Surviving and Thriving: The First Month with a Newborn

13 October 2017

People warned us about the first month. They said it would be really, really hard. They said we wouldn’t sleep. That breastfeeding wouldn’t be easy. And that there would be diapers… many, many diapers.

Everything people said was true. Caring for my newborn has been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to do. But nothing could’ve prepared me for the wave of emotions I would experience in the first month.

To give you a bit of insight into the roller coaster that is the first month of parenthood, I’ve broken down my experience week by week.

Week 1// infatuation

Our first week with our baby boy was heaven. I literally kept saying “this is heaven” because it felt SO good to hold my baby finally. I was thrilled to wake up in the middle of the night to his sweet cries and cuddle him as he fed. I was excited to change his diaper, and celebrated each poop (new parents, do you get me on this one?). I indulged in every single moment. The oxytocin flowed.

David and I were also flooded with tons of support right from day one. Grandmas, moms, sisters, and friends dropped off comfort foods daily and kept our house clean. My mom was (literally!) by my side everyday, guiding me on how to breastfeed. Our closest family and friends visited frequently, so I was never lonely. My husband was by my side supporting me day and night. It was a great week.

Week 2 // adrenaline rush

By the second week I started to feel ‘back to normal’, and at the same time I was still getting tons of support from family and friends. I felt so good that I decided I would be able to resume the normal activities of my life. I did my hair/ make up daily. I worked on blog collaborations and lined up projects for the coming months. Because my husband was off work, and because we were experiencing a late summer heatwave, we went on a fun outing every day. We went to coffee shops, out for brunch, had picnics, and even went on a HIKE. People frequently commented that I was crazy or that I made motherhood look too easy. As for our baby, he seemed to sleep most of the day, and my husband and I would alternate taking care of him at night.

While I was on this adrenaline rush, David’s energy started to wane and exhaustion kicked in for him. I should also mention that he started a new graduate program around the same time baby C was born (while still working full-time).

Week 3 // desperation

This was the hardest week. A few things happened. First, my husband was so exhausted that I started to do the night shifts on my own. He also went back to work by the end of this week. Second, my mom wasn’t able to come over every day because she was attending to my youngest sister, who had suffered a mild concussion. Third, my baby started cluster feeding on my blistered nipples every hour at night and wanted to be on me all day. At the same time, the adrenaline rush and infatuation I felt the first two weeks started to wear off. “This is heaven” quickly turned into “I can’t take it anymore!”

Exhaustion had officially set in and by the time I’d see the sun rise in the morning, I would be overcome with feelings of hopelessness (that I would never sleep again) and desperation (for help). I also experienced baby blues as my hormones dipped dramatically. I would cry, daily. Happy cries and sad cries. I was overcome by the enormous responsibility of caring for my baby, and overwhelmed by how different my life looked.

Week 4 // adjustment

By week four I had made the choice to embrace the all-consuming task of becoming a mother. I realized I was resisting the transformation that was taking place in me and around me. But the fact was that life was no longer going to be the same, and that I needed to give myself time to adjust to my new normal.

I decided to slow down and focus almost all my attention on Baby C. I realized that I had limited energy stores and needed to prioritize what I spent it on. I stopped going out so much. I put a hold on my blogging commitments. And most importantly, I slept during the day when baby was sleeping, so that I would have the energy to give him the care and attention he needed at night.

I accepted that during this short phase of my baby’s life, he needed my undivided attention. I realized this was a precious and relatively short time in his life that I needed to savour. I devoted my days and nights to caring, nurturing and feeding him; listening to his cues, and learning his language. And something beautiful happened as a result of these adjustments.

I bonded more than ever to my baby boy and became attune to his needs. I finally felt confident in myself as a mother, and fully embraced my new identity.

Happy One Month!

In such a short period of time I have experienced an intense array of emotions, ranging from overwhelming joy and love, to hopelessness and frustration. This month has been a time of transition and transformation for my marriage, my lifestyle, and my identity. There are good days and bad days, but each day gets a bit easier for all of us as we get to know each other better.

Baby C is thriving. He has gained a ton of weight (3 lbs in 4 weeks!) and breastfeeding has gone from being a lot of work (and sometimes painful) to almost effortless and enjoyable. David and I are finding our new rhythm, and are working well as a team. And as for me? I have to say I love being a mother. I feel honoured to have the opportunity to take up this role. Despite the hard work, sleepless nights, and bodily fluids being spilled on me daily, nothing seems more right than right now.

Photos by: Yellow Brick Road Photography

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