New Baby, New Mom...New Life
No matter how many stories you hear from your friends, family and coworkers about what to expect with your first child, there’s nothing that will prepare you for the physical, emotional and mental roller coasters that you will need to experience first hand to fully understand what it’s like to be a first time parent.
The story that I'm about to tell you is something I wish I had known but I realized that I wouldn't have known without having kids of my own.
With our first born, the moment we drove out of the hospital parking lot was the moment we officially were on our own to care for this new human being we brought into this world. I still remember it as if it happened yesterday. Immense feelings of accomplishment, joy, excitement and fear all wrapped up together. Random thoughts would creep into my head like “oh what if I do something that will hurt the baby, what if I don’t know how to stop them from crying, I have no idea what I am doing, how often should I be feeding the baby, or what if I accidentally drop her?”
As we get home and settle into our routines, life does begin to get quite interesting.
The first week was great. I was still filled with so much joy and excitement that our new bundle of joy was finally here. We gladly woke up every 1-2 hours throughout the night to tend to our little one. But as the weeks continued on, the lack of sleep took its toll on us. The continuous cycle of feeding, pumping milk in between feedings to stimulate more milk production, burping, diaper change, sleep, wake up, wash bottles, rinse and repeat. Oh how I longed to just be able to sleep for a good 3-4 hours straight.
"I think if I could impart any wisdom in this area, it would be to arrange between you and your partner to take shifts during the night. Inevitably, after every feed, there would need to be a diaper change. What we did initially was have Dave wake up with me to help with the diaper change. That only resulted in both of us walking around like zombies during the day. So what we decided to do was from 10pm-2am, I would let him sleep all the way through. Then from 2am-6am, I would just need to wake up to feed. Even though I still had to wake up, that allowed Dave to be less tired during the day so that he could be more functional during the day to handle the baby and I would be able to nap more often".
The most exciting parts of our days is when she opened her eyes and we could finally interact with her somewhat. She had no idea what was going on of course because at that age, they really can’t see clearly yet, but they do start to learn our voices.
A few months in is when it starts to get even more exciting. She is awake and alert for longer periods of time now. She’s starting to coo and smile. She’s able to interact with the toys we bought for her. People coming to visit loved holding and talking to her. You can't help but keep telling yourself, "I can't believe we created this".
"Once you establish a routine and your baby gets into their own schedule, the sleep deprivation becomes more tolerable. The days become more predictable and you learn to sneak a power nap in when they nap. Or you learn to take advantage of family who come by to visit and let them take over while you get some much needed shut eye".
We also quickly learn that every decision we make now revolves around our baby. She is already dictating when we can and can’t sleep but now adding to the mix, she dictates when we can shower, eat and drink, and when we can clean the house or even do laundry.
Gone are the days where we can decide on a whim to go out to the movies or go out to eat. Now, things like that has to be planned for and can only be done during certain time periods. And when we do go outside of the house with her, we need to be prepared to pack everything! Just run through your day and think of all the things you use on a regular basis and that’s what you will need to bring.
Before we knew it, she was starting to crawl and we find ourselves rushing out to baby proof everything in our house. We are now having to watch her like a hawk because she will put every single little thing that is on the ground, into her mouth. Then she started walking and now we really can’t take our eyes off of her for even a second!
"There are so many first times during this first year to capture. So many moments like the first time they started crawling and walking. Their first word, their first tooth, their first smile. First bath, first nail clipping. First outing. First baby food. Take pictures, lots of pictures. It is so easy with smartphones these days to do that. Even better would be to take videos".
As a first time mom, it’s quite normal to want your hands on everything that your baby will possibly need.
When asked of moms who have been there and done that, “what are some of the must have items to survive the first year of your child’s life?” the list of items below came highly recommended. This is of course not a complete list but it’s definitely a good start.
- Baby Monitor: So you can keep an eye on them and know when they wake up from anywhere in the house
- Co-sleeper: This is like a mini crib that you can put right next to your bed. So during the night, they are within reach and you can easily pick them up without them actually being in bed with you.
- Sleeper gowns: to quickly change their diaper and cover them back up without fumbling around with any buttons or snaps.
- Shirts or onesies with covered long sleeves: Save the hassle of the standard hand mitts constantly falling off
- Strong support system (Mom friends who are going through the same experiences as you. Local mom groups, local meetup groups, facebook support groups): To save your sanity
- Night lights for late night feeding/changes
- White noise machine: To lessen the chances of your baby being startled by a loud noise and waking up
- Change of clothes always for baby and you: Accidents will happen
- Housekeeper & food prep services if you can afford it: To decrease your stress and lighten up your workload so you can focus on bonding with your baby
- Freezer meals: You won’t have time to cook but you still need to eat
- Trumpet socks: They don’t fall off as easily as the regular ones. And they are super cute.
- Owler: for peace of mind (SIDS).
- Nose Frida: So much better than the bulb syringes
- Baby Brezza if formula feeding: Makes prep time and feeding a breeze
- Gripe water: Helps with Colic
- Lots of Burp Clothes: Keep them accessible in every room so you have it within reach when you need it
- Rocker: Nice to have to relax and rock your baby to sleep
- Swaddles: Babies are used to being in tight quarters inside your tummy. When swaddled up, this gives them some comfort in familiarity and can soothe them.
- Boppy Pillow: Makes positioning baby during breastfeeding much easier.
- And last but not least, an item I can't complete this list without mentioning and it's our very own baby first aid kit that we put together for moms so that they can have more peace of mind knowing they are equipped to handle those everyday emergencies.
You will have tough days, you will have easy days. Life will be a roller coaster as you adjust to whatever your baby brings your way, the good and the bad. Your baby’s first year of life means a lot of first time experiences for you. So many joys, so many memories to start collecting.
Take it one day at a time and know that they grow up in what feels like a blink of an eye. Treasure those moments.