Our baby has been with us for almost 3 weeks and I’m already having trouble putting into words the feelings I have for him. It’s like we’ve known each other forever. We hear each other even in the dead of night and the bond, in spite of the rough start, is indescribable. People warned me, yet I was unprepared for these depths that my heart has traveled. I may never fully recover from this experience…
Before he was born, I read so many articles on how to manage the first few weeks and I’m here to report that none of them worked for me. Every baby is different and nothing can prepare you for YOUR journey. You simply have to find your own rhythm.
Here are five things that are working for us…
- Trust your instincts: Believe me when I tell you that your mama instincts will kick into high gear once the baby is born. I worried about holding him, feeding him, dropping him and changing him. Yet, somehow I knew how to do all those things instinctively, even teaching my partner along the way. You just have to trust yourself and when in doubt, phone a friend or family member, preferably someone who has given birth in this decade. If all else fails, there’s always an expert on youtube to show you the ropes.
- Here comes daddy: My partner took 2 1/2 weeks off after our baby was born. It was very important to us that we bond with our son individually during these precious first weeks. Equally important was establishing our new roles as caregiver to the baby and caregiver to the mommy. It’s so easy to lose the dad during the first few months of baby’s life when mom is nursing and taking care of the immediate needs of the little one. My partner was focused on taking care of me during these weeks, which meant feeding me regularly and giving me short breaks to shower, pump and sleep in. I realize that not everyone is blessed with such an amazing partner or has the luxury of taking time off, whether paid or unpaid, but with a little planning and reshifting of priorities, getting dad involved from the get go can be truly rewarding for the entire family.
- Family is a blessing: My in laws, who live nearby, have been amazingly supportive during these early days by giving us our space. As much as they wanted to see their grandson, they’ve respected our wishes and left us to bond with our son. On top of that, my mother in law has been bringing food over once a week, which has helped out tremendously! If you have family nearby, I urge you to ask them for once a week food delivery for the first month. As a general rule, no one should be visiting you during those early weeks unless they bring a tray of food. Period.
- Visiting hours are later: Even before our baby was born, we asked all family and friends to wait a couple of weeks before visiting and we’re beyond grateful for their understanding. This decision proved to be a gamechanger when our son spent a few days in the NICU. When we finally brought him home a week later, we couldn’t bare to share him with anyone else. We wanted him all to ourselves and so we did just that. We kept our universe very small, limiting to just grandparents and immediate family. We spent extended stretches in bed holding our son close. Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed our babymoon!!!
- Do your best: The transition into motherhood is HARD and everyone’s story is unique. After my arduous labor and stressful NICU experience, I felt totally depleted. On top of it all, my son was having trouble latching on and breastfeeding proved to be yet another hurdle in our way. I was instructed by a lactation consultant to pump a minimum of 10 times a day to maintain my supply but no matter how much I tried I couldn’t manage more than 5 or 6 times. I was running on fumes and instead of feeling beaten down, I decided to adopt a ‘do your best’ attitude towards this entire experience. I am pumping as much as I can and supplementing the rest with formula. It’s not what I imagined, but my son doesn’t seem to mind and is growing like a weed. I’ve been able to retain my sanity and enjoy the best parts of being a mommy. It’s a win-win all around!
As I write this, my baby is sleeping on my lap and there’s absolutely nothing better than watching him sleep. I could do it for hours… I want to savor every second with him. This is exactly how I pictured it in my head all those months when I was pregnant. Oh, what a blessing it is to have a dream come true!!!