Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Surviving our first week with a newborn

It's been a week since we brought our baby home from the hospital and we are starting to adjust to the new "normal". People can tell you about this time, you can read about it in books, but there really is nothing like on-the-job training. Here are some of my "Lessons Learned" from week 1.

There will be many times when you should be sleeping, but you won't
Everyone tells you, "sleep when the baby sleeps". This is a nice idea and all, but when do you shower? When do you have a conversation with your partner? When do you catch up with the outside world? There have been times this week that I have been exhausted after being up every hour feeding the baby in the night, so I did grab a nap in the middle of the day. But at other times people were visiting, there were emails to respond to, or I just felt like doing something while I'm awake other than seeing to the needs of a newborn. I think you have to do what gives you that little boost to keep you going. In a few days, back-up will arrive in the form of my mother, and hopefully the opportunities to sleep will increase.

A new mother's hormones can cause your body to do the unexpected
When we brought the baby home, we put beach towels down on the couch, thinking things could get messy with the baby peeing, pooping and spitting up. Turns out that Oliver really doesn't make much of a mess--I do. The changes that a woman's body goes through in order to feed her new baby are nothing short of amazing, but it's not always without the need for fine tuning. While my body is taking the next few weeks to determine the demand for milk, I have an overabundance of  supply, which ends up on me, on the baby's clothes, everywhere. And while this happened, I started leaking from my eyes too.

I should start by saying that I am not a crier. Not before I was pregnant, not while I was pregnant. I didn't cry when I was told that I would need a c-section. When I heard my son cry for the first time, I openly admit that I did cry, but I feel like it was one of those rare moments in life that just takes your breath away. By day 3 after giving birth, the floodgates opened. I got weepy when I thought about the birth. I got weepy when I saw Alex and Oliver together. I got weepy near the end of the day knowing that I might spend the whole night feeding or soothing the baby. Whether it was helped by more rest or something else, the weepiness has thankfully slowed down, but I'm still stocking tissues.

Every day gets a little less terrifying
When we brought Oliver home, neither one of us had ever taken care of a newborn. We still have no idea what we're doing, but each day we get to know him better and learn what works and what doesn't.   A newborn may be needy, but luckily their needs are pretty simple. If we finish the day and he's well fed and we all get some rest, then it was a good day.

It's amazing to me that he's only been home for a week. It seems like we've all been together for much, much longer. We don't really measure the time in days, but rather in feeding sessions and naps and diapers. Every day, we see more clearly that we will be able to reclaim parts of life before baby. Life will never be the same again, but now that he's here, would we really want it to be?

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