We shared this in 2015 and it's still true! Happy Mother's Day Mamas!
I am going through the newborn stage all over again. My baby sister, who is 9 years younger than I am, just had her third baby. He has arrived 8 years since the last Fahey baby was born, so it’s all new to us. Even for me, who deals with newborn issues all day, every day. Somehow, it is much different when you have an emotional attachment to the family in the thick of it. I have watched them manage through the endless sleepless nights, and both parents being sick for weeks, (I am not sure there much worse that being sick with kids to care for!) while this breastfeed baby bounced back from the same illness in two days. I see the weekends packed with games, practices, birthday parties, and too many things left undone. Because of course, life goes on for the two older kids, and they are working hard to make sure that life isn’t disrupted. And then there is that job, which really gets in the way, but someone has to make some money right? My husband and I marvel at them, because of course, we have been there before, but honestly can’t remember half of it or how we got through it! I just know that we eventually did, and they will too. One of my favorite quotes from Kathleen Huggins, a RN who wrote the Nursing Mother’s Companion, is “that if you find it hard, it’s because it is hard.” Really hard.
So, as Mother’s Day approaches, I am thinking of all you brand new mommies, and tipping my hat to you as you get through this wonderful and special, yet challenging time. Here are a few pointers to hopefully help make it easier to manage!
First and foremost, please remember that this is just a phase and it won’t last forever. This chaos will end, and it really gets so much easier to deal with, on so many levels, right around 3 months. Your baby will never be this little again, so try to enjoy all the sweet moments that are there, when you are awake for them! Also, please remember that you don’t have to do everything. Men don’t get it, but nothing stresses a woman out more than a messy, dirty house and things undone. But you have to let it go, and let others help you when they can. Take the extra food and stick it in the freezer. Let someone take your big kids for a few hours. Have your mother in law give the baby a bottle so you can take a nap. If someone wants to do your laundry or grocery shopping, let them. You will have control over the situation again sometime in the near future, it just isn’t going to happen right now.
Next, don’t make more work for yourself. There a three key points to remember when living with a newborn. The first is NEVER wake a sleeping baby. If your baby is pooping and peeing, gaining and back to his birth weight, sleeping soundly many times a day, and generally happy, don’t bother him. Not to change a diaper, not to burp him. If he is asleep and happy, he doesn’t need anything but sleep. Let him get it, and take a nap while you are at it.
The second point is that if your baby is awake and not happy, please assume that he needs more to eat, and offer another feeding. He won’t take it if he doesn’t want it. Many families make the assumption that their baby can’t possibly be hungry, as they just fed them. They spend all their energy trying to calm a fussy baby and get him to sleep, when if they would have just fed him again, he would be out cold in 15 minutes. Sometimes, they just need the tank topped off. Do it, and enjoy some peace and quiet!
Lastly, if the above doesn’t work, your baby is probably going through the daily fussy period which rears its ugly head around 3 weeks and is gone by 3 months. At this time, motion and cuddling work wonders. Break out the swing, or vibrating chair. Go for a car or stroller ride. Invest in a sling of some sort, so you can carry your baby, but still have your arms free so you can accomplish something. His preference is always going to be to be with you, but if someone else wants to hold him, let them. You could use the break!
I think the hardest part of being a new parent is not knowing what is normal and then feeling like it is never going to end. But it does. And people do it again. Some of us are even so forgetful, that we do it 4 times! Hang in there-it’s all worth it. And give us call or head to a support group if you need a pep talk. You aren’t the only one feeling the way you do. And someday soon, you will be laughing about it all, and helping someone else through it. That moment will arrive sooner than you think!