Boy was I wrong.
Or, actually, I guess I wasn't wrong because it is infinitely easier to care for a little one when you're not physically healing from labor. But the rest of it... the lack of sleep, the adjustment to a new little person, forgetting to eat for half the day then eating everything in sight... those are all still totally real. This baby is number four though, and so I do feel like I've developed a few tricks that have helped this time around. The most important element to me is still feeling like I am (we are) centered and so these are some things that help me feel like myself even with a new baby in the mix. This time is temporary, and it’s going to require a whole lot of self-love and compassion. Between being in charge of a brand new human with zero hours of sleep, you can start to forget who you are. So here are tips for brand new-ish mommies on how to keep that little piece of yourself alive during this whirlwind experience. Congratulations and carry on girl….
Disclaimer: Anything you do during this period deserves a trophy and a parade; these are just small tips that can help you feel good during this period but you should feel ZERO pressure to do anything other than keep yourself and your baby alive.
Bathe: Having a new baby is like Vegas... time is non-existant! Is it two in the morning or two in the afternoon? Who knows?! Most days I feel like a couch goblin because an entire day goes by and I realize I'm still in the same spit-up covered sweatshirt as yesterday. So as much as I don't want to, I really push myself to take a shower. If I'm feeling extra energetic, I'll attempt something with my hair... even if that's just teasing it to make the topknot better. Make-up is currently way too much effort for me, but having better hair and not smelling goes a long way toward making me feel more normal.
Upgrade your loungewear: It’s tempting to lay around in the same old T-shirt you got from 10th-grade church camp and faded VS pink sweats with holes in them. Instead, give yourself the gift of a comfortable yet chic maxi-dress or black leggings with a nice forgiving flowy top (that you can still nurse with). I'm basically living in all black loungewear right now... it means I don't have to think too hard about what to change into and the black covers the extra weight I gained because of the stress of the adoption.
Walk: With my first baby a maternity nurse told me to go outside every day. "Even if you have to walk circles in your backyard," she said. I've tried to keep that in mind with each subsequent baby. When your partner or mother-in-law is around, see if you can take a 15-minute walk by yourself around the block. If you don't have the help or don't want to leave your baby, strap her to your chest and take a short walk around the block. Fresh air can do wonders.
Talk about something other than baby: Try once a day to discuss things other than baby with your partner or friends. Ask them to tell you about the funny video on Ellen or whatever makes you feel connected to the outside world. I asked my best girlfriends to send me funny memes throughout the two weeks we were gone with Noah. It went a long way toward making me laugh and giving me a chance to feel connected.
Ask People Bring You One Healthy Food Option: Since having baby Noah, I’ve literally gained ten pounds! Sorry, I'm not sorry! I've talked a lot about being an emotional eater and the stress of hoping the adoption would work out was more than I could bear on carrot sticks alone. Now I'm back home and trying to get a routine going so when friends ask what they can bring for dinner, I ask for simple things that won't make me continue to gorge myself on bad choices. I don't suggest you go fully crazy with this... I mean, a healthy dinner PLUS chocolate chip cookies is a great place to start.
More from parenting