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Life With a Newborn

alec vanderboom

I'm shocked at how easily this new guy is folding into our family life. Bed rest during my pregnancy was really hard for me. I sort of freaked myself out worrying about life after the baby came home. Overall, things are pretty smooth.

Our first night home from the hospital, I nursed the baby in my bedroom at midnight. He was crying a bit because I was being a little strict with his latch. I kept making him redo it until it felt comfortable for me. I heard my two year old wake up above me and race down the stairs. "Baby's crying!" she said all concerned.

I told her "He's okay! He's just hungry because he wants to eat his dinner!"

The kid looked at her brother nursing and started laughing. She said "Baby eats his dinner!" It was the funniest thing she had seen in ages.

We chatted for about 20 minutes. It was nice to have company after doing 3 nights of late night feedings alone. I started playing a game with her. I went over all the foods that she can eat at 2 1/2 but a newborn can't eat. I'd ask "Can baby drink orange juice?"

"No! He's too little!" my toddler said with glee. "But I big! I drink orange juice!"

It was so cute. In that moment she really got that she was now a big kid and this newborn was was a peon far beneath her. She adores him. She helps me pick out his clothes everyday. She finds his pacifier when he drops him. She'll pick up his hats from the floor and gently tuck in his baby blanket around him.

I also can't believe the difference between having an almost 12 year old in the house versus having the oldest be 9 years old at the time of our last baby. My oldest daughter is now completely trustworthy holding a new newborn. My husband moved an armchair into our bedroom. Whenever the baby's fussiness starts to get to me, I'll ask my daughter to sit in the armchair and hold her brother for a moment. I can step out of my bedroom and grab a coffee or some more ice water. Just having five minutes to do a self-nurturing task without feeling guilty after hearing the baby cry in his crib is life-changing for me.

The hard part for me is recognizing how much bed rest has weakened my body. It sucks! I read somewhere online that I lost 30% of my muscles to atrophy just in the first week of bed rest. Between pregnancy and recovery from the c-section surgery, I spent 6 weeks on bed rest. Because of my placenta problems,  I was on exercise restrictions for over 20 weeks.

This has been a weird recovery for me. I'm not in any pain from my c-section. At the same time, I'm so weak. Just standing for a few minutes in the shower now leaves me feeling tired and breathless. I'm still not cleared to go back to an exercise program for another 3 weeks. I'm trying to have patience with myself.

This week was my husband's first full week back at work. That means I'm alone everyday with 6 kids for 14 hours a day, trying to do homeschooling and drive them on time to Swim Team Practice after handling the "night shift" of newborn feeding totally solo. Yesterday, I could feel myself coming apart at the seams.

Then I found an Adoration Chapel at a Catholic High School that is only a few blocks away from the YMCA where my older kids have Swim Practice every weekday. It was so amazing to do adoration again! I really haven't done it, aside from a few special feast days, in over five years. This chapel was so small and intimate. All the adults there gave me a big smile when I walked in with a 4 year old, 2 year old and a newborn. A few minutes of silence in that awesome place restored me. It is so amazing to have a resource like that after years of living in a place where all the local churches lock their doors during most of the day.

I'm encouraged that prayer and exercise are located right next door to each other! I'll be so grateful to get back on the YMCA treadmill in a few weeks. I'm promising myself a lot of good hang-out time with Jesus also. The newborn phase is not an easy time of mothering. I've got hope that a solid prayer, exercise, and writing schedule is going to make these hard days much easier.

Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us!