In light of the fact that I feel like I'm finally crawling out of my "I have a newborn" hibernation, I thought I'd share some things I've learned over the last just-less-than two years.
I have now given birth to two tiny humans. I have had three pregnancies--two to term, and both of those ending in a gestational hypertension diagnosis. Just prior to my most recent tiny human delivery, we moved into our first home. Two short weeks after Brylee was born, the fall semester started at Rutgers (which, for us, means busy schedules and full work days!). Does this make me an expert? Not in the slightest. Does it make me crazy? Maybe...haha! Either way, I thought it'd be fun to share some things I learned along the way in the whole "bringing tiny humans into the world" journey.
What made me feel cared for when recovering from child birth, transitioning into motherhood, navigating breastfeeding, functioning on little sleep, and what felt like, some days, I was barely surviving?
- Food. Y'all, I love food. You've probably picked up on that. When Peighton (our first) was born, we had friends bring food from our favorite sub shop to the hospital, a friend left homemade banana bread at our apartment, a student athlete brought over Chipotle for dinner one night, and our freezer was stocked with crockpot freezer meals. When Brylee was born, we had those same subs brought to us--by different friends, my husband picked up Dunkin Donuts *although more for Peighton, but I reaped the benefits!, my mom prepped 20 or so crockpot freezer meals, and a friend from church brought over her DELICIOUS bruschetta and a pan of baked oatmeal. It was so incredibly helpful to have less to worry about when it came to food prep with a new baby. Cooking a full meal was one of the last things I wanted to do, after childbirth. So to have someone thoughtfully provide for me, meant the world.
- Gifts. Gifts are my love language. When I am given a gift, it speaks directly to my heart. A gift, to me says, "I wasn't with you, but I was thinking of you and I care about you." I've learned about myself that flowers are my favorite post-delivery gift. When my husband and Peighton brought home roses after an errand, my heart was mush. The friend who left banana bread for us, also left a vase full of colorful blooms. And my sweet Mama brought flowers to the hospital when Peighton was born in the vase her mother had given to her when I was born! Talk about meaningful!
- Sleep. The gift of sleep isn't just nice, but necessary. I'm convinced there's nobody more tired than a breastfeeding new mama. After Brylee was born, I remember handing her to my mom and saying, "I just need to close my eyes" and my mom snuggled sweet Brylee for I don't even know how long while I snoozed on the couch. It was blissful. Any new mom is grateful for the extra set of hands in order to allow for some much needed Mama zzz's.
- Chores. Like cooking, laundry and cleaning aren't high up on my "can't wait to do this" list after child birth. Showering yes, chores no. When a friend from church came over and offered to do my sink full of dirty dishes, I was blown away. When a load of spit-up covered baby laundry gets done--and you have no part in it as a recovering mama--that's a win. When my hands are free from chores, I am free to snuggle my babies, and that's what I really want to do when I'm a ball of hormones.
- Errands. Getting out of the house is no easy task with TWO teeny ones, especially in the very early days post-childbirth. Having someone say, "Can I pick anything up for you on my way over?" can mean the world.
- Initiative. I'm learning about myself that I am not great at asking for help. And, sometimes, I turn down a general offer for help even if I need it. So in light of my own issues, I realized that what's most helpful, and thoughtful even, to me is when an obvious to-do gets done. As a recovering new mama, I barely have enough energy to keep myself and the tiny human I'm nursing alive each day, let alone help anyone else. I don't have the physical energy to do much of anything, but I also don't have the mental energy to even be aware of all that needs to get done for those around me!
- Words. "Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healthy for the body." - Proverbs 16:24 A kind and gentle word goes A LONG way for me as a new mama. Anything uplifting and encouraging does the trick. "You're doing a great job. You're great with her. You'll get the hang of ______, persevere. It's hard, but it's worth it. I'm here to help." etc.
There are many many many articles and blog posts about what is helpful to new moms. Obviously, my list is not exhaustive. AND, it's pretty specific to what was helpful for me. But there you have it, some insight into how to care well for a new mama!