Our little munchkin will already be one month old this week, so I would like to sum up what living with a newborn is like-or can be like as I honestly have to say I had so many preconceptions on things that turned out to be different or wrong and I was worried and over anxious about many things that in reality turned out to be very easy.
I think this will be an encouraging post for all first time pregnant ladies and people who think about having children.
This is probably the thing most people are scared about and I can’t count how many people said to me things like “Try to get as much sleep as you can before the baby comes, you won’t have any once she is here” etc. I was very worried about this as lack of sleep really affects my mood at the best of times.
Admittedly, the first two or three nights I didn’t get much more than between 3 and 5 hours of sleep which had more to do with the hospital environment and nurses walking into my room at all sorts of times during the night than it had to do with Ella.
From the very first day she was a chilled out, easy going little girl and she was happily feeding, sleeping and getting cuddles and only ever cried when she was hungry.
We came up with a sleep rota which means I go to bed between 8 and 9pm and A brings her up around midnight. I usually get up with her once between 3 and 4 am, we then go back to sleep until sometime between 7 and 8 am. This way both A and myself get at least 7 hours sleep each night.
And yes I am breastfeeding, however I am also expressing milk, so A can give her a bottle at night. This is all working really well and on the odd night that I do get less sleep eg when Ella isn’t well, I don’t even notice I am tired on the next day as I am constantly busy.
2. Newborn Care
I was really overwhelmed when reading baby books during pregnancy. Don’t bathe them with any bathing foam in the beginning, don’t cut their bails but bite them off, make sure the bedroom has the right temperature, make sure the bath has the right temperature, the bottle…..there seemed to be a frightening number of rules and the more frightening prospect of getting it wrong. I was terrified at times. To the point that I said to A I would never carry her up and down the stairs as I got paranoid I would drop her.
Let me tell you something: Newborn care is not rocket science. It is common sense.
Forget about the books and forums. Just go with your instinct. Feel your baby’s temperature, if you think she is too hot, take a layer of or use a thinner blanket.
When she scratches her pretty face like our baby does, cut her nails with baby scissors. I promise you won’t cut her finger.
Common sense people. You really don’t need the books.
In the UK there is a huge pressure on women to breastfeed. So much that for example the shop “Boots” won’t give people advantage points on their shop cards if they buy formula. Kind of ridiculous really.
Yes, of course, it is proven that it is the best milk for babies. When I was pregnant I had no doubt I would try to breastfeed Ella, however the more I read and spoke to people the more anxieties I had around breastfeeding.
Most women I met who had babies told me they didn’t breastfeed or only did it for a few days until they cried all day with exhaustion. I read stories about babies that wouldn’t be put down ever, that have “cluster feeds” (so basically are on the boob 24/7). I read about leaks and leaking boobs ruining people’s sex life.
The last few months before giving birth I was apprehensive to a point that I didn’t think I would be able to do it.
Straight after the birth Ella latched on like a pro and so we started breastfeeding. It didn’t feel like I had to do anything, she just naturally seemed to know what to do and would feed every three to four hours.
On my first morning in the hospital, we had a visitor from a group A and I secretly call the Breastfeeding Mafia. It is a volunteer group in the UK that encourages women to breastfeed. They support them and show them how to feed if there are problems. They visit each room with their knitted boobies (no joke!) and dolls to demonstrate the best ways for the baby to latch on. Our breastmafia visitor was puzzled when she saw how well Ella was drinking and visibly disappointed she didn’t have anything to teach us.
And so here we are, one month on, still breastfeeding. I have to admit, it is hard, it is tiring and it takes up a lot of your time. I won’t do it forever and I still firmly believe that it should be every woman’s choice to decide if she wants to breastfeed or not.
I feel happy knowing my baby gets the goodness and antibodies that only breastmilk can produce, but at the same time I am aware that it takes a lot of self sacrifices and simply won’t be practical in the long run if we want to resume a busy social life. Foremost a baby needs a happy, relaxed and well functioning mum. Period.
4. Social time
Okey, this is where I finally DO notice having a baby. Yes I have turned into one of these terrible people who never call their friends back or even send a text to say “I am sorry I missed your call”. Most calls or texts seem to come in when I am feeding Ells, changing her nappy or clothes (or mine. clothes, not nappy!) or start the laundry. Most started replied from my end usually end mid sentence for the same reason. If I do remember I have a message to reply to in the first place. I don’t blame any of my friends if they get annoyed. I used to despise people like me.
Even this blog I have been writing on, on and off for a week.
This isn’t the only social time that is effected though, also A and I get to spend very little time together. He usually comes home at 6 and I go to bed around 8pm to get enough sleep. In these 2 hours we are both busy with Ella, getting dinner on, washing up etc etc. We miss each other terribly.
I try to focus on the fact though that things will get a lot better in that regard once she starts sleeping through the night. And luckily there are still weekends 🙂
5. Facebook-Sharing your baby with the world
To my great relief having a baby has not turned me into one of these people who have their baby’s face as their profile picture and update the world about their baby’s sleep pattern, feeds and poo colour in hourly cycles. I still realize this is interesting for about three people: me, A and maybe my mum. So no baby updates. No daily photo updates either.
I have a friend with a now six month old baby. When he first rolled over she put three videos on Facebook. The first two were his attempts and the third one him actually rolling over. Madness.
6. So what is it like?
Having a newborn is so much easier and so much better than I could ever have imagined. So much that I can’t wait to do it again!