Tuesday, 4 August 2015
Life with a new baby
We're settling in to our new life as a family of 5 since our baby girl was born a month ago. She arrived quickly one morning after a day and night of slow labour. My third and easiest home birth. Don't get me wrong, it was still bloody hard work, but I had no fear of the labour/birth itself this time. The best book I read in preparation for it was Orgasmic Birth.
I'd forgotten about the sleepless nights and didn't know what had hit me for the first week or two, but by week 3 life seemed normal again and I got out and about with the kids every day. Maybe a little too much, ie a full day at the zoo alone with three kids negotiating the summer crowds wearing baby in a sling had me crawling into bed that evening. So I'm going to pace myself a bit better from now on.
I'm definitely a different mom this time around; I worry less when she cries because I know she will stop sometime. I don't need to check she's still breathing. I'm a lot more confident breastfeeding her, despite a couple of weeks of being covered in projectile vomit. I wrap her in the sling, grab a nappy and my wallet/phone/keys/other children and away we go.
The most difficult part of the last month has been balancing the needs of all my kids. Nature makes you more focused on the newborn, but I still have a 4 year old who needs a lot of attention and a 7 year old who is less needy but still needs checking in with throughout the day. Add to that all the usual life challenges; family, friends, household, meal-cooking, shopping, self-care... my plate is
pretty full. I'm trying to prioritise my family above all else, and let go of the other stuff which could easily drain my energy.
A few tips I've picked up to make the early weeks easier with a newborn:
The first 6 weeks are about survival. Just get everyone fed, clean clothes optional. Just keep it simple. Omelettes on toast are fine for a meal. One thing I'm not letting slide is my hygiene, I make sure to shower, brush my teeth and do my hair and makeup every morning (since the start of week 3, before that I don't think I looked in a mirror at all). It really helps me feel better able to face the day .
I've also made sure to have my nails painted as that's a personal thing that makes me feel a little more like "me" and not just "milk machine/puke magnet". I'm also getting dressed in "real clothes" not pyjamas since the start of week 3, it means should the sun be shining and I have energy, a walk around the block is possible, not a big deal.
Again, don't get me wrong, most evenings I'm in bed from 6pm when my husband gets home, I eat dinner in bed and stay there until after breakfast the next morning because I'm still recuperating. The odd evening I've gone downstairs to watch tv (baby in tow of course) and they've been highlights, but most evenings I'll be sleeping whenever I can because I'm still awakened every couple of hours by a suckler needing latching on/winding/nappy change. Thank god I can feed her in my sleep or I'd really be a zombie.
Friends and family dropped dinners over in the first few weeks and that was a godsend. Some were even hot and ready to eat! Those are the best kind of baby gifts you can get, forget the toys!
I got online groceries delivered for a few weeks but it worked out way more expensive than our usual budget shop, so have had to stop it. Store cupboard is still pretty full though, so we'll just supplement the fresh stuff for a while.
I hired a cleaner but it was a big palaver, never again. Should have sorted that during the pregnancy. Plus it's an expense and I'd rather put the money to better use.
We upgraded to a bigger car, it's safer and carries all of us with room to spare, this should also probably have been done in the pregnancy, ditto sorting a baby car seat and learning how to use it.
I'm lashing through books on my Kindle app which I read on my tablet or phone, whichever one is to hand. It means I can read if I'm awake at 3am without putting on a light and waking everyone. Also it keeps me off Facebook/shopping sites. And it's great escapism. I'm reading the kind of books I scoffed at a year ago, ones with pastel illustrated covers and "cake/cupcake/cafe" in the title. But I don't care. Literary snobbism is so passé.
I did an online course in alternative medicine during my last trimester, got a certificate to hang on the wall and a lot of satisfaction from the whole process. It's inspired me to take another course this year, as I'd like to have an income stream in the future and my previous career paths don't really appeal to me any more. This is exciting, I'm looking at turning 40 in a few short years and I know the path I want to follow.
So there's a lot of new stuff round these 'ere parts, not least a new little sucker with a different shaped bum to clean, and it's all good! What have you all been up to?