Friday 21 November 2014

Surviving life with a newborn

I'm not even going to sugarcoat it - life with a newborn is hard! There are emotional swings from low to high and back again. You run on little to no sleep. Better still, if you have other children, they don't understand that you're tired and they still want the same amount of attention. Same with the husband because he gets to sleep through while you're up breastfeeding so wakes up fresh as a daisy. It's exhausting, repetitive, and honestly, under appreciated by everyone except your baby. Luckily, I've pulled together a list of survival tips that help me get through!

1. Have a support network. Whether this is other mums, Facebook groups, a friend on speed dial, your partner... whoever. Have a network in place so you have somewhere to vent, chat, ask advice, and get some social interaction.

I tell you, having a friend who has also recently had a baby to chat to has saved my sanity! Even better if some of that support is online so you can scroll/read/chat while you're up overnight feeding and settling the baby.

Night time feeds and settling go faster with a phone in hand for selfies and support!
2. Prepare meals and snacks in advance. I'm not just talking about for outings here, but I'm talking about for the times when everyone is the house is bone-deep tired. Or when the spouse has gone back to work and there is no one to whip up something to eat while you're trapped under a hungry babe. You can rummage around in the fridge or freezer and unearth something relatively healthy and nutritious without having to resort to the takeaway pizza option again.

3. If people offer to help out, let them. Honestly. There is no shame in that - you have a newborn, you are allowed to have a messy house, accumulated laundry and an empty pantry. But if someone genuinely offers a hand, take it without guilt - and be specific, for example:

 "It would be great if you could bring me a loaf of bread and some milk on your way over. Oh ok, and a Malteaser Reindeer as well, thanks."

 "Would you mind holding and distracting the baby while I nap for 15 minutes."

 "Yes I'd love some of your delicious home made cookies since you're kindly offering."

 "You made me mushroom risotto? You shouldn't have! But I'm glad you did... now excuse me while I start eating it already..."

4. Distract the toddler. My toddler has the best of helpful intentions but sometimes things go awry. I don't want to keep her from her baby brother but she needs to learn to stop waking him, or trying to share her bottle of milk while I'm feeding him. Distraction is key here. I ask her to read me a story. To fetch something for me. Whether she would like me to scratch her back or give her a cuddle. To make me a (pretend) cup of tea. She is happy and attended to, I get a few minutes of respite. If all else fails, I send her and Mr Fork off on a daddy/daughter outing. This obviously does not suffice when he is back at work and I'm on my own though...

5. Connect with your partner. I totally get touched out on a daily basis. I have Jimmy on me all the time, and Ellie attached for a good part of each day and night too. I realise though, that poor Mr Fork needs attention also so I make a mammoth effort to snuggle with him, to chat about topics that aren't the children and to generally let him know that I appreciate all he does to help me. Even if he does get to peacefully snore while I'm up hourly with Jim each night... I acknowledge that he does bring me coffee and breakfast in bed, and he distracts Ellie so Jimmy sleeps peacefully while I get to eat it.

6. Take time for yourself. It's been hot in Brisbane lately. So hot. Jimmy is constantly snacking and cluster feeding, so there is definitely sweat, stale milk smell and a general feeling that I'm over having a babe attached at the end of each day. So when Mr Fork takes pity on me and pries James from my chest you better believe I bolt for the shower and lock the door before Ellie can follow. I leisurely wash my hair, scrub my face, shave my legs and because I'm a mum I scrub the shower too. It is seriously the best 5 touch free minutes of my life, and I emerge human, re-energised and enthusiastic once again, and ready to be reattached to the infant. Do something like that. Make a hot chocolate. Have tea. Go outside and walk around barefoot in the garden... just escape for a few minutes and take some me-time when the opportunity presents itself.

7. Babywear. Seriously. Sometimes, I just can't figure out what Jimmy wants. He is fed. His nappy is changed. He's been burped, he is not tired, but he just won't settle. Baby wearing to the rescue. He is just about 3 weeks old now and perfectly happy in both the ring sling and a wrap, as long as he is wrapped on mama.

Sakura bloom twilight ring sling gets the shopping done
I also think that it helps with his digestion (I mentioned his lip/tongue tie previously, well it makes him a little gassy and uncomfortable after a feed). In fact, in the interest of sharing, here's a picture of how I am writing this blog post, with Jimmy happily wrapped against me. He gets to snuggle, I get to move away from my room and get things done around the house. Win, win!

Didymos Inka in FWCC gets the blog post written
What are your tips for surviving life with a new born?

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