After nine months of being pregnant, the dawn broke clear and beautiful. I cradled my wee babe (if you can call 8 pounds, 4 ounces "wee") in my arms. A flood of emotions broke through me like water bursting through a dam that could not be stopped. Love, panic, excitement, nervousness, exhaustion and joy washed through my heart and soul. "How could one person feel so many emotions in one single moment?" I gasped.
After a few days of hospital food (yuck) and air-conditioned gowns (double yuck), I was ecstatic when my doctor signed our release. My husband and I were thrilled as we drove home. Once we were situated, my husband looked at me with a blank expression: "Now what?" he asked. Reality hit us — like a brick wall.
"They actually let us leave the hospital with our newborn and think we are capable," I moaned.
Franticly, we searched through the free hospital pamphlets. Unfortunately, they hadn't provided a baby user manual. We felt humbled, lacking and unprepared for the adventures of being parents (from what I've heard, most parents feel this way).
After being a parent for 16 years and studying effective parenting techniques, I have discovered parenting insights I wish I had known on that frantic day.
Breathe, relax, rest, bond and enjoy
Simplify your life.
Sleep when your baby is sleeping
Hopefully your husband has one-two weeks off work to help you rest. Your body needs time to heal.
Babies cry because they are in distress,
they are never trying to upset you. It is stressful when babies cry and are inconsolable. Try holding your wee one in different positions and make sure they are burped and changed. Babies cry because they are hungry, uncomfortable, wet or need connection. If you have a medical concern, see your baby's pediatrician immediately.
When you respond to your newborn's needs,
you are teaching your baby to trust. This is a foundational developmental stage for them.
Bond with your infant
and enjoy quiet restful time together for the first few weeks. Do not rush to show off your adorable baby to the world. Your little one needs a chance to bond with you and not be exposed to the germs of the world.
If someone asks you to do something, it is OK to say "No, I can't do that right now." You do not need additional stress in your life.
Get the support you need
If you are struggling, ask for help. Other moms know what you are going through. Asking for help does not mean you are incapable or lacking in any way.
Put away the super cape
In fact, bury the super cape in the bottom of a closet. You may want to do and be everything, but that is not your job right now. Be real about your situation, ask your husband to make dinner and help with cleaning. Do not think you can do it all.
It is going to be an emotional rollercoaster ride
There is nothing quite as up-and-down as the emotions of a woman who has recently given birth. You are not crazy, and it is OK to feel this way.
Pacifiers help a baby manage their emotions
(Yes, babies have feelings too.) If your newborn will take a pacifier, count your blessings.
Stop planning your child's future
Of course you have dreams, but focus on today. Relish the time while they are small. Oh, how quickly they grow.