Last Monday, July 9th, we welcomed our son, Hayden into the world. It goes without saying that he has since rocked our world in so many ways. I wanted to capture this moment in time and share a bit of our experience. I hope that it helps shed some light on what it’s really like to go from being utterly and 100% yourself to being a new mom.
So many friends and family members said “THIS is the thing no one tells you about being a mom / labor & delivery / newborns / etc.” but I still felt disoriented. That’s no fault of theirs, and probably a necessary part of the transition into motherhood. While I am clearly no expert, I thought sharing some of the details could still be useful while I’m in the thick of it.
Lesson #1: Asking for Help
You’re not in it alone — and you don’t have to do it all.
We were so blessed to have my mom stay with us for six days after Hayden was born. This helped ease so much of the transition and gave T-man and I equal time to take it all in. She cooked, cleaned up after us, walked our dogs, did our laundry, adjusted pillows for me while nursing, reminded me to take medicine… and the list goes on. If you had asked me beforehand if we would need — or even want that type of support, I would’ve said no. But, we really embraced it with as little guilt as possible.
I hope any new mom would be fortunate enough to have friends and family to support her plus the love of a willing & sensitive husband. I know that may not always be the case, though and we try not to take this for granted. Although it’s difficult and often uncomfortable, I’ve already learned to be as straightforward as possible with telling my loved ones how they can help.
Before becoming a mom, I personally had no idea how to be helpful to my new mom friends either. I would bring over onesies or other baby gifts and ask generic questions. There’s nothing at all wrong with this but I wish I’d known more about what would really help. And the easiest questions you can ask to support a new mom in your life — “how are YOU doing, mom?” or “what can I do to help?”
Lesson #2: OMG, laundry
You really WILL have more laundry than you ever thought possible. It’s no joke or exaggeration. One morning, I think we (me & Hayden) combined went through six outfits before 9am. If that’s not enough to make a sleep-deprived mom cry, I don’t know what is! Hayden has peed through more onesies and swaddles than I care to count. He’s peed on his grandfather and his uncle (embarrassing!). I couldn’t imagine doing this without a washer/dryer and feel grateful ours is easily accessible on the first floor, too.
Believe the rumors, and just be mentally prepared to not just be doing more laundry but to “be covered in bodily fluids for quite a while” as one of my dear friends has said to me since. Luckily baby clothes are pretty cute and soft to fold.
Lesson #3: New Mom Recovery is… Intense
During my pregnancy, I spent so much time thinking about my health, how to prepare for labor, what to buy for baby, how to style the nursery. etc. All the typical “preparation” stuff. Through all of that, I think I forgot or subconsciously blocked out what delivering a baby would do to me and my body. Yes, it’s amazing that we grow these tiny, perfect humans and can manage to bring them into this world. But boy, it does a number on you physically.
As my doula says, labor is a marathon. Even though my experience was blessedly smooth and fairly short, there were still several physical elements I didn’t even consider. I’m sparing some details here that would be TMI, but I’d be happy to chat openly with you over on Instagram (DM me @bubblydesignco) if you have questions.
Breastfeeding & Engorgement
Wow, I was not prepared for this one. I read about it, but somehow thought it wouldn’t impact me (maybe it doesn’t hit everyone and I was just unlucky in this regard). The day after I got home from the hospital, my chest began feeling so full and achey — almost like solid rocks instead of boobs. Yikes! Hayden was also pretty sleepy and while he was already doing a good job nursing, it couldn’t relieve the pressure for me.
My advice: If you’re planning to breastfeed, make sure you have your pump ready to go (most insurance companies will release it 30 days before birth). I also recommend grabbing these gel packs ahead of time. The cooling power helps with swelling.
Everything Down South
Okay, suffice it to say that after a natural birth, you’re just going to be sore and achey for awhile (I can’t speak to a C-section, but I’m sure it’s the same, if not worse). This may be a no brainer, but it’s worth repeating since it somehow didn’t sink in for me pre-delivery. The first 24 hours in the hospital I used icepacks around the clock. After that, the nurses cut me off and moved me to “comfort measures” instead. Apparently ice/cold helps reduce swelling but slows healing. Who knew?!
For at least a week, Motrin will be your best friend — try not to forget to take it. Listen to your nurses and take advantage of any and every comfort measure they will give you. Ask for extras before you leave the hospital if you find something in particular is working well for you.
My advice: When I read that some new moms set up a bathroom “station” for themselves pre-baby, I thought that was overkill but it’s actually genius. You’ll want a stash of extra Motrin, extra Tucks pads, the plushest toilet paper, and your favorite pads. Let your partner know you may need extra time in the bathroom, too so they’re not surprised or confused.
All the Emotions
I am, by nature, not a crier. But the “baby blues” are real and hormones are ca-razy. And I’ve had at least 4-5 completely inexplicable bouts of tears. It doesn’t last long and I really have no idea why I’m crying in the moment. It’s not sadness exactly, just overwhelm and over tiredness, I think. Oh yeah… and did I mention hormones?
My advice: This actually came directly from my lovely overnight nurse at the hospital who said “just let it out.” Don’t question it or worry too much (unless, of course, it feels prolonged or intense and then you may need to seek support for something more serious).
Lesson #4: Stock Up!
Like the Millennials we are, we placed a big Amazon order right from our hospital room (I blame it on Hayden being earlier than expected). Since then, I think we’ve placed another two Amazon orders (I blame Prime Day), made a Target run, a Walgreen’s run and asked my MIL to run to Carter’s for us. Undoubtedly babies require a lot of stuff, and we’ve already found some favorites.
Burp cloths — A friend said to me at my baby shower that you can never have too many of these. She was so right! We’ve tried three brands and styles and used them for way more than burping. They’re also handy for extra pee protection (see above) and my personal favorite use, for helping with breastfeeding mishaps (they will happen). I think we have 11 cloths and could easily double that — I have some upstairs, some downstairs, two in the diaper bag, and one tucked in the Halo bassinet.
Swaddle blankets — Between wet diapers and various ways you can use these blankets, you really can’t have enough of them either. We like the classic muslin style because they dry fast but our little 6 lb. peanut is swimming in them. For nighttime swaddling, we prefer a smaller, stretchy cotton option like these Burt’s Bees ones.
Note: Hayden loves to keep his hands up by his face so we have mostly kept to blanket swaddles versus velcro wraps or zipper versions. I did try the Aden Snug swaddle and think it might become a favorite overtime.
Favorite swaddle blankets: Amazing Baby (received this one in my Amazon registry box and it’s even softer than the beloved Aden & Anais ones, which are also great)
Halo Bassinet — during my pregnancy I thought it might be a little silly to buy such an expensive piece for only three months or so of the baby’s life. I also highly debated getting a Rock & Play instead as many mom friends said it was the only place their baby could sleep in early days. However, a week in and I am in love with the Halo. It’s the closest thing to co-sleeping and makes me feel so much more confident in caring for a newborn. He’s always at my side and nighttime feedings don’t even require me to get out of bed. I simply sit up, lean over and pick him up.
All photos courtesy of Amy Moore Photography. We were so lucky to have her come visit us just days after Hayden’s birth to capture these moments.