You know what I learned from having my first baby? That you learn a lot. And fast! Not just about baby care and child rearing, but about yourself and about how to manage your new life. I mean let's face it, as amazing as that sweet-smelling newborn is and as many hours as you could spend just looking at him or her, they upend your life, turn it inside out, twist it around and then drop it back down on you. What is it they say about military boot camp? They break you down so they can build you back up into something better? Yeah, babies do that too. The closer I get to D-Day, the more I've been reflecting on the things I can do to make our transition from one child to two as easy as possible. This is my short list.
Tiny roommate. When I had Sweets, the hospital encouraged "rooming in," where the baby stays in your room with you 24 hours a day. I'm so glad this is the policy, and that we didn't have to be separated, because I was completely intoxicated by him. However, I was so infatuated that I didn't sleep at all. Every time he peeped, I would check on him. Even when he wasn't peeping, I was just so mesmerized by him that I couldn't close my eyes for a second. This time, I fully intend to send the baby to the nursery at night so I can get some sleep. I know the extent of the sleep deprivation that is headed my way, and I can't come home from the hospital already behind. The nurses will bring the baby to me for nursing and that's fine, and of course, I'll have him or her with me during the day, but for the love of God, I have GOT to get some shut-eye this time!
Visitors.The first time around, we had so many wonderful visitors. I can't tell you how much we appreciated each and every person who came to see us in the hospital in those first few days. It made us feel so loved! This time around though, we are limiting hospital visitors to our immediate family. It's all about getting some rest. I just feel really strongly about it, because I know how depleted I was when we brought Sweets home. If we're not visiting with our parents, my plan is to be sleeping or nursing. I also want to give Sweets plenty of space to feel out his new role as big brother without a lot of commotion.
Food prep. I was so naive when I had Sweets! I had no idea, really, what was coming down the pike at me, and I did absolutely no preparation for meal planning in advance. I figured I would go about my normal routine of planning a week of meals, shopping for them, and preparing them daily. I think my idea of "freezer meals" was to have a couple of frozen pizzas on hand. This go-round, I am planning to stock my freezer and pantry as if we are preparing for the apocalypse. Seriously. It will be the dead of winter and I will have a newborn and a preschooler. Shopping for and preparing meals will not only be of low priority, but potentially virtually impossible in those first weeks, when even stealing a shower seems like a massive accomplishment. I've invested in a few "make ahead and freeze" themed cookbooks, started a Pinterest board of easy meals to throw in the crockpot, and have an extensive list of the recipes I'm planning to prepare in advance. Every week when I go shopping, I grab several ingredients off my recipe list and over Thanksgiving and Christmas break, I'll get to work stocking our freezer with nourishing, home-cooked meals to get us through the "survival mode" phase.
Just go with it. I tried so hard for perfection the first time. I wanted it all: clean house, home-cooked meals, peaceful baby, home chores all done. I'm not going to say I don't want the same things this time; that's just my nature. I am, however, going to try and overlook the chaos that those first few weeks bring in favor of bonding as a family of four and recuperating from birth. I am going to try and sleep when the baby sleeps. I am going to try and give myself permission to get behind on laundry and dishes, and to ask for help when I need it. I am going to encourage myself to accept the help that is offered, instead of thinking I can handle it all. When I envision bringing this baby home, I'm envisioning holing up and hibernating...letting things unfold as they will and just savoring the fleeting sweetness that is the newborn stage.