We're home! Now what?
We spend so much time preparing for our births.
We thoughtfully choose our care team and write letters kindly asking loved ones to refrain from visiting until we have had our first moments together as a family.
We take 38 classes about what labor will be like, how we are supposed to breathe, how to touch the laboring mom, how NOT to touch the laboring mom, what our breasts will magically start doing after birth, how to swaddle (and even still, it is hard!), and how to wear the baby who is still inside us.
We do more internet searches on hospital bags, car seats, strollers, prenatal yoga, stretch marks, and pregnancy hormones than we ever thought possible.
We carefully avoid all conversations regarding how we will be feeding our baby, where our baby will be sleeping, what their name will be, how they will be born, or our thoughts on pain relief in labor.
But then it happens. We have had our babies. They have emerged and somehow we have come out semi-unscathed from birth. It looks different for everyone but at some point, we are discharged from our place of birth and we head home.
When we brought home our first child after a lengthy NICU stay, we set him down in the middle of the living room floor and just stared at him. After some time, we decided we should move him to the bassinet and stare at him there for a while. We were in love, and we were clueless. We are still totally winging parenting, but we have learned some tricks through the years.
Hold your baby:
This might seem like common sense, but for us, watching our child in an isolette in the NICU for 17 days, it wasn’t the first thing we were allowed to do. We actually needed someone to tell us this was okay. (I know, I know!) So here is your blanket permission to pick up your child. Hold them close to your body. Skin to skin if you can. Smell them. Sing to them. Tell them what you are doing. Keep them warm and safe. If you need a break, let someone else hold them. It is okay. It is good!
Keep a visitor list on the fridge:
When people come and visit (and they will come and visit) they actually do want to help you. Of course they want to see you and your baby, but they also want to contribute to your well-being and emotional health. We tell our childbirth education students to keep a running list of ‘Always Appreciated’ things on the fridge.
Hold the baby while I shower (and then take a LONG shower)
Empty our dishwasher/wash the dishes in the sink
Switch over the laundry
Take the trash out to the trash can
Take a frozen meal out of our freezer to start defrosting
Tell me I am doing a great job
Fold that basket full of clean blankets/onesies/socks/washcloths/sleepers
Make me an omelet. While holding my baby.
Bringing a baby home is amazing and fun and overwhelming, and then partners go back to work and in-laws fly back to Florida. Then all of a sudden, it can be lonely. The hard times seem harder and the lows can seem lower. Find your tribe. There are amazing new parent groups that you can tap into. You will meet other parents with kids the same ages as yours and you can commiserate (and celebrate!) together. If you can’t find one in real life, we have the internet. And it is glorious. I have mom groups online that I would perish without. They are totally tribe-worthy and never let anyone tell you otherwise. Parenting can feel lonely, but you don’t actually have to do it alone.
Don’t forget who you are:
Do you remember your life before you had a child? Remember when you read WHOLE books? Remember making 8 pm dinner reservations? What about your style (yes, mom style is a thing but…)? So much of our identity is wrapped up in the children that we often forget we can be us as well. Yes, I am a mom. I am a great mom! But I also actually love cooking, and traveling, and seeing local bands. This is why babysitters were invented. Make time for yourself. Put on your fancy leggings and take that pottery class at the community college. YOU WILL LOVE IT.
Ask for help, if needed:
Still feeling a little lost? Don't be afraid to reach out for help. We're here if you need us!