By: Gloria Miles
Typically, parents look forward to the birth of their child. There are apps to see how the pregnancy is developing, but also includes an air of “countdown” within its tone. At the end of the pregnancy, especially the last month, waiting can feel excruciating.
All that being said, the newborn period is wrought full of surprises. After daydreaming of tiny baby feet, little onesies, and being able to hold one’s little baby…it’s no surprise that for many there are surprising elements (and some not so pleasant ones) in the postpartum period.
Here is what I wish I knew before the birth of my first child:
It’s okay to not like your baby.
I know that sounds weird, maybe even mean. But it’s true. I think this is important to realize. Some nights, when you’re sleep deprived, baby isn’t latching well, your nipples hurt, your baby is crying, when this whole parenting gig is feeling overwhelming…it’s okay to look at that sweet baby and not like him or her. It’s okay to wonder what you were thinking. Great parents need breaks. Great parents need sleep. Great parents need to walk away from their baby for a few minutes to grab a breather.
The newborn period is hard! This is a huge period of change. It’s important to recognize when you need help. My suggestion: hire a postpartum doula! They really are a godsend.
Prepare to be late…to everything.
Leaving the house for the first time seems overwhelming, it is overwhelming, the very first time. Suddenly, you have to remember a diaper bag, maybe bottles and formula, you have to safely strap the most floppiest, squishiest thing into a car seat. Give yourself a lot of grace and time. And just realize you’ll be late to a lot of things in the future.
Get used to bodily fluids.
Pee, poop, spit up. You’re basically a human wet wipe. …you get used to it. Somehow it’s a little less gross when it’s your own little human getting it on you. Or you’re too tired to care.
Baby teepees don’t work…
Someone gifted me these little baby teepee things that were supposed to be placed over a baby’s penis. The purpose was so there wasn’t any accidental baptism of the parent with infant urine. Those things slid off my kid’s penis almost as soon as it was placed on there. My suggestion? Use a wash cloth and place it over the area. Or just refer back to number 3. Also, change boys from the side. Then at least the changing table will get it.
It’s a little lonely, for both parents. I think it’s important to prepare the partner for the newborn period as well. Postpartum doulas can also help support him or her during this period of transition. It’s a little isolating when a partner goes back to work and suddenly there’s just you and baby. It’s also lonely for the partner in that they “lose” you for a bit. A family of two has become three, and the third requires so much time and attention. Eventually, a new normal will come, but in the beginning, partners can sometimes feel neglected.
The newborn period is a season.
This season of your life is temporary. The first month or two is usually the bumpiest.