There is no greater joy than bringing your baby home from the hospital. You are finally out of the hospital and have time to bond with your little one all on your own. While many moments are filled with bliss, the first few weeks can be tough. Even with three kids, I am still surprised with how hard the newborn stage can be.
We just brought our son, Macks, home three weeks ago. The hospital only requires us to stay in the hospital for 24 hours, but I chose to stay the full 48 hours that I was allowed because I wanted the help of the nurses. I knew as soon as I got home, it was me and my husband against three little ones. While I prepared myself for sleepless nights and exhaustion, I forgot just how exhausted I was going to be. We would officially be outnumbered.
Although I’ve been through this stage two times before, I’ve now finally realized that I need to jot down a list of things to keep in mind that first week (and weeks after) that I’m home with the baby. I keep these at my bedside table (because that’s where I’m spending most of my time lately) so that when I get overwhelmed with all that’s going on, I can quickly remind myself of the reality of the situation.
If you are a new mom, here are my list of things to remember:
1. Keep realistic expectations.
This is one of the most important things that I always tell myself when I get home from the hospital. Don’t expect to be super mom. Chances are, when you get home you are running on adrenaline because you are so excited to be home and a family again. Once that sleep deprivation sets in, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Don’t set yourself up to just be let down. If you think you are going to have dinner on the table, be completely dressed with makeup on, and full of energy to work and get things done, I hope you do, but it’s most likely not going to happen. Just be happy to be cuddling up in your pajamas next to your new bundle of joy.
2. Sleep when your baby sleeps.
Everyone always tell you this when you have the baby, but I can tell you first hand how important that it is. If there is any way that you can survive those sleepless nights, you have got to sleep during the day. My oldest daughter, Harlan, was literally up all night for the first few weeks because she had bad colic. While being up at all hours of the night was tough, I don’t think I would have made it through if I didn’t take naps with her during the day. I know if you have more than one child there is only a limited amount of time you can sleep during the day, but do the best you can to work around all of your children’s schedules and take a nap.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
I love having help, because I know that I can’t possibly do everything — especially with three kids! My need for help is the number one reason I stayed that extra night in the hospital. Having help from family and friends is a good thing and don’t be embarrassed or feel less of yourself because of it. My husband took paternity leave for two weeks to help me out this time and it has made the biggest difference in how I feel about myself. My mother-in-law is now here for two weeks to help me out as well. In order for me to be the mother that I need to be to my children, I know that it’s okay to ask and accept help.
4. Talk to other parents.
You will be surrounded by your newborn baby at all times, so it’s good to take some time to socialize with adults. I find it super helpful to talk to parents, especially those with children around the same age. It’s nice to know that others are going through some of the same things that you are. If you know another mom who has a little one around the same age, it’s good to call her up and talk about everything from the precious smell that a newborn has to the sleepless nights that your newborn is giving you.
5. Get out of the house.
Even if it’s just to walk to the mailbox, you need to get out of the house. Cabin fever can set in fast when you have a newborn around. All you feel like you are doing is feeding, changing diapers, and sleeping. And while that might be most of what you are doing, you need to do some of it outside feeling the fresh air.
6. Limit the amount of visitors that come by.
You are going to get calls and texts from close family and friends who want to come by and see that precious baby. Limit the number of people that come by so you can take the time to get the rest you need and to recover. Giving birth is hard and it takes a toll on your body. Let the friends and family come and see your little one after you have recovered and feel well again. They will understand.
7. Do what makes you and baby happy.
When my first daughter came home, I tried to do everything by what the books were telling me. I wanted her to sleep in her own bed, perfectly swaddled, and with no fuss. Of course that never happened and I was miserable because of it. My second daughter came around and I didn’t read a single book. She didn’t want to be swaddled, so I didn’t make her. She didn’t like her crib, so I let her sleep in the swing. Whatever I needed to do to make her happy, made me happy. There is no such thing as spoiling your newborn. If you want to hold and cuddle them, do it. Do whatever works for you and your baby.
Most of all, enjoy it! This time goes by so quickly and they will only be this little for so long. Take the time to savor all of these moments — the beautiful ones and the exhausting ones.