Hello Everyone! I have been slacking a little bit when it comes to posting about the newest addition of our Dutch-American family due to lack of sleep, family visits, and taking care of our newborn.
Fé is now three weeks old (I plan to write a BIG ONE MONTH UPDATE next week so stay tuned!), and these past few weeks have been a total blur. It seems like just yesterday we were taking little Fé home from the hospital! Be sure to read Fés Birth Story here.
The first week at home was pretty terrifying. We stayed at the hospital for about 36 hours after Fé was born and on Sunday morning Daniel and I dragged our sleep deprived selves and our new tiny human home for the first time. In Holland, all new families get the choice of having a maternity nurse tend to you during your first week at home with your baby. Since Daniel’s mom lives in England and my parents live in California, we were so thankful to have someone around during the first week at home to help us out with our little girl.
Daniel and I would not have survived the first week at home with Fé if it weren’t for our wonderful nurse Mirjam. Not only did she teach us EVERYTHING we needed to know about the first week at home with a newborn, she also cooked for us a did all of our housework. It was AMAZING!
Looking back at our first week at home with little Fé, there are so many things I wish I had known in advance. It can be pretty terrifying to bring home your little one for the first time. After spending however long at the hospital its amazing that the nurses and doctors even trust you enough to keep this tiny little person alive!!
1. Sleep When Baby Sleeps
This is much easier said than done. I had heard this so many times before Fé came. I still don’t understand how Fé can sleep about 20 hours a day and yet I still feel so sleep deprived! My tip for new parents is sleep when the baby sleeps. It can be hard especially when there are dishes to be done, laundry to be put in, dinner to be cooked, or other children to take care of! But the dishes can wait and you can order take out for dinner, so seriously just sleep! Even if you don’t feel tired (which you probably will), just take a teeny little nap whenever you can. You never know what your night is going to look like, you could end up being up ALL NIGHT LONG so that nap you took in the afternoon is going to help tide you over till your little one finally stops crying!
2. Ask For Help
Before your baby arrives, line up a few helpers who you can count on to take care of your other children, cook meals, or even do some housework! We had our wonderful nurse Mirjam, and if she wasn’t around Daniel and I would have been completely lost, and facing a HUGE pile of dishes and laundry! Maybe your mom, mother-in-law, or sister can come stay with you for a little bit. At the very least, finding someone to bring you a few meals, or pick up your other children from school can be a tremendous help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because trust me you will need it. You can try to do everything yourself, but what you need to focus on is your little human and your recovery!
3. Take Care of Yourself
With that being said, don’t forget to take care of yourself. You might be so preoccupied with your newborn and everything that you need to do, but don’t forget that you just went through some major physical trauma. Childbirth, whether vaginally or through a C-Section, is serious business and you need to make sure you take time to recover. Take as much rest as possible (that means sleeping!) and take it easy.
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Also make sure you take care of yourself mentally. The baby blues may hit you pretty hard so be sure you take care of yourself and keep your partner in the loop about how you are feeling. My emotions were all over the place the week after Fé was born. I was overjoyed one moment and I would burst out in tears the next. I felt exhausted and I didn’t want Daniel to leave my side! I also felt like my whole life was put on hold (because it was) and I was completely 100% consumed by the newest member of our family. It is normal to feel a little down as your hormones adjust to your new non-pregnant self. But make sure you have someone you can talk to if these feelings don’t go away as it could be a sign of something more serious.
4. Say No To Visitors
Everyone will want to come see you and your fresh little baby! In the first week or two, however, I suggest keeping visitors to a minimum (unless they are there to seriously help out around the house). With all the stress and lack of sleep you will be experiencing you don’t need the added stress of having visitors. We had our wonderful nurse Mirjam who would cater to our visitors for us by making them tea coffee, etc so it wasn’t AS stressful to have visitors around, but it still takes a lot out of you. I suggest limiting your visitors until you have found a semi-solid routine (We still don’t have a true routine with our three week old little Fé) and you are getting a (sort-of) solid night’s sleep (or at least a few hours here and there)!
5. Find a (sort-of) routine
The first few weeks with your newborn will probably be all over the place! For us it was pretty crazy. We basically catered to little Fé’s every will. We fed her when she was hungry, slept when she slept, held her when she cried etc. I felt like a milk machine for the first week. I also had a lot of trouble breastfeeding and Fé had a lot of trouble eating (more on this later) which caused a lot of stress and drama. Fé would feed for about two hours fall asleep for an hour, and then want to feed again. We eventually started using a bottle to feed her pumped breast milk which REALLY REALLY helped her feed more efficiently.
Anyway, once we solved our feeding problem, we found a schedule that works for us. We fed about every three hours during the day and she slept most of the time in between. We also started trying to keep her awake and engaged as much as we could during the daytime so she could learn the difference between night and day. Before “bedtime” we give her a little bath (try using the Tummy Tub ) start turning off the lights, swaddle her in her HALO SleepSack, and feed her before putting her down for what hopefully will be a long sleep.
This probably wont help you much the first week but you will be so glad you started a routine during the first few days at home. Now our three week old is sleeping for 5 or 6 hour stretches during the night!
6. Find what works for you
Meredith talked about this in her guest post, and she is so right! There will be so many people telling you how to raise your child, what to do, how to do it, etc. Whats best is whats best for you. I have been having a difficult time breastfeeding and we have had to supplement with some formula. I felt horrible for not being able to completely breastfeed Fé but Daniel helped me realize that whats best is whats best for us. What matters most is you, your child, and your partner and I urge to you find whats best for you, not for anyone else. Breastfeeding was causing so much stress and drama for us that we decided that it wasn’t worth trying to breastfeed exclusively and I started pumping and supplementing with formula. I am happy we did because we have been able to cut down on a lot of drama, stress, and crying and overall I think we have found a routine and system that works for us!
7. Enjoy Time with you Newborn
Remember, this time goes by really really fast. Fé is already three weeks old and I feel like we just took her home from the hospital! It is so easy to get caught up in diaper changing, feeding, sleeping, cleaning spit up, bathing and everything else you need to do that you forget to enjoy this precious time. Your little one will one be this little for a very short period of time and try to soak in every little moment you have with them. Take lots of pictures! You will want to remember how cute they were when they were this little. Fé has already grown so much and I am so happy I took so many pictures of her in her first few days to see how much she has changed. When your baby wont stop crying and you are getting by on just a few hours of sleep remember that this time will pass. While you will probably be anxious for this “newborn phase”to be over it will go by so quickly and you will wish you had cherished these precious moments!Check out these tips for Surviving your First Week with your newborn! Click To Tweet
8. Fé’s Favorite Products
During the first week with baby Fé we found some products that made our lives so much easier!
1. The HALO SleepSack
This is seriously the best baby product EVER! Fé LOVES it! We bought one before Fé was born not knowing how she would take to it and since we have ordered a few more. These sleep sacks have the option of tucking your baby’s arms in for a proper swaddle, or you can leave your baby’s arms out if thats what they prefer. Fé really likes to sleep with her arms up so when she is in a deep sleep we leave her arms out. Sometimes, she is too upset and we tuck her arms in to help calm her down and let hew know its time to sleep!
We were skeptical about using a pacifier at first but we quickly found that they can seriously help reduce crying due to cramps and gas. Fé doesn’t have many cramps anymore but in the few week she had a lot due to her digestive system kickstarting. When she has bouts of cramps it is nice for them to be able to suck or chew on something to help deal with the pain. Dr. Browns pacifiers are awesome and are minimally invasive due to their unique shape and special suction relief bulb. We also use Dr. Brown’s Bottles for feeding Fé expressed breastmilk and formula. They have a special anti-gas system that seriously helps cut down on baby gas and cramps and can help prevent colic!
Many babies hate having clothes pulled over their heads. We found that Fé fussed and cried so much less during changing when we started using wrap style onesies instead of the kind that you have to pull over their heads! It makes changing so much easier and cuts down on so much stress and drama!
You are going to need a huge stack of muslin burp cloths. If you are anything like us you will probably go through what seems like a dozen burp cloths a day. Not only are they used for general burping they are perfect for all sorts of baby messes, which you will be having a lot of!
There are so many more products I could recommend for your newborn so I plan on writing a separate post for that specifically! (stay tuned!) Until then, I hope this post helps you prepare to bring home your newborn baby. Enjoy this time and try to get some sleep 😉