Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The truth about having a newborn

I'm already starting to forget about this, so I better get it out now before it fades into mom-nesia and I remember those first weeks as blissful and relaxing. I want to share how freaking hard it is to have a newborn because I think most new parents feel it but are afraid to share.
I didn't love having a newborn. It was exhausting and monotonous and anxiety-inducing. I loved my daughter - and was so thankful for her - but caring for her took every ounce of effort I had! Feed the baby, feed the baby, change the baby. That's about all I did.
Feeding her. I've already shared about our breastfeeding challenges (but that post was super boring so I don't blame you if you didn't read it), but even after I was producing enough milk it was just so time consuming! I knew that newborn babies eat a lot, but it just didn't sink in just how much time I'd spend nursing. For a long, long time (at least the first 2 months) Leia was eating every hour. Sometimes multiple hours at a time. It's so hard to have to pee or eat or take a shower, but not being able to.
Leaving the house. Until about 10 weeks, the idea of taking her anywhere in public (especially the grocery store) gave me so much anxiety. What if she starts crying right there and I can't calm her?! For the first 2 months I often couldn't calm her without my boob, and you can't exactly nurse in the middle of a store. And just driving with her was hard with all those postpartum hormones and her crying - once she was screaming on a 5-10 minute drive and I was convinced that she thought I had abandoned her. Those hormones, man!
Taking care of myself. When you're feeding your child constantly, it's so freaking hard to pee or vacuum or cook dinner! Everyone tells you not to worry about anything but taking care of the baby, but you can't help but want to do these things. Plus you really have to feed yourself and take a bathroom break once in a while.
What helped?
Accepting it. I had to change my mindset from "It's so hard feeding her every hour! WHY??" to "I just have to feed her every hour for a while. This is my life and I have to embrace it." I accepted that I can't cook dinner until James is home from work - if at all (more often than not I do not cook dinner). And I can't do any housework except on Tuesdays when my mom comes over to play with the baby and give me a break (thank you Mom!!). When I just accepted that this is how it is, it was easier to deal with!
Spending time with other new moms. Leia and I go to a Mommy and Me group almost every Wednesday. It's specifically for Kaiser members, but there are lots of others. We've made lots of friends through that group, and almost every week we also have a play date or some kind of activity with mom and baby friends who I can relate to. Something changes in you when you become a parent, and you need to talk with people who are going through the same thing.
Time. As baby grew, it just got easier. We got used to each other and I got used to my new schedule (or lack thereof). Now at 3 and a half months old, Leia is nursing every 1.5 to 2.5 hours, rather than every hour like for the first 2 months of her life. She'll let me go on walks for up to an hour with her. And while at a month old, the thought of taking her in public terrified me, I have now started to realize that she enjoys going new places and is usually really well behaved. I just feed her right before we leave and carry her in the Ergo whenever we go out - she loves looking around!

I remember driving with Leia when she was 6 weeks old, and having a moment where I realized "Wow, this is getting easier! I can handle it!" Then again at 12 weeks I had that moment where it got easier yet.

New moms of the world: Hang in there! It gets better. Don't let anyone (including yourself) let you feel guilty for not enjoying every moment. That baby is adorable, but caring for him or her is hard. You'll get used to it and love the parenting process so much more soon!

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