Someone who is taking care of a baby needs to be taken care of. ~ Ann Heckerling
Everyone warned I would be “tired.” They did mention “work.” And I heard the admonition “sleep when the baby sleeps” ad nauseum. Did I heed? Not really. The scope of the advice did not sink in until after baby was born! I was used to being tired after planning lessons, grading papers, and stressing about students until the wee hours. I am used to work. I figured I’d suck it up and be tired but happy when the baby got here.
I didn’t count on getting one sickness after another. First it was one possible infection – then that was ruled out. Then it was another infection – accompanied by a 103 fever that knocked me out for a week! When that seemed to clear, I got “Lymphitis,” which is just a fancy way of saying, “You have a huge, painful, swollen gland we can’t really explain, but here, take more antibiotics!”
To those about to have their first child, I would agree with the quote above – make sure you have plenty of people to “take care of you” in the few months after the baby is born. Not just the first week or two – line up about 8 weeks worth of “help.” Real help, I mean. Not socializing help.
Learn to Say No! (I still haven’t gotten this rule down!) If you don’t feel up to it, tell people NO when they ask to come over (way easier said than done – I want to show off my little bundle, and I want adult conversation – it’s a shock to go from the working world to the quietude of home – although not altogether a bad shock!).
Control Your Inner Neat Freak! Make sure you either don’t care about your house getting a bit dirty and untidy, or you have friends or relatives who will come over and tidy up for you about once a week.
Stay Mentally Energized! Also, have some books, magazines, and movies on hand for when you’re nursing the baby and want a little distraction – you don’t want to make unnecessary trips to the library or store. Those kinds of trips tire you out. (Trust me!)
Avoid Expending Unnecessary Energy! If you live in a 2 story house, set up a changing station upstairs AND downstairs – this is not the time to turn your house into your own personal StairMaster!
Eat right! Have at least 2 weeks of frozen, prepared meals on hand (see link for recipes good for freezing) – or plan to order out a lot! You don’t want slave over a hot stove after a long day with the baby. I was fortunate enough to have people bring dinners for about a week – this is also very helpful!
Stay Hydrated! Fill up a couple water bottles at the start of the day and/or brew a big carafe of herbal tea (Try Mother’s Milk tea if you’re nursing) so you can keep pouring cups during the day without the hassle of continually making tea. This will keep you motivated to stay hydrated – really important if you’re nursing.
In short, it’s kind of like how in airplanes they admonish you to put on your own air mask before assisting others: You have a baby to take care of, and that means YOU need to be in good health first!