I’m coming up on the end of my 6 weeks of maternity leave, and though I am semi-dreading this next stage of our lives that will include leaving my little girl with someone else, I’m choosing to trust that God will continue to care for and love Eden. I have to remind myself that he is HER God too, not just mine.
I had some ideas of what maternity leave was going to be like that are comical to look back at now, so for your enjoyment here are some do’s and don’ts of being at home with a new baby.
DO remember to eat. Once everyone went back to work and people stopped bringing meals, I stopped eating breakfast and lunch. Such a bad idea. Some people say they were hungry all the time postpartum, but I was not at all. Do yourself a favor and eat!
DON’T let yourself be lonely. I found it easy to feel sorry for myself when everybody was doing their own thing and I was left alone to care for this creature that was either demanding food or excreting it. First of all, though it can be difficult, it was HUGE for me to learn to talk to Eden even though she wasn’t responding. Secondly, all of those people who said to let them know if they could do anything for me loved to know that what I needed the most was company.
DO make yourself some goals. My sister helped me make a list of 10 goals that I have been loosely following. Don’t turn it into a pass/fail thing, just think of some things that you want to try to do. Some of my list were finishing my wedding scrapbook (not done), starting a photo album for Eden (done), sending my baby shower thank you notes (not done), and trying cloth diapers (done).
DON’T give up when it gets hard. Specifically for cloth diapering and breastfeeding, which are two things that many people try and end up quitting. (Just as a disclaimer, many people want to breastfeed and are unable to for various reasons. When I say don’t give up I am talking about general surmountable issues.) The best breastfeeding advice I got was this: the first two weeks will suck. It just hurts, and there isn’t much you can do to make it not hurt. Keep yourself moisturized and cry if you need to. With cloth diapering the best thing for me was to get cute diapers. Is that vanity? I’m 100% more likely to enjoy saving money if I can diaper my baby in cute patterns.
DON’T get carried away with baby junk. Just because you decide to cloth diaper does not mean you should buy a ton of them. Just because your baby is in newborn clothes longer than you anticipated doesn’t mean that the 6-10 outfits you have are not enough. Just because the adorable baby accessory is on sale does not mean that you need it. YOUR BABY IS GOOD ENOUGH AS IS. I have made many early morning nursing session impulse buys on my cell phone that were absolutely unneccessary.
DO take this opportunity to nap. One thing I have LOVED about maternity leave is the ability to laze around in bed until 10am if we were up a lot during the night. When I can put Eden down for a nap and go down with her are some of the best times. I am totally not looking forward to having to be an adult and function in public after a hectic night.
DO pay attention to your baby. It is really easy to rock, nurse and burp the baby while looking at your cell phone or the TV. I’ve had to train myself to spend that time looking at Eden, touching her ears and nose, holding her little hands, talking to her and telling her how much I love her. Facebook will still be there once she falls asleep.
DON’T worry so much about the current baby care trends. “They” change their minds every few decades about how babies should be put down to sleep, right now it is on their backs with no blankets or anything close enough to suffocate on. When I was a baby it was prop them on their sides, before that they wanted you to put them on their tummies. Just figure out how your baby sleeps best and be intelligent about what is in the sleeping area. My friend’s mom who has raised 20+ babies says that the best way to put them to sleep is on top of a hot water bottle on their stomach. Go figure.
DO remember that you are more than just a mom. Being a good wife is still important, even when you are tired and smell like spoiled milk. Being a good friend, sister and daughter are all things that need to be on your radar. Remember that you have other hobbies, even though they may not stir your interest as much as doing another internet search for articles on the best baby carriers.
DO let other people experience your baby. Nothing melts my heart like watching Jason and Eden together, or seeing my parents eager to fill their new roles as Grandma and Granddaddy. It can be tempting to give too much advice because you are the one who knows her idiosyncrasies or you just read this article about a topic, but I’ve found that I am the most satisfied when I let them experience it themselves. So I may want to jump in when I think someone is patting her back too hard or puts her diaper on too loose, but I learned those things by trial and error, and they need to build their own personal relationship with Eden that doesn’t include me. Sometimes the best thing is to sit back and let them learn about her in their own way.
Okay, advice column is over. I’m breaking the “sleep while the baby sleeps rule” very badly right now, so I’m going to get on that.