A little bit about those first few weeks:
So, Five weeks into this whole parenthood thing and for the very first time, I feel like I might actually have the hang of it. The sleep deprivation is still overwhelming, but beside that, I feel like I have the hang of this. Pretty impressive for a girl who when left on her own for the first day was crying and catatonic when Jon came home from work. I had these insane expectations that I would get the house straightened up from when family had been in town, and establish new routines for the family, and get myself straightened up – hair, nails, outfit, the works. Then I planned to go grocery shopping with my adorable cooing little tyke, who of course would be dressed in adorable cargo pants and the cutest little baby henley. I expected Jon to come home to a roast chicken dinner, which I would then shred to make soft tacos for the next night. What actually happened? I breastfed for hours, when he would finally fall asleep, I would dash off to start my plans only to hear him whimper and rush back hysterical thinking that the 2 minutes it took me to make it back to him has scarred him for life and he will now end up a serial killer thanks to my neglectful parenting. I actually got NOTHING done that day. Seriously, not a single thing off my list. I felt like a failure and at the time, thought that every day would be like that.
If you have a newborn and feel exactly like this… fear not… you aren't alone. Needless to say, Jon was pretty shocked to see me in that state. A lot of good came out of it though, I realized that my expectations had to change considerably. At the time, I really didn't expect it to get better for several months. Thank god I was wrong about that! I would ask friends and family for advice, I was scared to death that this would be my new life forever. Most of their advice was to let the other stuff go and just enjoy the baby. Since I was insanely hormonal and freaking out, this just made it worse because now I felt like a complete failure and I was a bad parent because I wasn't “enjoying the baby” enough. In my mind, how much love am I showing him if I don't have clean outfits for when he messed himself, or diapers because I didn't have time to order them, or clean bottles? Looking back, I realize what they meant but at the time, it was hard to reason clearly.
I changed my expectations and I came up with a new priority list and took over my kitchen dry erase board to list them in horrendous scribbled writing.
- Baby is happy and healthy.
- Jon is happy and healthy.
- Rowy is mentally and physically OK. (At the time, I thought happy and healthy was a bit of a leap)
- Drink enough to nurse.
- Eat enough and relatively healthy. (My incision had gotten infected and I had almost no appetite for a few weeks).
- House is picked up enough to not be a safety hazard.
- Bottles are washed. (We switched to paper plates and plastic silverware until we got the hang of this).
- Laundry is kept up enough so that we each have clean clothes.
- Maintain family finances.
- Flying Club finances (I'm the acting treasurer of a local flying club)
This hastily scribbled list made a huge difference to me because it gave me permission to ignore everything on the bottom of the list until I got a handle on the top of the list. Some days (like that first day), only #1 got taken care of. By day two, the first 5 were done. By day three, I had gotten to the first 8. By three weeks, I could routinely do 1-8. Now, at 5 weeks, I can routinely do all of these. In a few days, when I feel comfortable with this, I can raise the bar and start establishing those routines that I love so much. My original plan did have to change drastically to complete this. I pictured Jon working during my 3 months off, and handling everything at home by myself. Taking care of the baby, the house, the meals, etc. I'm still convinced that's not possible and single parents have become by personal hero's. I have NO IDEA how you guys do it. You should all be given a congressional medal.
What I consider to be essentials:
- A reasonably priced crib. Ikea sells cribs for $69.99. Ours was $119.00 from there and we love it. It can grow with the baby and converts into a toddler bed.
- A firm mattress that fits into the crib. We got ours from Ikea as well. They start at $34.99, ours was $54.99.
- A changing table. We got ours from Ikea for $59.99
- A changing table pad and 2 covers.
- White square protectors that you lay on the changing table to protect the cover so you don't have to change the cover every day.
- Diapers (duh.)
- Formula (even if your breastfeeding, we had to supplement and I was so grateful that we already had a canister ready to go).
- About 4 Crib sheets. (I bought about 12 in a thrift store and he's never had an accident on one).
- A rocking chair (We covered my Opa's chair which has been in my family since the 1950's- It's nice to have a comfortable resting spot at night when your up with him).
- A foot stool – a 10 dollar walmart cube will do, just something so you can put your feet up.
- Baby Wipes (duh.)
- A breast pump if your breastfeeding.
- Burp Cloths (I made mine with instructions I found on pinterest- I adore them!)
- 5 Bottles (We probably have about 50 of different types and sizes- We came to Richmond for two weeks while Jon has training and I only took 3 bottles- What a difference! You just wash them and reuse – no running all over the house and collecting them- as soon as I get home, I'm gathering most of those bottles up and storing them away!).
- Storage bags if your breastfeeding.
- 2 baby blankets (Not for the crib- It's recommended that you keep blankets out of the crib until the risk of SIDS has passed, we use them on the swing or just for cuddling.)
- 2 sleep sacks- These are fleece wearable blankets that the baby wears at bedtime instead of blankets to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Around 10 easy to get on and off onsies. Buttons or zippers all the way up and down. We have MOUNTAINS of clothing. He actually rotates through about 10 onsies that meet the above criteria. I'm changing 10 diapers a day on 6 hours of sleep- I need easy.
- A car seat- I'm actually a certified car seat inspector, I had to take a one week ridiculously intensive class to get that certification and the most important thing I learned is that as long as it's commercially sold in the US, price doesn't matter. They are all equally safe. Buy the seat that's easy for you to use and if you need help (almost all that I inspect are incorrect), call the local police department or fire house. If you still can't get any help. Write me an email and I'll do everything I can for you. Don't buy a used seat because you don't know its history and recalls are common. Costco sells a newborn car seat for around $60.00. If you honestly can't afford one, email me and I may be able to find your states local program for free child seats for certain income levels.
- An electronic plug in swing- We got ours off of amazon for $99.00 after a desperate night of crying. It's the best 99.00 I have ever sent in my life.
- A pack and play with changing table if you live in a multi level house. We use ours on our middle level so there's a safe spot for him to nap and a place to change diapers without breaking our back by bending over.
- A Boppy with two covers. I adore that thing! I use it as a back brace for me when he's napping, to lift him up to chest level when I'm breast feeding, and to relive my very sore arms when I've been holding him forever.
- A stroller that connects to your car seat if you can afford it. Stupidly, We didn't do this because we had a free stroller from a family friend. When your baby falls asleep in the car seat (as they always seem to do), he'll likely be out for about 2 hours… Unless you wake him up to transfer him to a stroller in which case he'll scream his head off for the entire walmart trip.
- A diaper back pack – We bought two, a black backpack style for Jon and a beautiful girlie one for me. The girlie one is still unused. The backpack is so great theres no way I could use anything else, I can stuff it full, it keeps my back from being sore and I don't even have to carry a purse, It has so many compartments, I just switch the purse stuff over to it.
- Earplugs and a sleep mask – If there are two of you, nights can get pretty tense. I adore Jon Groner more than anything else in the world. But when we each have minimal sleep and the other person is making a ton of noise as they take care of him, it's like a battlefield in our bedroom. It's almost commonplace now to start the day off with “Sorry about last night.” If it's my “shift” to take care of the baby, Jon can slip on that mask and put in those earplugs and it's like he's on an island. This enables him to get good sleep, which will later enable me to get good sleep when it's his turn.
- An iPad- okay, it's a bit expensive, but watching TV shows on HULU or ABC Player at 3 in the morning when he refuses to go to sleep makes my nights considerably easier. I can rock him in that chair for hours without losing my cool if I can watch Grey's Anatomy while I do it.
- A baby bath- Porcelain is hard:( If baby's going to bump his head, I'd much rather it be in his plastic tub.
- A foam gardeners knee pad (these are cheaper than the baby bath ones that they sell), because kneeling on your bathroom floor isn't exactly comfy.
- Baby wash, nail clippers, desitin, lotion, and vaseline (if it's a circumcised boy).
- Baby Monitor if your bedroom is away from the nursery.
That's it! If I had to do it all over again, those are the only things that I would buy.
What I wish I had skipped:
- The vibrating chair. The swing is about a million times better.
- The play mat. He prefers a blanket on the floor.
- All of those clothes!
- All of those bottles!
- Shoes, mittens, hats, socks.
- Baby towels (Our towels work fine)
- Baby wash cloths (see above).
- The million pacifiers we bought (he doesn't like any of them).
- The nanny timer (we ended up with an iphone app that does the same thing for 4.99 and is much more complete since you can pull up his history.