Josh, Joseph and I had 10 full days together before Josh returned to school. I highly recommend that every couple with a new baby take as much uninterrupted time off as they can to adjust and enjoy the change as a family. We were fortunate enough to have a reasonably long stretch of time, and it was a blissful start to our new life with Joey. We laid around, poked and squeezed and loved on our son, and watched tons of movies. Between Josh and I, I really don't know who cried more during Simon Birch :)
My top five pieces of babymoon advice for new mums:
1. Eat what you want, when you want it.
Now I'm not advocating a binge-fest - probably not great for you or baby - but I do think there is something to be said for an little extra dose of creature comforts at this point. No matter how that baby came out, you probably feel like you've been hit by a bus, and no wonder - your body has been through a lot. Stressing about losing the weight should not be on the table at all. There is going to be a lot of time for that. Enjoy all your favourite foods; eat what makes you happy - and eat what gets you nice and full. I know that my appetite has been nothing short of ravenous since I started breastfeeding.
2. Start taking notes.
This might not work for everyone, especially if you have a fussy or colicky baby, but because Joey has been pretty easy going most of the time it has worked for me. The first few days were just kind of all over the place, but after a few days of being settled at home, I started making some notes about the things I was noticing with his routine. A big one has been noting what his soothing mechanisms are. Nursing is the most obvious one :) but as I can't exactly be nursing him 24/7, we are experimenting a bit with some other things to see what works best. He loves to lay on his daddy's chest!
Also, I started writing down the timing of his feeds and sleeps, just to get a feel for his general rhythm. This has been really helpful. For example, we figured out that his longest sleep (4-5 hours) is typically the one that starts between 8:30-10:00 in the evening, so we try and time our bed time with his so that we're guaranteed that nice long stretch at the beginning of the night. Research shows that the early part of the night is when you sleep the deepest, so as a new parent this is an important stretch to grab! If I have slept 4 or 5 hours at the start of the night, the 2 or 3 a.m. feed. is really not all that bad.
3. Accept and enjoy the help of others.
Sometimes it's hard to accept help, and it can be even harder to allow yourself to enjoy it. I have frequently been reminding myself that I would enjoy helping one of my friends in a similar situation, so I shouldn't feel guilty for being on the other side of the equation and enjoying taking the help where it comes. We were so blessed to have friends from church bringing us meals for the first week back at home - it felt like such a treat.
Because I had a c-section, I also had to allow my husband to do a lot of things for me in the first week. This was hard, but has it ever been an amazing opportunity to see just how much he loves me and our son. I love him more than ever. He loves us both so well.
4. Cat nap
I actually started to write this post a couple days in advance of the toughest couple of days and nights that we had with Joey since coming home. He hit the predicted growth spurt that comes to most infants between 2-3 weeks, and for a few days I was running on very little sleep and dealing with a very sad, fussy baby who just wanted to nurse constantly.
It can be hard not to panic when you're awake at bizarre hours of the night, especially when it's followed by an equally rough day. I have to keep reminding myself that even a 15-minute snooze on the couch here and there makes a world of difference. It's a discipline to try and sleep when your child does, because there are a million other things that seem to need doing (like blogging....) that often trump the urge to sleep. But you have to take those chances, even the 15-minute ones.
And, it helps to remind yourself that this will not go on forever. As much as it might not seem it sometimes, the kid is human - they will eventually need to sleep. And their sleep patterns will eventually change. It looks like we've passed the growth spurt (hooray!) and our Joe is back to his normal bright little self. I got about 7 hours of sleep last night between feeds and feel so much better.
5. Laugh wherever possible.
Tiny little babies are so cute and funny. Joseph's milk drunk expression is honestly just the best - it makes me chuckle every time. There are so many moments in this early phase that are just so fleeting - I'm trying to grab them and enjoy them. As one of my friends advised me, "just squish him up while you can".
If all else fails, the use of gigantic garden vegetables always helps.
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