For many, the most daunting part of becoming a mother is the baby exiting your body only to be followed closely behind by taking care of your baby on your own. I don’t think I realized how afraid I was to be alone with my baby until it was thrust upon me. I mean, once I found out that I was sliced out of my mother’s stomach, that we almost died, and then finding out that other moms have babies come out of their vaginas…I knew how big a baby’s head was comparatively, so my educated guesses induced nightmares. Everything that came after birth was of little thought to me.
Okay, not of little thought, but I had never really been around babies; I didn’t know what to expect. When we came home with our first baby, I was feeling pretty good. I had effectively changed diapers, put clothes on her, helped with the bath, and fed her. Then even being home I was feeling good (I mean I was crying on the toilet and after a couple of weeks my insides tried to be my outsides, but I felt good about taking care of my baby).
I felt like I could do this mom thing. I was very lucky to have my husband, mom, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and best friend come to help those first few weeks, and then they left me (the following are screaming scared exclamation points not screaming happy ones)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It was intimidating for sure, and the first few days were scary, but I did it! And now I’ve done it with two babies! And I’m alive! The anticipation of everyone leaving my side and the fear of taking care of baby alone was worse than it actually was– I think.
I was more scared to be by myself with my second because I knew they both needed my attention and different types of care, but it was much easier this time around because I had a foundation of knowledge to build on. I had already trialed and errored what works best for me.
Here are the five things I would suggest to help you when you are taking care of your baby on your own.
1. Take Baby Steps
Start out small. On your first day alone with baby you don’t need to be running off to the zoo (this is ridiculous really because baby doesn’t give a crap about giraffes and you’re still healing, but I’m using it as an example of not going big right off the bat). You don’t even need to leave the house! Ease into figuring out both of your rhythms. Take it slow around the house. You don’t need to be cleaning or anything other than taking care of baby and you.
2. Use a Solly Wrap
When I finally broke down and watched the directions on how to put the Solly Wrap on properly, my life changed. My first baby really wanted to be held and really didn’t want to sleep. I didn’t have time to do anything around the house and my arms were killing me.
The first time I put her in the Solly Wrap and did the dishes I wanted to cry. Not only did I get the dishes done, but she had fallen asleep against my chest. I sat there for the next hour or so just holding her and watching her breathe. Nothing better than newborns sleeping on your chest. Get yourself a Solly.
3. Make Routines
Routines can be controversial, especially with moms of five kids–it’s like, who has time for a routine? I totally get that. I think a hardcore “I cannot deviate even if the world was coming to an end” routine is unrealistic. What I think is extremely helpful is knowing your child’s rhythms and creating some normalcy.
Let your baby tell you when they need a nap and they will start creating nap times and bedtimes on their own. It takes a bit (especially when they are getting their sense of night and day refigured out), but it will come. It is nice knowing that my baby will most likely wake up at this time so I can get to the gym before. I can sleep at least twice a day when my baby naps. In the morning I feed them a bottle and I feed me caffeine while I watch the morning news. Or at 5 p.m. we take a walk around the neighborhood and come home to have dinner.
Routines can make you feel safe as a mother because there is no worrying about what comes next. There isn’t a ton of unknown. It is also nice for older siblings to get used to the new baby.
4. Use Your Stroller
When I realized you can just take your stroller into the grocery store or Target or the mall, I felt like I could do anything. With one baby it was nice because my paranoid self didn’t have to worry about the germs on the cart, and if my baby was sleeping she would most likely stay sleeping. This meant nap time could be on the go!
With two, a double stroller has become a necessity. My older daughter is a firecracker tornado and going to the store with her walking sends shivers up my spine. I know you’re thinking, but my older child won’t sit in a stroller. There are ways. I have kept her in the stroller with bribes, purposefully forgetting her shoes, or sometimes she will still stay asleep from the car to the stroller. My first solo outing with two babes was to Target with them both strapped in their stroller and it filled my soul.
5. Set Up Stations
Something I did with both babies was create “stations.” I had a swing by the shower, a high chair in the kitchen, her crib, and a bouncer to move around with me. If I needed both hands or my babes were too antsy or big for the baby wrap, I would set them down in these secure stationary places so I could not be holding them for five seconds.
The whole touched out thing is so real and we all need a break from holding our babies sometimes. This was also super helpful for when my toddler needed my full attention.
In the end though I think the best advice on taking care of baby on your own is to just do it. Just like with anything in life, it will take practice. Practice won’t make perfect in this case, but it will help you to feel more confident in your role. Each day will bring a new adventure, laughs, something to write in their baby book, and pictures to blow up your family’s phones with. You’ve got this!!
For more mom tips go to babycubby.com.