Keeping Your Sanity as A New Mom

Ahhh ... those blissful early days of motherhood. My boobs looked large enough to feed half of Detroit. Flaps of fat swung around my belly like leftover gefilte fish. I was afraid to look down below; a simple trip to the potty required an inflatable donut, a sitz bottle of warm water, and endless courage. I cried like a wild animal when dusk fell. I screamed at my husband when he brought me a fax from work. A glance at the baby's umbilical cord brought me to tears.

And then there was the Village, who days before had treated me like the Pregnancy Goddess of the Planet. My mother-in-law admonished us, after three days, that she didn't feel "involved" in her grandson's life. My excited younger sister drove six hours to meet her nephew -- but she had Strep throat so I wouldn't let her into the house. Hordes of eager visitors stormed our house with advice on every decision I made. They wanted to hold the baby (oh, the germs!) and take endless pictures, the flash startling (and I feared, permanently blinding) our newborn.

And I had an easy baby who slept 20 hours a day and nursed the other four.

I sure could have used your advice back then. So here, for all you new moms, is the collective wisdom from On Balance readers.


Top 10 Tips for Surviving Early Motherhood With Your Sanity Intact

1. Be as organized as possible before the baby comes home. Don't wait until you are nine months pregnant to buy diapers and wipes, install the car seat, put together the bassinet/crib, have some clothes washed and ready, etc. The last thing you want to do when you arrive home from the hospital is have to go shopping or assemble furniture. Ditto for child care: visit places or interview caregivers as far in advance as possible. You don't want the stress of doing this with a newborn, and many places have long wait lists.

2. Go easy on yourself, and expect the first few weeks after giving birth to be exhausting. The baby may need to feed every two hours. You won't be sleeping much. You will be tired all the time. Plan for this. It takes at least six weeks to master any aspect of parenting. You would never expect to walk into a new job and instantly know how to work the equipment, navigate the politics and know exactly who to go to for all the answers. Parenting is about learning on the job, making mistakes, forgiving yourself, and moving on to the next phase.

3. Nothing is more important than developing a relationship with and understanding of your new baby. Not visitors, not housework, not the drive to breastfeed, nothing. All of these may be things you planned to do, but follow your instincts as you get to know who this new little person really is.

4. Accept help in any form! One of the most important things is to encourage your husband to be as involved as possible, including taking paternity leave. You will need the support, and he will need the time to bond with your baby. If relatives or friends want to come stay with you to help out, arrange for them to come help you after your spouse goes back to work, not right when the baby arrives. When family or friends ask what they can do, take them up on it in ways that you find helpful (which is sometimes different than what they want to do). Have mother or MIL bring over precooked meals, do laundry, or watch the baby for a couple of hours while you nap. And if have any inkling that you need professional help, due to postpartum depression, a clogged milk duct, bleeding, insomnia or any other medical reason, ask for help -- immediately.

5. Don't worry if the house is a mess. You'll get back to normal eventually (in 20 years).

6. Figure out how many people you want around during the first few weeks, and under what circumstances. Your family and friends will want to be there, but they should be willing to give you space as well. Make your rules clear: no one arrives before breakfast, or everyone leaves before dinner, etc. Provide a list of convenient hotels, if you would rather have the house (and the baby) to yourself. It's OK to tell people you don't want visitors.

7. Fill the freezer with easy-to-make meals. You will forget to eat, so when you do remember, make eating nutritiously easy on yourself. Fill-the-freezer is a great shower theme, too.

8. Every day: Take a shower, brush your teeth, put on clean clothes, and go outside for a few minutes. Sounds simple, but these steps may save your sanity. At the same time, forget about your body for a while. Make sure you have some clothes to wear at first. Maternity clothes will be too big but your regular clothes will be too small. Yoga pants and big, button-down shirts are your friend. You have bigger priorities than the size of your butt.

9. Divide and conquer. It is silly for you, your spouse, your sister and your mom to do everything for the baby together. If the baby is sleeping, try to sleep; let someone else take the next shift. If you are nursing, have your spouse sleep while you feed the baby, so he can be rested when you need a break. If you are formula or bottle feeding, take turns.

10. Surrender to your lack of control, and try to enjoy the first weeks, which seem grueling and terrifying, but can be sweet (and brief). You have no idea how you will recover from labor, the problems facing your baby, etc. You can read all you want and still not be prepared for every possibility, for the postpartum hormones raging through your body, or for your mixed emotions upon becoming a mother. Maybe for the first time in your life, you just have to go where life takes you. When you are up in the wee hours of the morning with a tiny baby, let yourself feel the sweetness and wonder of that little person who depends on you for everything. Listen to her breathe and enjoy the beauty of your new life together.

Next week: Is it better to return to work when your kids are infants, teenagers, out of the house, or never? Send me your pros and cons for going back to work at different stages of parenthood so I can include them in next Monday's Top 10 Tips.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  May 12, 2008; 10:00 AM ET  | Category:  Top Ten Tips
Previous: Mother's Day | Next: The Green Argument for Telecommuting


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Comments

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"It takes at least six weeks to master any aspect of parenting."

This is bizarre. Whose wisdom is this?

Posted by: old mom | May 12, 2008 12:11 PM

What a good list! Definitely pay attention to the little one's personality! They will let you know what they need. It might also be good to add a weekend away before the baby comes so the parents can savor the last bit of the life they are leaving for their new adventure. And don't forget to save time for your husband after the baby comes! That bond is the foundation of your family. I look forward to hearing everyone's experiences with their newborns.

Posted by: FloridaChick | May 12, 2008 12:14 PM

Friday's blog was the best one in a long time.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2008 12:19 PM

Enjoy it! And if you don't enjoy it, don't worry about it and just get through it. Some of us call the first three weeks "baby bootcamp." At some point, you'll see the wonderfulness of it all.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | May 12, 2008 12:20 PM

1. pay attention to no one except you, your spouse, your new child, and any siblings of the new addition to your family.

2. perfect only happens in magazines, and television sitcoms. Stars in the tabloids have plenty of dough to pay someone for the things you are doing for yourself.

Posted by: anon for this | May 12, 2008 12:20 PM

I especially think that taking shifts is very helpful. My husband and I did this, and it worked great. When I was up with the baby, he tried to get a nap in, and visa versa. When we were both up but the baby was fussy, we took turns. He would take her for a little while so that I could do whatever, and then I would take her back so that he would do whatever. It was especially nice to have him home during those first few weeks that seem so unorganized.

The other thing that I had forgetten was to be patient with yourself. Your hormones might make you behave in freaky ways. When my daughter was born, I had a meltdown at the hospital that was very unusual for me, and freaked out on the nurses. A pain pill had fallen into the bed when I was being given my medication, and I became worried that it had been swallowed by my nursing baby. When the nurse blew me off, I basically freaked out, called the charge nurse, and made such a scene that three nurses ended up stripping the bed and looking through the room until the tiny pill was found and I could be convinced that the baby had not swallowed it. In fact, even though I had just had a c-section a day before, I was out of bed looking for the pill myself, and felt absolutely no pain in those three minutes that were spent looking for that pill. Adrenaline and hormones are a nasty combination.

Posted by: Emily | May 12, 2008 12:27 PM

(blank)

Posted by: much more clever than 12:19 | May 12, 2008 12:29 PM

The second and all following babies are easier, so whatever you missed the first time can be found with subsequent children.

Posted by: Get Real | May 12, 2008 12:37 PM

Apologies for the multiple tech problems this morning.

Posted by: Leslie | May 12, 2008 12:40 PM

"Nothing is more important than developing a relationship with and understanding of your new baby. Not visitors, not housework, not the drive to breastfeed, nothing."

What criteria does one use in defining the term "visitors" and how often they should visit? Are grandparents considered visitors and should follow the rules everyone else needs to follow? I usually don't visit a new mom until invited. Why put pressure on them by asking or just showing up? Even when my sis became a new mom I went with what her wishes were when it came to visits.

But what do you do about the pushy visitors? The one's who keep asking and put you in the position to be the bad guy and say no. I always wonder what I will do if I have a kid since the MIL and FIL are rather pushy and would probably want to stay over at our house the first month of it's life. Do you just allow them to stay, take advantage of the help and let the drama go even if you'd rather have privacy for YOUR new family? Are new grandparents just visitors or do they have more rights? Luckily my husband stands up to them, I just don't know if they'd take no for an answer.

Posted by: good visitor | May 12, 2008 1:02 PM

I suppose y'all will be wanting a Fred Top Ten List today given that Frieda and he have been thru this 4 times.

Hmmm. Let me try to remember, it is such a distant and faded memory!

Posted by: Fred | May 12, 2008 1:04 PM

One thing that worked for me is to encourage people to visit at the hospital. I was in the hospital 4 days with a c-section, and it was nice to have some guests after the first day. Also, you don't have to worry about taking care of the guests, since you are pretty much bedridden and they don't expect much other than to chat briefly and see the baby. I know some people don't want visitors at the hospital, but if you are feeling ok, it can sometimes work.

Posted by: Emily | May 12, 2008 1:11 PM

The best advice I ever got was from my best friends mom (a mother of 5). A crying baby is a breathing baby and if you are feeling overwhelmed, put the crying baby in a safe place (crib, bassinet, etc), on it's back and step outside for 5 minutes.

Posted by: LMK | May 12, 2008 1:11 PM

But what do you do about the pushy visitors? The one's who keep asking and put you in the position to be the bad guy and say no.

Psst...you don't answer the phone OR the door. Turn the ringer off.

Even grandparents on both sides of the marital aisle can benefit from the word "no". Best to get it out of the way, early.

Most grandparents taught their kids NOT to simply show up on someone's doorstep, uninvited and unexpected. Particularly around dinnertime. Newborn babys' dinnertimes vary wildly.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2008 1:12 PM

To good visitor -

I'm like you. I wait until I'm invited. And I don't have kids yet. But I think you, the new parents, decide if grandparents count as visitors or help.

There are lots of areas where new grandparents feel entitled - after all, they are excited, and they also love your new child. But as I keep reminding my own mother (my sister is expecting mom's 1st grandchild) there are things that a grandparent can hope for or wish for, but they can only comment on how happy they are if the new parents happen to have made the choice the new grandparent wanted. It came up this weekend with names - my mom wants my sister to name the baby for our grandmother. I will spend the next several months reminding my mother of the fact that she and my dad made the decisions they wanted for their family, and my sister and her husband will make the decisions they want. And mom doesn't get to be hurt because they end up picking a different name, or any of another small slights.

Posted by: to good visitor | May 12, 2008 1:13 PM

I second good visitor's question - would be glad for advice on this one. Not in my immediate future but I can definitely see my MIL wanting to be over ALL THE TIME and she drives me crazy even without postpartum hormones. My husband will support me but I would want to do the right thing by her and by us as well.

Posted by: tsp 2007 | May 12, 2008 1:16 PM

One thing that you can do to manage the vistors' issue to to simply deal with it head on. For example, you can email some baby pictures to your friends and relatives, introducing your baby, and add something about visiting. For example, if you want to reserve an afternoon for visitors, say something like, "If you want to come by and see the baby, we will be having an open house on Saturday afternoon for about an hour at 2 pm. Please feel free to drop by and take a peek at the baby. Other than that, or schedules are still unpredictable and we aren't up for much else for a while." Or if you don't want visitors, just say, "For the time being, we are trying to get the hang of this and won't be taking visitors for a few weeks. We will let you know as soon as we feel up to visiting with friends and family, and until then, we will keep in touch by email or phone."

Don't expect people to guess what you want.

Posted by: Emily | May 12, 2008 1:26 PM

Top Ten Tips for Keeping Your Sanity as a New Mom!

10. Buy a restaurant before pregnancy; have free take-out post partum!
9. Eat, sleep, poop, that is all a baby does. Follow the example!
8. Trade in hubby for a maid.
7. Hire Blackwater USA to handle your "visitors."
6. Kaboom is easier to spell than Onomatopoeia.
5. Rent a Monty Python movie, see what true insanity really is!
4. Have the Songster write a lullaby--to a Led Zeppelin song.
3. Valium for your mother; Prozac for your mother in law.
2. Paint the nursery soothing colors as baby poop yellow and milky white.
1. Trust Fred, in 6 months, you will barely remember! (Just hide the video until you're fifty!)

Posted by: Fred | May 12, 2008 1:28 PM

tsp 2007: i feel for ya. MIL has brought be to tears and I've never been pregnant so I don't know what adding hormones to the mix will do! They lived with us for a short time before and that was tough. I am an introvert and very private so I don't know if I'm being unreasonable or not sometimes when it comes to these things. But we figure that's the one time WE need to be comfortable above all else.

Posted by: good visitor | May 12, 2008 1:30 PM

No one wants you to stay for more than 20 minutes when you visit. And you absolutely, positively must call for permission to visit. Yes, that's permission, not to announce your arrival. I always offer to come in and listen for the baby while the mom takes a shower and a nap. It's worth much more than any casserole.

Posted by: babsy1 | May 12, 2008 1:31 PM

Oh yeah - and if you must show up uninvited or unannounced, take a casserole with you at least.

Posted by: Emily | May 12, 2008 1:32 PM

I second good visitor's question - would be glad for advice on this one. Not in my immediate future but I can definitely see my MIL wanting to be over ALL THE TIME and she drives me crazy even without postpartum hormones. My husband will support me but I would want to do the right thing by her and by us as well.

Posted by: tsp 2007 | May 12, 2008 1:16 PM

Why not have him take the baby (if/when) over to MIL regularly (say, once a fortnight if they're local). You go less frequently, and for shorter visits. Maybe once a month?

Don't feel obliged to make some sort of set-in-stone rules about it either. The last thing you want to do is create and then deal with "Marie" a la "Everybody Loves Raymond".

I LOATHE "Marie".

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2008 1:35 PM

Great tip Emily. A running friend did something similar - she made it clear that there would be no overnight guests for the first 6 weeks and that she wanted to bring her son home from the hospital with just her husband. If I ever kids I think that matches my comfort level. I have posted this here before but I also don't intend to share name choices ahead of time.

Personally I don't like visiting people in the hospital - I figure it's the last time the new mom might have time to nap/sleep. I also tend to wait to visit until after the first 2-3 weeks.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | May 12, 2008 1:37 PM

tsp 2007:

Start things off right. DO NOT ALLOW the in-laws to view you giving childbirth.

Trust me, once you get in practice to carving out your own family space, it gets easier on all concerned.

Practice early. Practice often. Introverts, unite!

Posted by: Maryland_mother | May 12, 2008 1:37 PM

Fred -- well done!!!

Good Visitor -- Hard one, but I found the best thing was to be really clear with spouse on this one. You get a good inkling of who is going to be pushy while you are pregnant. A good time to draw a line in the sand...with your spouse and your relatives.

My advice: Don't answer the phone or doorbell if you are not ready for visitors. Let people leave a message or a note. You control when and how you respond.

On our answering machine, I recorded a message that said "Baby Steiner arrived safe and sound on xyz date. Mom and baby are doing great. Please leave us a message and we will call you back sometime in the next 10 years."

Everyone laughed (and got the real message, which was that we were totally overwhelmed by the joyous event and needed time alone).

But the really hard thing about pushy relatives and friends is that often, you NEED those people in your baby's life for the longterm. They are part of the village.

The pushiest people are sometimes the exact same ones who you can call in an emergency to help you out. They also might be the ones who love your kids so much, that they would raise them if (god forbid) anything happened to you. So you actually want them to feel totally included in your family. A fine line...

Posted by: Leslie | May 12, 2008 1:47 PM

I'm in the minority on this, but I liked having visitors when babies were born. I loved to show them off. Both grandmas stayed for a week each, one after the other. Close family is local, so no other visitors stayed overnight.

On the in-law side, there was a family reunion when my firstborn was less than 2 weeks old. The reunion was 15 minutes away from my home. DH and I and new baby went to the reunion for several hours even though I had had a c-section.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2008 1:57 PM

I was so blessed to live just far enough away from all family members to not have to worry about drop-ins. Of course I invited my mother and my mother-in-law to travel to see the baby on our schedule...separately of course. It worked out beautifully.

I loved comment about starting things off right and not allowing in laws to view the birth. I wish I had been able to cut that one off at the pass. But quite frankly, both moms were quiet and appropriate.

And after I got the epidural I really could have cared less who was in there. I just wanted that baby out of me so we could finally meet eye to eye!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2008 1:58 PM

Sorry everyone, I meant to write "giving birth".

Coffee time.

MM

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2008 2:02 PM

Although I'm not really one of those people who loved having tons of visitors when the baby was born, I'm glad there is at least one person who does! It somehow seems the "right" way to be. I wish I was like that, but you just have to be honest with yourself (and your relatives) about what you can and cannot handle.

Posted by: Leslie | May 12, 2008 2:03 PM

Oh, my heavens, not a chance in h*ll of MIL being there when I give birth! Thanks for all the good advice... I think the 'Have him take baby over' will work well for us actually, that's a good idea. She is only 3 1/2 miles away but prefers us on her turf, and prefers to see her son all by himself anyway. And he can use the excuse that he's giving me some rest. Too bad he won't get any, LOL! Oh, despite all the craziness you all describe, I hope and pray I get to experience it all one day.

Posted by: tsp 2007 | May 12, 2008 2:18 PM

If I could add a tip:

If your hospital or any nearby organization has a class or a meeting for new parents, sign up immediately. You may not learn anything you don't already know, but you will meet other people in your same boat. With luck, some of these people will become lasting friends, and your child will get his or her first set of playmates.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 12, 2008 2:23 PM

Don't expect the new father to want to sit around the house all day holding his precious bundle of joy to fulfill some bonding requirement. He may want to spend his time off from work fixing the leaky faucet, screen door, and rotate the tires. This is his way of showing that he cares.

He may also need to get away from his MIL, SIL, and away from the talk of utoruses and birthing horror stories to work on his golf game and smoke cigars or something with his buddies to maintain his own personal sanit during this overwhelmingly women centric period of time. Don't worry, if he is a decent man, he will step up to the plate when the baby can do more than suck on nipples, cry, sleep, burp, stit up, pee and poop. Remember, he doesn't have the hormones to find this period of time as exciting as women do.

Posted by: Sanity for New Dads | May 12, 2008 2:24 PM

Remember, he doesn't have the hormones to find this period of time as exciting as women do.

Posted by: Sanity for New Dads | May 12, 2008 2:24 PM

Not true. Right after childbirth, new fathers also get a surge of estrogen. It's almost as though...get this...dads have a stake in taking care of their newborns.

Men's hormone concentrations shift significantly throughout the course of their wives' pregnancies and after the baby is born, according to a small, new study. While the study's research team didn't monitor parenting behaviors, animal studies indicate that hormones affect a male's willingness to take care of his offspring, says lead researcher Katherine E. Wynne-Edwards of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

Wynne-Edwards found that concentrations of the male sex hormone sex hormone
n.
Any of various steroid hormones, such as estrogen and androgen, affecting the growth or function of the reproductive organs and the development of secondary sex characteristics. testosterone testosterone /tes·tos·te·rone/ (tes-tos´te-ron?) the principal androgenic hormone, produced by the interstitial (Leydig) cells of the testes in response to stimulation by the luteinizing hormone of the anterior pituitary gland; it is thought to be responsible for regulation of gonadotropic secretion, spermatogenesis, and wolffian duct differentiation. in saliva were, on average, significantly lower in 13 first-time, expectant ex·pec·tant (k-spktnt)
adj. fathers compared with 14 childless guys. Testosterone concentrations began to rise in the dads soon after their wives gave birth, she says, but remained lower than those in the men who did not have children.


More soon-to-be dads had detectable amounts of estrogen, a female sex hormone, in their saliva than did men whose partners were not expecting, she reports. Estrogen concentrations rose after the birth of their children, Wynne-Edwards says.

The men in the study spat into test tubes at the same time every day. The researchers collected the vials and analyzed the contents for testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol cortisol /cor·ti·sol/ (-sol) the major natural glucocorticoid elaborated by the adrenal cortex; it affects the metabolism of glucose, protein, and fats and has mineralocorticoid activity. See hydrocortisone for therapeutic uses.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

cor·ti·sol , a stress hormone. Cortisol concentrations were lower in expectant dads than in the other men and did not change after the birth.

Fluctuations in hormone concentrations may trigger behavioral change, Wynne-Edwards says, but changes in behavior also lead to changes in hormone concentrations. She plans to explore this link by studying hamsters, a species in which low testosterone concentrations have already been linked with normal parental behaviors.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2008 2:28 PM

Dandylion, is that you?

Posted by: Emily | May 12, 2008 2:36 PM

New Mom: Are you ready kid?
Baby: Aye, Aye, captain!

New Mom: I said are you ready?
Baby: Aye, Aye captain

New Mom: I can't hear you!
New Mom: O, who has so many diapers no one can see?
Baby: Crazytime NewMom

New Mom: Throwing up and pooping all over me!
Baby: Crazytime NewMom

New Mom: A mother, a brother, they've all come to see!
Baby: Crazytime NewMom

New Mom: But not one of them really helps with the kiddie!
Baby: Crazytime NewMom

New Mom: Mother-in-law staying is just not for me!
Baby: Crazytime NewMom

Baby: One of those little white pills is waiting for thee!
New Mom: Crazytime NewMom

New Mom: If a cleansing shower be something you wish.
Baby: Crazytime NewMom

New Mom: Then jump into some water and swim like a fish.
All: Crazytime NewMom

All: Crazytime NewMom
All: Crazytime NewMom
All: Crazytime NewMom

New Mom: Crazytime NewMom! Ha, ha ha! Oh me aching back!

Posted by: Songster | May 12, 2008 2:37 PM

I wouldn't allow my own mother to view the birth. She and MIL were both there during labor, as long as the doctor was not actually examining me, but both were banished when it was time for birth. That was reserved for Mom and Dad only.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2008 3:00 PM

"Right after childbirth, new fathers also get a surge of estrogen."

And here I thought the breast enlargement was caused from all the extra effort at the gym. Now what am I supposed to do? Add a crying baby soundtrack to my MP3 player and listen to it while I work out?

I'd rather lose my sanity!

Posted by: Sanity for New Dads | May 12, 2008 3:04 PM

"Dandylion, is that you?"

Yes emily, tits me. How did you guess?

I hope you had a nice Mother's Day and a great cup of coffee. :-)

Posted by: DandyLion | May 12, 2008 3:14 PM

oh DL! how did *that* pass the wapo? not really

Posted by: dotted | May 12, 2008 3:21 PM

"Dandylion, is that you?"

Yes emily, tits me. How did you guess?

I hope you had a nice Mother's Day and a great cup of coffee. :-)


Posted by: DandyLion | May 12, 2008 3:14 PM

~ Let's just say you have a certain style, DL.

Emily - did you get your coffee made for you?!?

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | May 12, 2008 3:23 PM

"Yes emily, tits me. How did you guess?"

DL - you just crack me up. I could recognize you anywhere, I guess.

Posted by: Emily | May 12, 2008 3:25 PM

Yup, I got coffee. And a very sweet card from my son, with a poem that began "my mother is sweet like cake..." He is going to be such a heartbreaker one day.

My daughter, on the other hand, has decided that her way of telling me she is finished nursing is by biting me hard. She has too bottom teeth now, and they are very sharp.

Posted by: Emily | May 12, 2008 3:29 PM

"Right after childbirth, new fathers also get a surge of estrogen."

And here I thought the breast enlargement was caused from all the extra effort at the gym. Now what am I supposed to do? Add a crying baby soundtrack to my MP3 player and listen to it while I work out?

I'd rather lose my sanity!

Posted by: Sanity for New Dads | May 12, 2008 3:04 PM

Another view is that childbirth historically has had enormously high rates of maternal death, so a dad-to-be may have had to be better motivated in order to keep his little genetic bundle of joy alive. Hence the little surge of happy hormones.

Anyone can learn how to milk a sheep, goat or cow in order to keep his or her kid alive. If they had access to one, that is.

Try to keep in mind that this elevation is akin to women who have naturally higher amounts of testosterone circulating (top-performing saleswomen, historically). Not enough to fundamentally alter you. You aren't going to lactate. You may feel and act more gently with your child than you would otherwise.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2008 3:29 PM

I meant to say TWO bottom teeth.

Posted by: Emily | May 12, 2008 3:30 PM

Emily - ouch! Your card sounds lovely.

I made my mother's coffee, bought pastries and the NY Times and gave her first dibs on as many sections as she wanted.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | May 12, 2008 3:49 PM

Product of a Working Mother - your mother's day sounds fabulous. I used to love to sit around on Sunday and read the NY Times over coffee and bagels. Afterwards, I would get dressed and meet friends at the movies. Those were the good old days. Sigh.

Posted by: Emilhy | May 12, 2008 5:00 PM

some moms may find those first 6 weeks "exciting", but i certainly didn't... between recovery from childbirth and its (significant) aftereffects, learning to breastfeed (and all that goes with THAT), postpartum hormonal crashing, new mom anxiety, and sleep deprivation, my opinion has long been that the first 6 weeks pretty much suck. feeling that way sometimes doesn't make you a bad mom. the worst part of being a first-time parent is that you don't know how quickly things will get better.

i've already read my best tip among these comments: MAKE SOME FRIENDS. get to know other new moms--first-time moms, with babies around the same age as yours, either through your hospital or your neighborhood or a class at your gym, whatever. i hooked up with a new mom group at my hospital when my daughter was born, and 5 1/2 years later there are still almost a dozen of us who get together weekly with ALL our kids (and by now there are a lot of them!). those women will save your sanity more times than you can count.

another tip: if you haven't already given birth, make a trip to the drugstore. pick up tucks pads, dermaplast, calendula or lanolin ointment, ice packs (small ones), stool softener, and LOTS of ibuprofen. you may not need all of it, but you'll be really glad to have whatever you DO need on hand!


Posted by: vikki Engle | May 12, 2008 5:10 PM

another tip: if you haven't already given birth, make a trip to the drugstore. pick up tucks pads, dermaplast, calendula or lanolin ointment, ice packs (small ones), stool softener, and LOTS of ibuprofen. you may not need all of it, but you'll be really glad to have whatever you DO need on hand!

LOL - This is a very good tip.

Posted by: Emily | May 12, 2008 5:20 PM

Grocery List: Spinach. Lots of spinach.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2008 5:53 PM

I LOVE IT that people remember our inside jokes.

Posted by: Emily | May 12, 2008 6:03 PM

Oh, and I meant to add earlier:

While I agree generally that it's good to be prepared before the baby comes, it's not necessary to have everything you could possibly need (aside from the personal items Vikki mentioned). Chances are, you won't know until you've put in some baby time exactly what works and doesn't work, anyway.

And don't underestimate the restorative value of an "emergency" trip to Target, especially if you can con a family member into watching the baby for an hour. We went when DD was a week old. It was DH's and my first trip out of the house without the baby, and it felt wonderful. It was a nice little oasis of normal in an otherwise bewildering week.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 12, 2008 6:06 PM

And don't underestimate the restorative value of an "emergency" trip to Target, especially if you can con a family member into watching the baby for an hour. We went when DD was a week old. It was DH's and my first trip out of the house without the baby, and it felt wonderful. It was a nice little oasis of normal in an otherwise bewildering week.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 12, 2008 6:06 PM

This is so true! I remember that every night my husband got home from work I would take a trip to the grocery store or drug store or whatever place I could come up with just to regain a bit of sanity if only for an hour.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 12, 2008 6:38 PM

Was that fresh or frozen?

Posted by: Spinich | May 12, 2008 7:02 PM

Either fresh or frozen is fine. Just make sure it's cold.

Posted by: Emily | May 12, 2008 7:11 PM

Frieda's comment,

Use the hospital staff to control your visitors. If you are just too exhausted, in pain, whatever, a request to the nurse to limit or end those insufferable visits, will be honored!

Posted by: Fred | May 12, 2008 7:54 PM

My biggest rule would be not to make ironclad rules ahead of time and to lower your standards--on just about everything.

When I had my second, my first and her father promptly came down with a dread virus in the two days I was in the hospital. The overnight grandparent visitors who seemed ahead of time like they might be too much turned into the calvary arriving just in time. One took one wing of the house and the sickies (including my 2.5 year old) and my dad (who is good with babies) did all the stuff my husband had planned to do.

Except for spending a great deal of time after my 2.5 recovered having to court her because I had "abandoned her in her time of need," it all worked much better than anyone had a right to expect.

Posted by: Sheryl | May 12, 2008 9:44 PM

Before you give birth - educate yourself on post-partum depression. Be sure to tell someone if you don't feel good - esp. your doctor.

And if you don't want to, don't answer the phone, doorbell, etc. Just snuggle with baby and kiss her little head and watch her tiny, peaceful face. Being alone with the baby was my favorite time. I found people who wanted to visit, even very people I loved, very draining - as if I had to entertain. Even if the visitor didn't realize it - stayed only 20 minutes, etc., I still felt drained.

The only visitors I enjoyed showed up with food, cleaned the dishes, folded and PUT away laundry, told me I looked beautiful, went on a short walk with me and then left. The ones I had to sit around with and chit chat while they held the baby wore me out, because all that other stuff had to be done and they were sort of in the way.

Posted by: Amelia | May 12, 2008 10:10 PM

My advice would be to get one's husband to help out, doing overnight diaper changes on the weekend, holding crying baby, etc. Some men may argue that women "enjoy" this more because of our hormones, but this is just BS that is aimed at trying to get out of the hard work of taking care of a newborn baby. No one enjoys being up for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for 6 - 8 weeks. No one enjoys listening to someone crying for hours on end, weeks on end. Men have to step up to the plate and help out, if they want their child, their spouse, and their marriage, to thrive.

Posted by: middle70 | May 12, 2008 10:42 PM

I think I'm the second person her to love having guests after having a baby.

With my second baby most of my guests brought food. I enjoyed the fun and company. The helped with the baby. I wasn't paranoid about them transmitting their germs to the baby because they are all clean folks who take baths and I saw them washing their hands.

My Mom was with me for 8 weeks after baby number one but she had passed on by baby number two.

I welcome overnight guests any day because they know that they are there to help and yes, help they do.

Bathe baby, feed Momma, pick up after everybody and how do I pay them back? Just the unequalled joy of being around my baby.

Hey folks, relax and enjoy company. It is the only way to prevent post-partum depression.

And if you don't have space in your house for overnight guests, I suggest you tell your friends that, "You can always come by tomorrow and have the baby all to your self while I sleep, and by the way, I haven't been to the hairdresser in a while so you can watch the baby while I do that. If you can cook, fine, otherwise, here's the take out menu for a Chinese restaurant" It works for your friends, family and in-laws.

Posted by: Love Guests | May 14, 2008 12:34 PM

Where is the top ten list for NOW? Now that I have survived the beginning and have survived the initial return to work; where do I find how to actually do this day in and day out? How am I to do it all? How?

Posted by: WonderWoman | May 21, 2008 12:50 PM

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