the first night home with a newborn

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I’ve always been a concrete thinker. When someone tells me what they do for work, what I’m really wondering is not what their field or job title is, but what they actually do all day. More than once I’ve asked someone, “ok, so you go into your office, you sit down at your desk, and then what?” I like the details. I could give several other examples of this…Recently, I asked a friend whose house is always super clean, “Seriously. How do you do it? When do you clean? For how long? Tell me your secret!”

It amazes me, then, that despite the 998,230,301,394,720 things you can find on the internet about having a baby and caring for a newborn, there are very few outlines of what you actually do when you first bring home your baby. There’s lots of general advice about feeding and sleeping and taking care of yourself and the baby etc. etc. But where’s the step-by-step guide?

Both times I’ve had a baby, the first day home has caused me to freeze a bit. (More so the first time, but this time as well!) Nighttime comes, and we stand in our room with the baby, and say to ourselves, “Ok. Now what?” It doesn’t matter what advice you’ve read or which parenting philosophy you’ve “chosen.” In that moment, you have to do something.

So, if you’re one of the 5 people who read this blog of mine, you’re in luck! Because here’s my detailed version of the ins and outs of a first day at home with a newborn:

1:30pm – Arrive home after an uncomfortable car ride during which you noticed bumps on the road that never seemed to be there previously. Limp into the house hoping the neighbors don’t see you. You’re not quite ready to be cheery. Have husband carry carseat into house. Set it on the floor for the dog to smell.

1:45pm – Send husband to fetch a blanket to cover the couch. Lots of potential for messes in the coming days, and the last thing you want to worry about is cleaning the couch. Have big sister hold the baby before Dad takes her upstairs for naptime. Take a few pictures, but you’re not really feeling “photo-ready.”

2:00pm – Attempt to nurse baby. At this point your milk may or may not be coming in, but either way it’s important to offer things up. Change your baby’s diaper to rouse him, and then he’ll likely proceed to poop again while nursing. Rookie mistake.

2:30pm – Find some place to put the baby down. Perhaps back in the carseat, or in a bouncer or swing or lounger or other baby item everyone told you that you “needed.”

2:45pm – Have a snack. Perhaps a sweet treat someone sent you, or fresh fruit, which you’ll likely be craving. Hydrate.

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3:00pm – Take a shower. Hopsital rooms have showers, obviously, but during both my hospital stays they seemed way too daunting. Showering at home, however, improved my overall mood tremendously.

3:45pm – Relocate necessary items from your room and the baby’s room to the downstairs. Having the nursey all “ready” always seems like a great idea until you realize you’ll be spending most of your time with your baby in the general living spaces of your house.

4:00pm – Settle onto the couch and nurse baby again.

4:30pm – Relax on couch while baby relaxes on you.

5:30pm – Friends visit! If you’re lucky like me, they bring you ice cream sandwiches. They hold the baby while hearing some version of his “birth story.”

6:00pm – The doorbell rings again while you’re nursing the baby again. (Take notes. This detail is a good one!) Out-of-town friend has sent the best local delivery option imaginable. Husband sets the table while you find a pillow or other soft item to sit on. You move the sleeping baby to the bouncer/swing/lounger that you’ve placed near the table. Take pictures. Eat more than you should have because you didn’t quite realize the still fragile state of your systems.

DSC053376:30pm – Move back to the couch. Nurse baby. Overwhelm yourself mentally with questions about breastfeeding that you likely won’t even remember in a couple days.

7:00pm – Say goodnight to  your toddler, not moving from couch. Upload a picture of the baby to social media. Nurse baby again in anticipation of visitors at 8pm.

8:00pm – Neighbors come over! They brought your favorite beer! Drink some! But not too much.

9:30pm – Neighbors leave. Nurse baby again. Drink a little more beer.

10:00pm – Head upstairs to bedroom. Settle gingerly into bed and nurse baby.

10:30pm – Have husband swaddle baby, because he’s basically a professional swaddler and you suck at it.

10:45pm – Place your baby on his back in the Pack ‘n Play, turn out the lights, lie down, and cross your fingers.

10:50pm – Baby starts wailing. Husband gets out of bed faster than you can, picks baby up, and bounces him for a bit. Baby is quiet until put down again. Cries.

11:00pm – Husband takes baby downstairs and holds him to get him to sleep.  You sleep, amazed at how much more comfortable your bed is than the hospital’s.

1:00am – Husband returns with baby. You take 5 minutes to get yourself to seated in the bed, and then take off the baby’s swaddle and pajamas so he’ll wake up enough that you can nurse him.

2:00am – Husband swaddles him again, and puts him back in the Pack ‘n Play. He fusses for awhile, but doesn’t fully cry.

2:30am-6am – Everyone sleeps!

6am – Nurse baby.

6:30am – Big sister wakes up. Time to head back downstairs to your couch. Real coffee awaits!

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