It’s been about two months since Nora was born, and it already feels like she’s been in our life forever (in a good way). The whole experience has been incredible (though occasionally trying and exhausting). Ann and I have really pushed ourselves to push at our boundaries and not get too lazy or comfortable at home alone, but to also be patient with ourselves and with Nora and know that we won’t always have easy days and forward progress towards our goals. Here are some things I’ve noted along the way.
- We went to lamaze classes and quit pretty quick. I read a ton of books, and the only ones I’d recommend without reservation are Emily Oster’s Expecting Better and Cribsheet. They give you decision making frameworks based on research, so you can make a choice that’s right for you.
- Baby CPR and the Newborn class helped. I was able to swaddle ok the hard way in the hospital.
- we tried to avoid buying or getting a lot of stuff in advance. Our tiny New York apartment forced some of that, and it was a good move.
- Don’t get a lot of baby product - the mostly send you home with what you need, including diapers in the right size. Also, you can really only sponge bathe at first anyway - not rush to get 1000 baby bath products.
- Ann was lucky enough to be able to exercise a ton until very late in her pregnancy. I have no doubt that made labor quicker and her recovery easier. Do it if you can.
Labor and Recovery
We made several trips to the hospital and back because the generic advice didn’t fit our situation well. Because we live pretty close to the hospital and Ann planned on getting an epidural, I wish someone had just come out and said: “Stay home until you can’t take the pain anymore”. It would have saved us worry and a few trips to the hospital.
First Few Days (while we were both home)
Two takeaways here - divide and conquering was key. It really helped for one of us to be able to get some time away (a shower, a walk outside, whatever) and stay sane. The other takeaway is that this only works with one kid - I have no idea how people do this when they already have kids. I guess you just do it - but I appreciate the added challenge.
First one of us back to work
We had to experiment with the how we were diving work (especially around feeding schedules) to find what worked best. Our answer is very individual.
“Rules” we use to stay sane
- You have to take care of yourself so you can take care of the baby
- 20 minutes crying in a safe place (like the bassinet) will not hurt the child in the long run, but will give you time to shower and gather yourself so you can come back and actually parent
- Be open with each other about when you need a few minutes break
Amazing moments and milestones
- Everything in the delivery room
- The first time you hold her (bonus for one arm)
- Her first nap on you
- The first trifecta (getting spit up on, peed on, and pooped on)
- The first time she makes real eye contact
- The first time she is crying after she can make eye contact (heartbreaking especially if it’s not something you can solve for her)
- The first real smile
- The first vocal responses back