Madison is almost 3 weeks old. I’ve got several great friends who are pregnant with their first babies and I am constantly asked about what’s been the hardest part for me, so far. This blog post is about what challenges I’ve faced in these first couple of weeks.
I’m thankful for my husband, great friends, and family that have been a source of strength for me. I’m not sure what this past 3 weeks would have looked like without them helping me remember what’s truly important, helping me see that we really are resilient no matter how we may feel in the wee hours of the morning, and watching Madison so I can get a shower, start some laundry, etc.
So what have been the biggest challenges for me, so far???
- Pain in the butt…and back! I’ve had significant SI Joint pain since Madison’s arrival. That has been my biggest physical struggle since delivery. To walk anywhere is painful and the pain starts in my lower back and radiates down my my legs. I think twice about whether or not the need to walk somewhere or get up to get something is worth it because I can anticipate how painful it will be. I’ve purchased an SI belt and today I got acupuncture which did help pretty immediately. I’m hoping that this pain will continue to dissipate over the next several weeks.
- Sleep deprivation & breast feeding (they really do go hand-in-hand) - I love sleep! Until I was pregnant I could fall asleep any time, anywhere. Madison only weighed 5 lb. 14 oz. at birth and has been cluster feeding on and off for the past 3 weeks. We’ve done really good with getting her to eat more during the day so that she sleeps longer at night. The first week, there were only about 30 – 45 minutes between feedings around the clock. In the second week, we were getting about 1 1/2 – 2 hrs between feedings during the day and she would sleep for 4 hour blocks at night. This third week has really been a toss up. Sometimes there’s 2 hours between feedings and sometimes there’s a mere 30 minutes during the day. Some nights this week she’s slept 6 hours and some nights she’s been up all night. I can tell that she’s growing so I know that she’s getting good nutrition so I don’t mind the cluster feeding, but I do recommend that new mom’s take everyone’s advice and cat nap when your newborn sleeps! Even if it’s closing your eyes for 30 minutes; it’s worth it! I honestly believe that there is a inverse correlation between the amount of sleep a new mom gets and how crazy she feels/acts; i.e. the less sleep I get, the more hormonal/crazy I get.
- Confidence in myself - This has been the hardest mental battle for me. As each cry comes to an end, as each feeding is done, after each walk with the dogs and a baby in a stroller, after each diaper change or bath – I have to remind myself that we’re doing it. We’re all ok! We’re all still in one piece! Madison, like every new baby, hates being cold and bath time and diaper changes are the quickest way to test her lung capacity; which is quite impressive I might add! It’s easy to get caught up in questioning whether or not you’re doing the right thing. After all this is the first baby, and even if it weren’t every baby is different. Rather than letting myself get wrapped up in everything that will need to be done during the day, I’m practicing taking everything one step at a time. Once she’s been fed we concentrate on changing diapers, before we think about what she’s going to wear that day. Breaking the day down into bite sized tasks rather than wondering how on earth I’m going to get everything done has been a breakthrough for me.
- Trusting in others - This was EXTREMELY difficult for me the first week. I blame the hormones and lack of sleep! Every time Madison would cry, I would cry, leak breast milk, and immediately scoop her up because I was sure I was the only one that could fix “it.” In reality, I had (and still have) no idea what “it” is. ”It” is a crap shoot! Is she hungry, too hot, too cold, over stimulated, under stimulated, overly tired, gassy…??? After the first 3 days at home, I would force myself to nap in another room. When I would hear Madison cry I would silently cry by myself, in my own room, and repeat to myself over and over, “daddy’s got her and he can fix it or he’ll come get me if he needs me.” I’m now to the point where when people come to visit I’m able to offer her to them pretty quickly upon arrival to hold and admire. If she gets fussy I’m able to wait a good 2-3 minutes before I ask them if they want me to take her back rather than assert myself. It’s progress!
- Cleaning the house – You really can’t do it all! I only had a couple of days of true nesting before Madison’s arrival. Since she’s been home I’ve had an eagle eye on everything in our house. We have 2 dogs that shed a lot and hardwood floors so I constantly have the urge to sweep. We bathe Madison in our kitchen sink so I am aware that there are dishes in the sink that need to be washed. However, between holding your newborn to feed her, holding her to comfort her, holding her just to love on her – it really does limit the amount of time you have two hands available to get to chores. I’m learning to let most of this go or ask for help when I need it. Madison has grown so much in the past 3 weeks and I’m not going to be able to hold her like this for too long so I want to enjoy as much of it as I can! Our house won’t be immaculate, but it will be clean enough and safe for our growing family.