The postpartum haze months were the sweetest months of my life. Sweetest, not easiest. Postpartum can get rough.
Because of past family history and the caution of a few friends, I wanted to do my best to ward off postpartum depression. I’m in no way saying I felt completely blissful the whole time, but when I started to get lost in overwhelm, I was able to shut it down and absorb every last beautiful drop of goodness from the newborn/postpartum period.
In no particular order, these are a few key things that helped me remain calm, focused, and enjoy the very early days of mommyhood.
1. An Incredibly Short To-Do List
Declan’s doctor told me on his 3rd day check up, “Your only job is to feed the baby and rest. No cooking. No cleaning. Just feed the baby. And rest.”
And you better bet I took that to heart. I may have added poop (it’s a big accomplishment after giving birth), eat, and drink a lot of water to my list, but I did not let myself get caught up in anything other than figuring out breastfeeding and letting my (champion!) body start to recover from not only birthing a baby, but also growing one. My body did an outstanding job and deserved some much needed rest.
The whole time I was resting luxuriously, I kept having a thought in the back of my mind that’s a tad scary… how do mamas rest like this if they already have another kiddo? Better enjoy it to the fullest now!
2. The County Songs, “You’re Gonna Miss This” by Trace Adkins and “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” by Darius Rucker
These two songs stuck out in my head after giving birth. It hurt my heart to know how quickly Declan will grow up and how I’ll blink and his baby stage will be over, so I wanted to intentionally soak in as much as I could and not wish time away. I did not want to miss the newborn smells and newborn snuggles getting caught up with frustrations.
I had heard from every parent ever how quickly the baby stages change. And mamas, it does fly by. So enjoy each part.
Enjoy waking up every hour to nurse your baby. Enjoy every crazy loud newborn fart and messy diaper that follows. Enjoy the newborn cries. Enjoy your baby falling asleep on you. Enjoy the overwhelm. Because it won’t be like this for long. And you’re gonna miss it.
3. My Husband
I get teary eyed just thinking back to how in awe I was of Dillon. He has always been like a rock for me. But this was different. After giving birth I was so physically broken I relied on his support to even stand, to walk, to sit back down. I had no idea what to expect after giving birth, but I didn’t think I’d need help standing up out of bed. So while I had one baby to take care of, Dillon had two babies that needed constant, delicate, and comforting care.
He did anything and everything possible to help me stay true and focused to my short to-do list. And through it all, he just kept telling me how beautiful I was.
4. A Giant Water Container With A Straw
The hospital knows what’s up because they gifted me with the perfect water bottle. Nursing gets a mama mighty thirsty. The straw was key because when my hands were full, Dillon could just lift the water bottle up for me to sip on. (Yes, I got super spoiled…)
Nursing also makes a mama super hungry. I had a ton of salami, cheese, and crackers. Mandarins were also in season so each week we hit up the farmer’s market and I bought two full bags of those yummy little oranges. Snacks should be super easy for mama to prepare and no cooking involved was key for me.
6. Comfy Clothes
Clothes that were extremely comfortable, breastfeeding friendly, and pretty enough to not feel the need to change when people came by to meet baby.
7. Sister’s Help
My sister stayed with us the second week after Declan was born. Dillon had to go back to work by then, and I was just not ready to be alone. She helped by taking Mattie on walks, driving to get food, doing baby’s laundry, or just by filling my water bottle up while I nursed Declan. Any little task that would help me stay resting she would be willing to do. She helped me take newborn photos and send out birth annoucements. She even helped me with the comfy clothes by going out to Target for me and getting me a few outfits that fit all three requirements.
Something else that really helped having my sister stay was that since she’s my sister, I had no problem breastfeeding in front of her or talking about my postpartum body issues or asking her to do random tasks like get me a stool softener pill. She could so easily read my mood and knew when I needed a nap or a milkshake or to laugh or to cry. She was also aware that sometimes Dillon and I needed to catch up after he got off work and was really respectful of giving us some time.
Once my husband had to return to work, having someone close by that I felt extremely comfortable with was so helpful.
8. Boppy Pillow
I loved my nursing pillow and I still use it. Declan is 8 months old.
9. Bathroom Goodies From The Hospital
I had read some advice from other bloggers about what to do while at the hospital giving birth and a few mentioned stocking up on all the postpartum supplies from the hospital. I made sure to ask the nurses for extra of everything. Everything meaning witch hazel pads, numbing spray, the biggest pads I have ever seen in my life, stretching mesh underwear, and peri bottles.
10. God’s Strength and Peace
I rely day by day on God’s supernatural strength to keep me going. Mine can only take me so far.
11. Cell Phone
With a newborn attached to me almost constantly, I sometimes only had one hand available and still wanted to check in with the blogs I follow, work e-mail, regular e-mail, Instagram, or just check The Bump to read about my baby each week. Oh, and of course, text people a ton of Declan photos.
12. Ugly Betty – A Comfort TV Show
Once my husband was back at work and my sister had to go back to her life, I was all alone with a tiny baby. I was still on the couch most of the day feeding or holding the baby while he slept, and it could get lonely. So I rewatched the entire Ugly Betty series. I had already seen that show at least two times so it felt like having familiar people around. Since I knew everything going on in the show, it didn’t matter if I dozed off with Declan in my arms to catch up on much needed sleep.
I would have liked to be a new mommy who reads while she is nursing, but I was super sleepy and not at all in the mood to attempt to read.
13. Paper Plates and Canned Vegetables
I was kind of a food snob for a few years and refused to eat canned vegetables or use paper plates. I don’t think I ate canned vegetables before Declan was born for at least five years. And I always thought paper plates were a waste of money, since it wasn’t that hard to wash a plate.
But having a baby changed things, as they say. We weren’t on our cooking game, so we ended up throwing away a ton of fresh vegetables that didn’t get cooked in time and then having no vegetables to eat at meal time. Canned veggies stay good for a scary amount of time, so while they aren’t ideal, canned veggies are better than no veggies. Frozen would be good, too.
Also, the paper plates just became a nice, handy vacation away from dishes. Since my to-do list was really short, Dillon got stuck with all the dishes, normally a job I tend to. Paper plates freed him up to spend more time with mama and baby. Paper plates for the win!
14. Salt Lamp
We ended up bed-sharing with Declan. I had a bassinet next to the bed, that was the plan. But when I brought that tiny baby home, it just felt wrong to have him so far from me. 8 months later however… Anyway, with a newborn so close I felt too nervous to have the room completely dark. I had to feed him at least every two hours, if not every hour, and the salt lamp provided the perfect amount of quiet light. Eventually I got skilled enough to feed him in the dark, but at first I needed some light. It also is a dimmer lamp, so I could easily turn it higher if I needed to and didn’t have to have a bright shock of light from a normal lamp.
15. Quick Visits
I loved having people come over to show off my baby. But quick visits were key. As Declan and I got the hang of it, I got better at breastfeeding discreetly in front of people, but for the first few weeks I just needed privacy when feeding him. And breastfeeding under a blanket was really strange… and hot. And disappearing to feed him to a different room for forty minutes made me feel isolated and put under pressure to hurry the feeding up since everyone came over to see the baby. Quick visits were also key because Dillon and I were exhausted new parents and could only entertain for so long.
16. YouTube Sermons
Church was, and still is, a little more complicated with a baby. So it was really nice to have access to sermons from pastors I like on YouTube whenever I needed some truth talked at me.
17. Letting Bad Advice/Comments Go In One Ear and Out The Other…
Babies get people talking. Talking with advice. Talking with their experiences. Talking talking talking. Some harmful words are bound to slip out. Some unwanted, bad advice is bound to slip out. I know family and friends are well-meaning and wouldn’t purposely say things to upset me or steer me in the wrong direction, but I was really hormonal and running on little to no sleep, so I made sure to be selective with which bits of advice/comments I clung to and which I tossed aside quickly.
A lot of times when people were giving me unwanted advice, I would remind them as kindly as possible that I am a new mom and will need to figure some things out through experience, just like they did when they had a baby.
18. Pro-Breastfeeding Friends
I was also given a ton of terrible breastfeeding advice. When I was experiencing problems breastfeeding (major clogging issues around 2-3 months), people who weren’t really pro-breastfeeding were super quick to tell me things like, “you need to give the baby water and juice” or “you’ll never be able to make enough milk so start supplementing with formula” or “you could just stop breastfeeding, you’ll feel a lot of stress gone when you give it up.” I believe well-meaning comments, but ones I didn’t agree with and needed to ignore.
Thankfully, I had a few friends I would text weekly about how Declan was eating and how breastfeeding was going. I could ask them for advice knowing they had been through it successfully. They encouraged me, made me laugh, and understood why breastfeeding was important for me to try and stick out.
Trust My Gut — I Needed To Do This More
This is one I didn’t do as much as I would have liked.
I second guessed myself a lot. Example — there were a few times where I could tell Declan was hungry, so I would tell whoever was holding him, “I need to feed him, I think he’s hungry.” And they would tell me, “no, I don’t think he is.” And it got super awkward because I didn’t want to demand my baby back… so I would just say, “Umm…okay…?”
Or the same situation but Declan was tired and needed a nap, but people kept wanting to play with him or make him smile… and then he would get crazy grumpy and it took much longer for Dillon or me to get him to sleep.
I did learn to be more vocal once I gained more confidence as a mom. I learned how to sweetly, but sternly say, “my baby is hungry. I need to feed him right now.” I learned how to read Declan’s mood and insist play time was over because it was now baby’s nap time. Being more assertive from the beginning would have taken away some uncomfortable stress.
Anyway, this list could honestly keep on growing because there are so many different ways to help a new mama make the most of the beautiful but challenging postpartum days. Sunshine is another key ingredient for a happy postpartum. Baby wearing made me feel like supermom.
Overall, I got so much support and Declan got so much love.
That time was a true gift from God. It was a very sweet, unlike any other.
Mamas, was there anything that helped you have an easier postpartum period?