An Honest Look At Everything That Happened In My First Six Weeks As A New Mom
I realized that I was trying to call the shots for my baby when in reality, it's not up to me
I'm back! After taking a six-week mini maternity leave from the blog I am excited to be back with my readers sharing ridiculous stories being an average human being and nerdy financial tips that help us all be better with our money (in whatever way we need to be). However, this time something has changed. I'm a new mom. But I'm also the exact same person — only much more busy and much more tired. So, hi again! And thank you for letting me take some time to learn how to live with my newest family member. On May 21st, 2018 I gave birth to my baby girl after 17 long and overwhelming hours of labour. Before we begin, let me just say that moms are amazing. They are powerful, brave and the amount of respect I have for them has sky-rocketed since experiencing childbirth myself. So, props to all the moms to be and moms that are out there. I can't even imagine my life without this little bean, and each of your babies is so lucky to have you as their own.
Within 24 hours we were discharged from the hospital
Yeah, that's right. One night after giving birth, my husband, baby and I were discharged from the hospital and free to head home. At first, I was so happy we were getting to leave the hospital. However, after realizing we were getting to leave the hospital, I started to get more and more nervous. Before we left, we were visited by many doctors to do all of their checks and were provided with support from many wonderful nurses. Each of these amazing health professionals had their personal piece of advice and must-remember or must-do for new parents and newborns.
To preface: before bringing my baby home I had never even changed a diaper so much as held more than three babies in my life. So, to say I had no idea what to expect was an understatement. That's why whenever anyone provided any advice or information I was extremely grateful as much as I was overwhelmed.
However, that appreciation soon faded.
"Book your pediatrician appointment" "Book a doctors appointment and immunizations for yourselves and your baby" "Bathe her every day and wash out her mouth" "Wake her up every two hours to feed her"
As someone with anxiety, the amount of information coming at me within the first 24 hours of becoming responsible for this small beans life was almost too much to handle. On top of all of this, I was in tremendous pain and trying to adjust to the hormonal changes that quickly took over my body.
We walked out of the hospital room, baby in car seat. The nurse checked her out to make sure she was secure and handed me a booklet of paperwork. "Bye you guys," she said — as we were both extremely relieved to be leaving, but extremely nervous to begin this new adventure. The day we left the hospital it was 32 degrees outside and there was an air quality advisory out due to a nearby forest fire. Therefore, the car was extremely hot. However, after a quick and painless car ride home, we were there.
Now what? Do we just wait for her to cry? Do we need to do anything? To be perfectly honest with you, the entire first day home was a complete blur.
In the first week home with a newborn, I made over 300 google searches
Here is a snapshot of the first few days at home from what I remember. Because to be honest, it was a lot.
Day one at home was the battle of temperature anxiety. In fact, after being home for only a few hours, I had my husband run out and buy a thermometer because I was so paranoid that our baby was too hot due to the heat. I'd say that night we checked her temperature constantly. And by we I mean me. We made it through the first night and we were celebrating it as a huge win. "Each day will get easier," we reminded ourselves.
Day two at home was the fear that breastfeeding wasn't working and my baby wasn't eating enough. We woke her up nearly every hour to two hours to eat. Everyone was miserable and I was in pain. She constantly cried, I constantly cried, and nobody got any sleep. To ease my mind and to help me feel more confident, I called in a lactation consultant. She taught me what I was doing wrong, corrected my babies latch and made me feel so much better. That night, I set alarms to wake up to feed her every 3 hours. Again, hardly any of us slept.
Day three at home my milk had come in and it came in fast. I had an oversupply and was trying to manage the pain that was engorgement while also trying to feed her every two to three hours like all of my google searches recommended. That morning, the public nurse came by to check on mom and baby to make sure that all was okay. Again, she told us all of the things we should be doing and needed to do. As soon as she left, I broke down. I was running on five hours of sleep and my anxiety was hitting its peak. That's when my husband put the baby down for a nap and took control. Rather than let me worry, he took out one of the books we had bought about children and their sleeping habits. He read me the book and with each page and paragraph I started to feel relief — that's when it hit me.
We were trying so hard to do everything that was suggested by Google, doctors and nurses that we weren't even listening to our newborn.
I realized that I was trying to call the shots for my baby when in reality, it's not up to me.
So, that afternoon we let her sleep and she had a six-hour nap. We quickly realized we had an amazing baby and embraced how lucky we were. She was eating great and napping even greater. It was her mom that was out of whack. That night we ditched all of our pre-conceived ideas of what we should be doing and instead trusted our gut. Our baby hated the bassinet, so we made the switch to co-sleeping. Our baby only needed to eat when she was hungry, so we stopped waking her up from naps. That night, we only woke up at 2:30 am and 5:30 am to nurse.
That's when they make you leave the house. Day four was our first outing, where we went to the pediatrician. They checked her weight, length, head and the doctor checked her out. Our baby was nearly back up to birth weight and had already grown! She was healthy as could be. As a reward, we stopped at Starbucks for a drink and headed back home. We finally felt like we were doing things right.
Day five we started to get a bit braver. We went for a walk around the track outside of our place. Which, to be honest, is a very big deal! We were sure to celebrate every small event as a victory. Night five, the baby was still fussy because she was trying to adjust her days and nights, so we stayed patient. During the days, she was so extremely happy it was hard to worry about how hard the evenings could be.
On day six, my doula came by for a home visit and to check on how we were doing. She brought me some lactation cookies, answered any of my questions and put my mind at ease. One of the most valuable lessons I learned was to just ask everyone. I texted friends and family constantly for advice and to feel better and it was always wonderful to feel their support. A special shout out to the wonderful world of personal finance bloggers (yet again), specifically to Bridget from Money After Graduation and Sarah from Couple of Sense, for making my feelings normalized.
Day seven was a milestone and we celebrated by taking some pictures and that night, we went for another walk around the track before we came home to get ready for bed. We tried to be brave and attempted having baby sleep in her crib — but to no avail. Accepting that every single baby is unique and comfortable in many different ways is something we quickly learned to do and every single family is free to do what they feel is best for their little. I will never judge.
In the following weeks, the reality that I was a mom was really starting to sink in. I'll be honest with you in a few key areas that many people will likely criticize me for, but others will agree with.
I missed work, and I still do.
I missed being alone with my husband, and I still do.
Never go anywhere without a pacifier.
I hate breastfeeding and also breast pumping (stay tuned for a full post on this battle).
I was sad — a lot. I cried — a lot. In fact, I think I cried more than my baby some days.
I felt like I was doing everything wrong — most of the time.
But each week, it got a little bit easier.
Key takeaways for any first-time or new moms:
Never read the first Google search — forums are often better because they show a variety of real-life experiences rather than the "average" baby. No one baby is the same.
Trust your gut and do what you feel is best for your family.
If your baby is pooping, peeing, spitting up and eating — you're doing everything right.
Don't listen to people who think they know all. No one knows everything about being a parent. And no one knows anything about being a parent towards your child except for you.
Ask trusted family and friends for advice and also for support. They will not judge you for any of your feelings or questions even though you think they might.
Highlights to remember:
The second time we bathed our baby, she pooped in the tub. And it was hilarious.
I was finally able to hug my husband full embrace without my belly getting in the way.
Baby makes the cutest noises like grunting, burping, hiccuping, coughing, cooing and sneezing.
When she smiles in her sleep, and even more so when she smiles when she's awake.
Every cute moment shared with my husband and with her makes me realize how lucky I am.
It's important to give yourself time to recognize that your life will never be the same now that you are a parent. But the change is something that will afford you many opportunities for learning, challenges and growth as a person.
Also, if you really want to know what it's like, I recommend watching Ali Wong's Hard Knock Wife comedy special on Netflix and you'll understand mom-life.
"You get no 401k, no coworkers, you’re just in solitary confinement all day long with this human Tamagotchi that don’t got no reset button so the stakes are extremely high.”
What were some of your favourite key takeaways from your experience as a parent, aunt or caregiver? Let me know in the comments!