As I pack up the babe’s newborn and 0-3 month clothes, it’s really sinking in just how much she didn’t use. Everyone said she would fly through newborn clothes and to size up. So, I did, and lil’ mama flew through those just as quickly. She had her growth spurt while we were on vacation and I didn’t think to bring 3-6 month clothes as she was only 8 weeks. Silly me. Notes for next time…
Speaking of notes for next time, not only did the babe not use clothes, but there’s a ton of items she still hasn’t used. All of them were declared vital by one person’s parenting advice or another. They clearly weren’t pivotal in keeping her alive or me sane, but better safe than sorry I suppose.
There are several items that have not only kept me sane, but some have felt like lifesavers at times and others have become crutches. These are the top ten things I credit survival with during the newborn stage – in no particular order.
1. A really great nursing bra. Let’s be real. I didn’t wear a bra for the first two weeks. The babe nursed so frequently that there was no point in wearing a shirt. I wore my husband’s West Point-issued robe in the hospital and for the two weeks after. Once those two weeks were up, however, my nursing bra was the best investment I made. I already am pretty top heavy, so, throw a few ounces of milk in there and, “Hello, Dolly Parton!” Nordstrom’s alterations department can alter any bra into a nursing bra and if you’re a card holder (I am.), alterations are reimbursed. It was the best $80 I think I’ve ever spent.
2. A lumbar pillow. As I was saying, there was a child affixed to my chest around the clock for two weeks straight. When your babe is nearly ten pounds at birth, walking around while letting her eat isn’t sustainable. So, I channeled my inner college kid and bought this lumbar pillow to support my back, the weight of my Dolly Parton-sized chest, and my arms while holding this monster babe to my chest.
3. A Boppy. This inventive little pillow seemed so silly to me when I got it, but again, after continuous feedings, it helped to not have to hold the babe up all by myself at 3am as I desperately tried to rock us to sleep.
4. Swaddles. A million of them because you need backups. Once you get your tiny human to sleep, you don’t need to have them wake themselves up with that startle reflex. At first, we were swaddling her too loosely and she would escape. So, we just thought she wasn’t interested in being confined. Once we got her in the Velcro straight jacket, we were “cooking with gas” as my dad says.
5. Cloth diapers. Oh, make no mistake. I am not the supermom willing to take on newborns and cloth diapers. I can’t keep up with the spit-up-induced laundry piles much less cloth diapers. But, these babies cut my laundry down with how much spit up they can hold. I will forever be grateful.
6. Accurately sized breast shields. I don’t think I could reiterate this enough. The first three days home were hell. First, my milk didn’t come in until 24 hours after being home. Lil’ mama was hangry as hell and she would attack my nips as though ripping them off might yield better results. Then, I was using a breast shield too small and I thought my nipple was going to explode. It was horrific. The chaffing… remembering the chaffing renders me speechless to this day. Finally, I remembered my lactation consultant hooked me up with larger shields and the nips have been happy since. That woman is a saint.
7. Dry shampoo and deodorant. Once my husband went back to work, I didn’t shower. This was as close to clean as it got.
8. Swing. This was the only apparatus that enabled me to use my arms to put food to face instead of babe to boob. My mother INSISTED she buy me one and she swore up and down how much this would save me. And as usual, my momma is always right. The one she got me disconnects the bouncer so you can tote babe room to room if you want.
9. Size 1 diapers and size 0-3 month clothes. As I said earlier, my babe was born near toddler size (I exaggerate, but she was a big-ass-baby). She wore newborn diapers for maybe a week and her newborn clothes lasted the length of hubby’s paternity leave. By her two-week appointment, she was in a brand new wardrobe. I’m so grateful I had bigger clothes and diapers in the house so I didn’t have to brave the store right away.
10. A good camera. This one is self explanatory. My husband is a great photographer and was able to capture so many awesome shots that we will all be able to cherish forever. Even as crazy as it got, I have photos to remember it all by and I wouldn’t want to forget a moment of it.
The one thing I wish I had? I wish I had discovered the lactation brownies I made to ramp up milk production in week ten. I was a desperate and anxious mama those first two weeks worrying about whether or not my babe was getting enough milk. She was -and is- but, it was really stressful at the time.
The first few weeks weren’t easy 24/7, but I was elated and at peace even in the stressful moments. It was a whirlwind and while it wasn’t full of these gorgeous Instagram photos, it was full of these magical moments of becoming a mama. I wouldn’t change a single second.