I remember being at a baby care basics class at the hospital in the third trimester and the health educator saying the following:
"When Baby is crying, Mommy is crying, and Daddy is crying, it's ok to step away for a few minutes to gather yourself."
The class laughed.
First time parents laughed because we couldn't imagine it being that bad. Second time parents laughed because they remembered and learned how to survive the first few weeks.
For any first time parents out there, or people looking to start a family, I just want to share some survival tips we learned with Jellybean.
At the hospital
You don't need to bring baby's clothes. The hospital will have everything to dress your baby and keep him warm. The hospital will also provide diapers and wipes. What you should bring are lanolin nipple cream and Aquaphor or Beaudreux's Butt Paste for the baby.
I learned the hard way that if you plan to breast feed, bring pants or skirts and shirts. Don't wear a dress.
Sleeping at home
Yeah, be prepared not to sleep through the night for the first 6 weeks. Babies' circadian clocks don't switch until then and don't use the Cry It Out method (it's not recommended for babies under 6 months anyways). Sleep during the day when your baby sleeps.
Sleeping at home: start setting routines
I don't mean setting routines in terms of nap times and sleep times. I mean, set up a diaper changing and feeding routine. The first part of this routine is to determine when you change your baby's diapers. Some people change diapers after or in the middle of a feeding. Jellybean likes us to change her before she eats because she spits up if we do it any other way.
The 2nd part of this routine is to set time frames... With Jellybean we change her diaper then feed her every time she wakes up. She doesn't yet have a specific sleep/wake schedule and I admit I am not a mother who wakes my daughter every xx hours for a changing and feeding as long as she meets her 10-12 feeding quota each 24 hr period.
Sleeping at home: sleep accommodations
Sleep sharing with infants is not recommended by pediatricians anymore, but apparently it's ok in many parts of the world. If you sleep share, do so with safety being your top priority so you don't accidentally injure your baby.
When we first brought Jellybean home, we tried to put her in her crib to sleep. But she would wake up as soon as her back straightened out or after 10 minutes. To stay sane and get some sleep, I brought her into bed with me and we got our first 3-hr stretch of sleep lying down! Now she sleeps 4-5 hour stretches at night.
The most ideal thing is to get a food service that will deliver food to you everyday. The second best thing is to get your partner to cook more. But the thing that saved us is going frozen. We got frozen foods we could pop in the oven or microwave. We also got frozen fruits and vegetables because there is no time to cut and wash fresh produce. Whichever route you go, you want to cut out as many steps as you can to take a food from unprepared to in your tummy. Also, stick to foods that you can eat with one hand because you might be holding baby with the other.
You will have to switch off with your partner to see when you get time to shower. Or, observe when you baby sleeps the longest and take a quick shower at that time. I now take my showers at 4am after changing and feeding Jellybean during the graveyard shift. It will shock you the first time you realize that you haven't showered in 2 or 3 days and you didn't even think it had been that long.
I know that this post can sound a little scary for people considering having children, but despite all the sacrifices you have to make having children really is worth it. Hands down, Jellybean is the best thing to happen to us and these "sacrifices" are just a part of life now.