Seven weeks. What a difference seven weeks can make. There’s nothing magical about seven weeks aside from that’s where we are in our journey. It was just over seven short weeks ago that our little boy made his way into the world 10 days early (or one day prior to the induction planned with my OB). Even before he arrived, he was calling the shots.
I knew that things would change once he was here, but I didn’t even come close to estimating all of the ways. Since early this year, we’ve been reading books. So many books. And taking classes. Long classes on topics such as feeding, infant CPR and childbirth. I even joined a weekly expectant mom’s group through The Moms Groups just to talk through all of the ongoing things we were sorting through in the months leading up to the big day. In general, T and I spent as much time as we could to prepare.
Nothing though fully prepared me for that first moment when everyone left the room and it was just me and baby Q in the hospital. I remember being so sore and tired post-delivery – and absolutely terrified, having never even held a baby younger than 4 months. And while I know we’re supposed to help to teach him a number of things along the way, here are four things he’s taught me in these first few weeks.
Be kind to yourself.
This is a really big one. I read it in so many articles and it is so so true. The first several weeks post-partum were very hard in several ways. As someone who’s a fabulous sleeper, I couldn’t figure out which end was up. And we were both trying to figure out how to read cues from our new tiny little human who can only communicate via a series of gestures, grunts and cries. I would find myself at the end of the day sometimes feeling like I had accomplished nothing aside from keeping him alive.
That’s not true, though. Renee Sullivan, who leads The Moms Groups, tells us of how she kept a journal during the weeks post-baby and kept a one sentence log of what she did each day. Those little accomplishments each day those first few weeks really do mean something. Managing to make anything on that list happen in these early weeks when you’re at home solo is huge and worth noting.
My good friend Samantha had a Chewy Chips Ahoy cookie for each one of those daily accomplishments – from showering to getting dressed to going outside – all things which take on new meaning once you return home from the hospital. Celebrating those little wins really helps with sanity in those first weeks.
I was reminded again of the importance of being kind to myself when I tried to pull out the stack of my pre-pregnancy pants. After a few weeks, I thought surely several of these would work… right? I calmly went through them one by one. Fail… fail… fail… success! I looked at the plentiful “no” stack compared to the one lone pair of “yes” pants, and instead of becoming frustrated, focused on smiling about the new pair of pants to add into my weekly limited wardrobe. I realize the me today isn’t the me of yesterday – and maybe the new me won’t be able to wear those old pants, or maybe she will in the future. My fellow new mom group member recently led a yoga class for us and our little ones. She said something that really stuck with me… “We send so much energy out. It’s important that we stop and send some inwards.” I really like that.
Baby is boss.
In nursing, I’ve learned that your baby knows what they need – more so than you do. How could this tiny human only weeks old know more than I do after reading all those books? After the classes? After joining all those mailing lists with tips?
In the beginning, he was losing so much weight and we were worried we weren’t feeding him enough. How do you know when they’ve had enough? How much should he be eating each time? It’s really an amazing thing – how a mother’s body will typically produce just enough to meet their child’s needs. Now instead he eats when he wants to, and I’ve surrendered to not being able to plan when that will happen to be.
I’ve never been one who could sleep with the lights on or with noise, but that’s quickly changed. When he sleeps, we sleep. When he happens to go to bed at 8PM, I do too – since who knows if we will be paying for that later in the wee hours of morning. And when he falls asleep on my chest after I have tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to burp him, I’m not in a rush to put him down elsewhere to nap. As challenging as some days can be, I know that the amount of time where holding him close is the only answer is fleeting – and something I need to make the most of.
Embrace the new “normal”.
Pre-Q, as you can tell from the posts here, we were often out trying new restaurants, hanging out with friends or attending the occasional Broadway show. At the beginning of mine and T’s relationship, you could typically find us at a different social media event 1-2 nights a week – just because they were fun and full of free food. It’s actually how we first met in person!
Our days have changed. Any planned time to leave requires a buffer of around an hour – a cushion of time to allow for unplanned outfit changes, feedings, or diaper changes. Any plans to go out require a feeding strategy or intended timeline for return, if he won’t be eating during the excursion.
We’ve had friends join us on the “other side,” but some who have silently opted out, seemingly uninterested in continuing with us on this new journey. I think that was one of the hardest parts during my pregnancy and beyond. I’ve made peace with those friendships and the role they played along the way.
Don’t be too proud for help.
It takes a whole village to raise a child is way more than a Nigerian proverb. The outpouring of help from friends and family has made such a difference. The first few weeks, both of our families were there, giving a hand with things from holding him so we could take a nap to providing tips on stain removal (very important, we have learned). My parents even allowed us to stay with them for several weeks, which was a huge help. We’ve had friends bring over food to help us in those first few weeks where thinking about meals was the last thing on our mind.
As helpful as reading pre-baby is, we’ve realized there are so many things that come up that you aren’t prepared for – or that you don’t know the answer to. Many things have a variety of recommended solutions when you look online, so what do you do? Of course, we look to our pediatrician’s recommendations, but what about other resources?
A number of friends of mine have children ranging from close to Q to significantly older and were wonderful resources before his arrival. Since he was born, I’ve been reaching out to them for their thoughts and have found their input invaluable.
Every morning is a new adventure and a new lesson. Guess we are both the pupils in this scenario.