First, the good news! Our newest addition was born on Friday, October 27th, at 7 lbs 3 oz and 20 inches long. Both labor and delivery were an absolute breeze, my first with zero complications!
Here is a picture of the little munchkin:
With Baby G finally here, we have rounded out our family count to a total of 6. Our oldest (my stepdaughter) is 14, then my daughter is 5, my son is almost 3, and now a newborn. And let me tell you, it’s been quite a transition.
This first week has been tough. Despite my best intentions, I’ve lost my temper with everyone at least once (well, everyone except the baby, that is). While everyone has been sweet with the baby directly, his presence has very clearly thrown the family out of whack. The youngest two have been fighting CONSTANTLY, even more than before, which I wasn’t even sure was possible. They’ve also been acting up to get negative attention, digging their heels in about minor stuff, etc. Even the teen huffed and puffed about how “she’s given up on everything” because the new baby interrupted her typical movie routine with dad. And the fight with my hubby? Old stuff resurfacing about the house not being tidy enough, just with a lot more emotion due to hormones and exhaustion.
All of our routines needed revising. Our morning routine has been tough because I had to get the toddler and preschooler ready for the day while juggling a newborn. I’ve had to adjust the routine for getting everyone into the car and buckled, in part because we’ve rearranged our seating to accommodate the baby and in part because there’s one more person to buckle in. Our nighttime routine was affected because it is Baby G’s super alert time so Hubby and I have had to divide and conquer to get the kids to bed. In fact, everything took longer than it used to, because the routine is different and it is also new (therefore, not yet routine).
And then, of course, there was generally more stuff to do: host visitors, extra errands, and a whole slew of doctor’s appointments.
To top it all off, I’ve been feeling like a complete failure. As I told my husband one morning, I was frustrated that I needed so much extra help from him. Needing that made me feel incompetent, like I should have been able to do all this myself (and not impede on his workday since he is fully supporting us). As with every other time I’ve given birth, I expected to bounce back right away. Luckily, I was able to see that it was my typical pattern of thinking, which helped me see how irrational it was.
So, now that you get the picture of what it’s really been like, let me tell you what has helped me this week.
- Practicing patience – Despite my short supply, it is critical that to have extra patience with everyone: my husband, the kids, and especially myself. Even things that seem completely unrelated to the new baby can be a result of the insecurity that such a big change can bring.
- Slowing down – Allowing for the extra time to adjust to the new rhythms and routines is key. New routines require thinking and planning and being aware of the process. The act of slowing down helps to define the best way to tackle each task instead of trying to force the old habit on a new process.
- Keeping the task list to a minimum – So much is going on that first week postpartum. Helping everyone adjust to the new baby and new routines. Both mama and baby need to recover from labor and delivery and learn to feed. Mama is flush with hormones and adjusting to the new demands on her body, including regular interruptions to sleep. So why on earth do we expect that we can just resume our normal lives after the birth of a child? Instead, set small goals to accomplish, and be forgiving of yourself if it feels like you are getting nothing done.
- Letting people help – I am way better at this this time (it only took 3 babies to get there!). I have been working on accepting help from my husband, and even total strangers because it’s just hard. And I realize that it’s crazy to insist that I can do everything on my own and not accept help. Plus, I can so clearly see now that people really want to help.
- Sleeping as much as possible – Everything is worse when you don’t sleep. Overall, it is important to check in with your body (even though it’s hard and not intuitive when in the midst of caring for others) and make sure you are eating, drinking enough fluids, eliminating regularly, caring for any delivery problems, etc. But for me, there is something about not sleeping enough that impacts me the most. I have a hard time with all of the above if I don’t get enough sleep. This week I ended up having to switch with my husband to get up with the kids because I was struggling to function after being up several times in the night with the baby. It’s hard for him with his schedule, but it’s temporary until I can get a better handle on everything.
All in all, after a quick reset, I feel as though we are all on the right track for making this transition as smooth as possible.
What was it like for you when you first brought home your baby? In retrospect, what really worked or what would you have done differently? Let me know in the comments.