When I was pregnant I was more scared of the idea of bringing home the baby than I was of labor + delivery. I was worried being a mom wouldn’t be intuitive. I’m not what you would call a “baby person.” I don’t get excited about newborn smell or even the cute miniature clothing. So for 10 months, I had a daily panic attack (usually at 3am over a bowl of chocolate Chex and an episode of Fraiser.) How was I going to know how to care for this baby and would I love it more than anything in the world?
So here we are, 12 weeks later, and I’m pleased to report that newborn smell makes me weak in the knees, and miniature clothing is the only thing I shop for. I am now a fully converted “baby person.”
I’m not sure how to condense all my many thoughts about the early stages of motherhood because they were so complicated. They ranged from heart bursting happiness to overwhelmingly messy and emotional. One minute I literally felt drunk on Bowie love and the next minute I would be sobbing cause I was tired, sore from childbirth, and sick of wearing the same pants (because nothing else FREAKING fits!)
The good news is every day is got easier and easier. The wide range of emotions started to feel less intense and my feelings and fears became more manageable. I surprised myself at how intuitive motherhood has been, and how confident I am at knowing what he wants. I feel insanely proud of my new mom instincts and it’s weird to think I doubted myself so much before he was born. Of course there are moments that I don’t know what the hell to do but thats when I reach out to my support system. I try not to over analyze, overreact , or over GOOGLE.
So I am no expert but here a few helpful hints that have helped me navigate postpartum life:
Be gentle with your new body: I liked my body before pre-pregnancy, I really liked my body during pregnancy (I miss that bump), and after the baby came, I was SO PROUD of my body. Unfortunately, that feeling did not last long. I started to quickly HATE my body. Getting dressed was a nightmare, nothing fit, and I felt so uncomfortable. I was in terrible pain from a hard delivery, my boobs were a sore, leaky mess, and I just felt like a pile of garbage. So I decided that I needed some clothes that made me feel almost human. I’m a firm believer that if you are comfortable in what you are wearing your, day will be automatically a little better. That is when I established my uniform.
The uniform: For me this became joggers and a chambray (fancy for denim) button down. The chambray is nursing friendly and has been my go-to piece for the last decade. I now own seven of them in a variety of sizes. Joggers are also a staple for me, so I invested in a pair of “fancier” ones for outings and some cheaper ones for around the house but still cute enough for when company comes. This outfit is by no means groundbreaking but it’s something that I feel comfy and cute in. If I’m headed out, I layer my sweater coat, a favorite hat, and my high top Vans.
Boundaries: Of course I wanted my loved ones to meet Bowie, but the constant visiting started taking a toll on me. It got in the way of my feeding / sleeping schedule. After a few days of non-stop, well meaning visitors, I decided to have a no company rule. Not forever, but for the first couple weeks. I simply told people: “Bowie can’t wait to meet you, why don’t you come over NEXT______” This way I didn’t have to worry about people just stopping by while I’m wearing depends and covered in breast milk. But if you do want company and someone asks “what can I bring?” Be honest and ask for what you need. Trader Joes Pancake bread? Milk? Diapers? Chips and queso? Don’t feel bad asking for what you need/want.
Sleep when the baby sleeps: I know, I know. This sounds like a no brainer. But not everyone does this. I think as a culture we feel bad about napping. Don’t feel bad. Just nap. There is NOTHING else that you need to do. Also napping with your newborn is PURE MAGIC.
The Glow Baby App: This was my addiction for the first 8 weeks. I’m sure there are a ton of them out there but this is the first one that came up in the app store. I found it hard to keep track of feeding times so this was perfect. It took the work out of remembering what time and what side I fed him from last. Especially helpful in the middle of the night when I was so out of it.
A couch kit: For the first few weeks I spent the majority of my time on the couch and getting up and down was sort of hard. So I made a little basket of most frequently used items, like pacifiers, wipes, and burp cloths. Once again, not ground breaking but super helpful.
A Meal Train: A couple of my girlfriends started this for me when Ray went back to work. We had home made meals dropped off on our porch three times a week for two weeks.Talk about a GAME CHANGER. To not have to not play the “what’s for dinner game” is a huge relief. It also didn’t hurt that my friends are great cooks, so the meals were thoughtful, perfectly packaged, and delicious.
Here are some other great postpartum items that need no explanation:
Bottom line, postpartum is wild. It’s the perfect storm of all of your emotions, plus physical pain and exhaustion. So be kind and gentle on yourself. Ask for help. Take people up on their offers. Sleep when you can, don’t worry about the dishes. Your only job is to love that baby.