You have survived pregnancy – all 10 months of it because let’s face it, 40 weeks equals 10 months! Ok, so technically 2 weeks don’t count but who’s judging, right?!
You survived labor and birth, which during it you probably swore to yourself mentally that you would never do this again…EVER! (you promptly forget this mental vow and most likely will find yourself in this same experience down the road.. if you’re like me, I’ll be heading into Vow #4 in a few months).
You’ve survived those first days in the hospital, with nurses and assistance at your fingertips. You didn’t have to cook meals or run errands or do chores. Your sole focus was this darling little squish that you could hold and cuddle all day long.
Then comes the ride home. Almost 6 years later, I remember vividly sitting in the backseat of our black Chrysler sedan, looking into the face of my first born son. It felt so surreal. And then we walked into our house, put the carseat down on the floor and my husband and I took turns looking at our baby and then each other. We were at a loss as to what to do from there. I remember asking, “Now what?” It was like we began a whole brand new life and had no clue where to even begin!
Let me tell you, those first days/weeks throw you such a learning curve. Its almost like being newlyweds without the “honeymoon” period. Not only do you have this helpless little bundle to keep alive, but now you also get to trudge through learning how to be a parent with another person. There is nothing like Parenthood to truly put your marriage to the test. But more on that later!
So how do you get through those days that will be a blur by the time 6:00pm comes around? After living through it three times, here’s what I have found to be helpful when you go into survival mode.
1) Have prepared food/meals on hand
Have a fully stocked fridge and freezer meals ready to go. You will not feel up to going grocery shopping with a newborn, and friends bringing meals over (if you are so lucky!) will only last for about a week or so. Having crockpot meals and casseroles already done in advance is so incredibly helpful, along with some snacks that you can munch on yourself (i.e. muffins, breakfast bars, healthy cookies, etc). I know, you won’t feel like prepping meals when you’re pregnant, so make it a fun get together with some friends – everyone wants frozen meals stocked in their freezer so it will be the push they need to actually go through with it. Make meal planning a girls day!
2) Eat and drink water – consistently!
Make sure you remember to eat and drink water! Of course I’ll eat, how silly is that you might think. Oh trust me. When you are sleep deprived and mentally exhausted from trying to remember the last time the baby fed, napped, or had a diaper change, you won’t be able to recall what you had for breakfast. Having easily reachable, healthy snacks available is so important in order to keep your strength up, especially if you’re breastfeeding. These snacks need to be simple and packed full of good nutrients. A few ideas for plant-based snacks are: fruit (apple slices , strawberries, blueberries, bananas, etc), nuts, carrot slices, brown rice, oatmeal, beans (you can flavor them up with some sauces), and spinach salads (I like to put my fruit and nuts on my salads). Also, if you freeze up some fruit in advance, you can throw them in your blender with some non-dairy milk or yogurt and some hemp seeds for extra protein and nutrients. Have your partner help you out in advance to get these snacks ready for easy consumption. Your partner needs to be making sure you are eating and drinking, even if they put it in front of you while you feed the baby. I ate most of my meals while nursing my firstborn because he took over 45 minutes to eat – EVERY time!
3) Sleep every chance you get
It’s been said over and over so don’t underestimate it’s importance – sleep when baby sleeps. If it’s your first, this is pretty simple. You just have to stop yourself from folding laundry or cleaning the kitchen and take the rest when it comes! You will be much more clear-minded and capable of functioning if you have those small naps to fall back on. If it’s your second or third baby, this is much harder to do. If you are able to get your oldest down for their nap during the baby’s nap, you are golden. Timing is everything and you will become an expert at maneuvering and managing things to work on your schedule. By the time you get to your third or fourth baby, your body has become accustomed to mommyhood and it’s not as imperative to rest…but take advantage of it every chance you get!
4) Get out of the house
First time moms especially can be nervous about leaving the house with their new charge. I have had two babies born in winter and it can be very difficult to motivate yourself to leave the house. But trust me, it can be so beneficial not only physically but mentally to get out in society again. My advice is to leave the house when it’s NOT a necessity. That way you can immediately head home if baby decides that he/she is not happy with the outing! You can go to your local mall and just walk around with your baby, go to a friend’s house, or even head to your favorite out-to-eat place (where you know they serve food quickly!). Whatever you decide to do, getting out of the house and immersing yourself back into society will make you feel like a real person again. It’s so easy to get caught up in the rigorous schedule of taking care of your baby that it’s easy to forget what life was like before your angel made his/her appearance.
5) Spend some “quality” time with your spouse
When you bring that little helpless baby home, all of a sudden your immediate life revolves around this adorable, demanding creature. Your spouse usually ends up going back to work a week or so after coming home from the hospital and you are left alone for the most part. Then, when your husband gets home from work, your instinct and sleep-deprived body and mind will want him to take the baby so you can at least go shower and have 10 minutes to yourself without being “needed”. Totally understandable! The rest of the evening will be spent taking turns caring for the baby until you both finally fall into bed at 11:45pm exhausted! Nighttime can be incredibly tricky with a newborn as you try to figure out your baby’s sleep patterns. Through it all, it is so important to stop and take time to sit down with your spouse and actually talk. If you’re comfortable doing so, have grandma or a trusted individual come over and babysit for an hour while the two of you go grab a quick dinner. If you’re not ready to leave your baby with anyone, then make it a point to sit down at the table and eat dinner, just the two of you. Talk about the day; check and see how the other person is doing. Interact with one another. Go for a walk if the weather allows it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of co-existing and to forget that it was the two of you to begin with. Treasure, value, and communicate with one another – otherwise, frustrations build up and come out in a very ugly way. There is nothing like becoming new parents to test a marriage and friendship. For my husband and I, it was like we had just got married again (and let me tell you, that first year of marriage was no walk in the park!). Communication, patience, love, and forgiveness is what will make your relationship stronger and lasting!
The post-pregnancy blur is a real experience, and can take quite awhile to come out of! What has been your experience with the “blur of mommyhood”?