Welcome to parenthood! Very simply put, your life will never be the same. I don’t think you can fully explain, or even really comprehend, what it is like to be a new parent until it happens to you. It’s as if you didn’t realize your heart could be so full, until you hold your firstborn. In that one moment, you realize what it means to truly love.
It’s that single moment that your life will change forever, in the very best and most terrifying ways. With that expansion of your heart, also comes true fear and responsibility. Now it’s your job to keep this precious bundle safe, healthy and happy. So where do you begin?
Parenting is a team sport, and whether you’re adopting, fostering or having your own children, taking on the care and upbringing of a child will change you forever. At times you may go it alone but inevitably that old adage will ring in your ears, it takes a village!
Take a moment, a day, a week, to reflect on this precious gift, and this new chapter in your life. Accept that things will never be like they were before, and that is okay. Not just okay, but wonderful. You will soon have a new routine, a new normal. It’s okay to grieve the loss of independence and fear the new responsibility. Many new parents may experience some sadness and anxiety, but talk to your doctor if these feelings are severe or aren’t getting better.
Taking care of a baby is a full-time job. Share in the duties, and help each other out. If baby is breastfeeding, this can be hard on dads who can sometimes feel left out. There are still lots of ways to help — take on diaper duty, rock a crying baby, get down on the floor for some tummy time. And just because a baby joined the family, doesn’t mean the needs of the household cease — be the one who runs to the store, prepares meals or does laundry.
You’ve heard it, sleep when the baby sleeps. Well, it’s easier said than done. Sometimes when the baby is sleeping is the only time you have to eat or take a shower. More sleep equals better parenting, so come up with a plan. A lot of new families will take turns getting some rest. Just a few hours of uninterrupted sleep can be so restorative.
Yes, with any new addition to the family, there will be tears. Tears of joy and of sadness. Lots of emotions will run high. New moms can be very emotional, and may cry with little provocation. And all babies cry. Developmentally they will start to cry more at about 2 weeks old, peak around 2 months, then get better by 5 months. Know that the crying will stop.
You and your partner may experience this new addition differently. Be supportive and understanding of each other in this fragile time. Remember you are on the same team, and you are in this together. Give each other the benefit of the doubt, and try to remain open and honest. You will have to defend your parenting choices, for some sooner than others. Have each other’s back, and try to remember the bigger picture
You’ve been blessed with a precious gift. Another timeless saying, the days will seem long, but the years will fly by. Enjoy every moment with your new little one. Remember, you’re not in this alone. Pediatricians from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin are here for you, from all the small questions to the major and life changing ones. Congratulations!