Newborn babies bring smiles to the faces of friends, family, and even strangers. Everyone wants to see the new baby. Everyone wants to hold him. When bedtime arrives, however, the admiring crowd has somehow disappeared! Babies don’t come with instructions, and they aren’t predictable creatures, at least not in the beginning. New parents are often overwhelmed with the stress and demands that this one little person can inflict on the whole family. How do you survive new parenthood?
After the thrill and the adrenaline rush of labor and delivery, you finally have your newborn in your arms. Everyone in the hospital wants to help you, and you have an unending parade of visitors. Once you get home, though, several things happen at once. First, you realize that you really do have to take care of this tiny, wrinkled, fragile being. Second, you also realize that you are totally exhausted. Third, you can’t give the baby back. Of course, the third statement is just a joke, but there will be times that you wonder who exactly had the idea that you could manage parenthood!
Take comfort in the thought that your baby really doesn’t know if you are doing a good job or a bad one, and he certainly won’t hold your mistakes against you. If this is your first child, you can take advantage of the simple advice to rest when your baby rests. Until your baby discovers the difference between day and night, he may sleep most of the day and be awake most of the night. If this is the case, you’ll have to do the same thing in order to keep a tight rein on your ever increasing exhaustion. This means limiting visitors, phone calls, housework, and anything else that interferes with your rest.
You might want to hang a sign on the front door that says, “We’re sleeping. Please come back later.” You can take the phone off the hook, or at the very least, take the phone out of your room. Take advantage of the kindness of others who want to bring you food and/or do errands or chores for you. Just remember, though, that you should accept this help on your terms. If you really want take a nap instead of wait up for your friend to bring a casserole, ask her to bring it at a set time. If your mother-in-law really wants to clean your house, but you don’t want anyone over at that time, politely tell you that you’d love the help, but just not right now. Who can get mad at a mother who has just given birth, right?
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