I can’t believe how quickly time is flying and how big Naiya is already getting. She is six weeks old this week and she’s already almost ten pounds! Even though she’s not coming even close to sleeping through the night, I’m savoring every minute with her because I know how fleeting this time is. I’m so appreciative I’m able to have time off from work to focus solely on her and it already breaks my heart to know that after our little maternity leave bubble is over, our fast-paced lives will most likely pick up again.
In Naiya’s first few weeks with us, I’ve learned more about patience and about letting go of a rigid schedule than ever before in my life–to the point where I already feel like a very different person. There is no rhyme or reason when it comes to a newborn so you have to go with the flow. Since motherhood has already taught me so much so far, I wanted to take a moment to share the top five lessons I’ve learned that I wish I knew before having Naiya:
1) SAVOR YOUR SHOWERS:
Everyone told us to savor our sleep prior to Naiya coming into the world (which couldn’t be more true!) but no one stressed just how important it is to also savor your showers. If I could go back, I’d stay in there as long as possible throughout my pregnancy. Since Naiya has come into the world, I’ve had so much trouble finding the time to shower. The days that I do get one in, I come out feeling like a million bucks–not only because I don’t have spit-up running down my shoulders–but also because I’m so thankful for just a few minutes of peace and quiet.
New moms-to-be: go out and buy some bath salts, essential oils, whatever will make your shower extra relaxing and consciously enjoy your time in there like you never have before! I’ve added these products to my shower now so that when I do have time for one, I can really find a moment to relax.
2) BREASTFEEDING DOES NOT COME EASILY FOR EVERYONE (AND THAT’S OK!):
I didn’t go into breastfeeding set on trying to make it work at any cost but soon after Naiya was born, it was something that became increasingly important to me. I assumed that since it’s a natural process, that it would in turn come naturally to me.
Unfortunately, six weeks in, I have not yet been completely successful at breastfeeding for a number of reasons and I’ll be the first to admit that this makes me feel really guilty. For starters, Naiya has not yet been able to latch without a shield and she keeps injuring me. With the help of a lactation consultant, I’ve been working through this–pumping around the clock and breastfeeding wherever possible in hopes that it will get better (even though I’m still not sure that it will).
Prior to Naiya’s birth, I didn’t realize that pumping exclusively was an option that could also be beneficial for your baby. For the time being, I do like doing this over quitting breastfeeding entirely because I appreciate that Naiya is still getting my milk. That said, pumping feels lonely because you have to do it every 2-3 hours and you’re tied down to a machine and can’t hold your baby during the process. Right now I’m taking all of this one day at a time and I’m staying as positive as possible.
New moms to be: try not to let breastfeeding stress you out as much as it has done so for me. This is easier said than done (and I’ll have to take my own advice!) but it’s something I wish I knew before becoming a mom. It truly does not come easily for everyone and it’s also not possible for everyone to do successfully–and that’s okay!
As long as your baby is getting fed (formula or breastmilk!) and is healthy, that’s all that truly matters. I’m going to continue to try pumping and breastfeeding at least for the foreseeable future but I am still open to moving on if breastfeeding does not improve for me.
3) SAY YES TO HELP
Prior to Naiya’s birth, I didn’t think Phil and I would need too much extra help with her. I figured the first few weeks with her would be hard and super exhausting but I figured we could handle whatever came our way. Moreover, our families mostly live on the other side of the country and I also assumed getting them here would be difficult. Little did I know that having a grandchild really brings everyone out to you like never before from near and far.
Looking back a few weeks, the truth is we couldn’t fully wrap our heads around just how much it would take to get through each day with a newborn. Once Naiya was born and we came home from the hospital, Phil and I quickly realized we would have taken any help we could have gotten!
New moms to be, if your family or friends offer their help and/or to stay with you, take them up on it! I’m not usually one for doing this but in this case, it has been everything. My mom, Phil’s mom and stepmom have been on rotation at our house and we couldn’t be more thankful. This has made our family closer and it has kept us more sane. I only wish we had more grandmas to bring over to help us out!
4) “SLEEP WHEN THE BABY SLEEPS” IS EASIER SAID THAN DONE
Sleep deprivation over the past six weeks is nothing like I’ve ever experienced. I knew we’d be tired but I didn’t realize we could be this tired. After my c-section, I feel like I came home and never got a chance to breathe, let alone fully recuperate because Naiya needed me right away.
I keep thinking that if I had even one night of uninterrupted sleep, it could last me another six weeks but with pumping and feeding Naiya throughout the night, I know this is just not possible. Everyone tells you to “sleep when the baby sleeps” but I’ve realized for me that this rarely works.
First of all, Naiya has reflux so she doesn’t take very long naps yet (she rarely ever sleeps at all!) and secondly, whenever she does fall asleep, I have so much I need to do that I can’t even think about sleeping. I’m still working on how to meander all of this and I do hope I get better at it soon!
5) BUY A BABY DOCK:
If there’s one thing that I wish was on our registry originally, it’s the dockatot–a comfortable, safe dock for babies. Naiya will not yet allow us to put her down in her bassinet yet at night (we’re still working on it!) but she will actually sleep in this amazing little portable bed.
We only received ours a couple of weeks ago but it’s made a HUGE difference in our lives because she actually feels comfortable in it. When I have to get up at night to pump, I have somewhere safe to put Naiya right next to me and that takes a lot of stress away.
I also love that she lies in it during the day and is often able to stay asleep. I originally thought our bassinet would be our end all be all at night but I’ve come to learn that some babies need a quick alternative and I’m so thankful we have one!
PHOTOGRAPHY: Katrina Jayne