we’ve all heard of what to expect when you’re expecting, the quintessential “get ready for baby” book, right? well, where is the book that tells you what to expect once you’re done expecting? there are a lot of things that no one thinks to tell you about the dizzying time after baby is born, and things that you don’t believe until you get there, and a little manual might be helpful!
we all know to expect no sleep and to have your world revolve around the baby, but here are the most unexpected lessons i found out in the first few weeks of being a mom. it’s by no means a complete list, but i’m sleep deprived right now and these are the ones that stuck out to me, so you’ll look past that i’m sure.
for anyone that has had babies already/has a lot of experience with babies and new moms, what would you add to the list?
1. “sleep when the baby sleeps” is not just an urban legend.
you MUST take at least one nap when the baby naps, every day. i say this because it’s true, it’s not just something people say to be funny when you have a baby. keep in mind, you are only ever getting 2-4 hour chunks of sleep at a time for the first few months of your baby’s life. and sometimes the best hours of sleep are during your baby’s daytime napping hours. those extra two hours of sleep (even if it’s a light sleep) will serve you better than any load of laundry or sinkful of dishes.
2. you will cry for no reason at all.
i was talking to my mom about something funny she and Mister Man had talked about during one of the aforementioned naps, and all of a sudden, tears started pouring out of my eyes. i wasn’t feeling particularly happy or sad or emotional in any way, and yet there they were. same thing happened when i gave my husband a hug after dinner one night. waterworks every where. there are a lot of hormones running around in your body, and sometimes they need somewhere to go. tears happen to work well.
3. squirt bottles and ibuprofen will be your best friends.
if you have a vaginal birth, this is true. the squirt bottle and i have remained inseparable these past two weeks. trust me on this, it’s the best thing to happen to a bathroom since toilet paper. also, ibuprofen. i was lucky enough to not be very sore in the days following the birth, but i had a couple of stitches down there, and the ibuprofen helps you do things like sit down and get up with so much less annoyance.
4. you WILL learn your own baby’s needs.
one of the things i was terrified of the entire pregnancy was being able to know what my baby would need and when. for some reason the thought of knowing how much they should eat and being able to hear them when they cried at night seemed so daunting to me…i was more scared of that than the actual labor part! let me put you at ease right now: all of the instinct will just come to you the second that baby comes out. i used to be the heaviest sleeper in the world, like sleep through a hurricane heavy. now, if amelia squeaks in her sleep in her own room, i can hear it immediately and will wake from a dead sleep. and as far as the other stuff goes, give it two days and you will already be able to tell the difference between her “i’m gassy” cry and her “i’m wet” cry.
5. there will be too many people at your house.
they will all be people you love and it will be wonderful and terrible all at the same time. being surrounded by love and care and amazing people is the best, especially when you feel so full of feelings you could burst! but then the fatigue sets in, and you realize how much energy it takes to be around people all the time. so make sure that you take care of yourself and try to spread the visits out over the first few weeks. be especially protective of your weekends as you learn your new schedule.
6. you will want to hold your little one ALL.THE.TIME.
and you should hold them as much as your heart desires. but you also need to nap sometimes, and eat sometimes, and shower sometimes. so in the end, putting them down (especially when they’re asleep) can be good for both of you. letting them nap in their crib or bassinet helps them get used to being there at night, and it helps them learn to sleep outside of someone’s arms. so even if it’s just one nap a day, try to put them down for just a bit and take care of yourself in the process.
7. you will learn to eat as fast as humanly possible.
because the baby waits for no boob to be done eating. in the two weeks amelia has been here, i think that every single dinner Mister Man and i have sat down to eat together has been interrupted or postponed by her. and that’s totally okay, i am happier than happy to feed my little beauty, but it’s the new normal which is hard to get used to. and so whenever i sit down to eat now, i scarf my food down like there’s no tomorrow, because i never know when i’m going to get the chance to do it again!
8. you will wonder how you ever found yourself in this situation.
this amazing, surreal, wonderful, awe-inspiring situation. i look at our daughter every day, multiple times a day, completely stunned by the fact that she is ours. she is ours to care for, to love, to cherish and to adore forever. and how can anybody possibly be this lucky? the only answer is that there is a God, and He is so much more generous than you ever knew was possible. so when you find yourself wondering how you got here, say a quick prayer of thanks for however it happened.