It’s been a steep learning curve, one that no book or words of wisdom could have ever prepared me for. And with that, I’m proudly standing on the other side of one month. While I’m still in the trenches, I wanted to share the lessons I’ve learned so far and how I’ve been able to cope. Life with a newborn is equal parts magic and equal parts WTF.
1. Find your tribe
In life, we all need a tribe. Life takes a village and it is not meant to go at alone; parenthood is no different. At 20 weeks pregnant I joined an amazing organization in Saskatoon called Fitbump. It was everything I needed and everything I didn’t know I needed to know. Weekly I would get out of the house, get a safe workout on and talk with other women in the throws of pregnancy. It was a community of hormonal women who filled my heart with a weekly dose of reality therapy. I’m counting down days until I can join the Mom and baby group. If you’re in Saskatoon, please check out Amanda and what she does at Fitbump.
2. Make all the food
My mom came up for a weekend and we spent an entire day assembling slow cooker meals to go in the freezer. I purchased recipes here and it was the best $10 I’ve spent; recipes, grocery lists and printable labels. They have all kinds of recipes for all kinds of dietary needs. So far, every recipe has been delicious. The best part? On any given day, we have a delicious meal that is minutes away from eating (thanks Instapot)
Pro-tips: I used Click and Collect at Superstore for this grocery order. This way I had exactly what was needed and the food assembly of the century went down in my kitchen. It just so happens my mom is an assembly queen and operates in the best of efficiency. I’m considering renting her out! One other pro-tip, consider investing in an Instapot. They are magic. #christmasiscoming
3. Pelvic Floor Therapist
Ladies. Get one and see one, now. Don’t wait until your lady bits have survived the trauma of childbirth. Go ahead of time, get a reference point and do the work to put yourself in the best possible position for the most demanding event of your life. Go. NOW.
1. The days are short, the nights are LONG.
This is where your tribe is essential and why I included it prenatally (thank you Fitbump). Knowing you’re not the only one awake in the darkest of hours makes all the difference. I have an amazing group of Mom friends (and none Mom friends) and all hours of the day and night, we are available. We are reaching out. We are letting one another know that we are not alone. I’m not sure what our mothers and grandmothers did in the darkest hours of night, but in these moments I am so grateful to have the people of my world at my fingertips. Hell, the entire world is literally at our fingertips, which leads me into my next point:
2. Remove amazon one click.
Seriously. You’ll order all sorts of shit in the middle of the night. This is what I am considering instead:
3. A nap really cures everything
Ugh. I needed to be put down for a nap like a toddler more than I would like to admit but it was necessary for survival. Big love to my partner for having the courage to tell this mama bear to nap and for being the rockstar dad that happily took on the sole parent role while I napped. I woke up a better person; more rational, more present, more human. Napping is the answer to most problems.
4. Clean if you need to clean
I can’t even begin to tell how many times I was told to “leave the mess”. This just in, I can’t and I won’t. Tidying up before bed legit makes me sleep better and is a game changer when I start my very early mornings in a clean house. Now, I’ve definitely done a better job of timelines and letting some things go, but sitting in the clutter is not how this momma will settle. For me, an extra bit of sleep is a worthwhile trade off. With that said, you do you.
I don’t do this and I am horrible at asking for help. The better we are at delegating, the easier this time period is. With that said, if you’re reading this and you aren’t in the parental trenches and you want to help, just do. I’m overwhelmed with decisions at the best of times, being asked what I need and want is not something I want on the list. Want to help? Do something, anything. It’s all so appreciated.
6. Everyone is doing the best they can, including your partner.
Lack of sleep makes me rage-y and paints a target on my spouses back. Meanwhile, the man is literally waiting on me and the baby, taking care of most domestic duties and getting his own ass to work.
I’m going to utilize this section to talk about others and their opinions. Yes, everyone wants to tell you what to do. All. The. Time. What do I have to say to that? Take a deep breath and calm down the defensiveness. In my experience, most just want to help, they want to make it easier, they are uncomfortable in your expected struggle. Stop with the rage, step down from the soap box and repeat, they are doing the best they can. Now, before the internet gets up in my grill, there are exceptions to every rule. I’m referencing the mothers and mother in laws, the grandmas and aunts and friends. They are just trying to help, and yes, it can be difficult. Try and meet kindness with kindness. If someone offers to clean your house, accept the help. If you don’t want the help, say so. It can be a group effort to keep all of our heads above water.
7. Communication is King. And Queen.
If you suck at communicating before baby, don’t expect a new baby to improve this! Check in with yourself and your partner, assert your needs, talk. A problem will not get solved in silence, unless it’s a nap, some problems are solved with a nap! But seriously, more conversations and less assumptions.
Tears don’t mean you’re crazy, they mean you are surviving. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes they don’t. Regardless, just cry. You’ll feel better after. I do.
9. Tech free time
I didn’t do this and I wish I would have, however it’s never too late. When you are at the mercy of a newborn, your routine is non existent and you enter survival mode. This can put you and your partner on opposite schedules, disconnected and seeking any sort of tools to keep you awake (thank you Netflix!). What am I saying? Try and set some time aside to just be, with yourself, your partner, your baby, without a device in front of you. Check back in to your environment and yourself.
10. Audible Books/ Podcasts
Brene Brown and Oprah keep me company everywhere I go. I wish I could be more present in nature when I walk but to be honest, I enjoy my walks more when I’m listening to something. If you have long waits at appointments, audible books also help pass that time. Want a bath and tune out the sounds of the fussy babe your partner is consoling? Try listening to something. It’s just something I have been loving and wanted to share.
So that is some of my list and yours may be very different. That’s okay, again, you do you. I want to finish this piece by acknowledging that there are always the uncontrolled variables that will impact your pregnancy and your postpartum journey. We can only control what we can. For me, I was lucky post partum. My labour was amazing and it set me up for the best possible start. I was mobile and pain free and I know that helped with my mental health. For many, this is not the case. Birth Trauma. Post Partum Depression. Post Partum Anxiety. All is very common and very real. Please reach out, get help, talk. These are not things to just wait out and are often bigger than ourselves and our partners. Healthy moms are necessary for healthy babes. We need to look after ourselves and we can’t do it alone. It takes a village.
Yours in parenthood and proudly on the other side of one month,