I can’t believe it. After 41 weeks of cooking my little meatball, our son, Finley Townes Samuelson, is finally here. We survived the first week and what a whirlwind the whole experience has been. The entire labor and birth experience was very different than I expected. I was pretty scared to embark on the journey. Every birth video I’d ever seen just looked so painful and traumatic and I dreaded having to go through the pain, lose my cool and basically just have a bunch of strangers up in my space. All of my fears were unwarranted, the experience felt like a coming of age and while I feared that my husband would never look at me the same way again; I was truly amazed by how he stepped up to the plate, and showed me nothing but love and support. Yes, there was a lot of pain but I did it and that fact basically puts everything else in my life into perspective.
My first thought (besides uncontrollable crying and joy once he was born) was “now what”. I had spent so much time focusing on pregnancy and birth and now all of that had passed and we had our little nugget to take care of. Our first day home was nothing but chaotic. My dog was going crazy, we had stuff all over the house and no time to unpack and settle in from the hospital, there was no time to prepare meals and we were both just so exhausted. My first attempt at a shower was a complete disaster and I had no idea how I’d ever put the pieces of my life back together while taking care of a newborn. Luckily, each day gets easier and the insane amount of love I have for my little bean is so overwhelming that it makes all the chaos worth it.
I am by no means an expert at this whole motherhood thing but here are a few things that have helped me survive the first week:
1. Placenta Encapsulation:
I know, sounds weird, cannibalistic and unpleasant, BUT, I really think it helps. My dear friend, Ida Reid, is a doula in Los Angeles and offered to encapsulate my placenta to help with postpartum healing. So why not, right? Consuming the placenta can help balance hormones, restore iron, assist the uterus to contract, reduce post-natal bleeding, increase milk production and increase energy levels. I can honestly say that I have not experienced any baby blues and considering the fact that I’m not really sleeping, my energy levels are manageable.
2. Family Support:
It takes a village to raise a child and I believe it takes your mother to help you get through the first few weeks with a newborn. I’m not sure how we’d survive if we didn’t have the help of family. My mother is in town for 3 weeks and while we baby Finn, she babies us. She’s on hand to help run errands, cook meals, clean and do all the things that keep our lives from completely falling apart while we manage feeding schedules, dirty diapers and naps (because that’s what sleep is like now…naps).
3. Gifts of Food:
I love to cook and we’re already planning our first family outing to the farmer’s market tomorrow but I couldn’t possibly fathom cooking food the first week. If you’re looking to send a gift to a welcome a new family member, send food. I never really thought about this before but I was so thankful that other folks (who have clearly been through this) sent us food.
4. Lactation Consultation:
There is nothing like breastfeeding and I honestly think it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I had always heard the no-sleep stories but it’s seriously no joke. A newborn needs to feed every 2-3 hours FROM THE START OF THE FEED. That means that if he starts to nurse at 9pm and nurses for 45 minutes, by the time we put him down, change diapers, and maybe clothes, we’re waking him back up to eat at 11pm. And thus, the cycle continues. Add pain from a bad latch on top of the schedule and lack of sleep and you have something close to torture. By day 3, I needed some serious intervention and sought the help of a lactation specialist at the Pump Station (mecca for new moms). While there’s still some pain, we’re in a much better place and things are getting so much better.
5. Belly Bandit
This is a compression belt to help your uterus contract. You can only wear it when standing or laying down but it definitely works. I can actually see my waist coming back again!
Give yourself the physical and mental space to just be with your new family. This is easier said than done for me. My initial instinct is to put my life back together, figure out routine and get back to all the things I was doing before. This is totally impossible and it’s okay to take the space to just be a new mom and enjoy this time….forget everything else.