by Jovanna Acevedo Quesada
You've arrived at home with your wee bundle, probably still feeling a bit "out of it," and feel like you should have had a pad of sticky notes handy to tape to your forehead, such as "food goes in the mouth" and "change the diaper as needed."
Judging from the bunches of new parents' questions we hear in our Pregnancy.org communities, those instructions aren't always enough.
It's a bit of a myth that parenting just comes naturally, or relies purely on common sense. As a community of parents, we learn to know better.
You've put the car in park now, and are just about ready to open the door to your home. You remind yourself to keep breathing. You've just entered into a whole new zone - the parenting zone.
We believe that every parent deserves to know what to expect. We're hoping this list helps to paints a more realistic picture of life with your new tiny tot.
Babies Don't Sleep
A newborn sleeps 16 to 20 hours a day. Actually a newborn naps multiple times a day. However, it never seems to be in long enough stretches for you do actually sleep through a complete cycle. Try these tips to battle new baby fatigue:
- Do you find yourself sending pictures at 3 a.m.? Feel like it's not worth heading to bed when the baby will be up in a few minutes anyway? Diana Lynn Barnes, president of Postpartum Health International suggest getting off your feet even if you don't sleep; "Just lying down for a half hour can be very restorative."
- Are you tempted to decompress in front of a computer or television? That might be counterproductive because the light from the computer or television can be very stimulating and keep you up. Instead try reading or listening to music.
- Keep the baby close. Scoop your little one up, feed and put back in the bassinet. Your feet never have to touch the cold floor.
- Limit your reliance on "liquid sleep." That first thing in the morning cup of coffee can jolt you to alertness, but overdoing it masks your need for sleep, and might prevent you from falling asleep when you finally lie down.
- Remember sleeplessness isn't forever. Most babies settle into a pattern of longer stretches of night time sleep at about two or three months of age.
You Will Question Your Sanity
New motherhood (and fatherhood) stretches you (and we mean more than the chest on your t-shirt). New demands, less sleep, more responsibilities all contribute to events that might have you shaking your head. Have you talked to a grocery bag on your hip? Asked where the baby was only to find that precious bundle in your arms? Heard your breast pump talking to you?
You're not alone. Really! Other moms experience 'crazy' happenings and wonder if along with they brought a mental disorder home with the new babe. If only you knew! Do you have a story to share? Add it to comments! We'd love to hear your new-momma induced lapse from the normal.
Burps Sometimes Include "Spews"
Be prepared. That is all! That new swaddling blanket could come in handy.
White is Out
We're not referring to after labor day. White isn't going to necessarily work in your new mommy wardrobe. You could try to coordinate clothing with your child's menu. Cereal today? How about desert camouflage? Carrots or squash? We suggest a bright floral print. Even milk stains are not white so white must be removed from your closet (or shoved back well out of reach).
Murphy's Law Exists
"Emergencies" happen. That's just life. You'll leave the house for a "quick errand" without the diaper bag and bingo, you're not a happy camper and neither is baby who really needs a diaper change!
Something that's clever to do is toss together an "OMG! I can't believe this happened" kit or bag to keep in the car. It can be a change of clothes for baby, diapers, wipes, a clean shirt for you, and something to help entertain during unexpected delays. You'll be happy you did!
Your Body Changes
Your body knows about the baby. Your breasts grow and maybe sag a little. Your hips widen, and forget their once original size. Stretch marks befriend your stomach and become a badge of honor. Your feet grow mysteriously because you noticed your size 7 shoes no longer fit. Carrying your baby altered your body and not for the worse -- now you're a beautiful momma. There are lots of ways to handle these changes, from balanced diets to new exercise routines. Take your time and figure out what works for you.
You'll Never Experience Quiet Again
Well, that's not completely true. Babies are generally quiet when they sleep. So quiet sometimes you sneak to peek just to "make sure" everything is okay.
However, parents recognize that the moment a child enters our homes, that usual silence we may have been used to ceases to exist.
Now you hear the coos of your newborn, the emphatic independence of a two-year-old, the excitement of a four-year-old or the peaceful breathing of a sleeping child. You don't hear silence. It has moved away. You can try to capture some quiet in an elusive bubble bath -- the ultimate fantasy, right?
Babies Lack Patience
Your baby wants "that" now! Actually the small tyrant thinks that if you had been on task, you would have anticipated and been prepared ten minutes ago. Babies do develop patience, but usually not until they move away from home. Even then, a parent can wonder when "it" will happen.
Tasks become more complex. Laundry requires six baskets, two detergents and a huge block of time. A quick jaunt to the store requires a trip planner. Unfortunately while you dread dragging everything to the store, you might find yourself making extra trips because you forget the one item you needed. But that's okay because you have another opportunity to show off your adorable, clever, beautiful (insert proper adjective) baby.
Babies and Paparazzi
You might notice that your baby has attracted a throng of paparazzi. Okay, journalists probably aren't on the other side of that lens, but grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and (we blush to admit this) you and the daddy.
Tell us what your biggest new-parent surprise is!
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