This August 29, we welcomed our daughter, Ruthie, into our family. Ruthie is my second child, and the day after she turned 1 week old our son, Leo, turned 14 months old. It didn’t seem that long ago that we were bringing Leo home from the hospital, but once Ruthie arrived, it was abundantly clear how much one forgets about the newborn stage of life (not only about the baby, but also about how having a newborn affects the parents, as well).
Granted, all people are different, which means that each baby is different and each birth is different. This list is based on my experience, but should apply to many others as well. Here are the things I’ve been reminded of recently, some of which I vaguely remember from when Leo was born. Here is your primer: life with a newborn.
- So.Many.Decisions! When one becomes a parent, one also suddenly realizes how many decisions need to be made. Breastmilk or formula? Boob or bottle? Cloth or disposable diapers? Co-sleeping in bed, in room, or separate room? Swaddle with receiving blanket or swaddler? What should the first food be? Spoon feed or baby led weaning? Tylenol for teething pain or not? The list goes on and on… and on… With my son each decision seemed so important, and so stressful! This time around, it’s much easier to make these decisions without feeling like they wrong decision might cause a zombie apocalypse. The answers to most of them don’t really matter and just come down to preference. So my advice: make a decision and go with it. Feel good about it and move on.
- There will be blood…and other bodily fluids. For mom this means weeks of bleeding after giving birth and lactation. For baby this means pee, poop, and spit-up (all of which have been on me at some point in the last 24 hours!). To deal with all of this, it’s highly recommended that everyone have a stock of maxi pads, nursing pads, burp clothes, diapers, and wipes before baby’s arrival.
- No Sleep ‘Til… Newborn sleep is pretty incredible. Most newborns can sleep through anything when they are in a deep sleep. They also wake frequently, and getting them to sleep can feel like trying to nail jello to a tree. There’s a sweet spot when a newborn is asleep and has been for some time when you can set them down and it’s as if nothing can disturb them. But set them down too early or wait too long (when they’re almost waking again) and setting them down is impossible. Sleep is a tough one to figure out. I like carriers for holding baby while accomplishing things, but I had a c-section, so I’m still a few weeks away from being able to use them. As my husband reminded me the other day, this is the part of her life when we’re just going to hold her pretty much all of the time. When you resign yourself to this fact, it feels a lot easier to just hold a semi-awake baby for a few hours at a time.
- So Many Diapers. Whether you use cloth or disposable diapers, newborns go through so many! And wipes, too! Just today I changed 3 diapers within 15 minutes. Ruthie woke up, I changed her diaper. Ruthie pooped, I changed her diaper. While I was changing her diaper, she pooped in the new diaper, so I changed her diaper again. Just remember, this is not the time to try to conserve diapers. Eventually, babies get into a groove, when they don’t sleep as much and they’re more active…eventually, there will be fewer diaper changes.
- Personal Hygiene Becomes Questionable. You know that kid in college who had enough underwear to last the semester so he/she didn’t have to do laundry? Or the one down the hall who you seriously questioned whether or not he/she showered, because you never saw him/her actually going to or coming from the shower? Well, welcome to another time in your life when going a few days without showering will start to feel normal. Don’t get me wrong, showering is great, and I look forward to getting back to showering every day, but when both kids are asleep or someone else is with one or both of them, my priorities are to (1) feed/walk animals (2) sleep (3) eat (4) shower. Sometimes I only have time for one of those things.
- There are too many animals in this house! Okay, I love our pets. When we adopted our pets we made a commitment to them for their entire life. Having said that, I think most people with a newborn can agree that if they didn’t have pets before having a baby, they would wait a while before getting them (if they were to get them at all). It’s tough. There are living things that need your attention at a time when you feel like you only have so much attention/time/energy to give. Luckily our pets are pretty relaxed and go with the flow, but some days I feel like there are too many living things in the house.
Ruthie is now 3 weeks old, and I’m sure I’ve already forgotten, (and will remember later tonight when I’m up around 2 am feeding her, changing her diaper, or just sitting and holding her while I wait for her to hit the sweet spot in sleep when I can set her in her bassinet), so many other things about life with a newborn. So, please comment below…what’s your list of things that one might want to know about life with a newborn?