It’s pretty easy to look up information on pregnancy, nursing and labor & delivery…. but then what? It’s not something as frequently talked about by any means and for many it’s when the hard part starts :) Today I’m sharing an honest and hilarious post by Melissa Nuñez who is giving us her tips on making it through the transition from hospital to home and how to make it through the early days of motherhood.
The first step in any recovery is admission, right?
They say that becoming a mom is having your heart live outside of your body and I couldn’t agree more. You didn’t know that you could love something so much, so fast. My son Amory came into the world on the first gray day of a week long heatwave in San Francisco and changed my and my husband’s life forever. But those beautiful sentiments aside, mommy-hood is effing crazy. The first week of Amory’s life I went through a roller-coaster of emotions: joy, fear, sadness, and surprise- as in “SURPRISE! You now have to take care of this person!” Wait- what? Somehow this was the one thing I was completely unprepared for.
In terms of your hospital stay (assuming you had the babe in the hospital and not at home or in the back of your Subaru), it’s kind of the worst, so just know that going in. You’re there only two days (four if you have a c-section), but it FEELS like a week. If you had said to me that I had been living in that hospital room for two days or two months, I would have believed either. TMI, but I wore that gown they put on me for the entire two days I was there and didn’t shower until I was discharged. Not to mention the thought of putting on clothes seemed impossible. Pants? I’m never wearing those again. It made me think, wow, I’m soooo glad I packed my hospital bag with clothes and toiletries because I’m pretty sure the only thing I took out of there in the first 24 hours was my iPhone charger. Those women who look amazingly beautiful holding their newborn with brushed hair and their Pretty Plum Sugar robes, who are they!? I am in awe of them, but that was definitely NOT me.
I remember my mother-in-law feeling bad that she had come to visit in those first 48 hours. She said to me, “We should be leaving you alone and letting you sleep.” Sleep?! Ha! There is NO rest that first 48 hours. Every three hours someone is coming into your room: the OBGYN to check your bleeding and make sure your uterus is contracting, the pediatrician to check your baby for jaundice, the nurses to check your blood pressure and the baby’s temperature, to ask you if you want Motrin (dumb question) and pushing stool softener on you (don’t worry lady, this will not be a problem for me), someone to do the newborn screening and hearing test, the lactation consultant to make sure you’re breast feeding well, the hospital cleaning staff to empty your trash, the person to get your newborn a birth certificate and SSN, the people delivering your food- it’s CRAZY. It’s around the clock how many people come in and out of your room. I’ve never felt so popular in my life.
Another good thing to know- take home EVERYTHING that you can from the hospital and don’t be shy asking for more. Diapers, wipes, blankets, bulb syringe, peri bottle (you’ll use this to pee for the first few weeks since you can’t wipe), witch hazel wipes, pads, mesh underwear (the pads you have to wear postpartum are GIGANTIC so normal underwear isn’t going to fit. The mesh underwear is awesome, feels amazing, disposable, and they give you a pack of 20 so I just wore those everyday for two weeks, including on my 30th birthday. Nothing makes you feel more like a grown up then wearing underwear you can throw away at the end of the day, right?), etc.
Then you’re ready to leave, and for me, I had wanted to accomplish two main things: take a shower and go to the bathroom. My biggest fears around labor were bathroom related (why?) so this was a huge accomplishment for me. Then you have to get your baby dressed and put him or her in the carseat. The newborn clothes you brought will be GIGANTIC and your baby will look SO SMALL, but don’t worry, babies do eventually grow into them (and out of them! tears!). Then you load your baby into the backseat of the car and you sidle up next to him or her and think:
OMG how will I ever sit in the front seat again?! You will. You’ll enter your house and be panicking, “They let me go home with this baby?! I don’t know what I’m doing!” You will. You’ll put your baby to bed that night and think-“OMG every night I’m going to watch him or her sleep to make sure he or she is breathing, will I ever sleep again?!” You will.
Trust me, it gets easier.
In terms of life with baby, the first week is a crazy, emotional, roller-coaster. Once the placenta comes out (which has all the oxytocin and everything making you feel happy and excited) you are WEEPY. I never cry and I cried everyday that first week. Multiple times a day. multiple times an hour. You’re so happy to have this baby, but you’re exhausted and scared and sad for your old life and just feeling all the feels. I would just look at my husband and start crying. For literally no reason at all. Remember that sleep deprivation is a form of torture so on top of being an emotional wreck you’ll also be living in a weird, sleepless, fog so PLEASE be OK asking for help! If there is ever a time to be needy, it’s that first week. Recruit your mom, your mother in law, your best friend, your favorite barista, whoever- but do it! Also know it’s just a week and then it gets easier. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still hard after that, but it does get easier.
That first week is also rough because it is chock-full of appointments. I mean I get it. You have no idea what you’re doing so the pediatrician wants to see you every few days to make sure you’re keeping your baby alive. Babies lose anywhere from 2–10% of their birth weight right after delivery so your doctor wants to make sure that the baby is gaining that weight back by, you guessed it, breast feeding. And surprise surprise, breastfeeding is something you have zero experience in, so you’ll probably also meet with a lactation consultant (I had three appointments with two different consultants). For better or for worse there is so much pressure around breast feeding and I felt pretty stressed that week (as if I needed ANOTHER thing to be worried about). I don’t want to have La Leche League showing up at my doorstep with pitchforks and torches, but if I could offer any advice around this it would be to please not stress. I know so many amazing moms that couldn’t breastfeed or choose not to breastfeed and their babies are just fine. I wasn’t breastfed and look at me: I went to college, I planned a wedding in San Francisco for less than $20K, I always make sure my son wears a hat outside, and I know how to use an oxford comma. Obviously amazing (and humble).