Surviving the first few weeks of motherhood

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Having lived through it myself, I can tell you that I understand why they give you six weeks of maternity leave after having a baby!

The first couple of months are very difficult, even if you have help. I just want to encourage you that you are doing a great job and it will get easier!

Clarissa did not learn the difference between night and day until she was two months old (which unfortunately, is kind of normal). Which meant that I didn’t start getting any real amounts of sleep until then. When you don’t get the sleep that you need, your emotions are all over the place. Add the fact that your body is in recovery and in pain to that and it is not a good combination. There were so many nights that she would still be wide awake at 3am and I would think, “I don’t want to be a mom anymore.” What a difference sleep makes! I remember the first night that I woke up to go to the bathroom before she cried and I freaked out thinking, “She’s been asleep for five hours! Is she still breathing?” The first few nights, I actually woke her up while I was checking on her. Then I realized that sleeping five or six hours at a time would be the new normal. I remember posting on facebook, “Apparently five hours straight of sleep is different than five hours total.” At that point, I felt like a completely different person and loved being a mom.

There are a few things I plan to do differently when we have another baby.

1. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Everyone says this, I know. But I really didn’t do it. I had a really hard time sleeping during the day because Clarissa really wanted to be held ALL. THE. TIME. She would sleep just fine during the day if I was holding her. She was so cute. And I loved cuddling with her. So I would hold her all day and then just hope that she would sleep at night so that I could sleep myself. But since she was sleeping during the day, she was wide awake from like 10pm-6am. Eventually, I did learn to take a nap with her in the evenings. She would sometimes sleep from 11pm-1am or so when she was about a month old. I would often have to call my mom in the morning and ask her to come over because I hadn’t slept at all. She would come over and hold Clarissa while I slept for a few hours during the day. It was an awful cycle. But, magically, the day that she turned two months old, she started going to bed at 2am consistently.

Also, don’t pick up the baby the second she starts crying. Wait a minute or two. I think that sometimes Clarissa may have gone back to sleep on her own because she was half asleep on the changing table.

2. Arrange meals ahead of time. You are not going to want to/be able to do a lot of cooking in the beginning. Yes, your husband can make dinner. But that gets old and he is tired too! It would be great to have friends who will make dinner for your family and bring it over or give you gift cards for takeout. If that isn’t happening, make some meals ahead of time and freeze them.

3. Really rest. Tim was off for the first week and a half that Clarissa was born. But when he went back to work, I tried to do more of my normal stuff. I felt okay the first day so I tried doing dishes and laundry. I don’t remember if I made dinner or not. All I know is that I would often over do it. I would feel good and do something and then barely be able to move the rest of the day because I was so tired and sore. Either arrange for a friend to come over and vaccuum or let your husband do what he can after work or just let your housework get really behind. I think that I would have healed a lot faster if I would have just allowed myself the grace to rest in the beginning. You really start to feel better once you stop bleeding, which for me took six weeks. If I had rested more, I think it would have been less time.

4. Take pain medicine when you need it. I would wait to long and then be in tears from the pain. Keep up with the ibuprofen. I didn’t really do the tylenol with codine unless I had someone to watch Clarissa. It made me sleepy. So if I took it and she didn’t sleep, then I was even more exhausted than normal.

2 thoughts on “Surviving the first few weeks of motherhood

  1. Mary

    Amen, amen, amen! It’s a little bit harder to sleep during the day with other kids running around this time, though! You are so right about pain meds and taking it easy – listening to instead of ignoring your body – will help you and your baby! I found an added bonus with taking my meds – helps w nipple pain too!

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