Parenting A Newborn, Whoa

It's impossible to spoil newborns with enough cuddles.
It’s impossible to spoil newborns with enough cuddles.

So no one actually said being a parent is a walk in the park. In fact, most people have told me it’s the hardest job in the world. But nothing can prepare you for having a child. Nothing. I recently got an email from an old friend (thank you very much Facebook) who had a baby less than two months ago. She wrote to ask me advice and I thought I’d share her letter. Names have been changed.

Although I am loving being a mom it’s a lot more different than I thought. I thought I’d throw baby over my shoulder and hit the roads…b-boping around town. Boy, was I wrong! I am lucky if I can brush my teeth, eat and shower by 3pm. I don’t know if its me not being efficient or if the baby is really eating all my time.
Baby is 7 weeks now and has been a good baby until about 2 weeks ago where baby now cries/screams uncontrollably. I guess this is colic. It’s bad and stressful for myself, husband and baby. Do you have any insight on this? Is it baby is in pain, or just a crying baby for no reason?

Sigh…new motherhood. Let me say, first, that I’m actually really glad that I’ll never be first time mom again. At least to a newborn. I remember waking up at every mew and sound Porter made, just to check his breathing. I’m still attached to the freakin’ baby monitor when he sleeps, and he’ll be two next week. While I’m not a doctor or therapist, I wanted to answer my friend’s questions openly as another parent and to offer my own suggestions. Surely, if you’re a parent too, you might have some helpful ideas for my friend. Please feel free  leave them in the comments below.

In terms of time management. With a newborn,  I think you’re doing great if you get teeth, shower AND food in by 3pm. It’s not a proud moment for me to admit, but there were days when I wasn’t sure when I had last washed my hair. And for the first two months I LIVED on the lactation cookies that my friend Chelsea baked me. Luke even took up baking in those early days. Newborns are definitely pro’s at making the most simple task infinitely harder. This passes in time as your baby gets older and more manageable. Eventually they can even be helpful. But for now, do your best and don’t feel bad if it takes awhile before there’s any b-bopping going on. Other than the b-bopping to put baby to sleep that is.

To address the colic. I obviously can’t say if your baby has colic or not, but I can say that it was perfectly normal for my baby to go through attitude changes (he still does). For a small baby, less than 4 months I would highly recommend The Happiest Baby On The Block, book or DVD. It is geared mostly for sleeping and worked like a charm for us. When Porter was awake, and didn’t want to be on his tummy or on the blanket (which looked a lot like crying and screaming uncontrollably) I would put him in a carrier. I preferred a sling or the Moby wrap (see image above). Sometimes he would hang in there for a long time, and other times he only wanted to be cuddled briefly. If that didn’t work then I tried feeding him. I breastfed him so it was really easy to whip out the food. I don’t know how it is with formula and overfeeding (ask your nurse/doctor, don’t be afraid to call and ask for help, it’s why they exist), but in my worst case scenario there was spit up. Then again, spit up was also my best case scenario.

There are two more pieces of advice that I have for new parents. The first was a serious lifesaver for me. First, find a Baby and Me group in your area. I did a post on it here that you can read about. They are often offered through hospitals and birth centers and are specifically for brand new parents. There’s always La Leche League too. Don’t be embarrassed. At the group I attended the only requirement was that you show up before it was over. It’s okay to be late, wearing pajamas, without makeup and in tears. Find a group and just make it there, it will sooth your tired soul.

The second bit is advice that I got from going to Baby and Me, and that is for the first 3-4 months all you have to do is survive. There were days where I watched a lot of television while holding Porter in my arms, trying to get to a relaxed place. Then I would think about the first week we were home alone with him and realize that in a month we’ve already come so far. Just make it through this time and I promise life will become easier. Baby will start to hold their head up, smiling and laughing become regular, night-time sleeping starts lasting longer, the newness of it all wears off. Just do what you have to do to make it through. Rely on your partner (and family/friends if they’re around) in this time. Hopefully you made some sort of commitment to get through the hard times together, and for most, a new baby constitutes a hard time. If you can just make it through I promise you will be moving onto new milestones and parental worries. Just survive, and try to laugh a little too.

Eventually, quite quickly actually, they grow far beyond the newborn stage and turn into toddlers, with minds of their own. Or at least so they think. My toddler and I had a lovely day playing outside in the absolutely freezing temperatures and then took a trip to the library. He did say “No” to every suggestion I made, but eventually enjoyed all of it. It was then a big fat “No” when it was time to end said activities. I was told tonight by some close friends with an older child that this is indeed the hardest part and it will pass. So I guess the moral of this story is that eventually it will all pass, and then you’re left with the memories. So the best we can do as any parents is to try and make those memories good.

This was the failed attempt at a snowman. More like snow-sand.
This was the failed attempt at a snowman. More like snow-sand.
Yes, he's playing with an empty garbage can. He was grunting and heaving like a strong man to get it up. Too funny.
Yes, he’s playing with an empty garbage can. He was grunting and heaving like a strong man to get it up. Too funny.
Taking the can for a stroll.
Taking the can for a stroll.
Then we had to literally take it for a walk down the street.
Then we had to literally take it for a walk down the street.
He OWNS the library, and he loved this train book. Wouldn't put it down.
He OWNS the library, and he loved this train book. Wouldn’t put it down.

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