Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Hang in There!

In the last 3 weeks, I have had this conversation a dozen times:
Parent Friend: How are you guys doing?
Me: Great! Maybe a little sleep deprived, but Lilly is such a good baby. She is so easy to soothe and we have been able to go to the gym and visit family and have even started our travel blog again!
Parent Friend: Hang in there! It gets better/worse after about a month!
Me: Thanks?

Since I quit my job a little over a year ago, I have really come to appreciate the power of positive thinking. You may call it being lucky, being blessed, having good karma, or having a magical unicorn baby. Whatever it is, I never take it for granted, but I thought I would share some things that are helping us.

Paternity leave! Nothing else comes close. I am convinced that if we had more family leave in this country, there would be a lot less people acting like you have to build a bunker to cope with a newborn. I am pretty sure my "baby blues" would have been a lot worse or lasted longer if I had to think about Francis going back to work in a week or two. To be able to tell myself that I had an entire month to figure things out was very calming. Also, it has been amazing to spend so much time together as a new family.

Have babies with a decent person. Of course, you need a husband and father who is useful if you're going to get any benefit from paternity leave. Mine takes care of household chores, making sure the pets eat and go outside/have a clean litter box, changes diapers, and brings me water and snacks. If I let him sleep at night, he takes the baby in the morning so I can catch a couple more hours. Am I "lucky"? No. I chose a spouse who would be a partner. 
Strategic Snacking. People say have "freezer meals", but I come from a grazing people. We loaded up the (station) wagon at Costco and have nutritious food that can be eaten by the handful. Blueberries, trail mix, granola bars, Naked Juice singles, yogurt. Right now I am snacking on brie and crackers while I work. Also, have a water cup for which you know the volume and can easy count how many glasses of  water you've had today. I learned early on that dehydrated nursing mom means pissed off baby. Be sure you are getting enough calcium, because that can have long term health consequences for you if you do not. 

Breastfeeding. Look, I firmly believe that this is a personal choice, so you're not going to hear me shrieking BREAST IS BEST!! For me, 97% of the reason I breastfeed is because I am cheap and lazy. No matter where you land on boob vs formula, this one thing is indisputable: breastfeeding is the only way to feed a newborn hands-free, and as you can see from all my tips, it is crucial for me to not feel stuck at home. I know I am exceptionally lucky that Lilly and I figured this out very quickly and I am already comfortable nursing her in the ring sling, in public, while walking, after only a couple weeks. From what I am told, that is not typical, but there is help out there for you if you want to try it. Read as much as you can in advance, and know who to ask for help if you need it. But most importantly, it's ok if it doesn't work for you. It's NOT the only way to feed a baby.

Babywearing! As with breastfeeding, I have no deep-seeded commitment to a certain way of doing things. I am sure that some people can give you a list of the benefits of wearing your baby. I just do what is easy and makes the baby happy and allows me to move around freely. I registered for a Boba wrap but my sister in law handed down a ring sling and Lilly LOVES it. I never bothered to get the Boba wrap, though we have a Boba Air that daddy will probably use when she hits 3 months. When I stick her in the sling, I have to keep an eye on the clock to make sure she doesn't waste away like a Sim who won't leave the hot tub. (What really happens is that at the 2.5 hour mark, she wakes up screaming, either because she is hungry or hot.) I am shopping for slings like I used to shop for purses now. Check out A Nest By My Chest on YouTube for soothing ring sling tutorials to boost your babywearing confidence!

Technology. Speaking of watching the clock, there is an app for that. I use Baby Daybook. It's so easy to reference when you can't remember how long it has been since this crusty punk had a bath, in the middle of the night when you are sure she was only asleep for 20 minutes but it has actually been two hours, or if you have time to finish your chicken salad at a restaurant before she wakes up hangry. It's like a virtual personal assistant.

What kept you from losing it, moms and dads?

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