I had this vision of what maternity leave would look like. I had dreams of getting the garage organized, keeping the house clean, organizing all my seasonal decor, home cooked meals, baking, donating kids toys and clothes…oh, the list goes on and on; all while bonding with my brand new, perfectly behaved, little baby boy…
Go ahead, you can laugh out loud, right now. You see, I had been blessed with an incredibly easy pregnancy, everything went the way it was supposed to go. But, when I went into labor, all of that changed, and I ended up with an emergency c-section and recovery time I hadn’t been prepared for. My little guy also suffered from acid reflux for the first several months of his life. And my emotions – I won’t even get into that – but they were all over the place! So, my dream maternity leave, was nothing like I had envisioned!
I’ve learned a lot since then. And, looking back, I wish I had been prepared differently for maternity leave. Because, during that first couple months, I was disappointed with myself and the way things were going. Simply based on my own, unrealistic expectations. Truth is, as a new mom, you have no idea the toll that pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum recovery will take on your body and your emotions. And no one can really prepare you for it, because everyone has a different experience. So, if I had it to do all over again – these tips are the tips that I’d take into account and prepare myself for.
Prep meals and/or be financially prepared for take out
If you cook, make meals ahead of time that can be frozen. If meal prep isn’t your thing, that’s fine too, but be prepared to get take out – like a lot! I had this crazy idea in my head that there would be home cooked meals, on the table, when my hubby got home from work. This wild idea that the baby would be swaddled and peacefully sleeping in his bassinet while I sat down to enjoy a nice meal with the rest of the family. This insane thought that he’d stay asleep long enough to, not only enjoy the meal, but clean up afterwards. Yeah, no… Instead, my husband would text me, “whatchya wanna do for dinner?”, and I’d sob behind the phone and respond, “Just pick up Taco Bell.” I spent months feeling guilty about not eating well, unhealthy meals, and thinking I wasn’t doing my job as mom. Newborns require a lot of attention – the majority of your attention. So, don’t beat yourself up over it, prepare yourself, in advance – home cooked meals probably won’t happen often, not during the first few weeks, anyway. And, it’s okay! Plan ahead with frozen meals or save some “take out” money and plan ways that the family can eat well even when you’re eating out.
Stock up on paper products.
Trust me – you won’t want the dishes piling up.
Family & friends will offer to help – accept it!
People love new babies. And, they love you! Let them help! And, if they don’t offer, be prepared to ask. When you become a mom, you become a part of a tribe… the MOM tribe… I promise you, you are not alone. Moms help moms – simply because we understand! Let go of fear, let go of pride, and let friends and family be a support system.
Portable diaper changing kit!!!
Definitely a life saver! They make a lot of fancy things for babies, but, most aren’t necessary. I never got a changing table for my son. And, to be honest, I never had a moment where I wished I had one. Guess where I changed my baby…yep, the couch, or the living room floor. I was recovering from a c-section, I had no desire to climb the stairs for every diaper change. And, neither will you. Keep it simple, and keep a diaper changing kit close by. Mine was simply a bin, tucked under the end table, and it contained a stack of diapers, wipes, butt cream, a nose sucker, and nail clippers.
Resist the buttons!
Seriously, why do they make pajamas with 15 buttons, anyway?! I don’t care how cute the outfit is, stick to zippers – you’ll thank me later! (This is especially useful when they start moving.)
Don’t worry about the small things.
This one is huge, momma. If you forget everything else, remember this, set your expectations low on all the things you will accomplish. And, don’t beat yourself up over tasks not completed, dishes not clean, toilets not scrubbed, etc. There will be days that you accomplish much and there will be days, many days, that all you do is hold the baby. There is NOTHING wrong with days like that! Breathe deep, momma, you’re doing fine! If all you did, today, was keep the baby alive, then job well done! That’s what maternity leave is for – you and baby.
My baby guy turns a year old, next month. I am blown away at how fast the time really does go. So, I’ll leave you with this… Enjoy them while they are so tiny, because it passes long before you’re really ready. Watching them grow and learn and develop is one of my most favorite things – but, I’ve also learned to savor the special, quiet moments with my guy, those moments that he just sits still with me. Sometimes the days seem long, but, momma, the years are short… make the most of every stage! Congrats on your new baby, I hope this finds you at the right moment, and blesses you as you soak up those newborn baby snuggles!