I’ve made it through the first three months of parenthood, holy shit. The last weeks have been intense. Brutal lows, exhilarating highs. I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much in such a brief stretch of time. A few thoughts:
Take help when offered. Seriously. My dad saw me struggling while he was visiting post Avery’s arrival and he offered to pay for some daytime help for me. I felt anxious about inviting a stranger into my home and almost turned down his offer. WHAT WAS I THINKING? Being able to nap a couple times a week while leaving Avery in someone else’s trained hands (we hired a postpartum doula) has been absolutely amazing.
New parents will likely receive less specific offers of help, e.g. “what can I do?” Keep a list of things people can do for you. Have someone buy you groceries, walk your dog, do laundry, hold the baby while you shower, make you a sandwich, cook you a bunch of something you can freeze…If you are offering help to a new parent, offer to do something specific! Or just drop off food or a gift certificate to a restaurant that delivers.
It’s impossible understand, pre baby, how different things will be, and in what ways. One example: I went to Costco alone last week while Will watched Avery and it was a blissful escape. I hit horrific traffic en route and welcomed the delay. Lame but true.
Don’t pay much attention to timelines/dates. This was an important lesson for me to learn. I initially clung to any timeline oriented tip I heard, thinking, at six weeks she’ll start getting less fussy! Not so much. Then: At three months everything evens out! Guess what, Avery still has terrible days/nights pretty much weekly. Every newborn is different and from what I can tell, few are super consistent in all of their habits. They also constantly evolve and change. It’s trite, but I try to take things a day at a time. This has helped me avoid feeling like a parenting failure/that there is something wrong with my child.
It might take a while to feel bonded to your baby. I had heard this before giving birth but I didn’t fully internalize it. Then, when I didn’t necessarily feel an instantaneous all consuming love for Avery, I felt extremely guilty. But seriously, your baby is an unfamiliar being that doesn’t reciprocate your affection: it can take some time to feel strongly connected, and that is normal.
Parenting a baby is really fucking hard. This past three months has been one of the hardest periods of my life. And if I hear one more anecdote about so and so’s easy baby who never cries and slept through the night at three weeks old I’m going to throat punch someone.
But it does get easier. Not all at once and not very fast (for me, at least), but it does get easier, and it’s well worth the rough patches.