At 37 weeks pregnant, I was ready to meet Tristan. I couldn’t wait to not be pregnant anymore and hold my sweet baby in my arms. After three (long) weeks of waiting, I got to meet my sweet baby boy. My fondest memory of the hospital is sitting alone in my room with just Tristan. Asleep on my chest, he melted into me as I stared out of the window basking in the quiet.
Moments later, the tiny room was filled with family and friends and the quiet moment was over. While I loved having people visit us, I still long for the quiet moments when it was just baby and me.
Having a newborn is a big adjustment. Life is not the same whether it’s your first child or your third. And the fog doesn’t lift for months. With both of my boys, I didn’t start to feel normal again until almost a year later.
First foods, first words, rolling over, crawling and then walking – the first year of life is filled with more milestones than any other. I’ve compiled this list on how to survive the fog of the first year because I think all moms would agree that when you have a baby, you experience what a lot of us would call “Mommy Brain” or brain-fog.
- Enjoy your hospital stay. I had to have c-sections with both of my boys so I had extended stays in the hospital. I would encourage you to only allow close family and friends on the first day. For Tristan’s birth, we had my husband bring Jack in to meet his brother first before all of the other visitors swept in and I am so happy we did.Another suggestion is to take advantage of the nursing staff. With Jack, I did not want to be separated (afterall, he was my first child and I couldn’t imagine anyone else taking care of him!). But with Tristan, I accepted the nurse’s offer to bring him to the nursery around midnight so I could sleep. They woke me up when it was time to nurse and I was able to sleep in two small 2.5 hour segments. This small break allowed me to rest and recover so I could be present in the moments he was awake.
- Take care of yourself. This is a lesson I learned with my first child. Imagine me at 3:30 a.m, waking up to a screaming baby and running straight for his room to nurse immediately. For the first few months of Jack’s life, I would sit in my rocking chair, cradling my huge boppy pillow that was bigger than the baby struggling not to pee on myself. A few times, it was too urgent and I had to nurse on the potty. That’s right, no shame here.
It wasn’t until my dear husband told me to let the baby cry for the two minutes it took to go to the bathroom so I wouldn’t be in pain while I fed him in the wee hours of the morning. Are you laughing right now? Have you experienced the same brain fog when you need your husband to tell you it’s okay to pee? I hope I’m not the only one. 🙂Also, sleep when the baby sleeps. I know, I know. This is age old advice that all new moms laugh at. If you have toddlers or older kids, take advantage of nap time so that you can rest your eyes. If your children no longer nap, put them in bed with you with books or a movie. My best tool has been learning how to take a mom-nap. These are naps when your eyes are closed but you are still aware of everything going on in the room. Thank you, God, for mom-naps.
- Find a support system. I am fortunate to have wonderful friends who have washed my dishes, folded my laundry and played with Jack so I could nap. In a previous post, I mentioned joining a MOPS group and Mom’s Club too. This helped me find other moms who could give me advice and who I could text at whatever hour of the night and know that they were probably up too or would reply back when their baby woke up. There’s something special about a friendship built on texts or facebook messages sent at 2, 3 or 4 a.m.Another way I was able to receive help was through a Meal Train. Friends from both moms groups and my church signed up to bring us meals. Some families stayed to eat with us and chat. Others brought small big brother gifts for Jack. Almost all brought dessert. YUM! I was blessed to have meals for almost 3 weeks after Tristan’s birth! If you are pregnant, you need to start mentioning it now. 😉
- Get out of the house! It can be hard to get out of the house with a newborn and I’m not suggesting you leave when they’re only days old. But when you feel comfortable, get out of the house. Take baby for a walk. If you have older kids, have lunch outside. Make a playdate with another mom even if you both only have infants. My friends and I used to lay our babies next to each other on blankets to roll around while we talked. Being around people is important in the first year even if it’s just taking a stroll through Target to look at the clearance.
- Set up a changing station in busy rooms of the house. With both babies, I have had a small box of diapers and wipes in my bedroom, my living room, our den and the baby’s room. This was another duh-moment for me when I realized with my second baby that I couldn’t just leave Jack (at 2 years old) in a different room to go change Tristan in the nursery. You don’t need a fancy setup. Dollar Tree has cheap bins you can buy that will hold a few diapers, diaper rash cream and wipes. So easy!
- Sleep late on weekends. For my husband and I, we have a deal that I get to sleep in on Satuday mornings since I take care of the overnight and early morning wake-up calls. With nursing, it can be difficult but with Jack, I would just nurse in bed and then give him to David to play in a different room. If you’re husband isn’t willing to help every weekend, make a deal to take turns and sleep in every other weekend or on Sundays after church. Both of you need rest so figure out what works for your family’s schedule. If he’s able to nap too, it helps the negotiation.
- Finally, give yourself grace. You’re not perfect, no mother is. When you’re tired, sleep. When you’re smelly, take a shower. Sometimes it takes your husband or another mom friend to give you grace and say “It’s okay.” If you are loving your baby, then you are a good mama. The first year can be foggy but it’s one of the best years as a mom. When you’re feeling low, text a friend or invite someone to come over. People LOVE to hold babies. Let them snuggle while you take care of you.