Isn’t retrospect grand? Chris and I spent so much time preparing for the labor and birth of our darling daughter that we didn’t leave much time to prepare ourselves for what we would do after we brought her home! (How hard can this be? Answer: Really fucking hard – Chris’ words, not mine.) Granted, her early arrival didn’t help either but now that we are six months in, this is how we survived (are still surviving):
- We put our pre-baby lives on hold. While we adjusted to our new normal, we put all the TV shows, hobbies, constant social media updates, and distractions on hold. When we got home from the hospital, my three main goals were eat, sleep and breastfeed. It was definitely tempting to just jump right back in the swing of things but I think you’ll just burn yourself out. When you make the jump from two to three, everything will change. And even though your newborn will be sleeping most of the time, you yourself, new momma, will need time to recover. When your baby becomes more interactive, you will spend your day playing with her, feeding her, and putting her to sleep…and REPEAT. Today, my goals remain the same except I see it as a win if I can take a shower every other day, brush my teeth at a respectable hour, put on sunscreen, and catch the latest Bachelor episode (#obsessed).
- Outsource everything that is possible (at least in the beginning). The first week home we hired a house cleaner. We used Instacart to get staple grocery items. Instead of asking for gifts, we asked our friends to set up a meal train. It was such a lifesaver not having to cook. This statement coming from a person who loves to cook too. We were grateful to spend our time bonding as a new family and not wondering, what’s for dinner? *Though, I must say if we had to do it again, I would specify to friends who want to visit, that 15 or 20 minutes would be great/ideal. We had some friends stay over an hour…there are so many ways you can say “please leave” with your eyes.
- Made parenthood our own. Meaning read all the books, listen to well-meaning friends and family tell you their tales and give you advice…and then choose what works for you and make parenthood your own. In the beginning, we spent a lot of time trying to follow the advice of other people and obsessing word for word what our parenting books were saying about our baby. Then we realized, what works for others won’t necessarily work for us. This helped immensely especially since Lyra is not your classic ‘textbook baby.’ And I really hated second guessing myself but once I shut out all the ‘noise’ I was able to be present with Lyra and take my cues from her and TRUST myself.
- Practice empathy. There were times (many, many times) when I wanted to clock Chris over the head because of something he did or said. And we would start arguing over a tiny thing that all of a sudden became a big thing. I’m not saying I was perfect or right in all of this – there were times I’m sure where Chris felt I was a raging monster. But when we were both able to practice empathy with one another, and really see and understand where the other person is coming from, it helped us 1) communicate better, 2) realize we are a team, and 3) appreciate each other more. We also practiced empathy with Lyra! There were many, many sleepless nights where we would just be like go the F*%& to sleep baby! But when we were able to take a step back and think about things from her eyes – as in I want to go to sleep, but I don’t know how – it helped us be more compassionate and patient parents.
We are definitely not experts (nor plan to be) in parenting but we are learning each day. I can’t believe Lyra is growing up so fast already! I remember those first few weeks where she would snuggle and sleep on my chest. I miss moments like those! And as much as I gripe about having to hold her so much now, I know there will come a day when I’ll miss doing that too.
If you have any survival tips for new parents, let me know!