I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the ‘lessons’ I learned during Henry’s first three months of life. When you’re a first time mom, you try really hard to IMAGINE life with a newborn, but it’s impossible to know what it’s really like until you’re living it. And then, of course, all babies and experiences are different! So maybe these lessons won’t even apply to my next child. But I thought it would be fun to make a list and share it… I’d love to hear what YOU learned with your first baby, too!
Before you leave the house for the hospital, take one last ‘just the two of us’ photo with your partner. You’ll want to remember that moment!
After you deliver the baby, you still have to deliver the placenta. It’s a lot easier, but it’s still work.
You’re about to have the longest period of your life. Stock up on pads.
Sitz baths, peri bottles, and stool softeners are your friends. Afterwards, you’ll probably regret all the nights you skipped perineal massage.
For the first few days after delivery, you’re going to be functioning on little sleep. You’ll be surprised at how awake and alert you feel. You’ll wonder what everyone is talking about when they bitch about sleep deprivation with a newborn.
Three to five days after birth, reality is going to hit. You’ll realize that you’ve never been so physically and mentally exhausted in your entire life. You’re so tired that you can’t feel your face.
Yes. Your baby really is the cutest baby EVER. Cutest baby in the whole world, in fact.
Even if you hate doing laundry, you’re probably going to love folding little newborn clothes.
Try to talk to your partner and friends about something besides baby poop and feeding schedules, even though that’s all you can think about at first.
Let your partner do as much of the childcare as possible, even if you secretly think they are doing it “wrong.” They probably aren’t – they’re just doing it differently than you. And the worst thing you can do is make your partner feel obsolete or useless.
You are desperately, desperately, DESPERATELY going to want to feel, look, and act like your ‘old self.’ Don’t forget that YOU JUST HAD A BABY. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
I promise… One day, you will feel like your old self. Or a new version of your old self. It just takes a while.
On that note – something has got to give. You can’t be 100% mom, 100% worker, 100% house cleaner, 100% social maven, 100% superwoman. When people offer to help, accept it. Hire help – a maid, a food delivery service, childcare.
Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes mom footage to someone else’s highlight reel.
Even when your baby is happily sleeping, you’re still going to wake up in a panic and make sure they are still breathing. This may last for months and months.
Your house is going to be a disaster. It’s okay. There’s plenty of time to clean up later.
The first time you leave the house with your baby, you’ll be terrified. But it gets easier and easier over time with practice. You can do it!
Old ladies in the grocery store are going to tell you to “savor every moment” when your breasts are leaking on your shirt, you’re running on two hours of sleep, and your baby is screaming hysterically. You are going to want to punch that sweet old lady in the face. It’s okay not to savor every moment when you’re experiencing it. But I bet that two years later, you’ll understand what the old lady meant – time goes really, really fast. You aren’t really aware of how quickly time passes until you have a child.
Speaking of breasts leaking on your shirt, you should probably stock up on breast pads. And you should wear them religiously at first. Because the ONE TIME time your boobs spontaneously decide to spring a leak, you’ll be wearing a tight gray shirt and talking to your father-in-law… <— true story.
It’s tempting to eat a load of junky food – sugar propels you through those sleepy days – but try really hard to eat a vegetable every now and then.
For the most natural thing in the world, breastfeeding does not always come naturally. Read books, surround yourself with good and helpful examples, and reach out to a lactation consultant.
You need fewer baby clothes than you think, especially if you have quick access to a laundry machine.
You don’t have to change the diaper just because it has a drop of pee in it. It took me two months to realize this! Oh, and there’s going to be SO. MUCH. POOP.
When you run to the store for diapers, dish soap, or paper towels, buy it in triple. You’re going to run out sooner than you think.
Ask your friends if you can borrow their swing, baby wearing device, or bouncy chair before you buy one. Your kid may hate it. Also, generally speaking, you don’t need as much baby “gear” as retailers make you think you do.
Even if you’re a horrible singer, your baby will love to hear your voice.
If you have a two story home, have a diaper changing station upstairs and downstairs. A diaper changing “station” can be an old towel, a pack of diapers, and a bunch of wipes.
On that line, put a bag of emergency baby items in the trunk of your car. Stock it with extra clothes, more diapers and wipes, formula if necessary, etc. Throw in an extra outfit for you (remember – “SO. MUCH. POOP!”).
It’s all worth it the first time your baby smiles at you.
Ask someone to take photos of you WITH your baby. You’re going to be behind the camera most of the time… It’s nice to have photos of the two of you. <3
What lessons did you learn with your newborn? There are so many unique and personal lessons!
I love your comments about feeling like your NEW self after awhile. When I was talking to my doctor about running again after birth (which she allowed at 3 weeks, since I was pretty lucky with delivery) she said it was important to do the things that made me feel like my “new normal” self. That phrase always sticks with me – I am a “new normal” all the time since my kids change so fast.
Also want to say one of the lessons I learned the hard way was always having an outfit for myself stashed in the car. I had to learn this the hard way again, and again, and again for some reason!