Happy (belated) Thanksgiving — the day Mr. Man turned one month old!
It simultaneously feels like he’s been here forever and as if he was born just yesterday. While we’re still adjusting to this new normal, it’s hard to picture what life was like without him.
Here are some tips and tidbits I picked up in M’s first month home*:
Be prepared to adjust your thoughts on nighttime sleeping. We brought M home and had a beautiful moment as we placed him in his crib for his first night’s sleep in his beautiful new nursery. It was just that…a moment…before the bloodcurdling screams began. We tried to sooth him in the rocker before settling him back into his crib. Same result. Now overtired, it led to a night of rocking and soothing him in my arms until 4 am — two days postpartum and injuring myself in the process. Desperate, I took to a new mom group board at 6 am begging for advice, where I was reassured that everyone goes through this and that the Fisher-Price Newborn Rock ‘n Play was a godsend. I bought one (and eventually two!) and kept it in my room — SUCCESS!
Reach out for help. As mentioned above, that first night home, I was in pain, in tears and overwhelmed when I took to a private Facebook forum set up by a friend only weeks before for new moms. These women reached out to me publicly and privately, reassuring me that I was taking all the right steps and that these are the hard and unhappy moments so few moms talk about. We only post the happy pictures on Facebook, right?! These women didn’t judge and gave me the support I needed to make it through that first week. I feel so lucky to be a part of this group and encourage anyone who needs help to seek it out, online or in-person. Whether you’re a new mom or a veteran, it takes a village.
Trust your instincts when it comes to YOUR child’s needs. M is a big boy — born 21.5″ and 8 lbs 5 oz — and is a big eater. We followed the hospital’s advice that he only needed a marble-sized amount of formula every three hours (which I’m sure is not wrong, just didn’t work for our guy). Everything nagged at me those first few days to feed him more since he was SO miserable. By the time we brought him to his first pediatrician visit just a few days later, he had lost an enormous amount of weight and was dehydrated. I was so mad at myself for listening solely to the hospital and not my own instincts as they related to my baby. The pediatrician recommended feeding him much more than we had been and I’ve trusted my instincts and his cues ever since in figuring out when to increase his intake. He’s been a much happier boy and sleeps so much better at night.
Get creative…and get a credit card out. My little man fights sleep like it’s his job. He’s extremely curious and always seems worried he’s going to miss something. He can also be a little gassy sometimes. For the first few weeks, I would have to hold him constantly in order for him to nap or risk more bloodcurdling screaming and an overtired, super fussy newborn — meaning no eating, drinking, bathroom breaks or “sleep when he sleeps” for me until my husband got home from work. I had to find new ways to keep him calm. I bought a second Rock ‘n Play for our living room, which I can easily carry into the kitchen if need be. I’ve run the faucet to help lull him to sleep. I asked my mother to come down twice a week to help. I’ve discovered the beauty of the Sleep Sheep (both the full size and on the go models were given to me as gifts). I’m not opposed to giving him a pacifier, which he either takes or leaves based on his mood. If you’re pumping, buy anything and everything to make that process easier and faster. Use his hatred of burping as good tummy time alternative (which he also hates). Have something handy to protect him, yourself and the surrounding furniture/walls for those moments when he just can’t hold it during diaper changes…and always point down.
Have fun and stop being so hard on yourself. It’s so easy to get caught up in the exhaustion and overwhelming nature of this first month. I know I did, criticizing myself on every move I made. I had to remind myself that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity with him — my chance to cuddle until my heart is content and be his whole world. I won’t get this time back, so I need to soak in every last moment. I also needed to slow down more, which I didn’t do in the beginning, injuring myself and setting my recovery back a couple of weeks. I didn’t just hurt myself, but I also hurt how much I could do with him. Happy, healthy moms = happy, healthy babies…period.
*These are things that worked for my family and do not necessarily conform with everyone’s beliefs and opinions. To each their own.