Bringing home your first baby is stepping into a whole new world that no one can truly prepare you for. Even if you have worked with children for years as I did, once that little newborn is placed in your arms, you literally know NOTHING and are starting from scratch just like everyone else. There are many lessons to learn along the way, but those first few days at home can be the most pressure-filled.
The second baby brings a new perspective. This isn't my first rodeo, so I know what I need and, more importantly, what I don't. Even more, I have another child to think about too, and there is nothing more important than all of us feeling calm and comfortable in our own home. This time around, there are plenty of things I'll be doing differently.
Breastfeeding vs. Bottle Feeding
I'm not starting a debate, in fact, I'm saying I don't care which one happens for us. I want my baby happy, healthy, and fed. With Eliza, I put so much pressure on myself to breastfeed, and just assumed it would work for us. I wasn't prepared at all for our troubles, and didn't know how to pump or have formula on hand in case I needed it. Of course we did need it- pretty urgently actually- and ended up in a 2:00 AM panic the first night we were home from the hospital.
This second baby will be introduced to the boob just like Eliza was. However, if he isn't getting what he needs, I will have some ready-made formula right there and won't feel bad for a second.
The first time around, I felt like I had to allow everyone over. Anyone who wanted to stop by, I made time for. What I realized is that some people bring you a sense of calm and reassurance and others just cause you stress. The second time around, I don’t want any of the stressors. I will take a few days to get myself and my children settled into our new normal. I will not worry about who is dying to meet the baby or who's been waiting for an invitation. I don't care. It's about my family and what we need. This will be an adjustment for Eliza too, and having people in and out of our house everyday may not be what she needs. So, I will do what I feel is right for us, no one else.
I need my mom
With the delivery of my first baby, I was so lost in the chaos. I was overwhelmed with the baby, the visitors, hopped up on the adrenaline, and then crashing from the intense sleep deprivation. I was holding it together as best I could, but it wasn't until about 3-4 weeks after Eliza's birth that I got some GOOD quality 1:1 (or 1:2 if we count the baby!) time with my mom. And when I did, I just felt a HUGE weight lifted off of me. I know I am lucky to have this relationship with my mom and I don't usually take it for granted. But in this instance, I did. I just didn't know how much I would need her emotionally. My mom lives nearby and I knew that she would be my main help once the dust settled. So initially, I had her work around other visitor's schedules. This time, I just need my mom. I need her right away. I need her, Eliza needs her, and even if he doesn't always want to admit it, my husband has become pretty reliant on her too. And you know what? She loves it.
You can’t hold my baby
I was pretty good about this for the most part. I had told our close friends and family ahead of time that we didn’t want anyone holding the baby who didn’t have the whooping cough vaccine (as per our doctor's advice). Some opted to get it so that they could be around the baby, others opted not to and blew the baby kisses from across the room.
But, there was this one interaction that will haunt me forever. It was with a visitor I didn’t want in the first place, and when I told her about our decision, she spoke down to me, made me feel ridiculous, and proceeded to pick up the baby despite my hesitation. It was a moment for me -- because in that moment I realized that because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, I didn’t do what I felt was right for my child. Even though it may seem like a small occurrence to some, this was crushing for the new mom in me. I failed. I felt like I failed…at something as simple as holding onto my baby when I felt like I should. It's something that has bothered me since, and this time around, I will absolutely not let anyone make me feel like that again.
I will always pee first
This is one that new moms should really be told in the hospital, or in birth classes, or in the supermarket checkout line. Enough with the shitty, judgy, "I'm a better mom than you," kind of advice. You know what moms need to be told...PEE FIRST. Before you pick up that crying baby, go pee. Before you go into their room to try to get them back to sleep, go pee. Before you make that bottle, go pee. Before you sit down to pump or breastfeed, go pee. No matter what the baby needs, for your own sanity and health, just go pee first. There is nothing worse than getting that baby into the perfect position that finally makes the baby happy only to realize you have to go and can't. So, this second baby will have to wait a few extra minutes, because mama knows to go!
I don’t need help with the baby
Holding the squishy, delicious, sleeping newborn is the fun part. It's what I have waited 10 long months (and 2 years of infertility) for. It's what my body has been preparing for, what my heart has been yearning for. So, I want to do that. I don't want to feel like I haven't seen my baby in a few hours because I had visitors over and they were holding him the whole time. I don’t need anyone to “help me” by holding the baby. I need help with all of the the other shit in my life. I need someone to go grocery shopping for me, walk the dog, put gas in the car, go to the mailbox, make my returns, fold the laundry, or even write the thank you cards. THAT is what I really need help with. Holding the baby...yeah, I got that.
My house, my boobs
I didn’t have the easiest time breastfeeding, but wanted so desperately for it to work. So, I put a lot of pressure on myself and was pumping very often. I ended up mostly pumping and bottle feeding for the first few months, which meant I was a cow attached to a milking machine for much of the day. Since we had people staying with us and visitors many days, I would go into my bedroom to pump. The baby would often stay with the others while I hooked myself up, and then called or texted my husband in the other room to bring me things I needed. I felt like I had to leave the room. I had to leave the conversation...and sometimes my baby.
This time, no way. My house. My kid. My boobs. YOU LEAVE! Anyone who does not want to see my boobs, or those that I don’t want to show my boobs to, must leave the room. I am going to set myself up in the most comfortable chair with everything I need right there, and will be nursing or pumping there, every single time.
I think the biggest difference this time is that I won't be shy about what I need or what I want. As a new mom, I just made so many rookie mistakes, and most of them were because I didn't want to hurt anyone else's feelings. I was doing what I thought I was supposed to do, not what I really wanted. If there is one thing I have learned from being Eliza's mommy, it is that I am one tough cookie and a fierce mama bear. My family is my priority, and there is just nothing more important. With the addition of this baby boy, my priorities are just getting even more focused.
I am sure there are a million more things that I will realize to do differently along the way. But I'd love to hear more from you! Send them in! xo