Last night we were with three other couples - all newly formed or forming families................it's so fun to see and be part of families at the beginning. To know adults before parenthood sets in, to journey with them and see who they become. It's been interesting to be the first ones in some ways - the first to go through so many milestones and to be the first with more than just one.....there was much talk last night of pregnancy, of sleeping and lives changing. There was much discussion of what to do and how you survive and what is it REALLY like................
How on earth do you prepare yourself for those first brutal few weeks of waking ALL THE TIME? There is no night and day, just one long endless feeding...............
The couple with the newest baby and all the rest of us assured you just do it. You adjust, you get use to it. You become people who don't sleep and you marvel at how you are able to keep your head up and still accomplish things and get through life.
But amidst all this talk the one without the children, without the babies, the one still who sleeps probably said the best words. The words that still ring true today as I parent............
I would imagine you also just follow your instincts. You trust your gut.
I think that's what you have to do.
We are a world bombarded with information, with opinions, with absolutes depending on are you a crunchy mom or silky mom. It's so hard to know what's right and what's going to permanently HARM YOUR BABY FOR LIFE. So when you are a new mom with little sleep, hormones that are acting a little crazy, your first babe in arms you want to just do what is just right......and there are so many books, people, blogs that will tell you just what that is........according to them. My advice to new moms is to do what you gotta do to survive. Trust your instinct. You know the things you SHOULD NEVER, EVER do - no sleeping on the stomach, don't leave your baby on the changing table, etc. The rest is up to you and your baby and what it takes to survive those first brutal weeks.
I was petrified with Sofia of doing the WRONG thing - what would people say - ah the horror! What if they saw me with a bottle? What if they saw her crying? What if she wasn't on a schedule? What if she wouldn't sleeping in her crib? What if? What if? What if?
After we didn't ruin Sofia for life and we survived her infancy I was more relaxed about the next few, at least, relaxed in the fact that I thought we did ok. We knew what we were doing for our babies, that what we did worked for us. For the most part, she did sleep always in her crib. We swaddled for months and months. We didn't change her diaper that often at night (though Joe says we did but I know there were many nights we did not - when they start sleeping through the night they lay in that thing for HOURS AND HOURS - so there is nothing wrong with not changing every time when they are getting up more frequently). We tried to give a little bit more breastmilk in a bottle at the last feeding to try to stretch that first hour of sleep during the night. With Nico, he slept in a bouncy chair for the first few months of life (what a life saver that was!) but he was still in the crib. Binkies were used and used with fervor! We had 20 stashed around the house by the time Nico was here (And Fia used hers until her FOURTH BIRTHDAY - judge if you will, Francesca never took one).
So new moms, do what you have to do and trust your instinct. Learn to get some sleep and some time for yourself, however that looks. If to you that means holding your baby while they sleep and watching some tv, just do it. If that means having your husband do the last feeding with a bottle of formula before bed, just do it. If that means driving around town with your sleeping baby in the back of the car and grabbing a coke and sitting in the parking lot of Burger King for some peace and quiet, just do it.
Survival looks different to everyone.......and what a miracle that we all do survive and so do our children :)