Well, it's happened. I have officially hit survival mode of this pregnancy. Everything hurts. It takes twice as long to get up or sit down. Bathroom breaks every 30 minutes. I'm too tired to do anything extra at this point. It's all uncomfortable.
This proud mama (ha! Not so much!) has eaten and fed her family more fast food/take out in the last week than I care to admit. "Uffda!" says the Minnesotan in me. (Did I mention I grew up in Minnesota?)
On the upside, my laundry is caught up and the house is not a total disaster. I'm getting everything wrapped up at work this week. The hospital bag is packed. Half of my planned freezer meals have been made and frozen. Bottles are washed, breast pump unearthed, diapers bought, newborn clothes folded, nursery ready, last OB appointment before baby is done. which brings me to my focus this week:
I have so many new parents come into my office for that first newborn appointment anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks of life. The overwhelming sentiment for first time parents is usually the same: "What in the world am I doing?"
By the time that first checkup comes along, the exhaustion or sheer overwhelming feeling of being a parent has started to set in. It can be hormonal, exhaustion, overwhelming responsibility, or honest worry- but of course it's always mixed in with the sheer joy that comes with being a parent. I can usually tell which way each family is going from the minute I step in the room, but even if someone appears to have it all together, I can assure you- they don't. We have all been there. first time parents. It's scary.
The best thing and worse thing I can ever do is ask these parents, "and how are you doing?" This question almost immediately generates tears. I actually welcome the tears, because then, from day 1, we (patient and pediatrician) are on the same level. I KNOW that this time of life is hard. It's exhausting and frustrating and joyful all in one emotion. Somehow you've got to raise this little life while still trying to physically survive your own. And no baby is ever how you see it on TV! They cry, they don't sleep, they spit up or don't eat, or they want to eat all the time and you feel like you can hardly put them down! Even though there are times you don't want to put them down, there are also times when you just need a minute to regroup!
It's okay. Being a new parent is incredibly hard. And it's okay to cry and ask for help or to just know that you are not by yourself in all this. No one expects you to know exactly what you are doing right away. It's a big learning curve just being a parent! Then you throw in breastfeeding or fussiness or sleeplessness and your exhaustion and it's just... hard.
Your key for the first few weeks/months of this craziness is survival. And like I mentioned earlier, I'm just hitting my stride EARLY! Take turns with your spouse, family and friends. Ask for help. Get takeout. Let someone else do the laundry. Know that it's okay to put baby in the crib for 10 minutes while you shower or get something to eat. Go for a drive at night with your spouse when baby is fussy, they usually will sleep in their carseat and you can take advantage of a late night ice cream date with your love.
My point is this: accept and believe that you are doing a wonderful job, even if you may have absolutely no idea what you are doing. Know that this precious and perfect little miracle was given just to you-for you are the perfect parent for them. Know that it's okay to be exhausted, and in fact, it's expected. Know that it's okay to do what you have to do to survive these first few weeks. Also know that it will pass all too quickly and before you know it, you'll have a walking, talking, interactive toddler who says to you, "Mommy, want to play trains with me?" or "Daddy, lets play tackle!"
And someday, when you put them to bed at night you'll get the goodnight kiss and they'll roll over and you'll realize that your days of rocking them to sleep are gone. I promise you that someday you will miss the middle of the night feedings and awakenings. Then you'll find yourself sneaking into their room at night to kiss them because you just miss them and love them so much. You WILL miss it, just maybe not so much right now. Now go get some sleep before they wake up again!!