So we’ve survived the first 2 weeks of our daughter’s life!
My husband and I are getting 6 hours of broken sleep per night (with the occasional horror night), we still manage a hug and laugh amongst our new duties, and we are completely besotted with this little soul who has literally flipped our life upside down. Our dining table downstairs has a changing station- gone are the candelabras that used to stand with pride as the centrepiece– hello wipes, Huggies and Sudo Cream! If someone comes to visit no effort is made to hide the rattles or the myriad of parenting books my husband has bought to ensure we raise a strong and independent girl! Hello new life!
If you have children you probably understand when I say I’ve learnt an incredible amount in the last 2 weeks – more than I ever have in my entire life (and I thought the first 2 weeks of internship were a steep learning curve!). I’ve learnt that being a mother is the hardest thing I’ve done and that being intelligent and determined means jack all to a newborn. Where my type A personality has helped me succeed in most other aspects of my life – studying hard, making sure everything is as perfect as it can be – it just doesn’t apply here. And no matter how many books or articles you read at 2am about cluster feeding or self-settling babies – what will be will be!
So all the children I’ve seen as a doctor counted for nothing when it came to my turn. I’ve reassured so many mother’s that the sleeping does improve, that providing some sort of routine does pay off and that breast feeding can get easier – but now I actually get it!
So I thought if I can survive the first 2 weeks I better share my very few pearls – so here are my top 5 survival tips for what they’re worth!
- Zipped suits are PURE GOLD! Bonds do a Wonder Suit that has a zip that opens from the top and bottom and let me tell you when you are changing nappies post every feed you want easy access especially at night! We use the Wonder Suit as pyjamas for Miss S and it is a godsend – dealing with 20 buttons in dim light at 2am in the morning is a great way to go completely mad!
- Engorged breasts hurt!!! Avent do a gel pad, which can be cooled, or heated (which you can use pre feed to assist milk flow) and let me tell you these babies straight from the freezer (in their cloth bag) on the breast soothe the pain beautifully! As GP’s we also recommend cold or frozen cabbage leaves for relief of engorgement and I would honestly use these if I hadn’t used all the cabbage to make a stir-fry with my mum!
- Sleep hygiene is VITAL for a baby and your sanity! Our obstetrician on day 3 post birth told us the rules for the first 6 weeks was that there were no rules – and I must say this was advice I very much needed to hear! But the only loose rule we have is trying to introduce some sleep routine consistency and it feels like it’s paying off – naps in the day occur in light, whereas nighttime is all dim light or darkness. A bedtime routine is being introduced (with some reluctance from Miss S) which involves a bath then changing into pyjamas and feeding in dim light. Most sleep gurus will suggest some sort of sleep routine and so we are giving it a go!
- LET GO – I was soooooo reluctant initially to leave Miss S with anyone to even have a nap. I would sit there watching my mum, aunt or husband with her – just subtly giving tips (when in reality I had no idea what I was doing either I now realize!). But I swallowed all my pride/type A-ness and accepted help and boy oh boy did life get better. I had naps, allowed my family to cook all the meals and now the freezer is full of healthy meals! And most importantly my husband and I have had moments here and there to have a hug, debrief and an odd tear! So swallow all pride and say yes to all help is my big tip!
- A walk a day keeps the mind and body sane. This I swear by – I was slow to get back to my walks post the emergency C section but now we are out that door every day. Miss S is rugged up, I have my sneakers on and we hit the pavement (gently) for 30 minutes at least once a day … and if things are going well we stop for a chai latte at the local café… I see the sunlight (so does she), we have fresh air, we smile at people who walk past us (and invariably someone stops for a chat when they see a new baby) and when we come home we are both new ladies!
So there it is – 2 weeks in and I still know next to nothing… but I sure know a hell of a lot more than I did! Imagine how much I’ll know in another 2 weeks – I’ll be some sort of epic baby whisperer by then (I wish!).