A few days after bringing home our first baby, my husband was at school and I desperately needed a shower. I remember thinking there was no way I could leave my little newborn baby by himself while I showered. What if he woke up and started crying? Thankfully my mom lived not far away and was happy to come take care of my baby while I showered. My mom told me that eventually I’d figure out how to shower with a baby in the house. I chuckle when I think back on that experience. I’ve had 4 more babies since that time and can truly say my mom was right, I did eventually figure it out.
With baby number 6 on the way in a few short months, it’s fun to think back on all the things I’ve learned from having a newborn in my home. One thing I’ve really learned is that somehow when that new baby arrives, all logic and reason can go out the door at times. I easily forget what I’ve learned in the past. Remembering that, I thought it might be helpful to me and other moms with a newborn at home to share a few of the things I have learned over the years as a new mom.
1. Let others help
With my first baby this wasn’t as much of an issue, but when others came along I suddenly felt like I should be independent and didn’t need help from others. I’d already had one baby, I knew what I was doing, right? Between baby #4 and #5, we moved away from family. So when baby #5 came along, my mom came for a week to help. Wow!! I missed out on sooo much with my “independence” on my other babies. Having help was glorious! Plus friends brought meals, helped get kids places, etc. One friend showed up at my house and refused to leave until she had done my dishes. What a blessing!
2. A messy house is ok
With a newborn around, it’s time to let things go….lots of things! Doing the minimum needed to survive is 100% ok. If that means the dishes aren’t done before you collapse into bed, that’s just fine. Mac and cheese for dinner? Yep, that works. The floor doesn’t get swept for a few days, oh well! Those first few weeks and months with a newborn are precious and they are also recovery time for mom. No new mom is expected to have a perfectly clean house with a newborn around. So, let things go and rest!!
I’m not sure how many times I heard this with my first few babies. Really though, sleep is so important. When that little baby is sleeping, mom needs to take a break too. If someone offers to watch your baby so you can nap, take them up on that offer. Sleep will make a huge difference on your outlook on life.
4. Be patient with yourself
Some moms recover quickly from pregnancy and delivery. Some seem to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight the minute they walk out of the hospital. Don’t compare yourself to other moms, just be patient with yourself. If you need to rest more that’s ok. If that baby weight is taking longer to get off, be patient and don’t get frustrated, it took 10 months of work to gain that weight. It’s not going to go away in 2 or 3 months, it takes time. Along with that, just because you hit that supposedly magical “6 weeks” where you see the doctor for your final checkup, doesn’t mean you have to be 100% back to who you were before you had a baby. It may still take time, rest, and patience. Remember, don’t compare yourself to other moms or to yourself before you had a baby. You will get there eventually, just be patient.
5. What works for one family may not work for yours
Every single one of my babies has taken months and months to start sleeping through the night. With my first few babies that was a source of frustration for me. Other babies slept through the night, why not mine? I read books, searched websites, talked to friends and doctors for a solution. I tried so many methods to get them to sleep through the night….let them cry it out, routines, putting them in bed before they fell asleep, swaddling, etc. All to no avail. Finally it hit me on about my third or fourth baby that my babies are just different. Sleeping through the night is not in their genes and that’s ok. Eventually they do sleep through the night.
Once I quit stressing about why they didn’t sleep through the night, it made all the difference in the world for me emotionally. Now when I hear other moms talk about their baby sleeping through the night at 1 month, I recognize how wonderful that is for them and I remind myself my baby will eventually get there too. Trying to do exactly what other families do, what a certain popular book recommends, or what you read on a website may not always work for your family. That’s totally ok. Use those wonderful motherly instincts and find a solution that works for you and your family.
6. Most importantly, if you always feel down and things aren’t improving, please ask for help
Postpartum depression is real and should not be dealt with on your own. If those dark, aching times of depression kick in, please reach out for help. Don’t hide it, doing so will only make it worse. Talk to a loved one and let them know how you are feeling. Let your doctor know. Find some way to reach out for help. Let others lighten your load, let them listen to you, give you a hug, hold your baby, clean, get you to a counselor, whatever needs to be done. Most of all if those dark times do kick in, remember you are loved!! Keep fighting, keep going! My grandma always told us “This too shall pass” and she was right. It will pass but don’t try to do it alone.