By number 7, you’d think I could care for newborns in my sleep. (Come to think of it, that would be a pretty sweet skill.) But the tiny phase is short and my memory even shorter so that I need a refresher every time around. It usually starts with some sort of midnight panic at the thought that I am responsible for keeping yet another person alive and a helpless one at that. Chris reminds me of my own helpless dependency on the One who created both me and the baby He’s blessed us with. We pray. Then I go through a little mental dry-run of my plan based on what has worked and failed in the past, and fall asleep to have weird pregnancy dreams about being a 6-foot tall volleyball player with a flat tummy that can jump really high.
There are about as many methods to caring for babies as there are mothers to care for them. These tips are just a few that I’ve found helpful:
1. I’m in charge of the routine. I’m all about flexible schedules for my babies. When every sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound is brand new to a person, routine is very comforting. That said, I don’t really worry myself about it for the first few weeks. I nurse on demand and basically practice reactionary parenting for a very short amount of time. This little allowance has helped me to calm way down in those first few postpartum weeks.
2. “Self-regard is not always the same as selfishness.” Wise word from my pastor’s wife that I’ve held on to over the years. This topic could be it’s own post sometime. For now, suffice it to say that the world’s push for moms’ me-time is not the same as recognizing your created status and resting when it is appropriate. I came across a great blog post from a mom of 9: Postpartum Rest and Recovery Tips (from a mom who learned the hard way). I plan to rest this time around.
3. The new person is part of a whole family. There are times when different members of the family need more attention. Being brand new is one of those times, but even then we make try to make decisions with everyone in mind. When optimizing a baby’s schedule, we take into account someone’s violin lessons, another person’s co-op, date nights, an early morning meeting, and bottle feeding. We are all serving each other, even the new guy has a part to play.
4. Plan ahead. So far I’ve pre-cooked and frozen meat for 14 dinners. Yes, it was a bit of extra work on a Saturday, but the pay-off will be worth it. I’ve avoided committing to any events several weeks on either side of my due date. Currently I’m working on some activity packets for the little people to pull out when everyone is desperate for a change up. And I’m changing chores around to work better with our lowered standards. I don’t do the same things every time, instead I try to think about what preparations will help most in the current climate.
5. Enjoy this time! Ugh. I hate to think back about all the time I wasted with my first kids worrying, fretting, angry, and selfish. But the Lord is faithful to forgive and change our hearts. Babies are amazing! Marvel at their little tiny hands and feet, at their first smiles, at their coos and cries. Be amazed at how fast they grow and change and learn. Be perplexed at how food comes out of the ground, into your body, is made into food perfect for them, they get fat, and you get skinny. Think about it! It’s crazy! Give praise to the Lord for his wondrously bizarre works to the children of man.