This post is an open letter to The Mom of A Newborn Baby. My kids are 5 and 3, so it’s been a little while since I had a newborn in the house. However, several close friends have either just had a new baby, or are about to have a new baby. And for all of them, it’s their first baby! Such an exciting time!! And it’s gotten me to thinking… what’s the best advice I could give to a brand-new mom or a mommy to be?
Would it be about diaper changes? Or how to help them sleep? Perhaps some breast feeding tips? Further, some car seat advice?
I think my answer might surprise you. It’s not an answer you’ll ever think of on the list of things to tell a new mom about. Simply because my answer is this…
I have no advice for you…
Not a word. This is YOUR journey with YOUR baby. My knowledge and experience have no bearing on
When I was pregnant, I was amazed at the number of people who had horribly negative things to say about having a new baby. “Oh, rest now, you’ll never sleep again!” or “Enjoy your last weeks of freedom!” or “Just wait, you’ll understand soon…” and perhaps the worst “You don’t know what tired is yet.” Who says these things to people? Is it fun to scare mommies to be? I never understood that at all!
Do you think it’s not occurred to said mommy that she’s about to have a whole bunch of sleepless nights? Or that parenting is going to be a lot of work? And that she might be tired? Of course she has! But every time someone says something like that to her it steals away a little more of her joy and it makes her just a smidge more worried than she already is. And trust me, she is already consumed with worry! She doesn’t need your help.
You can’t prepare someone for having a newborn. Because every newborn is different. Further, everyone’s experience is different.
Things I do know For Sure…
If you insisted on knowing about my experience with newborn babies, I might tell you these somewhat unexpected things:
It goes Quick!
The newborn stage will feel like it might last forever, because, as expected, you WILL be really tired. And at first your body will be really, really sore, no matter which way that baby came out of your body. But you will also be running on a special kind of adrenaline that only a new mommy has. And this newborn phase? It won’t last forever. In fact, it’s gone in a blink of an eye.
It’s Really Not that long
You have 90 days. 90 precious short days that your child is a newborn. There are 6,570 days from the day your child is born until the day they turn 18. The newborn stage is 1.4% of your precious child’s life. This phase is gone in the blink of an eye. Take a ton of pictures and even more video. Later on, you’ll love going back and hearing the sweet cries and coos that your sweet little bundle of baby made. You’ll forget more quickly than you think, so take some videos to help yourself memorize everything in this sweet phase.
And what a sweet, sweet phase it is. You have this teeny tiny bundle of baby that will snuggle up and be content and happy just lying in your arms. They smell delicious and new and sweet. Trust me, it’s gone in what feels like a second. In short, I suggest you soak up every single minute of it.
As for getting up in the middle of the night? I loved it. Sure, I was tired. But that special middle of the night time when it’s just you and your baby? It’s magic. Especially if it’s your second (or third, fourth, fifth…) child. It’s time for just the two of you. You don’t have to worry about who is getting enough attention and who needs what. It’s just you and your tiny baby. Plus, get Netflix and Hulu and you can watch some fun TV while you are up with your baby. I would end up watching shows on Netflix and just holding my sleeping baby a lot.
Sit For A While Longer
Especially if this is your second baby. There is a lot of stuff to do during the day and you might not be able to just sit and hold your sweet baby like you’d like. I always felt like at night, there was nothing else I needed to jump up and do, and I could just sit and hold him to my heart’s content.
Were midnight feedings always joyous and fun? Of course not. Was I really tired sometimes? Absolutely. Did I think it would last forever? Sometimes. It felt like you’d never sleep again some nights. And it would feel like you were the only person in the world that was awake.
But truly, try to keep in mind, it’s just a season and then there will be sleep in your life again. This season is much shorter than it feels. Trust me.
It’s widely regarded that breastfeeding is best, science has proved that… but I would submit it’s only best if it’s working out for the baby AND the mommy. I had a c-section and we didn’t know until my son was a few weeks old that he was tongue tied. He couldn’t latch on to save either of us. So, between the surgery pain and the breast pain from his improper latch, I hurt all over and I was stressed every time I tried to feed him, which in turn stressed out the baby. Not to mention the fact he was losing weight left and right.
We tried really hard. But it just wasn’t the best solution for us. I was so upset at first, but, truly, a fed baby is best and that is all that matters. There are millions of babies in the world that were not breast fed and they are doing a-ok. Just do your best and roll with the punches.
Your body is going to do some amazing stuff when your baby is born. And some amazingly gross stuff. But it’s all part of the process. Just try to hang on for the ride. Meanwhile, be super patient with yourself and give yourself the time to heal up. If you don’t take the time to rest, it’ll take you that much longer to feel better! In addition, stretch marks and scars are amazing reminders of what your body can do. You GREW A HUMAN. Remember that.
Post-partum hormones are no joke. You will be weepy and feel blue. It makes no sense, but it’s totally normal. Just don’t brush them aside. They are not to be taken lightly. You’ll get tons of information at the hospital for proper post-partum hormone care and signs and signals to watch out for. Take them seriously and know, in just a few weeks, everything should get back to your new normal.
Don’t Hesitate to Ask For Help
But if you don’t feel right and you feel like you aren’t thinking right, do not hesitate to ask for help. Be honest with your doctor when they ask you how you are doing. They can only fix the issues they know you are having. For more information about Post Partum Depression and what to expect, read this.
I was terrified of the post-partum depression that would inevitably come after I delivered. And you definitely feel a little wonky for a week or two. But for me at least, it wasn’t as bad as what I had envisioned it might be. I was very, very grateful for that.
Do try to eat well and look after your diet. A bunch of junk will make you feel like a bunch of junk. Try for balanced meals that will keep you full and nourished. Make sure you have lots of snacks for the middle of the night. You’ll definitely get hungry.
Lots of people are going to offer to bring you meals. Let them. Someone probably did it for them and they know how awesome it is to get a nice home cooked meal that you didn’t cook!
Take naps when you can. Nap when the baby naps or ask your partner to be on baby watch while you get in a good nap. It’s not realistic to think you’ll get full night’s sleep during this time. But with a nap here and there, you may actually feel a lot better than you think you will! The sleep depravation will not be as bad as you imagine. I promise.
But really, I can’t tell you any of those things, you’ll have to learn for yourself. You just don’t know until you are in it. You can’t quite imagine I’m right. People can tell you all their best advice on the front end, and while it’s all probably very good advice, but you won’t follow it. At least not most of it. Because you simply just don’t realize most of it is true until a newborn is at home with you.
So, if I were going to offer my advice to the mom of a newborn baby, this would conclude it all: Remember, ultimately, mom and dad decide what’s best for themselves and this new precious baby. Take the pieces of the advice that work for you and make the experience your own. Tune out all the rest of the noise. And most of all, enjoy this magical and precious time! Memorize every single little detail and smell and noise. You will miss it when it’s gone. Of that, I’m 100% certain.