would create. What I didn’t expect was that I would be doing the leaking!
My advice for new Mamas: Prepare for your body’s messes. Stock up on pads, stuff your nursing bra with Kleenex or spend the money on breast pads, and don’t wear your favourite top. In fact, stock up on tops that you don’t care will get stained and ruined by spit up or your leaky breasts.
Breasts That Disappoint
Although my boobs trippled in size (a pleasant surprise for hubby), they were totally useless that first week with baby! I had so much trouble breast feeding. My milk wasn’t coming in and after several days, my midwife suggested I give my baby formula.
Oh the tears! From ME, not my baby. I was sooo upset that my boobs weren’t doing the job they were meant to do. I felt like I was failing my baby; that I’d failed my first task in this journey of motherhood. I obsessed over my breasts. I googled every article on how stimulate milk production. I took the vitamins, the special teas, ate all the breast-y foods.
But my baby had mild jaundice and he was HUNGRY so I did what I had to do and cracked open the formula jar. I realized my job was not to breastfeed, it was just simply to FEED my baby. Eventually, I did get my milk supply and little man and I did the breastfeeding thing, but the week or so that I had to supplement with formula felt like an eternity!
Advice to New Mamas: Don’t obsess over your breasts. FED is best!
Lots of Visits…. But Not for ME.
The first weekend after my son was born, the doorbell rang. People flooded into the house with gifts for the new baby. They wanted to hold him, to smooch his tiny face, to hold his tiny fingers. They ooo’d and aww’d and coddled and swaddled. My baby was so loved and I felt blessed that he had all of these people in his life that would love him.
But, it did strike me at some point that I was quite invisible during these visits. They weren’t there to see me. They were there to meet the new baby!
The following Monday, my mom arrived on my doorstep with chicken soup and croissants and dinner leftovers FOR ME! A mama knows, right? A visitor for ME! Sure, she was there to hold her grandson, but we chatted on and on about things other than the baby, too. Finally, someone was there to talk to ME, to see ME and to shower ME with a gift …. Literally. I used the time my mom visited to take a shower!
Advice to New Mamas: Make sure you have at least one visitor who is there to see YOU and take care of YOU. I mean, your baby is cute and all, but YOU need some love, too.
A New Name
The day my son was born, my identity changed. I went from Lisa – the name I’d been called my whole life – to Mommy. I realized it at my son’s first doctor’s visit. “How’s he sleeping, Mommy”? the doctor asked me. It took me a minute to register; oh, that’s me!
My son is now four years old. The number of times in a day that I hear “Mommy” far outweigh the number of times I hear “Lisa”. I quite like the ring … except at 4 in the morning … then I wish my name was “Daddy”.
Advice to New Mamas: You worked hard for that name. Own it, Mama!