All bliss and bubbles and snuggles, right? Ha, no. Those first two weeks home with a baby are more like hormone swings, no sleep, constant nursing, and realization that your life has unalterably changed. Yes, lots of snuggles too. And sweet baby sleepiness and overwhelming love. But this post is more about the realness.
It could happen that your baby is born on July 1 and 20 minutes after your husband leaves for a work trip on July 7, your air conditioner BREAKS. So you take your 6 day old baby to the mall to soak up AC. And show your daughter what cute shoes look like.
But even with fully functioning air conditioning in the heat of summer, those first two weeks might be the hardest two weeks of your life. Totally worth it, but incredibly hard. Just a few of the things you might experience this first two weeks include:
- Night sweats. I had NO idea this happened and thought that it was raining in our bedroom. Seriously. They pretty much stopped after two weeks.
- Wild swings in emotions. I would just cry at strange times: at the dinner table, when Nick would look at me, when I would look at the baby… these are called the baby blues. It’s different from postpartum depression because the swings only last a couple weeks, but it’s also totally normal. I had to see my doctor after 10 days, and looked at her sobbing, saying “how does anyone have another one?!” She gave me a big hug and said, “no one signs up for a second 10 days out. Also, if we saw everyone now, all mothers would be on Zoloft.”
- PAIN. What? Giving birth is painful? Yeah, duh. But I never thought about what the few weeks after giving birth would feel like. I expected discomfort, but not to the point that I would have to count to 3 to convince myself to turn over in the night or sit up. That didn’t last as long- maybe only a week, but still. Oy.
- Not a single REM cycle. Unless you have a wonder baby- and CONGRATS if you do!!!- your baby won’t understand days and nights, they will need to eat every 2-3 hours, and you will wake up at their every deep breath. Carter Jane started sleeping longer than 3 hours just after the 2 week mark, and by six weeks was sleeping from 10pm-5am, feed, then back to sleep until 8am. SO much more doable. But early on, some nights around 8pm I would cry just thinking about how little sleep I was about to get and how much I would have to do in the night. It physically hurts to be that tired.
- If you are breastfeeding, your breasts will do some crazy stuff. When your milk comes in, expect to be amazed: huge boobs that are hard as rocks. Once your body regulates how much milk you needs, they settle down a bit, but that first week or two, they are impressive!
So what do you need to survive those first two weeks?
- GRACE, first and foremost, for yourself and your baby. Things are hard, but survivable, and whatever gets you through is perfect.
- HELP. Whether it’s your mom, your sister, your husband, a night nurse, let people help you. Take a nap or a shower while they hold the baby, let them pat your back as you cry, and eat whatever food they can help you obtain.
- Nursing pads. These go in your bra and soak up the milk leaks. Glamorous!
- Overnight maxi pads. You can definitely take/steal the ones from the hospital, but you’ll need more than that.
- Advil/Motrin. Just get a giant bottle.
- Clothes with mittens. Because their baby nails can’t be trimmed for a couple weeks and it’s so sad to see them scratch their little face.
- Granola bars or other middle of the night snacks to keep your energy up for multiple breastfeeding sessions.
- An app that times your feeding and what side you finished on. Because your brain is mush.
- The kindle app on your phone. I realized I could download books from our library for free and read them on my phone! I got some very shallow fiction books to read while feeding.
- A Rock n’ Play. Carter Jane slept in one (sorry, sleep gods) by our bed and napped in one on the main floor. So yes, we had two. Worth it.
- A miracle blanket or other intense swaddle. Babies LOVE to be swaddled. And while the big soft squares are lovely, most babies can houdini out of those pretty quickly. We got the miracle blanket and she immediately started sleeping longer. It does look like a baby straightjacket and she screamed at first, but then fell in love.
I could go on and on, but just know, it is hard, but it is so so worth it. And you are not alone! Reach out to other moms or friends, and just know: this too shall pass. You can do it!
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