Friday, May 16, 2008

My top 5 tips for new moms

The other day, I was talking to my girlfriend, who just had a baby last week, and she told me her daughter had slept four hours at a stretch. I remember when that seemed like forever with the Boo. Then I started thinking of all the things I've learned about him and how to be his mother in the past four and a half months. So here are my top tips for new moms -- not on-their-second-kid ones, but those so new they worry they're going to break the baby in half when they hold him:

1) You know that thing about sleeping when the baby sleeps? There's a reason for that. At first, I ran around like a loon cleaning, etc., when Boo went to sleep -- as did my mom with me when I was a newborn -- and the end result, for both of us, is/was exhaustion. Yes, pick up around the house a bit if it makes you feel better (it does for me), but don't kill yourself, especially in the first few weeks. As soon as you see those little eyes closing, climb onto the couch and close your own. Even if you get half an hour of sleep, every little bit helps.

2) You will be overwhelmed. Totally, completely and utterly overwhelmed. I cried inconsolably when we had to leave the hospital. It's OK you feel this way -- it's actually really, really normal. You have brought a completely new person into the world. Your life has been turned upside down. Feeling overwhelmed and even grieving for the life you had before a bit, is part of the process. You will be in survival mode, and eight hours of sleep will be just a memory. Embrace these feelings, and know they will pass.

3) Take help from people, and take it gracefully and gratefully. They want to help you, and you need it. This is a tough job, and it's a marathon, not a sprint. My mom moved in with us the week after Boo was born after M had to go back to work, and it was a lifesaver. Which brings me to my next point...

4) If your mom is in the picture, she is a huge resource. Tap her wisdom. She'll probably get misty-eyed that the great circle of life has brought her around to showing the child she raised how to raise a child herself. So will you. My mom and I had some of the most amazing conversations ever in that week she came to stay. Ask her questions, and listen to her advice.

5) I've alluded to this in other posts: It does get better. Really. As my dad told me, good thing they lived in a first-floor apartment when I was born, because that first week home with me, he would have jumped out the window. Babies cry less and sleep more -- well, at least at night -- as they get older. And you get to know (and love) them more. This child is a stranger to you, and you to him. Give yourself time to get to know one another. And know your life will eventually get back to normal -- well, the new normal.

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