If you are like me, you started researching (on Pinterest) everything you could about pregnancy and babies the minute you thought you might want to start trying to convince your husband it was time to maybe think about the possibility of potentially getting pregnant. And you have read all the lists of things you need for those first few weeks of adjusting to life with a newborn, including those wonderful blessed frozen postpartum pads -- those are top notch and they are the very reason I’m glad the internet was invented before I had a baby.
Now that I myself am a highly-experienced mother, I thought I’d write up some of my own tips and tricks to keep you sane during a very emotional, sometimes really awful and achingly wonderful time in a new mother’s life.
Here they are. Feel free to Pin.
Keep all your baby packing stuff and don't open anything quite yet. I bought too many things I thought I would need but really didn’t: a swaddler for a baby who will not stand for having her arms anywhere not above her head like a drunken sailor, pacifiers for a baby who finds the hard labor of sucking on something without the reward of food superfluous and wrong, and a set of bottles that I’m still praying someone else will be able to use to feed her one day. We’ve been able to return a lot of things we haven’t been able to use and get back some of them dollas.
If you have your baby in the hospital, take home whatever you can. Staying in the hospital is rough, but if you have awesome night nurses like I did, they will send you home with pads the size of your newborn and special underwear that is so easy to put on and take off in the middle of the night when you are peeing with a semi-sleeping baby in one arm. You will need these things.
Know where your nipples are. If you are breastfeeding, your nipples are precisely where multiple nurses and lactation consultants will shove your frail infant’s head as the two of you learn how to nurse, sometimes in the middle of the night when it is dark! And when you are both on your own at 3 am, this is where your sweet baby will bob around in frustration and then poop all over you. Be careful not to assume your nipples are somewhere else, which could be embarrassing after 20 minutes of trying to nurse in the wrong place -- they can be up high, to the side, down low, or too slow. Even if you are not breastfeeding, I think it is still valuable to know where your nipples are, so you can be more conscious of the sweet freedom you have (well, your boobs have at least) because of the miracle of formula.
Carry around a big ol' cup of water everywhere you go. Which let’s be real, is really like one or two rooms in your house, am I right? Taking care of a baby is thirsty business, and by the time you can get a drink, you will be too tired or forget, so just have your water with you at all times.
Wear a pair of those ugly fuzzy socks at night. A nice thick pair of socks will allow you to sleep anywhere without having to find a blanket, which lets you sleep an additional two minutes every time you pass out on the couch.
Sleep when the baby sleeps; cry when the baby cries. Let it all out. Way back when I first became a mom (three weeks ago), I let myself cry in the shower and that was it. It felt wrong crying in front of the baby or while I was holding her. One night after her bath, she was not happy about being cold and was doing this terrifying shrieking shiver-cry, and after I put her diaper and lotion on as fast as I could, I wrapped her in my t-shirt and just lost it for like 45 minutes, because I’m a terrible mother who lets her baby get cold. SHE LOVED IT. I have never seen her so happy and at peace as when I was bawling and telling her how sorry I was. Then she fell into a deep slumber and dreamed she was an ancient Sumerian princess who sentenced her useless servant to death for not running her bath properly. I don’t know what this means but she really is a sweet girl.
Speaking of sleep, don't Google anything unless you have had at least two hours of it. If you are really concerned about something, wait until you are rested enough to differentiate between good and bad advice on the internet and not get more anxious than you were before. Better yet, call your pediatrician’s office and avoid the internet crazies altogether.
Again with the sleep--let your "partner" sleep through the night. Listen, your “significant” other is probably going to sleep through the night anyway. You might as well get to be the martyr the next day who stayed up with the baby so he or she could get some “much needed” rest. Also, I prefer to have someone well-rested and not cranky to help me the next day than someone to sit there and watch my slow descent into another meltdown when the baby won’t go to sleep.
Laugh at your baby. Babies are little weirdos. Being able to make fun of their little comb-overs and how drunk they look after they eat are the only rewards you’re going to get for a while.
Be proud of yourself. You’re doing your best. After being pregnant for TEN months, pushing another body out of your body, then not being able to walk very comfortably for a couple of weeks while you are still healing, just attempting to keep an infant alive is more work than many people are willing to do. Instead of putting yourself down when something/everything isn’t working, learn what you can and move on.
I’m still having some trouble with breastfeeding, but when I’m an expert at that in a few weeks I’ll be sure to share what I’ve learned.
Libbie Henrie is a new mother and really smart gal. You should believe everything she writes, especially the super sarcastic parts. She lives in Arizona with her husband and newborn baby.