Two weeks of lessons
Where has the time gone? I gave birth. And now I have a two-week-old baby. How did that happen?
James and I, like all new parents, are on a massive learning curve. Actually not so much of a curve as a straight line shooting upwards. I thought I’d share the top 10 things I’ve learned these past two weeks, so you can learn from our mistakes and our successes.
1. Coming home from the hospital is scary. I sat in the car – in the backseat watching the baby, of course – quietly terrified about spending the night without the midwives to guide me through her various cries. Can you believe the NHS doesn’t just give you one to take home? And also, don’t bother spending too much time on your “going home outfit” when packing your hospital bag. You really won’t care what you are wearing.
2. Buy a Slumberbear. Trust me. Your life as a parent of a newborn isn’t worth living if you don’t have one. It’s a bear with a speaker inside that plays the sound of a heartbeat as heard from the womb. It came with a bear, but we just took the speaker out and keep it in her crib. Whenever she moves or cries, it goes on and it seems to soothe her most of the time. Sleep. Ahhhh. We got ours from Babylist.
3. Remember to take care of yourself. The Thursday after I gave birth, I ended up back in A&E due to my blood pressure. We were taking great care of Baby, but crap care of me. We sort of forgot that the whole birth experience was a bit traumatic for the mother, too. Take it easy. Don’t have too many people around in the first week. And know that on day 3 or 4, you’ll cry for one reason or another. It just happens.
4. Be careful what you wish for. We watched Baby’s nappy like hawks for four days, looking for signs of poo. Nothing. Then on the fifth day, God made poo. Lots of it. Since then, it hasn’t stopped.
5. Buy Infacol. In fact, buy stock in Infacol while you’re at it. We had an episode with excessive wind on her first Friday and a simple plea on Facebook to our friends with children came back with the resounding cry: Infacol! Also, ask your visiting midwife to teach you positions for dislodging wind. You’ll need them.
6. Worry is your new constant companion. The other day, I asked my father how he coped when I went travelling in South America for 6 months. As a mother, I now realise he must have been worried sick. He told me that he was always ready to jump on a plane at any second to come rescue me. And I know he would’ve, too. Now, I’m worried about everything. If I ask, “Is she breathing?” one more time, James is going to commit me to a mental hospital.
7. Write down every feed. What did we ever do without iPhones? I am using the “What to Expect – Baby” app for recording feeds, nappy changes, and sleeps. If you’re anything like me, you’ll forget what breast you used last, so it’s great as an aide memoire for those with Mummy Brain.
8. Get your baby used to hubbub right away. Our first instinct when we came home from the hospital was to put Baby to sleep in a quiet, darkened room. It was my step-mom, mother to three children, who insisted that James bring Baby into the kitchen where noise and life were happening. It means that Baby can now pretty much sleep through anything. We do also balance it with quiet sleeps because we don’t want her to swing too much towards only being able to sleep with noise. But the balance is important.
9. If you’re going to breastfeed, get a Brest Friend. Crap name, great product. It’s a breastfeeding pillow that has a back support for you and a comfy tray-like protrusion in front for resting baby on. I also use it for balancing my laptop when I get to blog and as a table when snacking. I bought mine from Babylist.
10. Go out with your partner and baby as much as you can before he goes back to work. Make sure that he teaches you how to assemble the pram. Go and ride a bus with it. Go on the tube. Get all the barriers to going out sorted because you don’t want to be housebound when he’s not around.
And here is a bonus eleventh lesson we’ve learned: remember that you love your baby. That was another one from my step-mother, whose daughter suffered from colic for 9 months. Having just overheard James say to Baby in a nursery sing-song voice, “You are lucky you have parents who love you very much and won’t stick blankets in your mouth when you cry,” I think we already get the sentiment.