Holy hell, that was a nightmare.
I’m referring to my first two weeks as a mother at home with what others refer to as my ‘bundle of joy’. Bundle of ‘joy’ my arse! Ahem… excuse me… why did no-one tell me how effing terrible those first two weeks are!??
Let me be real for a minute… because for all of the preparing I did for the hideous labour I really wish someone told me about the hell of the first two weeks. I would have spent more time mentally preparing for that! Okay… maybe I’m being a little harsh – I guess not everyone experiences this same overwhelming sense of torture…Not everyone thinks their child may be the spawn of satan once they bring it home. Not everyone has a hard time breastfeeding and getting the whole ‘latch’ under control – but some do – and so, here is the unfiltered, raw reality of what you may be likely to go through once you leave the security of the midwives and take your baby home.
1. You’re an emotional wreck. Your hormones are all over the shop and the tiniest of incidences can bring you to your knees. Let the flood gates open.. there will be tears…
Tip: Keep tissues close by and chocolate on hand. Let your partner know that it’s just hormones and not to go into panic mode… but then send him/her out for more chocolate.
2. Breastfeeding sucks, but it is a necessary evil if you’re not into formula. You will feel as though the only thing you do all day and night is breastfeed, and damn, is it boring. I had cracked, bleeding nipples, which made the never-ending feeds PAINFULLY boring.
Tip: Hydrogel Discs and Lansinoh cream. Pop the Hydrogel discs in the fridge before putting them on your nipples… damn it is relieving. Also – if your nipples start to have chunks come off them, forget nipple shields, just start expressing… It will take the pressure off and pain away. Just express until they’ve healed and then pop the kid back on your boob when they’re recovered. This does pass, and breastfeeding gets easier by about week 3-4… in the meantime, do whatever you need to get through each feed.
3. There is no time for prepping meals, but you are bloody hungry all the time from breastfeeding. Get some good meals cooked up and into the freezer before baby arrives. There will be no time for cooking in those first 2 weeks, and take away meals can get boring, repetitive and expensive.
Tip: Pasta sauces, soups and slow cooked stews or curries are my top suggestions. Pop on some microwave rice to and heat them up and you’re away. Also – if anyone offers to come over to visit – don’t be afraid to ask them to bring you lunch or snacks… they will be happy to help. (Especially when they see how god damn tired you look).
4. You will forget what a good sleep feels like. At best, you will be getting chunks of 1 or 2 hours sleep for those first two weeks. If you have a magical unicorn baby, or if you’re formula feeding, you might get more like 3 or 4… but most new mums I’ve spoken to only get 1 – 2 hours at a time. When they tell you to sleep when baby sleeps, do. Maybe use one of the morning sleeps to jump in the shower, but for every other patch of sleep your baby falls into – jump into bed. It is the only way to cope.
Tip: Express one of your night feeds for your partner to take care of for you so you can get an extra hour or two. 4 hours sleep will feel like a luxury and will keep your spirits high.
5. Cabin Fever sets in. Get your baby into the pram or the ergo/bjorn immediately and get out into the fresh air with your partner. Sunshine and fresh air, no matter how tired you are, is excellent medicine and will make you feel human again.
Tip: Going to your local cafe for a quick coffee makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something for the day… and you’ll like your baby more when everyone else points out how beautiful it is… helps to justify the sleepless nights and bleeding nipples.
6. A mothers intuition beats a text-book. Don’t underestimate your instincts. I made the mistake of googling just about everything my baby was doing in a bid to diagnose the problem and get a prescribed solution. But reading books like “save our sleep” and referring to too many baby forums can get really overwhelming… in the end, I just put the books down, and switched off the internet (except for social media stalking during night feeds) and used my instincts and baby to tell me what to do, and that seemed to make everyone happier and more settled.
Tip: baby’s gut is in overdrive trying to cope with milk and all of the changes since being outside… lots of babies will therefore have lots of tummy pains, wind and a real kaleidoscope of poo colours from yellow to mustard to green! It’s all normal. No need to google ‘poo’, you will only be subjected to hideous dirty nappy images that won’t make you feel any more reassured… just go with it. As long as your baby is feeding and putting on weight, its all good.
7. Go the F*ck to sleep. There are a bunch of settling techniques that have all worked at different times to get baby to sleep. I’ve tried all of them… swaddling, rocking, swaying, fit ball bouncing, bathing, Ergo baby carrier, car capsule, dummies, pram pushing, crying, white noise, nursery rhymes, more boob – a combination of several of these done simultaneously. All have worked at different times…and sometimes never again.
Tip: the ergo has narcoleptic powers for my bub especially when he’s overtired or windy… give it a whirl. They might scream when first popped in there, but walk for 100m and watch those eyes roll back and body go limp. Works every time, and you get two hands free to get stuff done around the house! Win-win!
8. Have a shower every day. Its amazing how a simple shower can make everything okay. Even if it means letting your bub cry for 5 mins while you give yourself a once over… do it. Make it your daily goal…
Tip: Don’t look in the mirror too often in those first few weeks.. you might get a fright… Just shower, brush your teeth, do your hair and moisturise… even if you look like crap still, you will feel better… and thats all that matters.
9. Accept help. I’m one of the lucky ones who has fabulous sisters nearby and a doting Grandma who have been an amazing support. I’m talking 11pm week night trips across town to come and help me with a screaming baby when my hubby went back to working nights. Endless dinners being cooked for me, lunches and treats brought over, phone calls, text messages, gifts, gifts and more gifts. They’ve literally dropped everything to help be an extra pair of arms to help settle baby and let me get an extra couple of hours sleep. It really does take a village… But many new parents don’t have supportive family nearby – so if this is you, don’t be afraid to ask friends for help if you need it.
Tip: It can be such an isolating time, especially when your partner goes back to work and witching hour lasts for an entire night… just having someone there to talk to sometimes makes the world of difference. If family isn’t an option, ask a friend to come over for a few hours at night for dinner (that they bring for you) or a cup of tea and some trashy television.
10. Laugh a lot, and laugh often. Laugh at yourself, at your partner, at your baby. Laugh at the situation you now find yourselves in and the desperation of it all…boobs out, bags under the eyes, a damaged vagina, and a massive ‘WTF’ emblazoned on your mind. The first 2 weeks are shit. But if you get through that.. then you can get through anything.
… I’m hoping even at 7 weeks things will continue to get better… but those first couple of weeks… sweet baby Jebus they were hard.
I’d like to extend a HUGE thank you to my sisters, Aunty Katie and my Mum for all of their help, humour and hugs! I have no idea how I would have survived that without you all. xx