Notes from the first six weeks, part two

25 March 2016

Even though they take awhile, these posts are SO fun to write, mostly because of all of you!! I love hearing your thoughts, where our experiences converged and diverged, and when something I’ve shared has been helpful. Today I wanted to write about six practical things we did that made our first six weeks run more smoothly. I hope they’ll work as well for you as they did for us!

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This may be my favorite photo ever taken of June… she’s just so darn cute!!!

Recreate the hospital environment at home. I debated whether to include this tip, because it was really only important for a short while – but for that short while, it was REALLY important to me, so here it is! If, like us, you enjoyed your time at the hospital, like us, you may find yourself feeling lost upon arrival back at home. Where were my nurses? Where was my bed that moved up and down? Were we supposed to walk upstairs every time we had to change June? She was supposed to wear clothes? I was supposed to wear clothes??

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Let this be an encouragement to you that not everything needs to be cute!! See that cut-open Huggies bag? We brought it home from the hospital, and that’s what we used to hold diapers for WEEKS. We actually just traded it in for something else a few days ago, and we were both sad to throw it away because it reminded us of those sweet days. Yes, we are now sentimental weirdos :) More thoughts on some of the products you see here coming soon!

So, that first night back, we swept away what we had planned and made our home environment as “hospital like” as possible. One thing that had been really helpful was having everything close at hand, so we set up a command station in our bedroom with spots for changing, feeding, storing her clothing, etc. We took off her jams and put her to bed in a double hospital swaddle, as they had recommended at the hospital. I stopped trying to nurse around a bra and clothing and just put on a robe for feedings. We recreated the hospital’s dosing white board with our own simple system (see below). And we jacked up the heat (even though it was painful for our frugal hearts!), because that’s what she had been used to in the hospital. And it worked! She actually slept for five hours straight that first night because we all slept through the alarm that was supposed to wake us up after three hours (oops). As we adjusted over the next few days and weeks we didn’t need all of these things, but they were helpful and comforting at first, and really smoothed the transition.

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If something isn’t working, try something else. Sounds obvious, right? But this is John’s number one tip, and he had to remind me of it over and over. Even if something isn’t working, sometimes it just seems easier at the time to keep trying it – maybe because you’re too tired or don’t have the head space to think of an alternative, or you think “that’s just how it is.” But doing the same thing and expecting a different result is, I believe, the definition of insanity. So, if something’s not working – your baby’s not sleeping, she always cries during tummy time, it hurts when you feed her – just try something – almost anything! – else! Of course, it’s great to make an educated change, but often, all it takes is a little common sense and a few minutes of observation to get a better result.

Work together overnight. People have all different strategies for tackling overnight feedings, but here’s what works for us. June sleeps next to John’s side of the bed. He collects her when she wakes up (which is good, as I often don’t hear her!), changes her, re-swaddles her, then hands her off to me after I’ve had a chance to get settled in the glider (which is in our room). When he was still on leave he’d usually stay up with me, but now that he’s back to work he goes right back to sleep. After she’s finished eating, I pop her back in her bed. I love this system because it makes me feel supported and like we’re in it together, but it’s not that taxing for John since he’s able to fall immediately back asleep. (One tip on that – instead of leaving something like a bathroom light on, we just have a tiny nightlight next to the glider, which is enough light for me to see by but doesn’t keep him awake!)

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Shower every day. Or do something that makes you feel confident and put together. Showering is a good place to start (ha!), but maybe for you it’s putting on shoes or lipstick or earrings, even if you never leave the house. For me, I know I am happier, more patient, and more forgiving when I have clean hair — which sounds ridiculous, but it’s just something I’ve noticed. Showering is also a great place to start because it only takes a few minutes and babies generally like the hum of running water or the fan. When we’re by ourselves, I’ll usually bring June into the bathroom in her Rock and Play while I shower, so I can talk to her and don’t have to worry about what she’s up to!

Choose a goal for the day. And if your goal is showering, that’s totally fine! :) Right from the beginning, John and I made a point to choose at least one thing we wanted to accomplish every day aside from keeping everyone in our household alive and fed, and we’d share these things with each other in the morning. Sometimes our goals were as simple as putting the registration sticker on our car, calling the hospital to ask about a bill, or writing a thank you note. We’d often get more done than our one thing, but even if we didn’t, we still felt accomplished. I still do this now that it’s just me at home, and it’s still helpful!

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Contrary to how this photo makes it appear, our early walks almost always involved June in the Ergo or in the car seat attachment for our stroller! :)

Walk, walk, walk. I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s because I believe going for a walk (almost) every day was one of the best choices I made while pregnant, in the hospital, and during recovery. I walked a mile and a half around our neighborhood the second day we were home from the hospital! You better believe I was holding onto my stomach/incision the whole time, and we were not setting any speed records, but I did it! The calories burned are almost besides the point — I think the real benefit comes from getting off my rear; stretching my muscles; the boost from being outside; and either the clarity of free space to think (if I’m alone) or the chance to talk through whatever is on my mind (if I have a conversation partner). Needless to say, I can’t recommend fitting a walk into your daily routine often enough. And babies (or at least June!) seem to like them, too!

I’d love to hear what you think about all of this!! (Or if there’s anything else you’re wondering about that I haven’t addressed!) Coming up next: our favorite products from the first six weeks!

17 Responses to “Notes from the first six weeks, part two”

  1. RachelC

    This post perfectly summarizes my thoughts on the first few weeks! The command center set-up in our bedroom was so crucial (we barely set foot in his beautiful nursery but now use it all the time), the overnight teamwork really helped me feel supported, and the showers which I never skipped a single day of on maternity leave (thanks hormones for the night sweats)…this makes me so nostalgic for that phase. My boy is 9 months now and more fun than ever but each phase has been so special. Enjoy your sweet girl!

  2. Victoria B

    I love these posts even though I do not have a baby or am pregnant!

  3. Again, I’m so grateful for these posts! It’s funny because the two things I’ve told Ben about what I imagine to be helpful for the beginning of our baby boy’s life are a) wanting to make sure I shower daily even when I’m tired b) imagining that getting out of the house for a walk every day would make me feel so much more productive and connected to life! So grateful for your affirmation of these two things :)

  4. My husband and I are far from having kiddos (God-willing hehe) but I’m definitely saving these posts for the future! I’ve read a lot of momma-blogs but I love how practical and real yours is! So many people talk about all this mystical “your life changes forever you never sleep eat have sex ever again” but I just love how straightforward you are. I’m super inspired by you and John’s shared responsibilities too! I think it’s amazing how involved he is in this process. Thank you for sharing all of this! I hope you and your little family have a wonderful easter weekend :)

  5. My aunt and uncle just adopted a newborn, and because of this (and maybe age-I’m 24!) I’ve developed a tad bit of baby fever. Although I’m not ready for kids yet, I love reading posts like these and keeping tips like the ones you’ve provided tucked away for the future! Loved it!

  6. Yes yes yes to all of this! You’re amazing, mama. Love doing this parent thing alongside you!

  7. Agree with all of this! We found the same “recreating the hospital” strategy helpful. We even slept with some lights on the first week like our nurse had made us! We didn’t have room for a changing table in our bedroom though – so our skip hop changing station was quickly our most handy item. https://www.skiphop.com/pronto-baby-changing-station

    I’d also add in regards to the daily shower – my husband would wear the baby in the wrap and make us breakfast while I took a sitz bath and shower. The sitz baths were so good for my recovery, and then he got baby wearing time each day.

  8. Emma

    Thank you so much for these posts! I am currently 21 weeks pregnant with my first child so everything you are posting about is everything that I am wondering about. I would like to know, are you returning to work? If so, how many weeks old will June be when you do? Also, I would definitely want to read a post about returning to work and how the daily routine changes. Thanks in advanced! :)

  9. We definitely set up a baby station in our room. We still utilize it now (except we keep it in a corner of the family room) and our son is almost 2! So helpful! Teaming up at nighttime is so helpful. In my case, I couldn’t sleep and my husband was sleeping through the baby noise. We mostly co-slept but my husband absolutely handled the nighttime changes and burping. So I would wake him up when it was his turn! Haha! Couldn’t do it without him! These have been so fun to read.

  10. Em

    @Emma Congratulations!! So fun. I am returning to work, though only to 35 hours versus 40 hours a week. June will be a little over 13 weeks old when I return to work, and a little over 16 weeks when she starts at daycare (my mom is staying with us to bridge the gap!).

  11. Rob

    The photos are great — especially of the baby burrito in that first one. I love it: “Yes, we are sentimental weirdos now.” Having children will do that to you. “Having children is like watching your heart walk around outside your body.” Tag-teaming night feedings is the way to go, for a lot of reasons.

  12. That picture–what a little nugget!! Love reading what you’ve learned so far as always, and can’t wait for our upcoming road trips to hear lots more :)

  13. This is so so good, Emily!!! Your first tip here is gold! When we brought our baby home, this tip kept me from floundering to find a routine. Our NICU had “care time” every three hours and sticking to this kept me sane when we got home. And to some extent I still do a version of it each day. Also, yes, showering every day is a good tip! It makes a huge difference. As does walking. It’s funny…you go through the dramatic act of labor/delivery and then you’re thrown into caring for your baby immediately which doesn’t give a lot of free time to process this huge life change. Walking gave me time for this. And just made my baby and I happier. This was a great post I’d recommend to my expecting friends!

  14. Jamie

    Love these posts! I have a 5 month old and it’s so funny – this season already feels like such a blur! But a sublimely happy blur. :) I SO identified with your last post about low expectations – it’s been a life saver as a non-baby person! On your goal for the day – I have found that I feel really good if I make a list of everything I do in a day. Ha! I just keep a running tab on my phone and then usually delete it at night. But sometimes I wonder, “Where did all my time go?” and seeing it written out – Fed Jack 5 times, showered, paid bill, read mail, ate lunch, made phone call, went on walk, etc. has helped my task-oriented self feel really proud of what I’m doing, even if it’s just eating lunch. :) SO happy for your family and sweet little June!

  15. LOVE this so much! I just came across your blog per a recommendation from a coworker who reads it and I have to say that I am loving reading your posts on your sweet girl! I have a 5 month old baby girl as well, and I can totally 100% relate!

  16. Em this is so helpful! Thank you for sharing achievable tips for each day of finding a new normal. Your little June Bug is just as precious as can be!