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mamamonday: surviving with a newborn - fact vs. fiction

Monday, December 05, 2011

Before you have a baby, you hear all sorts of advice from friends, family and complete strangers. People love to offer up their insights on what your life will be like after the little one arrives. Three and a half weeks in, I've found some of their advice to be really helpful, while some of their predictions were way off.

What we heard: "Enjoy your sleep now, because you won't be getting any after the baby comes!"
The truth? I sleep about the same amount now as I did for the entire third trimester, so I don't feel as zombiefied as people made me believe I'd be. For the last three months I was pregnant I'd wake up at 3:00 a.m. every day to make one of my 29357206 daily bathroom trips, but then I'd lay there, tossing and turning until it was time to get up. I got used to operating on reduced sleep every day. Eli typically wakes up twice during the night to eat, which takes about 45 minutes each time, so it's not all that different.

What we heard: "You won't be able to  ___________________ (insert name of activity/outing/personal hygiene here) for a while so get it in before the baby's born!" 
The truth? We've been out to restaurants three times with Eli and he's been zero trouble. We've taken him shopping, avoiding crowded malls and heading to smaller stores instead so he has minimal people coughing and sneezing and shoving around him. Peter and I have both left the house to do our own things and get a break from the baby while the other stays home with Eli. (FYI - it's not called "babysitting" if it's your kid. I hate when women say their husband "babysat" their child so they could go out!) Having a newborn by no means makes you housebound for months. He's actually pretty portable. We also get out for a walk every day for about an hour. The fresh air and exercise is great for both of us. I've had a shower every day, I've worn makeup every day, I've gotten out of my pyjamas every day. Maybe it's just to put on a t-shirt and a pair of leggings but it counts!

What we heard: "Sleep when the baby sleeps!" 
The truth? This is amazing advice and I would repeat it to any new mom. I try to have a nap every day when Eli is asleep and it makes me feel a hundred times better. Even if I can't fall asleep I'll lie down and rest, read, or listen to music and it's so nice to have that little refresher every afternoon.

What we heard: "Let your house get dirty - it doesn't matter." 
The truth? This is kind of true. Things tend to get put off more, but we try hard not to let the house get messy. it's definitely harder to clean when I'm home alone with Eli. When he goes to sleep, I'll give myself a set amount of time each day - half an hour or 45 minutes - and do what I can in that time frame. It's enough time to unload the dishwasher, put laundry in and Swiffer or dust a few rooms; basically to do damage control so things look presentable enough, which is the goal. This isn't the time for a white-glove test, but if everything looks relatively neat and tidy I'm happy. There are times when you just can't clean, and that's OK. Last week Eli had a growth spurt and wanted to eat constantly. When he wasn't eating, he was being fussy or getting his diaper changed. I was frustrated because I wasn't getting anything done and had to try to remember that looking after the baby is my "job" right now and takes priority over everything else.

What we heard: "You won't eat a homecooked meal for a while so fill up your freezer before the baby's born and collect all the takeout menus you can!" 
The truth? Our eating habits haven't changed at all. Eli goes in his swing and we make dinner and eat it together, and I have my breakfast and lunch while he naps or hangs out nearby. I was freaked out because I didn't follow the pregnancy books' advice to cook and freeze a month's worth of casseroles and soups, but we haven't starved to death just yet. That said, we did get some meals and snacks from family and friends which were a huge help. The saddest meal I've had since he was born was eating cereal for lunch one day, which, if you know me, is not actually that sad at all. I love me some cereal any time of day. Other quick, easy and fairly nutritious meals we've been eating are things like frozen veggie pizzas, soups, stirfry, chicken breasts or tilapia fillets, and sandwiches toasted in the panini press.

Overall having a newborn has been easier in a lot of ways than I was expecting. Eli takes a lot of time and is a lot of work but the first two weeks were the hardest, for sure. Now we're getting better at deciphering his fussy spells, knowing how he likes to be cuddled and anticipating what he needs before he gets completely pissed off. We're a lot quicker at things like getting him changed and dressed and getting out the door with him. The first time we tried to take him somewhere it took us about an hour and a half to leave the house - we're a lot more efficient now. I'm also fine with feeding him in the car and changing him just about anywhere.

We're still noob parents for sure, but one of the best pieces of advice we got is "it gets easier". So far, that seems to be the truth!

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  1. Congrats on Eli! I've been reading for awhile but have never commented but wanted to say Yeah for making meals and eating with your hubs! We did this when we had both babies. Nothing annoyed me more than hearing parents say they never had time to eat or sit down to a meal.

    It's so important to just be relaxed and keep as many routines as possible... sure sounds like you're doing it and this will make Eli easier to tote around as he gets older.

    Same as the babysitting thing ... it's their kid too! It's parenting. Plain and simple.

    Again, congrats. Parenthood is an awesome thing :)

  2. Everything here is 100% on base, at least in my experience. I think people just exaggerate certain things.

    We didn't do the cook-and-freeze meals thing either, although we do have a tendency to the grocery store and load up our cart with as many frozen pizzas (aka "new parent chow") as we think we can fit in our freezer.

  3. Thanks ladies :)

    It's definitely not easy - it's just nowhere near as horrible as I'd been warned to expect!

  4. For me it got harder when I returned to work, I had a horse and a baby and deciding what to do first after work was the hardest, I had a baby at home and a horse waiting to be fed. And I used to feel pretty stressed then if I was kept late at work. My first child was easier than my second. My second child would cry the moment my dinner arrived so I always seemed to eat cold food, for months. I find one persons fact is anothers fiction (or just plain doesnt happen to them)

  5. It sounds like Eli is a really great baby honestly! While I agree with you on almost all counts, I have one son (who is now 4 so I must be doing something right I figure, woot woot! lol) and he was the most crazy high needs fussy infant, oh my word! I couldn't go anywhere because he rarely stopped crying and he woke 3-5 times a night until 9 months, but as it turned out, he had severe reflux and felt like crap all the time, and if that were my story, I'd imagine I'd be pretty fussy too! The bright side, once we got him on the right medication, and his real personality developed, he turned out to be a GREAT kid and I rejoined the rest of the universe- yay! Keep enjoying being part of the normal world- good for you for not hunkering down in a postpartum cave :-)

  6. It sounds like you are really adjusting well to being a new mom! Congrats :)