Tuesday, 21 December 2010

What I've Learned - After She Got Here

I've read a lot of really good "what to expect from post-partum life" posts that go over all the weird, gross stuff that you should expect.  Here's one of my favourites you can check out.  I didn't want to write a post like that, because I think there's already so much information out there.  Instead, I wanted to share some tips and tricks I've picked up so far.  Obviously, I'm no expert.  I haven't been a parent that long.  But, these ideas worked for me, so maybe they'll work for you!  I'd love to hear your suggestions!

  • Arm workouts.  Holy crap.  I couldn't believe how sore my arms were after the labour and delivery.  Had I known, I would have been doing biceps curls for the whole 9 months.  I literally couldn't lift anything heavier than Vivian for about a week, it was insane.  Do yourself a a favour and get your guns ready for delivery!
  • LED lights.  You know those little sticky LED lights?  The ones you can stick in a cabinet or something for a little extra light?  They're super cheap, you can usually get them at the dollar store or something?  Well, they make awesome baby lights.  I have a couple stuck to my night stand and leave one on all night long.  I find Vivian sleeps better with a little bit of light, and that way I'm not struggling to find the lamp when she wakes up in the night.  One light gives us just enough to get through a feeding, and then I turn on the second one to change her.  It doesn't wake her up in the night and it doesn't wake Jagger up either.  Win-win.
  • Have everything within arm's reach.  It took us a few nights to figure this all out, but now we've got it down.  Before going to bed at night, I make sure I have a change of clothes for Vivian, at least 4 diapers, wipes, soother, some breast pads, my water bottle, Tylenol, extra blanket and a couple of spit blankets and a clean shirt for myself right on my nightstand.  That way I don't have to wake Jagger up to get Vivian a clean sleeper or go fumbling around for a dry T-shirt if I soak through the one I fell asleep in (yes, my life is incredibly glamorous right now).  Having everything within arm's reach makes life much easier.  During the day, we move most of the same items out to the living room so we can keep going out there.
  • Baby + Vibrating Chair in the bathroom = shower for mommy.  It's quite the cliche that new moms can never get a shower.  I'm quite happy to say that so far, I haven't missed a shower since having her.  I'm not against a good lazy not-showering day, but it's nice for me to think "At least I took a shower today, if nothing else."  The trick for us to to have Vivian in her vibrating chair in the bathroom while I shower.  That way she's happy because she's close to me, I'm not worrying about her in the other room with the cats and she usually sleeps through the whole thing.  The steamy air and white noise of the shower combined with the vibrating chair completely relaxes her.
  • Speaking of showers - the first shower you will take after having the baby will be the best shower of your life.  You know how good that first shower feels after you've been camping and feel completely disgusting?  This shower is about 1000 times better than that.  Even though you're completely sore and don't feel totally clean after the shower, it completely makes you feel human again.
  • Which reminds me - bring some spray-in conditioner to the hospital!  Because my arms were so sore (see first bullet) I couldn't comb my own hair.  So I just left it all knotted until my mom got to the hospital and asked her to comb it out.  Some spray-in conditioner would have really helped things.
  • Save something nice for yourself.  I'm having kind of a hard time dealing with the whole post-partum body.  Things just aren't going back to normal quite as fast as I'd like (even though I've lost about 30 pounds already) and it's hard to be stuck in maternity clothes still.  What did make me feel better was getting my hair cut.  I had been wanting to get quite a bit of hair cut off for sometime before having Vivian, but my mom encouraged me to save it for after I had her.  What a difference it made.  It felt so good to get my hair cut and get my eyebrows waxed.  Now I just need to get my grey hairs covered and I'll really be feeling better!  It was so nice to have a little something to do for myself so soon after having her.
  • You really, really do need to eat.  I'm having a hard time adjusting to this one.  I know I need to eat more because I'm breast feeding, but I'm still used to being able to skip meals every now and then.  I really, really can't do that now.  Going too long without eating means I'm super pale and ready to pass out really quickly.  Make sure you've got snacks around.  My mom was awesome for showing up with a bunch of quick and easy meals for us, as well as a huge veggie tray for me to snack on.  It was awesome.  Soup makes a really great meal because it's so easy to have in a slow cooker and you can just grab a bowl whenever you have a minute to sit down.
  • I'm not sure if this is a breast feeding thing, but I think it is.  My skin is sooo dry.  Like crazy dry.  I know it's winter, but this is more than my normal dry winter skin.  The problem is that I've been avoiding wearing a lot of scented stuff because of Vivian.  When you have someone who spends several hours of the day burrowed against you, you don't really want to overwhelm them with scents.  Instead, I've been using her baby lotion.  It's great for moisture and I know it's safe for her skin.
  • Don't push yourself.  This one is hard.  I ended up needing stitches after delivery (awesome, I know) so it was close to a week before I was even walking totally normally again.  Even now, almost two weeks later, I have a hard time bending down.  My problem is that I'll feel better (thanks Advil and Tylenol!) then immediately try to do too much and end up completely sore and stuck lying on the couch.  I'm sure I would have healed more quickly if I would have just relaxed and left things, but that's not in my nature.  (True story - the other day while Vivian was sleeping, I went into her room and tried to put together her crib by myself.  Jagger wasn't happy when he realized what I was doing.)
  • Things I stocked up on before she got here - paper towels, toilet paper, hand soap, hand sanitizer, laundry detergent.  I didn't want to go crazy stocking up on a bunch of stuff, especially since it's the holidays and I knew people would be bringing things over, but it was nice to have these things on hand and not have to worry about them.  My mom brought some paper plates too, which was nice to have around for meals.
  • Things I should have stocked up on - garbage bags, newborn diapers, cat food.  We had the unfortunate circumstance of being snowed in for several days after Vivian was born.  This meant that we had no garbage pickup for 2 weeks (it was finally picked up today - hooray!) and were totally housebound.  I was going to get more newborn sized diapers before she was born, but I didn't want to go crazy with the super-tiny diapers without seeing what we ended up with.  Since she was 11 days overdue, I was kind of expecting a giant baby.  Once we saw how small she was, we should have gone out and bought more newborn diapers right away.  Oh well, lesson learned.  As for the cat food, well I just didn't even think of that.
  • Accept help wherever you get it.  I have a hard time letting people help me, but I haven't been turning down any help lately.  People bringing food, my mom taking a day off to go shopping and to have Vivian's pictures taken, Jagger getting me dinner or even just filling up my water bottle for me, it's all much appreciated and really makes the days go more smoothly.
  • Charting - they start you charting in the hospital to keep track of how often the baby eats and how many diapers they go through.  I kept this up after we left the hospital for just a little over her first week.  It was helpful to show the doctor when we went for her one week checkup and it was helpful for me to start to see her pattern (not a schedule, just a pattern).  I've stopped charting now because it was getting tedious, but it was really helpful at first and I would definitely recommend it.
  • Keep on top of your thank you cards.  I know it's hard, but you'll feel so much better after you get them done!  I'm planning on doing mine today.
  • All in all, just don't be too hard on yourself.  If you don't get something done, don't worry about it.  As long as your baby gets to eat, gets changed and has some clothes on, it's a pretty successful day.

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