I had packed and repacked my hospital bag. I had prepped and prepared a few freezer meals to get us through those first few weeks of parenthood. The clothes were washed in newborn detergent, the bassinet set up and placed beside the bed, and the bottles washed and sterilized. From everything I had read, I was as prepared as possible to welcome my baby girl into the world. I had checked off every box, even added a few of my own. As a type A, overanalyzer I had done everything, read everything, and talked to everyone I could think of to prepare for having a new baby. What I hadn’t prepared myself for though was the unexpected realities of bringing a newborn home from the hospital for the first time. The realities of caring for another when you still need to be cared for yourself was something I was not ready for nor did I expect.
Now that I’m further away from the newborn stage and closer to toddlerhood, I constantly find myself reflecting on things that I wish someone would have or could have told me in order to better prepare myself. Prepping my hospital bag was helpful, but in the end, I didn’t use half of the things I brought with me. What I needed to be armed with were the realities and unexpected twists and turns of babyhood that stood in my line of sight. So together, with the help of some other new moms, I have compiled a list of 10 things (I had to stop myself at 10) I wish I had known before walking through those hospital doors and into the role of first-time parent.
1. Your baby will lose weight before they leave the hospital and sometimes struggle to gain it back. How did I not know this?! I figured you gave birth, they weighed them, measured them and it was time to monogram all of the cute baby blankets and teddy bears. I never realized that newborns lose weight before leaving the hospital and are monitored closely in the first few weeks to make sure they gain it back. This was one of my biggest worries the first few weeks with baby C. I was breastfeeding and not producing much and little miss kept losing weight. I wish someone would have told me this was a possibility. Which leads me to my next point.
2. Breastfeeding is HARD and it isn’t always the right path for you or your baby. That one hurts to write. 9 months later and I still grapple with this. But, I need to write it because I wish someone put this out there for me to see before giving birth. I walked into the hospital and proudly told the nurses that “Yes, of course I would be breastfeeding.” No formula for me thanks, we won’t need it in this room. How wrong was I. I spent the first two weeks crying and carrying so much guilt that I couldn’t provide what I was NATURALLY supposed to for my baby. She was hungry and I wasn’t producing and it was the most difficult time I never knew we would have. What I wish I would have known back then was that I was doing what I was NATURALLY supposed to do for my baby and that was feeding her the best way I could. Breastfeeding, formula feeding, breastfeeding and supplementing, exclusively pumping, you do you mama. You’re rocking it!
3. Every baby is different and will want different things. I can’t tell you how many swaddles, pacifiers, bottles, and baby swings we registered for and purchased after the fact because the ones we were “told” she would love, well, she didn’t. My best advice looking back is register for a few different things and DO NOT open everything. Try one brand at a time to see what your baby likes and return the others. Because Mary’s baby might have LOVED the Dr. Brown’s bottles and refuses to use anything else but your little one might have a different opinion. Oh and don’t forget once you find something they do like today, they might not like it tomorrow! Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!
4. You will not sleep when the baby sleeps. Because when else will the bottles, pump, pacifiers get cleaned, the laundry get folded and put away, and the dishwasher emptied?! Oh, when the baby sleeps.
5. You will be hungrier and thirstier than you were during pregnancy. I don’t know if it was just me but I couldn’t have enough snacks and that included sweet and salty treats. I couldn’t distinguish between the two. The thirst was something real too. I would feel dehydrated easily and found that constantly filling up my water bottle was VERY necessary. One of my new mom essentials; a good water bottle!
6. You will cry a lot. I mean all the time. I would cry when I was trying to breastfeed because it hurt. I would cry when I was rocking her because I loved her so much. I would cry because I was tired and then I would cry because I thought she smiled at me and it was the best feeling in the world. Your hormones are no joke and they will do a number on you. Let them, it’s completely natural.
7. Newborn poop aka rainbow poop. I need all the poop emojis here because wow the different colors that can be found in your precious newborn’s diaper is unreal. First, it’s black then it can be yellow, red, gray, green, brown (obviously) any number of colors in any different diaper. I can’t tell you how many times I called the pediatrician over a different colored diaper. And the time spent analyzing the color. Is it gray? Is it more brown? Do you see some red? Your conversations will revolve around poop, I’m sorry to tell you.
8. Newborn heads come in all shapes and sizes. Newborn heads are not all created equal. It takes a lot of time for their shapes to fully develop and become rounder. So if you meet your little sweetie for the first time and you’re noticing that their head shape looks a little, odd, don’t fret! That one took a trip to the pediatrician to figure out!
9. Newborns eat all.the.time. You’ve read the books and you’ve heard the stories but you don’t fully realize how much a tiny little babe can consume until you have one of your own. You hear the classic every two hours pretty frequently but you don’t really know what that means until you’re in the trenches. It’s NOT just two hours but it’s two hours from the time the baby STARTS eating not once they finish. So, if you’re little angel starts eating and doesn’t finish until 40 minutes later (oh yeah that can happen) then you’re getting ready for another feed in an hour and twenty minutes!
10. The love for your newborn is unlike anything you have ever felt before. Despite the sleepless nights, the ups and downs, and all of the uncertainties there are so many moments that will take your breath away. You will stay up despite being exhausted and stare at your precious babe sleeping soundly. The newborn snuggles are unlike anything else and this time, while the most difficult so far, is fleeting. Your sleep will improve, your babe will get on a schedule, and their feeding will work itself out. Sometimes while you’re knee deep in the newborn haze it’s hard to believe this but I promise it’s true.
Some things you can do to get you through the mixed up days and nights? Find your tribe of mama bears and lean on them. Search out local Moms Clubs, other moms on social media, or through different activities in your town. Find your tribe, squeeze those babies, and watch as many Netflix episodes as you can. This will all get easier and if you haven’t been told yet today, you are an amazing mom!
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