Well our baby has arrived. After a very chaotic day of minor contractions while attending an OBGYN appointment in the city and running errands, that evening found us fighting rush hour traffic to get back downtown as my labor contractions hit hard late afternoon! Our little guy, Clinton (Clint), arrived at 1:52 in the morning on June first after a relatively quick labor and a speedy delivery. To say you have no idea how much you can love someone until you have a child is undoubtedly true. I kept waking up and poking Clint just to make sure he was okay and I still think he’s the cutest thing ever created.
We went home on Friday and the first few days and nights were rough, babies apparently have their days and nights confused which makes for a lot of long nights. Thankfully, Clint took to nursing easily after a couple of days and has been packing on the pounds ever since. We have established a relatively consistent schedule, and there have been two nights where I have been able to get four hours of consecutive sleep! He has already outgrown his newborn clothes and while I long to for full nights of sleep, I also know time will be going by all too quickly now. Dahu has proven a great, and surprisingly gentle, watchdog. She’s still working on some things but the most she’ll do is sniff him during tummy time, and even more intensely when he has a dirty diaper.
While we have years of learning experiences to come, here is some new parenting insight I can offer thus far:
- Don’t sweat what’s in your hospital bag. All really needed was clothes for the baby and I to go home in, though I could have even worn what I wore in, the clean clothes were nice.
- Stock up on freebies. When going to get the car, Tom had his hands full and then some. Take all the diapers and supplies you can get your hands on. We were also told the hospitals baby blankets, though not too cute, were excellent for swaddling once you got home.
- Don’t let the crying drive you insane. Clint isn’t too fussy. When he is, it’s pretty minor, unless it’s bath time, tummy time, or during a diaper change. He’s rather dramatic during all three. Babies sense stress and if you’re getting worked up, it will only make the baby worse. Stay calm and do the best you can. Easier said than done, I know, but I’m determined to raise calm children and this is the best method I know of at the moment.
- Sleep when they sleep. Sometimes. It sounds crazy, but maybe you’re too sleep deprived to sleep. Or maybe you need to use that nap time to do things around the house, take a shower, or just sit and do nothing for the first time in a few days. Eventually those naps will be used to run errands with him in the carrier and to get back into a workout regime, but for the first few weeks give yourself a break.
- Follow a healthy diet. If you’re breast feeding, drink as much water as you can stand. It helps your milk supply and it makes sure you and baby don’t get dehydrated. I eat three meals and two snacks, even if I don’t feel all that hungry. Otherwise, I start to get lightheaded or worse, hunger hits in the middle of a breast feeding marathon where I can’t move from the couch for and hour or more. Limit your carbs, stock up on protein and vegetables.
- They don’t need to be in a new ensemble everyday. Currently, I change his onesie every one to two days – obviously more if there’s spit up or a poop situation, or if he’s just had a bath. But keep the outfits simple. A onesie, socks, and baby mittens to keep them from scratching themselves is more than sufficient, especially for summer. Cover them in blankets when outside or during naps, and at night pajamas with buttons over his day outfit is our go to. The buttons let you take off the pj’s from the waist down for diaper changes without a drastic temperature change for the baby. I couldn’t imagine wrestling with pants or shorts every diaper change, regardless of how cute they made him look.
- Use your resources to your advantage. I feel badly for my mom. Every time she comes for a visit, she ends up helping me clean the house. I do what I can each day, typically one thing gets done: a load of laundry, sweeping the floors, wiping down the kitchen, but that’s my max. As it should be. Your priority is the baby, not a meticulous home, even though that admittedly drives me crazy at times.
- Read and sing to them. This study addresses the benefits of reading to your child beginning in infancy. Plus, it’s a wonderful bonding experience and a way for them to be exposed to the English language outside of all the baby talk they will have to endure. On that note, some baby talk is okay. I get it, they are really cute. However, you can always tell the children whose parents have actual conversations with them. They’re more rational, calmer, and are honestly more pleasant to be around than other children of that age.
- Don’t rush feedings. Feed them as much as they want, burp them properly, and rock them a bit before putting them back down. We have Clint in a swing during the day and his crib at night. The swing isn’t always on, as I don’t want him to get used to that! To shortcut feedings when you’re tired is tempting. Even when you don’t rush through things, they often fuss for an hour afterwards. Doing the process full out increases the likelihood they will sleep better, and for longer. Also, change their diaper whenever they wake up for feedings. Don’t wait until the diaper smells, is ready to explode, or there has already been a blowout! That makes everyone cranky.
- Bonus hospital tip: get the epidural (if you want)! I was determined to have a natural childbirth. How bad can it be? I thought! The contractions were bad on the way to the hospital, and once we arrived, they grew even worse. Like can’t talk, can’t breathe, pain in my abdomen and back and legs! We were at one of the best, if not the best, women’s hospitals in the city so when the time came, I opted for the epidural. Doing so allowed both of us to get some sleep before the delivery and made the delivery itself much less stressful for everyone involved. To each their own, but if you are comfortable with getting an epidural and have a knowledgeable medical staff on your side, I recommend it.