Having a baby is the hardest thing I have ever done. Not just the “having” of the baby, which is a mountainous adventure unto itself, but the subsequent keeping of the baby. As I have said, all you need is love. And the love is huge. But there are also certain milestones that made my life with Sufyan easier little by little. I thought I should pass these incremental hoorays on to my prospective and new mom friends because had I known, I might have taken heart in this info.
This is how it got easier for me:
1. holding your baby. At first I felt like I was “all thumbs” with him. How to hold him? How to support his seemingly incredibly delicate body and head? And as I said, I gave myself such a backache and shoulder pain trying to get it right. That started to get easier by the end of one week. I stared to understand what he needed, what he liked, and what made us both more comfortable.
2. breastfeeding. I am not going to say that breastfeeding itself will have any sensible time line for getting easier. BUT I will say that it took me about 4 months (not 3 as I was told) to get to the place of feeling like an old hand at this particularly grueling (at times) “womanly art”. My advice to you is to get right on the learning of nursing without that nursing pillow. By get right on I mean after about 3 weeks of getting the hang of nursing. THEN, get right on learning to side lying nurse. You may have to put a folded towel under your baby to lift their tiny cute mouth to the nipple.
3. burping. At first you must burp a baby after every feeding. But at some point probably in the first 4 months you won’t need to any more. For us it was at about 10 weeks or so. You will know because your baby stops enjoying the burping, stops needing to burp when you pat his back, and begins to burp on their own. It is amazing what a difference this made for me! You can’t imagine how much time it takes to burp a baby in the middle of the night when all you both need is sleep. Especially when you have the mental argument for the millionth time about the need to burp vs letting your baby (who fell asleep at the breast) continue to sleep…
4. head control. Oh my gosh what a difference. I think this began for us (just barely) at about 1.5-2 months or so. Even just the littlest bit of head control suddenly makes mom’s world much easier to navigate and baby has a bit more interesting view of everything. I do think tummy time (though he hated it) helped. We used the Boppy as a prop under his torso at first to help him with this. He still hated it, though. Then, eventually he stopped hating it so much because at 3 months he suddenly rolled over. “ha HA!”, he said. “No more tummy time for ME!”.
5. baby wearing. As soon as we figured out how to put him in a carrier and take gentle walks, our life together got easier. The way a ring sling or pouch sling seemed to fold him in half was crazy-making for me, but I learned to do it supporting him. That was no fun, so I ordered an infant insert for the Ergo and we were up and walking. This insert is too hot for summer babies, so when at 4 months Sufyan stopped needing it we were thrilled.
6. the hip carry. At about 4 months Sufyan was ready for being carried on my hip rather than always on my shoulders. This is because he had some head and trunk control, and we use` a ring sling for this.
7. getting used to sleep sounds. Not your sounds, because you won’t be sleeping…babies are loud sleepers. And as soon as I got used to the fact that they sometimes stop breathing for a moment while sleeping and grunt without actually waking, and cry out just to be touched I relaxed more. I can’t say I slept better, because I don’t sleep. BUT at least I am not afraid Sufyan is dying every time he makes a noise. I didn’t get used to that for a LONG time, though. I am still not used to his noises completely. But here we are at 5 months and I am really almost used to them.
8. germs. Even if people think you are a freak, go ahead and ask everyone to wash hands before they hold your baby. It’s good to protect them, but I had to realize that germs are a part of life. But mom’s job is to protect the baby, so protect away until you feel comfortable. I am just now starting to relax about this. And guess what, Sufyan got a major cold over this vacation. My docs all assured me this is actually good. Its his immune system maturing, working, and getting ready for the world. SO I guess there is no time line I had for this one, but I bet soon I will be picking up toys off the ground and tapping off the dirt and handing them back. Right now I am still rushing off to wash whatever touches ANYTHING. I imagine when I relax, life will get easier…
We are off to catch our plane!