My lovely friends Laura, Beach Bum & Baby, and Lauren are all due any day now to give birth to their much anticipated baby boys. I’m so incredibly happy and excited for my friends, but I must admit their impending new arrivals make me very wistful for the days when Coops was an itty bitty snuggly baby. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about those first few weeks after his birth, and there is so much I know now that I wish I had known then.
You’re bombarded with advice before you give birth. “Sleep now, because you won’t sleep later” and “Enjoy your free time now, because you won’t have any time after he/she is born” are things I heard from almost every person I came into contact with. I’d listen to their advice, smile politely, and then walk away thinking “Whatever. My baby is special/amazing/perfect in every way and life will be wonderful after he arrives.”
Life is wonderful…. but it is also incredibly hard and exhausting. Every minute of lost sleep is totally worth it, but there are some things I wish I had realized beforehand that would have made my transition into mommyhood much easier.
#1 Your body will not bounce right back after birth. When my cousin gave birth, she was up shopping and entertaining the day she came home from the hospital. I used her as my guide for what to expect after labor & delivery, and it wasn’t until I asked her “how the heck did you DO that?” did she admit that she paid for her activity later. Her c-section healing was harder than it needed to be because she tried to do so much right out of the gate.
I experienced some severe tearing with Cooper, and my healing took weeks. Because of his health problems, we had two weeks of daily visits to the doctor. I wasn’t able to just sit and rest. It was weeks before I could sit upright comfortable, and it was about 5 weeks before I really was able to move around and resume my normal activity level.
Not to mention pregnancy comes with a host of aches and pains, and those don’t miraculously disappear the minute you have the baby. Heartburn still occurs several times a week for me. My back still aches some days. Let’s not even mention my saggy tummy and boobs.
Bottom line: give yourself time to heal and get back to normal. Don’t push yourself. You’ll get back into those pre-pregnancy jeans soon enough, and your house can be deep cleaned when you feel up to it.
#2 You will be tired. You can get by on much less sleep than you think you can. Realistically, I knew I would be tired. I didn’t really comprehend how tired, though. I was fine for the first three weeks. Jason was on paternity leave, and my mom was here to help me for the first week. It wasn’t until he went back to work that I really began to feel the lack of sleep.
Babies are sleep a lot… but they wake up a lot to eat, too. Cooper was up every 3 hours for about 30-40 minutes to eat. That meant I was up 3-4 times a night. Fun times! But as tired as I was, I cherished those late night feedings. Tired, snuggly babies? Those moments are priceless.
Everyone says this, but sleep when the baby sleeps. Seriously! I never did, but I wish I had. Those late night feedings would have been so much easier had I had a few cat naps throughout the day.
#3 There will be rough moments. If you’re a long time reader of my blog, you’ll know that Cooper wasn’t not the easiest infant. He cried… all the time. For hours on end. I was a stressed out, frazzled mommy. There were times when I would hold him and cry right along with him because I didn’t know how to make it better.
It’s hard to see your baby cry and not know what to do to help them. What I’ve learned, though, is that babies cry sometimes. Sometimes there is nothing we can do to make it better. When you’ve reached the end of your rope, call a friend or family member and ask for help. Hand the baby to your spouse and go do something for yourself for awhile. I never wanted to reach out because I thought it would mean I was failing… but every single person who has had a child understands how you feel and is more than happy to help you if you only ask.
#4 Do what you have to do to survive. The first few weeks of your baby’s life are all about the little one. You’re on his or her schedule, not the other way around. Some days it was all I could do to take a shower. At one point I went 11 days without stepping foot outside my house. I think I wore the same pair of sweat pants for 80% of my maternity leave.
Who cares? I made it through, and so will you. No one cares if your house isn’t perfect. It doesn’t matter if you have to eat sandwiches or take out for a few weeks.
If someone offers to help you, LET THEM! Let your church set up meal delivery for the week after you get home. Let your mom do your laundry. The husband can clean your house. Spend your time with the baby and worry about the other stuff later.
#5 Time flies by. I feel like I blinked and 6 months passed. Cherish the time with your little one. Sit for hours and hold him or her. Cuddle all your can. Before you know it, this time will have passed. Take lots of pictures and make lots of memories that you can cherish later.
Moms, what have you realized? What do you wish you had known before you gave birth?