Before our little one’s arrival, everyone had a piece of advice for us for the days before and after baby. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Cherish every moment (when my husband and I are pacing the halls with a crying baby at 3am, that one almost seems laughable). Don’t take all the tags off new clothes because he might outgrow them before he wears them. And many more. Well, we’ve discovered a few little tidbits that people forgot to mention:
1. You will need more help in week eight than week one.
With almost no time to eat, I really wish I would have frozen more easy dinners back when I was still pregnant so I would have them on-hand for week six or seven. Friends and family are all happy to bring food the first week or two and see that darling newborn, but the offers dry up around week four and the baby is still requiring all your time and energy with none left for cooking and baking. I think we’ve bought more takeout and prepared meals in the last few weeks than we ever have in our lives.
2. Simply caring for a baby is the absolute best workout.
I tried to stay in decent shape while I was pregnant, anticipating all that baby weight I’d have to lose after the little man’s arrival. It doesn’t seem like that was entirely necessary. With the combination of breastfeeding (which gets rid of about 500 calories a day), no time to eat a real meal, and all the hours spent walking up and down the halls rocking a baby to sleep, I was below my pre-pregnancy weight by the time I went in for my 6-week checkup. I guess I won’t need all those postpartum workout videos I stocked up on! (This is both a good thing and a bad thing because while I was able to lose the weight, no sleep and no food make me an awfully grumpy person to be around…sorry friends and family!)
3. Getting a baby to sleep in a bassinet is hard.
This never occurred to me. I just figured the baby would be like a blank slate. They’ll sleep wherever you put them because they don’t know any better. Ha! Our little man has not slept in his bassinet for more than 5 minutes so far (he is now 2 months old). We’ve tried everything. We tried swaddling him (see #4 of this list). We tried waiting until he was sound asleep in our arms before we put him in. We tried putting him in when he was groggy and rocking him in the bassinet. We tried putting a warm blanket in and taking it out just before we set him down so the bassinet sheet would be warm. Nothing has worked so far. He kicks out of his swaddle every single time and ends up punching himself in the face and waking up (no one told us about that punching themselves reflex, either!).
4. Swaddling a baby is akin to trying to contain a wriggling worm in jello. He will find a way to squirm his way out.
We had the nurses at the hospital show us how to swaddle about 50 times before we left with our baby. We thought we had it figured out, but almost every single time without fail, Brayden manages to wriggle and squirm his way out, ends up surrounded by a loose blanket, and punches himself in the face. It’s actually kinda hilarious, albeit frustrating, at 2am.
5. The crying may drive you crazy.
I knew that babies cry. I was fully aware that there would be times the little guy would be crying. I was prepared for that. But I thought that there would be a simple solution that would cure the crying every time. I thought, “Oh, I just need to try X, Y, and Z and one of those will work,” like an instant off switch. Ha. There are times when we’ve run through the list of every possible option. Dry diaper. No burps. Just fed. Try rocking him. Try swaddling him. Try the 5’s. And after all those options, we’d get creative and try any other random technique we could think of. Tips from episodes of Friends. Tips from random movies we’d seen. The sound of a hair dryer. A massage. A pacifier. I don’t believe in the “cry it out” method, so the longer he would cry, the more frustrated I would get and the more determined to fix whatever problem he was having and fulfill that need. There were times when I literally had to just put him in his crib for a minute and go scream in a pillow. It is definitely getting easier as he gets older. A pacifier seems to help more times than not now, although I have to actually help hold it in his mouth or he would spit it out almost instantly. I guess it just takes time to figure out what he needs, but sometimes I feel like I’m about two minutes away from checking into the looney bin.
If anyone has some simple solutions or suggestions for any of these, please let me know! I’m all ears! 🙂