Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to Ease the Transition into Parenthood

After enumerating many challenges related to having a baby around in yesterday's post, I'm back to try and generate proactive strategies for making the transition a tad bit smoother.

Here are some thoughts:
  • Go for a daily walk with a friend: This will help me stay healthy, and it will give me a healthy dose of adult conversation. Luckily, I have a neighbor who is due a couple weeks before me. It's perfect!
  • Figure out how we're going to feed ourselves: I know my birthing class will address this. My midwife wants me to set up a calendar of friends who will drop off food. The only problem with getting food dropped off is then being forced to interact with visitors (which I may or may not want; it's hard to tell). Maybe I'll ask people to drop off frozen meals right before the baby is due. It would also be helpful to create a six-week menu of easy, easy meals (with corresponding shopping lists). Maybe I could set up a rotating schedule of friends to do our shopping for us...
  • Post directions about how to help around the house (as well as an ongoing list of things to do): Based on your suggestions last week, I think I'll post directions about how to do basic things around our house (like where the vacuum is and where we store our dishes, etc., for anyone who wants to drop by and help with cleaning!). We can also keep an ongoing list of "Things We Need Help with" on our whiteboard.
  • Have family come to help: Once Matt gets his paternity leave situation figured out, we'll have a better sense of when family should come to help.
  • Hire a housekeeping service: We'll definitely have to vacuum every week (thanks to Hoss!), do laundry every other day, and keep up with doing the dishes and emptying the dishwasher, but it would be nice to hire a professional service to come and clean our house every other week. I think I'll add gift certificates to our registry (we recently had a company come by and give us an estimate). We definitely won't be able to afford this without gift certificates, since we'll be down to one income.
  • Schedule blog posts to run while I'm on "babycation": I'll have to do a lot of planning in advance to ensure that my classroom will run smoothly while I'm gone. Once I do that planning, however, I'll be able to put it completely out of my mind. I'll also have to come up with a plan for my blogs. For 2000 Dollar Wedding, I can try to have guest posters. For this blog, I can write most of my posts in advance to give myself a little break (but I will need to pop in to update you all about how it's going!). I know: I can continue to write five posts a week, but I can schedule one of them to run while I'm on maternity leave. If I do that from now until February, I'll have a solid month done.
  • Try to get Matt to take paternity leave: Matt is very committed to his job. I'm trying to convince him that staying home for a little while with our newborn baby is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
  • Stock my breastfeeding station(s) with great books, magazines, music, and audio books
  • Have lots of conversations with Matt about the challenges we are likely to face
  • Prepare as much as possible: The more I learn about things to consider while raising a newborn, the more prepared I feel!
  • Continue to build our savings for the next five months!
  • Find babysitters: Matt and I will need to start going on monthly dates, as soon as our baby is old enough to stay with others.
  • Give myself time to recuperate: I talked with someone who just delivered a baby with my midwife, and she said that the recommendation is to "stay in the bed for the first week, on the bed for the second week, and around the bed for the third week." The idea is to give yourself lots of time/space to recuperate after birth.
Definitely let me know if you have more ideas!

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Cate Subrosa said...

I agree that rest and recuperation is really important post-birth, and generally in our society we don't give new mothers enough space to do that. However, the idea of staying in/on/near the bed for the first month sounds pretty awful to me. Lots of time in/on the bed and/or sofa, is great, but for me getting up, showered and dressed was an important part of feeling sane. Really you should just do whatever feels right at the time.

I think your ideas are great. Otherwise I would say only this: the bes thing you can do is try to relax and take it as it comes. I know for you that means lots of research and preparation, but once you're in the moment with a tiny baby, nothing will help you more than reminding yourself to relax and go with the flow. And it is hard, but also wonderful. So don't forget to enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

Great list! I think you will love the daily walk. I even read that daily walks in the fresh air cut your odds of suffering from post partum depression by 50%!

The in/on/around the bed advise seems good as a general rule. For me, a phrase like that would be permission (plus a reminder!) to take it veeeeeeery easy for awhile. I'm sure you'll be wanting to get up and shower... and then maybe throw a quick load in the washer... and then maybe just pick up a few things in the living room... and then... and then... My point is that I don't think the difficulty is getting moving; it's reminding yourself that you still need to *stop*!

If I could add my single most helpful piece of advise I got during the first 6 weeks it would be... sleep while the baby sleeps!!! No matter what time of day (or, if you're lucky, night) it is. No matter who is visiting that you want to chat with. No matter what. You will be a *much* more refreshed person for both your baby and your husband (and for yourself - hey, that definitely counts for something!)

Oh yes... and re: the meals, I would just say your might want to think about crockpot meals for after your maternity leave is over. Our baby is almost a year old and I am *still* relying on crockpot meals (soups, stews, etc.) a minimum of once-a-week. It is so quick & lets you focus on other things for a change!

#2 due in Feb '11 said...

Your personality will dictate the best way for you to cope with this huge change; what worked to keep me sane was: making sure I got showered and dressed (with hair combed a a bit of mascara on) every day - some days it was a huge effort; going outside everyday, whether for a walk to run an errand, whatever (fair warning, don't overdo it, you will be surprised at how tired you get, plus I always bled more heavily after any exertion); having a drop-off meal schedule for friends. It is a LIFESAVER! A great site for this is Most of our friends just brought enough food for me and hubby, hung out for 15-20 minutes, held baby while I ate when he was fussy, and then left. It was awesome to get the company in short visit form, and most everyone who wanted to see the my son as a newborn got to without it being totally overwhelming for me. I second to sleep when baby sleeps. Finally, get Matt to take the first week off; I was in a lot of pain, and had a hard time moving around, and spent a lot of time in a sitz bath. I don't think I would have been able to handle all of it by myself without someone to take care of me so that I could take care of baby. Good luck, and you will both do great!

C├ęcy said...

Regarding the food. A friend of ours had an accident and lots of people wanted to bring food but he needed rest. So him and his wife just put a cooler outside of their door with ice packs in it. It worked wonderfully because people could drop things off without disturbing them.

Johanna said...

I just received a baby shower invite and tucked inside, along with the registry card, was a cute call to arms - a rally to stock the parents-to-be's freezer! The note suggested that guests to bring a favorite frozen meal (homemade or store-bought) to the baby shower. For the non-cooks, there was a short list of the couple's favorite local delis and grocery stores that have healthy frozen options. I thought this was an awesome idea! I got really stoked about making my favorite lasagna for them, knowing that it would come as a great relief on those crazy first couple of weeks.

Feeding people is my favorite act of kindness. I'm like a grandma. here is an awesome post I've bookmarked about making your own frozen meals:

Lyndal said...

My tips:
Feeding yourselves: we had heaps of people bring food, but after 4 weeks that support dried up. Salads became our best/easy meals. When friends have babies now, I take them meals after the 4-6 week mark. Also consider having a home delivery service or take-out vouchers as part of your registry. I also had heaps of easy nutritious snacks and water bottles scattered around the house as I was so hungry in the fist weeks. Hard boiled eggs, cheese, nuts, dried fruit pretty much in every room. Oh and my angel mother-in-law would drive all the way to our place (50mins) and leave food on the front step without disturbing us!

Rest and recuperation: I agree with the first comment about showering and feeling sane. At about 3 weeks, I spent one day in my pajamas and thought this will be great, we'll just stay in bed and sleep and feed all day, but it was my worst day ever. Getting up, showering, proper clothes and even a touch of lip gloss, were the best things I could do for myself.

Household chores: Again see above, but light chores like doing a load of washing made me feel sane and in control of my world. Although, things like vacuuming, leave that to someone else.

Parental leave: My husband is also a teacher and he was employed casually on call for the first 6 months of our baby's life. Yes this was financially and emotionally a bit stressful not knowing when he would be working or how much money we would have each week. BUT it was the best thing in terms of bonding and spending time together as a new family. He was around so so much more than other dads and from what my girlfriends tell me, it is really difficult to have their partner return to full-time work after that first 2 weeks.

Visitors: We left hospital after 36 hours which meant everyone came to our place to meet the baby. We had way way too many visitors in that first week, especially since our boy didn't sleep at all from 1am - 7am in that first couple of weeks! Also, the day 4 baby blues (not really sadness, just huge amount of emotions and hormones swirling) is really common, and on that day I just wanted to cry and be held by my man, but I never got the chance. So if possible, scatter visitors to every second day.

Liz said...

DEFINITELY sleep when the baby sleeps; getting enough sleep makes a world of difference when you have a newborn.

My big advice is to have no expectations. If you're a person who likes to be mentally prepared for whatever eventuality, that's cool, but don't get emotionally attached to how you think it's going to be. There will be days when you'll do absolutely nothing. Not 'you'll sort of laze around;' you will do NOTHING. You'll be exhausted, the baby will want to nurse every 15 minutes, you won't even make it into the shower. Start preparing yourself emotionally for that to be OK with you. Many women - especially women who do a LOT in their pre-baby lives - have an expectation that they'll be able to 'do it all,' whether that means always showering and getting dressed nicely when they're at home with baby or not falling behind on the laundry or home-cooked meals every night no matter what. But in the first few months, anything can happen, and the more you're in 'go with the flow' mode, the easier it all is.

Also, as a current midwifery student, thank you for using midwifery care. People like you make it possible for me to be training to do my dream job.

Kate said...

I thought that I got the recommendation for the book "Mothering the New Mother: Women's Feelings & Needs After Childbirth: A Support and Resource Guide" from you? I'm not seeing it on your recommended reading on the side-bar, but I'm finding it quite helpful in terms of thinking about taking care of myself (or having others help) post-baby, so that I can take care of baby.

It even contains some worksheets for figuring some of this stuff out, as well as a huge chapter on post-partum depression, just in case.

jes [a mountain bride] said...

oh exhaust me.

i due in mid-march :-) very excited now (was more terrified than excited when we first found out.) we live in a new town where clearly nobody will dropping off frozen dinners for us (i'm super jealous! it sounds like your community is so wonderful!)

you've given me some things to think about - thanks girl!

MBD said...

Hi Sara,

Did you ever end up implementing the food calendar and instructions for family/friends on housework? If so, did those things end up working out for you and based on your experience, do you have any advice on implementing this system to others? Do you have a template or any resources for setting those things up that you can share? I have a friend who is having triplets in May and I told her about this idea I read from you long ago. I would like to share this post and any other info with her that I can. I would appreciate any response.

Thanks so much.


P.S. Henry is super duper adorable!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, MBD! Will you e-mail me for the templates? Thanks!

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