I remember hearing so many moms talk about how the first two weeks of mommyhood were going to be the hardest. You are recovering from either an exhausting labor or major surgery. You are sleep deprived and likely just as cranky as your baby may be and the hormones are raging.
It was so good to know because I was really able to prepare for the worst and also know there was light at the end of the tunnel.
I read up a ton on ways to prepare and I prayed a ton. I really wanted to enjoy the first two weeks because God has been pressing on my heart lately to enjoy each season, even the tough ones because there are blessings in them and I don’t want to pass them up and miss the goodness of them.
I honestly expected things to be a lot harder these first two weeks. I feel blessed that things have been going so well. I will attribute a bit of that to having a content baby, a lot of it to prayer and also to a few things we did to combat the typical stresses so many moms warned me about.
1. Let dad do his thing. Months back, I remember telling Tyler he’d really have to help me with this one. I may have the urge to “show” him how to put her to sleep or swaddle her, which may turn into dad never actually doing those things and the mom responsible for it all. How exhausting! The c-section kind of worked this out on its own. I literally only held her to feed and a little cuddling for the first 4 days. Dad changed the diapers. Dad swaddled her. Dad put her to sleep. When we got home, I was more than confident in his ability to share in her care so I’m not the only one taking care of her.
2. Let her fall asleep in her bassinet at the hospital. There are so many visitors and she will likely get used to falling asleep in people’s arms but when it was just me, Tyler and Viv, we put her to sleep in her bassinet after she got a little sleepy. This has helped her transition at home really well. She sleeps in her rock n play really easily and we plan to try a few naps in the crib soon so she will eventually adjust to that.
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3. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Everyone says this, but it is so beneficial. This will be hard though. Quieting your mind in the middle of the day with all the new things going on is not easy. I would have to go lie down and start reading. This usually makes me tired and helped me actually fall asleep. Does something you do always make you sleepy? Watching a boring TV show? Listening to music? A sound machine? Make it happen. At least half of the days during the first two weeks, I managed to get a nap in anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours and I’ve had more energy than I expected to handle the days.
4. The 5 S’s – I had been reading The Happiest Baby on the Block and the day before Vivi was born, Tyler watched a YouTube video that pretty much summed up the techniques. Within 5 minutes of Tyler first holding her, he was able to quiet her down and keep her from crying with what he had learned. Highly recommend the book!
5. Get out. Another thing I told Tyler I would need help with was getting out of the house and trusting someone else with Viv. Six days after she was born, my sister and I went to the mall to look for things for her newborn shoot. Even two hours away refreshed me. Tyler and I also had two “date nights” for a friend’s wedding rehearsal and wedding. These outings definitely helped stretch us and make us comfortable being away.
6. Move around. I had read that one of the best things you can do to recover from a c-section is begin walking as soon as possible. The evening of her birth, I got up and made the tiniest lap around the hallway of the baby unit. It was the slowest walk I’ve ever done in my life. The next day I got up and walked 3 times and by day 10, I was walking a mile around our pond at our apartment. Again, just getting a little “you time”, especially in the form of exercise, which will not only make you stronger but give you more energy, will be so beneficial.
7. Take a bath and put on makeup. This might be vain but it made me feel more like myself and less like a milk machine. It’s easy to lose yourself when this little person needs so much from you. If your baby sleeps like mine does, getting a quick shower can happen every day. And if they don’t? Have someone there to help out. We’ve found Vivi is quite content to stay awake in her rock n play while I shower because of the noise the running water makes.
8. Let people help. We have never accepted so many hands to help or free food in our life. In those first few days home from the hospital, I was so surprised how quickly the next meal snuck up on us. It was so nice to have others call and say, can I pick you up some food? We might have starved without them!
9. Start the day with a 10-minute tidy. Everyone says don’t worry about cleaning, and I agree a bit. My carpet has not been vacuumed in weeks and there are a fair amount of dishes that are starting to smell. BUT every morning after her first feeding, I have been taking 10 minutes to pick up the dirty diapers that I threw on the floor during her middle of the night feedings. I put dirty clothes in the laundry basket, make the bed and fold the blankets. For me, it was important that the areas where I’ll be hanging around all day long are at least somewhat clean simply because it makes it a more comfortable place and less like a cluttered cell block.
10. Focus on the positive. I had to remind myself that soon we’d find a groove and soon I’d be doing all these things WITHOUT staples in my belly or shooting pains as I nursed. And seeing other moms sweet reactions to a newborn made me want to soak it in even more knowing I’d miss seeing Vivi this small.
11. Go to God daily for strength. This should be number one of course. I used to read a few chapters of the Bible and journal each morning. I knew little Viv would probably not allow such a leisurely quiet time, so I got Jesus Calling. I have been loving it! I actually read it during her first morning feeding and it definitely helps me get me heart right for a new day. I also carry Scriptures and my prayer journal in my nursing kit (which travels from the bedroom to living room depending on where I am nursing). You have TONS of time to sit and think while the baby feeds so I’ve actually been able to read Scripture and pray more than I was able to before.
The photo is a preview of Vivi’s Newborn pics taken at two weeks with Ell Photography. More to come!