Taking care of your first (or subsequent) newborn baby is probably the most demanding, surprising, and important job you’ll have ever had. And the most rewarding, heart-swelling, and sublime. But whatever it is, it’s also probably the only new job you’ll go into utterly raw, hormonally unhinged, and sleep-deprived from day one.
A woman in that situation is bound to make some bad moves. And, chances are, some of them will be completely original. Others may have more universal claim.
But do try to avoid mine:
1. Don’t walk home from the hospital the very next day after giving birth. Even if you just live down the street from the hospital. And especially if the nurse has given you some really effective pain killers to supplement your postpartum high of oxytocin and residual adrenaline. Your husband is not crazy for suggesting you borrow a wheel chair. You. You are the crazy one. That shit is gonna wear off! And how you gonna feel explaining to the incredulous home-visit midwife how you got home and why you think you’re dying right now?
2. Don’t watch movies involving massacres and civil war. Yes, Ben Kingley is amazing as Gandi. And no, I’m not saying you should just ignore sociopolitical calamities from now on. But maybe just for a few weeks? You’re pretty volatile right now, and your baby does not need you sobbing about the tragedies of mankind during these first days. When in doubt, just ask yourself, “Is Steve Martin in this?” If the answer is yes, go ahead.
3. Don’t suddenly start drinking a triple-shot espresso latte each morning. If your husband has just taken over your coffee preparation, and it tastes a little stronger than usual, it probably is. Ask. You may be feeling nice and peppy, but your breastfeeding infant probably doesn’t like it, and that might have something to do with all the crying. Just a thought…
4. When you hear the poop explosion, DON’T. …Not yet. For the love of God and your sofa upholstery, WAIT. Give it at least 10 minutes. It’s not over yet! Trust me. You don’t want to get caught with that baby’s pants down right now.
5. Don’t worry. Baby’s flaking skin? Normal. The weird, fluttery breathing when she sleeps? Normal. Baby sneezed? Well, so did about a million other humans on planet. Dolly Parton Syndrome on day three of breastfeeding? Normal, and nowhere near as fun as it sounds like that should be (OUCH). Do keep your midwife or OB on speed-dial, but if you start every call with “Sorry. It’s me again,” you might be over-doing it. Your baby is doing just fine. And you are too.
Excellent job, Momma!
P.S. If you’re watching Three Amigos, and you’re still bawling, don’t hesitate to ask your midwife or OB about postpartum depression. Because, jokes aside, that is a real thing, it is not your fault, and so, so many wonderful, loving mommas face it, too.