Thoughts on surviving the newborn stage

Recently a friend of mine who has a brand new baby posted a link to this blog.  It's not that I don't agree with most of what is being said here - I really really do.  A lot of things would have been (and in some cases were) very helpful when I was hormonal, sleep deprived and generally trying to figure out what the heck I was doing with this little newborn.  But this blogger assumes that you have all these amazing friends and family who live close by who can come over and help you out during moments when you're feeling overwhelmed (which, frankly, is most of the first 3 months of motherhood).  I have a small number of friends whom I would consider close friends.  A couple of them did do some of these things for me (for which I'm very grateful).   I have a growing network of mommy friends who offered lots of words of encouragement, and who continue to give me moral support to this day.  But my closest friends are working moms (or working people) and couldn't just drop everything to come help me out because they're also trying to juggle their own crazy lives.  And my family (namely, my mom) lives 12 hours away (not for long - more about that in a later post) and though she desperately wanted to be here for me, she just couldn't be beyond that first week.

This meant I was alone a lot, which at times was pretty hard for me to deal with as I was struggling with post-partum anxiety and trying to realize that there were limitations to the things that I could do with a newborn.  There were days that I would have loved to have a friend just drop by and bring me chocolate, hold Graham, paint my toenails, bring me lunch or generally just come to offer me adult conversation, but that didn't happen.

Despite this blogger suggesting that you shouldn't have to ask for help, the reality is that you often do have to ask for help.  Or you have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and just make some of these things happen yourself.  I know all the books, articles, blogs, etc. say that you need to just let your house and yourself go, but I just could not do that.  I didn't want to spend all day in my PJ's.  I didn't want my house to turn into a pigsty.  Those things would for me serve as a reminder that I in fact could not do it all, which was just not acceptable for me.

I suppose my counter to this woman's blog is to offer up support for new moms in the form of suggestions of things that she can do (largely) for herself to get by.
  • Seek the company of strangers if you can't rely on the company of friends.  Mine came in the form of my breastfeeding support group at the hospital.  Monday at 12:30 was the highlight of my week.  
  • Rely on social media.  We all make cracks about Facebook, but you can Facebook one-handed and feel connected to the real world as you snuggle with your baby (or try to convince your baby to stop crying).
  • Exercise.  Especially if you exercised prior to pregnancy, because this will also give you the feeling of normalcy.  Sometimes I decided I'd rather exercise than nap.  It got my endorphins flowing and made me feel a little more like myself.
  • Get out of the house.  Even if it's just grocery shopping or walking around the mall.  Sometimes that plan backfired, but usually it was just what I needed.  
  • Eat whenever you can.  Don't skip meals because it's challenging.  Sometimes I ate by walking in circles around my kitchen island.  I'd stop for a bite or two, then keep walking with Graham in the Moby wrap.  Especially if you're breastfeeding, do not skip meals.
  • Make your husband help you.  Jeff was willing to help but didn't really know how to.  And I don't think I forced the issue enough.  Which goes back to the learning to ask for help (something I will always struggle with).
  • Let your baby cry.  Sometimes you just have to let him be fussy if it means you get to take a shower.  
  • Assess the things that you can let go and the things that you can't and go from there.  I didn't dry my hair or put on makeup, but I did take showers every day.  Jeff did a lot of dishes for me (because I couldn't let the kitchen turn into a total disaster area), but the table wasn't always wiped down.  It's a give and take for sure.
  • Don't forget to breath.  Deep, calming breaths.  It really does help.


  1. I am so thankful you posted this. I feel like I will be approaching this stage in a very similar way... I can't let the house go. I can't let myself go. And, I don't have people close by to depend on.

    And, knowing that you feel the same way will be a comfort. Expect many exasperated texts, calls, and emails!


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