Friday, July 25, 2008

Baby Whisperer: A New Baby is Hard

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One of my favorite things about the book Secrets of the Baby Whisperer is that the author, Tracy Hogg, is very candid about how difficult life is with a new baby. I remember talking to my mom when Brayden was about a week old.



"Why didn't anyone tell me how hard it would be to have a baby?"
"I think we did, dear."
"I don't think you said how hard it would be."
"I think you just didn't believe us."

Much of what is written in baby advice books is written by men. No offense to men, but I don't think they really get just how difficult it is. Moms have been pregnant FOREVER, and now have raging hormones. Mom is expected to care for this newborn 24/7 and yet her body is in a condition where she should be resting. In most cases, Dad soon goes back to work and interacts with other talking humans while mom stays home for the majority of every day for at least 6 weeks. This alone is a confining experience. Babies are hard.

Not to say they aren't worth it. Often the things in life that require the most work bring us the greatest pleasure, joy, and happiness. We love those little babies with everything we have. But that doesn't mean it is all easy. It is an adjustment. The good news is that with future babies, it isn't the same shock to your system. You have proper expectations and can smooth out most of the wrinkles that popped up the first time.

Since Hogg has been there, done that with two of her own, and along side many parents, she knows the reality of how hard it is. She doesn't skirt around it. It is hard. More good news is the difficulty doesn't last forever. Tracy has some advice for making the transition as easy as possible for the whole family (page 18). I have also included some of my tips.


  • Be as organized as possible before you leave for the hospital.
  • Put your diapers out (or open the package). Get your diaper changing station prepared.
  • Open packaging on all items.
  • Have sheets on crib and/or bassinet
  • Have baby's clothes washed and put away.
  • Have meals frozen and easy meals planned out. If your husband has specialties, have ingredients on hand for him to make these. Have a good supply of non-perishable items on hand.
  • Don't take too much to the hospital. You have more to take home than you brought to the hospital, plus the more you pack to take there, the more you have to unpack when you get home.
  • Write thank you notes that you can before baby arrives. You will have a lot less time after baby.
  • Get the baby book up to date before baby arrives if you keep one. There are a lot of pages you can fill out before baby is born.
  • Have an idea of what you want your schedule to be when you get home. Keep in mind that Babywise says to basically do a pattern rather than a schedule for the first week. For most of you reading this, your next child will not be your first. Think out how you want to work the two schedules together. Do you want to feed baby before older child gets up in the morning, or after. Or maybe at the same time. Try to get a schedule set up that gives you time to yourself. A newborn will not nap as long as a toddler in the afternoon, but you can definitely line up two naps together. You can also line up independent play with a nap. You will definitely need to adjust this schedule based on your individual baby. With Kaitlyn, I made several schedule possibilities. One was to get her up 30 minutes before Brayden, and one was to get her up 30 minutes after. In the end, I started her 30 minutes after him because she was more of one to sleep in.
  • Set managable goals for yourself. The hard thing is that you don't really know what is realistic and managable at first, so you also need to have patience. When Kaitlyn was a newborn, I first put only one thing on my to do list for each day. I found that doable.
  • If you are one who is going to go crazy over a dirty house, try to keep up on it up to the point of baby being born. Have the bathrooms clean, the floors vacuumed and mopped, everything dusted, etc. If you can't do it yourself, enlist your spouse or someone to do it. Then things can slide for a longer period of time after baby arrives :)
  • Try to think up a cleaning schedule for your home that will work for you. When Kaitlyn was born I went from having one major cleaning day a week to having certain tasks assigned to each day. Monday is laundry day. Tuesday is dusting. Wednesday is pick up absolutely everything and put it where it goes. Thursday is sweep. Friday is bathrooms. Saturday is vacuum and mop. Figure out what works for you so you can stay happy.
  • Have your clothes ready. I store a lot of my "normal" clothes while I am pregnant so I can fit my maternity clothes in my closet. Have your normal clothes and transition clothes ready to wear if you use them relatively soon from returning home.
  • Learn to say no. I always say that after you have a baby, everyone wants a piece of you and the baby. It is understandable, and it is wonderful to have support from family and friends. But learn to say no when you need to. You don't have to visit everyone within a 100 mile radius within the first few months of your baby's arrival. Your house doesn't need to be an all-night truck stop. You can let family and friends know times and days they can visit. If you are too tired to talk on the phone, turn it off or unplug it. People should be understanding of the situation.
  • Ask for and accept help. If someone offers to bring you a meal, accept it. If the tub really needs to be cleaned, ask your husband to do it.
  • Give yourself time to heal. Take naps and rest. Realize what your body has been through. You will be able to be a better mother to your children if you allow your body to heal before you try to jump back into life. I think many moms try to run back into life after their second child. I know I did. With Brayden, I allowed myself lots of time to heal and basically rested for the first 6 weeks (as much as I do). It helps that I had over 50 stitches after his large head--that was a good motivating factor for me to let myself heal. I also was adjusting to life with a new baby. I was in completely new territory. After Kaitlyn, I felt great. I had about two stitches after her, and only because she got caught on some of the scar tissue left behind from Brayden. By the time I left the hospital, I was walking like a normal person. I felt great. I found myself at the park two weeks later and trying to continue on with life the way it was before Kaitlyn arrived. It just wasn't a smart move. Nothing bad happened, but I could just feel that day at the park that I had taken things too fast. I wasn't allowing our family to adjust to new life. It wasn't going to be the way it was before. We had a new member of the family. I hope to be better about this the next time around. Something I was much better with after Kaitlyn than Brayden was taking naps. I made sure to take a nap every day for the first four weeks. Then I took a nap on an "as needed" basis. I think this helped me to be a better mom and it definitely helped me to be patient with my little 22 month old son.
  • Communicate with your spouse. I have talked about this in the past. See Put Your Marriage First : http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/06/put-your-marriage-first.html and Uniting as Parents : http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/06/uniting-as-parents.html
So bringing home a new baby is hard. It is an adjustment. Everyone needs time to adjust and get used to this new life. Hopefully these tips can make the new adjustment easier on everyone involved. Please share your own tips if you have anything to add.




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Reader Comments:
  • Micah, Amy & Nicolae said...
    I loved reading this post. I was all over the place 3 days after giving birth to my son. I am truly freaking out about my second baby coming (my son will be only 16months old). I think I have already chosen to do too much in telling my in-laws we will meet them for Christmas for almost a week, only 2-3 weeks after my due date of Dec 3. I'm really praying my husband will pick up some slack since that has been a MAJOR issue for us since our son was born. I definitely plan on taking the rest of the suggestions to heart this time around. Amy
    July 25, 2008 9:49 AM
    Plowmanators said...
    Amy, Wow! You are nice to go for a week that soon afterward. Good luck! I for sure would not do that ;). I hope you have a better time this go around.
    July 28, 2008 11:28 AM
  • ProudMum said...
    wow, I wish I cud have such article or book before I was pregnant so that exactly what to expect. Its really hard and only Allah can give mothers reward, no one else cant. Thats why HE said heaven lies beneath feet of mother.
    July 25, 2008 10:33 AM
  • The Brace Family said...
    hi there! getting ready to have #2 and loved reading this our children will be almost the same apart...23 months.
    July 25, 2008 11:03 AM

2 comments:

kristin said...

Hi Valerie, Im expecting baby #2 at the end of May. My son will be about 3 yrs old. We've been hoping to move to a larger home because we need another bedroom for baby, but so far we just cannot seem to sell our house. So Im preparing for alternatives in case we dont sell before May 2009. A neighbor loaned me a bassinet to have in my room, but I find this intimidating since my son went right into his crib as a newborn, in his own room. This allowed my husband and I to maintain our own personal space as a couple, and handle CIO and nighttime feedings pretty well. Have you had any of your newborns sleep in your room? If so, can you provide any advice on how to best handle this? At some point when the baby is finally sleeping through the night without any more feedings (if we still have not moved) I will need to consider moving her into my son's room. Any thoughts on that as well? I want to be prepared in case we dont move to a larger home. Thanks... Kristin

Plowmanators said...

Kristin,

I have actually had both of my kids sleep in my room, and baby #3 will for a bit. Honestly, it isn't my favorite thing. I don't sleep well at all. But my room is on the main level with the kids' rooms all on the upper level, so I just can't climb up and down stairs a couple of times a night while I am healing from delivery.

With Brayden, we lived in a different house. We were remodeling it (by remodeling I mean rebuilding), and we had no bedrooms when he was born. We had turned the main floor into an open plan, so it was basically all one room with a bathroom. At first he slept right by me in the pack and play, which worked well because I was really torn up with him. After a month, I needed to be further away, so we put him on one end of the house at night and us on the other. That was better, but not perfect. At 6 months, we moved him to the bathroom. That was great for sleeping. And it will make a great story to tell him someday :)

With Kaitlyn, we were here. We had her in a bassinet in our room at night. As I said, I didn't want to climb the stairs. I had planned on her being in our room until she went down to one feeding in the night, but I just couldn't sleep well. After two weeks, we moved her up. I was well enough then.

With the baby in your room, I recommend ear plugs if you are sensitive to noise so you get some sleep.

As far as you and DH go, we would just spend our time together out in the family room, then come in to our room when it was time for bed.

I would also try to think of other alternatives. I know a friend of mine who does BW has her second sleep in her walk-in closet in her room. It provides some barrier. We did the bathroom...do what works (and is safe).

I don't have my kids in the same room, so I don't have any advice on that. Just know that they will get used to each other and the noises they make. You might want a noise machine or humidifier to help block out some noises. Good luck!

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