Last week I shared some of my struggles during the first few weeks of motherhood. I felt like I left the post hanging a bit in that I did not give much of a practical answer for how the Lord pulled me through those days. Now that I am well on the other side of that stop along my journey, I can look back and see some specific tools God used to get me through that time. I wanted to share them with you today.
As the theme of this blog suggests, I believe that every good gift is from God by His grace. You may look at some of these tips and think, “The Lord didn’t give her that, its just good common sense” but I know differently. First I know that I don’t have or do anything good except by God’s grace and mercy. Second, I know that He graciously provided each of these suggestions as tools to get me through the first weeks of motherhood.
Let me fill you in on some details surrounding the birth of our son. As you may know, we were living in Fort Worth at the time. This was 7 hours away from our nearest family member and 9 hours away from my parents. Thomas was born on February 11–the beginning of tax season. My husband is an accountant. At the time he worked 30 minutes from our home, so his already long hours were extended by the commute. At the time, I was also finishing up my final 9 hours of graduate school–1 class in person and 2 online. I don’t tell you this to complain about my situation–I know others have had far more difficult circumstances. I want you to have a better picture of where I was when I began mothering my son outside my body, so you can better understand my appreciation for every small grace that made the days easier and more pleasant.
7 Tips for Surviving the First Weeks at Home with a Newborn
1. Continue to cultivate a relationship with your husband. Some days this came easier than others. Often, we get so wrapped up in the new baby that we forget the man who helped give us that child. I wrote a post about ways to continue to invest in your relationship with your husband after baby arrives last week. While I didn’t do each of these every day or even often, taken cumulatively, they helped to keep us connected.
2. Get out of the house. Even if this is just a walk down the driveway to check the mail, if it is possible, get out of the house and into the sunshine! When Thomas was two weeks old, the seminary I attended hosted a shopping day for all the women graduates. They were buying us all business suits for interviews. Who can pass up free clothes? So I loaded Thomas up and went. Best decision ever. Making it through the day boosted my confidence as a mother and gave me some much needed social interaction.
3. If you are nursing, learn to nurse laying down. Once I got past my fears of smothering him and gave nursing laying down a shot, it changed our world. Thomas almost always fell asleep nursing, so I was able to sneak away after he fell asleep if I wanted or I could just lay there and nap, too. This was most helpful at night though because I didn’t really have to “wake up” for night feedings. I just scooped the little man into bed with me. I dozed while he nursed, when I woke up to realize he was finished, I put him back in the basinet.
4. Eat and Drink lots of water. This is doubly true if you are nursing. While it’s not true that you need to “double” your calories, you do need to actually eat to keep up a good milk supply. If you are not nursing, your body is still recovering from giving birth, sleep deprivation, and caring for a newborn. You need your energy! Make wise choices. I like to keep a little something to snack on by my nursing chair and take my CamelBak with me everywhere.
5. Let others help. If someone volunteers to bring you food, let them. If someone offers to fold your laundry, let them. This was the hardest thing for me. I had the two most amazing friends who came over every Monday for lunch and a visit. I almost always tried to pick up the apartment before they came. Silly. Both of them would have been more than delighted to help me with anything I asked. And they did help me stuff cloth diapers on more than one occasion. We did have an amazing Sunday school class that brought us meals every other night for nearly two weeks.
6. Give yourself a break. Realize that the laundry may pile up and the dishes may stay in the sink a bit longer. You may eat cereal for all three meals for a few days (or weeks)! This is all just fine. The world will continue to spin. Your main job is to nurture that little one and heal from giving birth. Get the cuddles in while you can. They grow too fast!
7. Find what works best for you and your baby and stick with it. Trust your instincts. This was also hard for me. There were certain things I just swore I wasn’t going to do (use a pacifier and swaddle come to mind). I thought they were silly and unnecessary. However, at 4 weeks, I gave in, swaddled that boy, and he slept “like a baby”. Thomas slept in some sort of swaddle until he was almost a year old. Most will say that’s crazy and I’m pretty sure my parents and my mother in law thought Thomas was going to go to college in a swaddle, but it worked for us. He now sleeps unswaddled like a big boy–no harm done!
How did you survive the first few weeks with a newborn? I’d love to chat in the comments.
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