Even though it was almost seven months ago, I can vividly remember what the first week was like with our new baby. It was exciting, scary, emotional, and – oh yeah – exhausting! I’m sure you probably could have guessed that having a newborn while living with a chronic illness wouldn’t be easy, but there’s something different about once you’re actually living it.
This isn’t meant to scare you, of course. I just want to give you a little heads up (no pun intended) on what your first week might be like. Here are five things you can expect:
5. No Wonder Sleep Deprivation is Used as a Torture Method
Apparently your newborn has not yet heard of the Geneva Conventions. If he or she had, then they’d know that sleep deprivation is listed as one of the forbidden methods of torture. Yes, you read that right, torture. And that’s just what it can feel like in the first few weeks when you are still adjusting. Sleep deprivation can cause memory lapses, hallucination, confusion, irritability, headaches, and an overall case of the yuckies (not a scientific term). So it’s no wonder that getting up to feed your baby every 2 hours, be coordinated enough to change diapers, and calmly console your baby takes a toll on your mind and body.
4. Sometimes Babies Just Cry
There really is no nice or easy way to say it, but there will be times that your baby just cries. You go through the checklist in your head – Okay, the baby isn’t hungry, wet, too cold or too hot, doesn’t have a fever – but still your little one is crying. Like any new parent, I probably made unnecessary calls to the pediatrician wondering if there was something wrong that was making my baby cry. After all, newborns can’t talk yet, so how would I know if my baby’s appendix was bursting or something?! (Which is actually a real concern I had) And just like every nurse, mother, and grandmother told me, sometimes they just cry. Don’t ignore your instincts, though. If you really think something is wrong, then please call your doctor. But do know, that even if you’ve tried everything and your baby is still crying, it’s okay.
3. Now is The Time to be Selfish
As I’ve said in posts before, my tendency to be stubborn and even a tad prideful when it comes to dealing with Lupus and a connective tissue disorder has never had a good outcome. Sometimes if I bend over, my hip dislocates. Sometimes during a flare-up, my joints are so stiff it hurts to sit in one position for too long. And as I’ve also said in previous posts, once a baby enters the picture, don’t turn down help. So with a new baby in the picture, now more than ever is the time to accept any and every offer you get. Whether someone offers to come over and watch the baby for an hour so you can sleep or someone wants to bring you dinner, SAY YES! You won’t regret it.
2. Play Nice
With hormones and tensions running high, your filter may be a little more lax than usual. You might find yourself snapping and speaking more harshly than usual. And the little things that were once just mildly irritating are now cause for WWIII. If you have a partner, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to try and speak sweetly to them during this very crazy time. Studies show that the first year of having baby is one of the toughest for married couples. So while it’s completely understandable to worry about finances or to be grumpy about whose turn it is to change the diaper, remember that a little bit of kindness can go a long way.
1. Routine is Your Friend
All the adorable Pinterest boards and all the articles with perfectly-styled nurseries left out one little detail: it’s just not realistic. When it’s two in the morning and you need to change and feed the baby, you won’t be thinking about how cute your changing station set-up is. In reality, the most convenient set up in the first few weeks for me was having the bassinet in the living room where I could crash on the couch. The living room was right next to the kitchen, where I set up bottles with pre-measured water in them. It may not seem classy, but having some semblance of a routine – something easy that didn’t require much effort – made a world of difference for me and my sanity. I’m not saying my way is right, but just find something that works for you. You don’t need to make things harder and you certainly don’t need to worry about appearances. Do whatever fits you and your baby’s needs and I promise it will make things just a little smoother. And if all else fails, just relax and think of this adorable kitten massaging a little pug dog.