Motherhood: The First 30 Days (Take Two)

Written by: Merav Benson

I wasn’t sure I would make it, but I did. In fact, as I write this, my daughter is 41 days old. I am supposed to be a veteran as this is my second daughter, but that doesn’t mean it was any easier for me. In fact, though there are some basics that came easier (e.g. changing a diaper, figuring out how to correctly snap those one-piece baby outfits) I found most things to be the same or even more challenging.

The first week for me, though not at all what I expected, was the best. I was high on adrenaline – that my baby girl had arrived and was healthy. My recovery was way quicker than last time and I was still able to pull from the sleep reservoir I filled before the baby was born. My baby slept most of the day, which allowed me to play with my older daughter without feeling torn about how to spend my time. To top it all off, my husband was off from work, which gave me an extra set of hands around the house whenever I needed them.

Then, reality set in. My husband went back to work, I was getting (at most) 2 to 3 hour-long stretches of sleep at night but life needed to go on.  The biggest issue was sleeping – whenever I soothed my baby to sleep and tried to put her in the crib, she started crying the minute her head hit the mattress! This meant I spent much of the day soothing her, leaving my toddler to play on her own or trying to make sure she didn’t make loud noises just as the baby was falling asleep.

This time, as last time, the hardest thing is taking care of myself. Figuring out your baby’s rhythms, how to nurse or what bottles the baby likes, how she lets you know she’s tired are all-consuming! Plus, if you have another kid at home, feeding her and taking care of her needs takes up any spare second you have. This leaves little to no time to relax or prepare nourishing foods for yourself.

Through this experience, I have learned several important lessons:

  1. Sometimes, it’s not you, it’s the baby! The first time around, I always thought that if I’m having a hard time feeding or putting the baby to sleep, it’s because I had no idea what I was doing. This time around, I still have challenging moments! So, first-time moms and veteran moms alike: Be confident! It’s not necessarily you. Sometimes, your baby needs some time to learn how to nurse or how to sleep.
  2. Prepare for yourself – not only the baby! This time around, I was smart about this. Sure, I made sure I had all the necessary gear for baby (crib set up, some cute outfits, toys galore). But more importantly, I prepared for me as well. It’s so important to have food that’s nutritious, easy to prepare and easy to eat (you’ll be holding the baby most of the time – this is crucial!):
  • Pantry stocked with easy-to-eat snacks: granola bars, trail mix, apple chips, banana chips, mixed nuts
  • Fridge stocked with healthy, easy-to-eat foods:

             - Take a little help from the store here – get some carrot sticks, and cut up melon/fruit

             - Apples last a long time in the fridge – buy a bunch and store them here. If you have an extra hand to cut these into wedges, I love these dipped in peanut butter as a filling and nutritious snack!

             - Yogurts in your favorite flavors

  • Pantry stocked with easy-to-make dinners

Even if people bring you or buy you dinners, this will end at some point. And, it always seems to end before you have your sanity back. Some of my go-to meals are:

  • Ziti and marinara sauce. I like to add frozen peas when I’m heating up the sauce for a easy healthy veggie. I like ziti (or any other short pasta rather than spaghetti since in case you have to hold the baby while you’re eating, it’s easier to eat!)
  • Hearty soups. I love how forgiving soups are – and since you basically throw everything in the pot and let it cook , it is mostly baby friendly to prepare. I love lentil soup and then I add hot dogs or sausage to it (which I cut up and add straight from the freezer) for a full meal.

So, if you’re in the midst of your early mom days or preparing for it, go in with confidence! Recognize it’s a learning experience for all (even if you’ve done this before) and if you’ve prepared not only for the baby, but yourself, you will enjoy it all the more.

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Posted on March 07, 2013 at 8:45 PM