the day we brought ava home from the hospital, david had a football game to coach. he was gone for all of two hours, but i will never forget those first couple hours i had completely alone with her. a lot of my so-called parenting was actually me praying that she wouldn't cry, because Lord knows i didn't really know how to console her. these babies don't come with manuals, the nurses in the hospital don't really give you too much advice, and really, all you've got are your maternal instincts and google search.
tips to survive the first few weeks with your newborn baby
1. be okay with doing nothing. i don't know why i was such a spaz during those first couple weeks but i wish someone would've told me to calm the freak down. i remember one instance when ava breastfed for literally four hours straight and i was so upset. i had laundry to do! and dinner to make! and a hospital bag to unpack! and a target run to make! seriously, just don't. sit down, hold your baby, accept that you are going to do nothing but let that baby eat you dry and watch netflix, and be okay with it.
2. use your husband. babies come to couples for a reason; you're not intended to do this alone. put him to work. have him do the laundry, have him go to the store to pick up whatever you need, have him hold the baby while you take an hour to shower and get dressed and feel like a normal human again. some of david's most tender memories are of ava sleeping on his chest while he played xbox all night. i got to catch up on some much needed sleep and sweet ava snoozed to the sweet sounds of gunshots...
3. call your mom. you might not know why your baby is crying, but chances are, your mom does. she's done this before, probably many times before, and she knows what she's talking about (although you might hate to admit it). when ava was a couple weeks old, i called my mom scared to death over this little hiccup noise ava made after she finished eating. i put the phone on speaker and let my mom listen to my crying baby and she said, "do you need to burp her...?" oh. uh. i hadn't thought of that. good idea. okay bye.
4. don't try on your pre-pregnancy jeans. your body just did the most miraculous thing bodies can ever do, be patient with it. most women take nine months to lose the baby weight. nine months on, nine months off. don't compare yourself to others. be patient with your body, love your body, let it heal.
5. get a good breastfeeding pillow. i wish i would've brought one to the hospital. i thought that i would be fine just using normal pillows, but no, definitely no. a lot of people love the boppy, but i loved the brest friend, despite its really stupid name. it snaps like a seatbelt so it stays secure and it provides support for your back. it looks kind of silly, especially when you stand up, but this isn't a fashion show!
6. put your baby down. i know all you want to do right now is smell your baby's head, but really...put her down once in a while. it might make you feel more sane. we had a swing in the living room that ava loved. it played music and gently rocked her back and forth and she was as happy as a clam! there is no shame in putting the baby down to make yourself a sandwich or have a minute to yourself.
7. don't forget your person. having a newborn can be challenging for couples. all of the sudden you have this tiny person who needs you for survival and you love her and want to be with her all the time, but you also have your person, your partner. don't forget about him. tell him you are grateful for him, let him spend adequate time with the baby, let him help you, let him know that no matter how much you love your baby, he will always be your person.
8. know that sometimes, they just need to cry. firstly, let me say that i am not a cry-it-out parent. ava is now almost ten months old and she wakes up at least once a night because i am not a cry-it-out parent. that being said, sometimes your newborn is just going to cry. she will have a full tummy, clean diaper, just bathed, feeling great...and she will be crying. it happens, it is what it is. don't freak out. just hold her and know that you're doing all you can for her.
9. you can't spoil a newborn. i know, i just said put the baby down sometimes, but if she wants to be held, hold her. she lived in your body for nine months, you are her only source of comfort in this life. let her sleep on your chest, wear her in the moby wrap, love on her as much as you can.
10. sleep when baby sleeps. seriously. whether it's 4am or 7pm, whether you have ten loads of laundry waiting or whether your favorite show is on, sleep when she sleeps. forget about all the things you have to do and remember that to be the best mom you can be, you need to get adequate rest. learn to sleep when she falls asleep on you, learn to sleep during the day, and pray for a baby that sleeps in her basinet. christmas morning!
11. don't freak out over a schedule. there are those apps that help you keep track of your baby's wet diapers and feedings and how long she sleeps and all that jazz...don't bother with them. feed your newborn according to your pediatrician's guidelines, but don't have a panic attack if she sleeps for four hours and your routine is thrown off. she is going to be fine, i promise.
12. trust yourself. you are her mom, no one knows her better than you, and no one is better equipped to take care of her. listen to everyone's advice with a grain of salt, especially those know-it-all parents that think they know what's up because they had kids before you. every baby is different, every parent is different, but you and your baby are the perfect pair. trust yourself, be yourself.