One of the first things you'll hear after "Congratulations, you're pregnant!" is the phrase "Parenthood is really tough." Um, yes we all know it's no walk in the park! But the joy of having a child far, far outweighs the stressful years of raising them. In those early, zombie-like first weeks it will suddenly dawn on you, "I am the most exhausted, disheveled, and insanely happy I've ever been in my entire life." Your baby may take this moment to either spit up or pee on you but you'll still be smiling.
Whether you're doing it alone or raising your child with a partner, we all need a few tricks up our sleeves to make the early months more bearable.
Be patient with yourself. Be patient with your baby. Be patient with your partner.
The baby isn't nursing right or they're not sleeping the way your friends say they should sleep. You will ask yourself "Do I even know what I'm doing?" about 100 times before you finally feel like you've got the hang of it. You're doing your very best and you are a good parent! Take a deep breath and give yourself some slack.
It's so hard to say yes to offers of help, even in the most chaotic of times. I had a c-section and felt guilty asking for assistance when I needed to move around. And I had the most supportive, loving, and attentive husband in the world! We make unexplainable decisions when we're in pain.
Did someone offer to make you a sandwich? Let them make it! Give yourself the freedom to NOT feel guilty when you accept help. It will make you a better parent if you are not stressed out.
Whether you're breastfeeding or not, you need to hydrate. And it's important for your partner to be gulping down the H2O as well! A dehydrated body can't keep up with a crying baby as well as one that is receiving enough water.
Don't Worry About Being Social
Your hair will be unwashed, you'll be exhausted, and you'll probably want to show your baby off but will feel too tired to actually have people over. That's okay! People will understand if you say, "I'm a little exhausted, can you come by next week instead?" And even if they don't, that is not your fault. This is your time to recuperate and get to know your little one.
Follow Your Gut
The advice you never asked for is unavoidable. Your sweet friend, your mean aunt, and your loving mother will all have a "Here's what you should do" conversation. Smile, nod, and then feel free to throw it out the window if it doesn't suit you.
No one knows your baby or your preferences as well as you do. If everyone is telling you he/she should be swaddled but your gut tells you they hate it, then just stop. I kept hearing that my child needed to have an on-the-hour sleeping schedule but it just never worked for us. And that's okay!
Take Care of Yourself
Did you eat today? Did you get enough rest? It's easy to find something that seems to be more important than taking care of yourself. But if your child is well fed and wearing a clean diaper, take a moment to make the sandwich you've wanted since noon.
Don't forget to make the time to connect with your partner as well. Keeping your relationship healthy will keep you healthy too.
Let the Mess Exist
The mess is here today and now that you have a child the mess will be here for the next 18 years too. A well deserved shower is far more important than those dishes. Right now your priorities should list the baby as number one and the dirty dishes way down near the bottom.
It's Just a Phase
Right now my son is attached to my hip wherever I go. I love that he's always near me even if I feel like brushing my teeth alone would be a vacation. I remind myself every single day that this is just a phase. One day he won't be attached to me at all times and I will miss it.
The growth of your child in that first year is simply mind blowing. They will fly through stages so quickly that if you spend the time stressing about them, you'll never actually see yourself enjoy them. The stress may seem overwhelming but I can promise you it won't last forever.
What tips would you offer new parents? How did you survive your first month of parenthood?