When Tommaso arrived a little over 5 weeks ago he did not come with a technical specification document (that’s geek speak for instructions on how he was built). You see if Tommaso had the correct documents I could simply troubleshoot his crying, turning red, uncontrollable kicking, etc. as opposed to the, ummm, going with my gut type behavior I’m exhibiting these days.
Here are some things I’ve learned this past month (to possibly help you avoid going with the gut thing):
1. Prepare for the unexpected. What does non stop crying or a little bit of blood in spit up mean? Moreover, is gas normal for newborns and has little Timmy eaten enough tonight? Newborns are reacting to their bodies and mom and dad just react to little Timmy (the tough part is that parents don’t know when a particular reaction is coming or what it means). The expression, “going with the flow” never rang so true.
2. You will not sleep (very much) – it’s true. Functioning without sleep is difficult at first, but after the first few days you will adjust and function fine. Most babies begin sleeping through the night after 3 months or so (thank God).
3. Specialization (thank you, Marx). It’s almost impossible to “share” taking care of the baby. Naturally, you and your partner will excel at doing certain tasks over others (learn who can do what better and divide and conquer). This is efficient sharing.
4. Breast Feeding is Tough. As I’ve told many people, my wife is doing most of the “heavy lifting” when it comes to nurturing our new son. That is to say, she is breast feeding and while things are going smoothly now, breast feeding was a challenge in the early stages (don’t even ask). So, bribe your lactation consultant at the hospital and get to know other moms who are going through the same experience (actually, someone should build a Google for breast feeding).
5. Ask for Help / Relocate Near Your Parents. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to take care of a newborn baby all alone. We, for example, have had tremendous help from our parents, family, friends, etc. and we would be in terrible shape without our generous social network. Read the above as: Don’t go at it alone.
6. Enjoy the time, it really does go by quickly. Newborns change very quickly – from body hair to body fat, your typical baby is going through tremendous change, so try and savor each moment (specific things will never happen again!).
7. You will need lots of diapers. We were lucky enough to have many boxes of newborn diapers given to us via my wife’s baby shower and it still blows my mind how many diapers we change per day (I know it ain’t’ Green).
8. Speak to your baby as much as possible. Babies respond to language even though they have yet to acquire speech. Our 5 week old loves to follow conversations with his head and eyes; in fact, Charlie Rose has already inquired if he’s available to host the show in a few years.
9. Cook in bulk / eat leftovers. It becomes difficult to cook with a newborn (and this is coming from a dyed in the wool home cook), but if you or your significant other is making dinner one night try making a few dishes to store in the freezer. If you can’t get into the kitchen, ask friends and family to cook for you (and reward them with a bottle of wine or some time with the new baby!).
10. Go out for walks / socialize with family and friends. You may have a tendency to lock yourself in your home and take care of your baby, but visiting family, strolls around the neighborhood, or even a quick car ride for a coffee/food does wonders for mom’s mental state!
Feel free to add your tips and experiences and I’ll include them in the list above!