The day MK was born we had, what felt like, 30 visitors come visit us all at the same time, like they just got off work, called each other up and came to the hospital. So many of our family and friends wanted to see the brand new, 3 hour old Mikayla. They couldn’t fit in our hospital room so they overflowed into the hall. We laughed because we couldn’t believe how many people came by to see us and the new little person that had entered everybody’s life. She is so loved. When we brought her home a few days later, our parents and siblings were there to help us unpack and get settled. My Mom cooked us a homemade filipino meal and stocked our fridge with easy to warm up dinners and lunches. That’s the key guys… if you’re visiting new parents, bring food! Not just ingredients to make food. No no no… Bring a meal. Go to your grocery store, buy those pre-made meals, already cut veggies, and ready to eat fruit. The first month with a newborn baby is a whirlwind.
It really is. The hospital gives you all these papers, forms and to do lists of things to get for your baby, like a birth certificate, SIN number, health card, MSP, RESP, Tax Credits…. phone numbers on phone numbers to call if you need help, DVDs to watch. It’s all great. But it sits in a pile for weeks. That’s when your partner has to step in and take care of all that. (Thanks Chris!) We knew that he was going back to work in a week after the baby was born, so we had to get organized fast! And I had to figure out what I could do on my own… quick! Like put the baby in her carseat. Open and close the stroller. Put the baby in a carrier so I could wear her… (Oh man… putting the Ergo Baby Carrier on by myself is a PAIN IN THE ASS. I broke both my thumbnails trying to get that cross back buckle on! Lordamercy!!!).
It’s tough. I don’t know how single parents manage. Normally I’m a neat freak and like things a certain way, but decided to be flexible about a lot of things. However the one thing I was determined to do daily was to be able to get dressed, put my contacts in and put some make up on. I know it sounds vain and selfish. But I don’t feel good and I can’t function if I look like a slob. My motto was Happy Mom, Happy Baby.
So I had a routine for myself. MK cried and was hungry every two hours and I breast fed her. As a new breastfeeding Mom I was concerned that I wasn’t making any milk and that I would have to supplement with formula. It felt like MK cried ALL THE TIME. But my Mom kept reminding me that she was a really good baby, that it’s normal for babies to cry this often. Which is true, newborn babies’ stomachs are TINY. They have to eat every two hours. The only way they can tell you their hungry is by crying. It’s also normal to feel incredibly uncomfortable when you hear your baby crying. It’s okay. Since she was breastfeeding I couldn’t tell how much milk she was drinking. With formula, you can tell cus you can actually see it in the bottle. But when you’re milk is in your boob… you can’t see it. So the only reassurance you get that your baby is getting enough food is by counting their dirty diapers. MK was peeing or having a poop every two hours. So I knew she was getting enough food! (Yay!) Every dirty diaper I’d give myself a little pat on the back… not actually.. but I’d imagine it. I know for non-moms it probably sounds weird. But when you’re in the moment, you’re sleep deprived and you’re just trying to survive, you gotta celebrate all the little things. I celebrated every time I was able to get dressed and put make up on. I looked in the mirror, smiled and literally said to myself “I’m fuckin’ doing it”.
Oh yea, back to the routine… every night I’d tell myself I’m doing the night shift. Like I was going to work. I’d wake up every two hours with MK to nurse her. Some nights the feedings would go from 1 hour to 3 hours… because she didn’t want to stop drinking, every time she’d fall asleep on my boob I’d try to put her back in her bassinet she’d wake up, cry and want to eat again… those nights were the hardest. That’s called cluster feeding. It happens, it’s normal and they’re tough. Those nights challenge you. I cried. But you just toughen up and power through. I didn’t co-sleep with MK, but sometimes I’d fall asleep with her still on my boob. I had a picture in my room and every time MK was cluster feeding I’d read it over and over… “Life Is Sweet”. Life was sweet, I had a healthy baby and we were going through this brand new experience together. Like when you travel to a new country and are learning about all of it’s weird quirks, you get lost, you get frustrated but in the end you’re having fun and you’re learning something new. In the morning, about 7am, I wouldn’t go back to bed. I’d shower, change, put make up on, eat breakfast and then chill out. MK would wake up and cry, I’d nurse her and it’s a new day. We made sure to get out of the house everyday around 1pm. Whether that was to walk Zoey or to get in the car and drive somewhere. MK would usually be asleep in her car seat when we’d get home so I’d try to nap. Around 5pm I’d try to prep some dinner then Chris would get home, I’d eat, he’d hold MK. He’d eat then he would give her a bath, change her into her PJ’s and I’d mentally prep again for the “night shift”. That’s the routine.
MK had jaundice when we left the hospital, so we had a couple doctor appointments to go to. I remember going to one by myself (Chris was back to work) and I was ON TIME (Yes! I celebrated that!) and two… I was in a cute maxi dress, make up on and felt great. I truly feel bad telling you this, but the Mom in the waiting room with me with her newborn, had her shirt on inside out. I celebrated. I felt bad. But I freakin’ celebrated. “At least I don’t have my shirt on inside out” I thought to myself. Terrible right? But seriously I knew exactly how she was feeling. I could see it in her tired eyes, cus I had the same tired eyes too. So we smiled at each other. It was a genuine smile like we knew exactly what each other were going through.
That’s one thing I would recommend to any Mom-To-Be, is to start building your “Village”. Make a mental list of who can visit you, who will want to help you and your baby. Text them, call them, keep in touch with them. Make it known that you want them to come visit you. Some people won’t invite themselves, you NEED to reach out and invite them. It takes a village to raise a child. It really does. Luckily my parents and Chris’ parents both live here in Vancouver. Both my Mom and Mother in law took time off to be with me and MK the first couple of months so I was never really alone. They’d come over every other day and spend a few hours at our house to hold and rock MK so I could nap. My sister in law and girlfriends would swing by so I could have some time for myself to shower, eat or just straighten my hair.
Another recommendation would be to schedule some time out of your week (when you’re ready) to get out of the house and meet other Mom’s at drop ins, or Mommy & Me classes. I’ve listed a bunch of websites below that can help you look up a few classes or drop ins. Or get your Mom girlfriends together (if you have any) and meet up at the Mall or Park to walk around and swap stories. Getting out of the house can feel scary at first because you don’t want to be dealing with a “fussy” baby in public. But it’s okay. No one cares but you!
The first month isn’t easy! You’re running on adrenaline and maybe 4 hours of sleep. But you will get through it, after all you gave birth. Your own health is so important. Drinking lots of water and snacking on healthy things gives you energy. Surrounding yourself with your Village, will help you not feel so down, blue and overwhelmed. And remember TEAMWORK. Just accept that you and your partner won’t be able to do a lot of things together for the first month, like eat a meal together or sleep at the same time or even sleep together. But be patient with yourself and your partner. Just look at what you guys made! Look at your baby. Cuddle. Love. We couldn’t stop looking at MK. Couldn’t stop touching her little hands, kissing her feet, smiling at her and talking to her. It’s amazing. She changed and grew EVERY SINGLE DAY. Something new was happening every day. It truly is amazing. No matter how hard it feels, you can do it! You will get through it.
Links for Mommy or Daddy & Me Classes/Drop Ins
- Parent & Child Drop-In Groups
- Family Place – This is the Richmond link, but there are Family Places all over the Lower Mainland. They have a lot of great activities planned for playtime with babies. Even if your baby is too young to play, you can just go there and hang out, nurse your baby and talk to other parents.
- Mommy & Me Swimming – Vancouver
- Storytime at the Library – This is the Richmond Public Library’s link but there’s usually Storytime at Libraries all over the Lower Mainland
- Mama Mondays at The Juice Truck – I haven’t been yet, but I follow Mama Monday’s on Instagram and they’ve got some great speakers and lots of Mama’s and their babies show up.