The moment you’ve been waiting 40-or-so long weeks for has finally arrived. The wait between the start of labor and your little bundle of joy coming into this world felt like it took forever. At one point, you thought the anticipation might last longer than that adorable slow-moving sloth from Zootopia.
And yet, somehow, it all panned out. Cuddling that little sweetheart makes your heart swell, and you’ve never been so sure about anything in your entire life. That is until you buckle your teeny-tiny newborn into their car seat to take them home. It is then—and only then—that the realization you are totally on your own hits you like a ton of bricks.
Yes, you have the crib, the bouncer, and more adorable outfits than your newborn could ever possibly go through before they grow into a new size. But there is no manual. There is no how-to guide for fool-proof parenting. But the rest will feel like a breeze if you can make it through this first week together.
Day 1: Am I Ready for This?
On the way home from the hospital, it slowly sinks in that there are no takebacks and no returns. Not that you’d want there to be, but at the same time, you wonder: Am I really ready? You get home, and there is a dizzying, repeating routine of cry-feed-change-sleep for you and your new little one. No matter how much you planned for this moment, the overwhelming feeling that it is finally here might bring you to tears.
Day 2: Sleep Deprivation Takes Its Toll
When you’re still at the hospital with your newborn, there is nursing staff to help you, take care of you, and take care of your little one while you recover. During my stay with my first daughter, I refused any help. I wanted to hold her, nurse her, and stare at her sleeping in the bassinet. The second day home, I regretted it—a lot.
Day 3: Breaking Down at the First Newborn Visit
This is your first pediatrician’s visit since leaving the hospital. There is nothing particularly unpleasant about it, and it’s a great time to ask all those questions you’ve been saving up since you drove away. But with each question, you find yourself slowly unraveling. How is the baby eating? Well, I don’t know—nursing hasn’t been great. How is the baby sleeping? Sleep. What’s that? Am I doing something wrong? Why are they always crying? Don’t worry, momma. Your provider will have all these answers and more. You are doing just fine. You are doing great.
Day 4: Being Happy You Stocked Up in the Freezer
I don’t know about you, but I naively thought that somehow, I was going to find the time, not to mention the energy, to make more than a microwave bag of popcorn. Regardless, momma must eat to have enough energy to care for the newest addition. No, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. There is no need for a five-course meal, but having postpartum freezer meals that require no effort besides throwing it in the oven or microwave is heaven-sent.
Day 5: $hit Gets Real
It feels like every day since you’ve been home, you tell yourself tomorrow will get better. And yet, here we are on day five, and it all feels the same. The baby had an explosion (who knew such a little person could make such a mess?), and you swear you’ve changed about a million diapers with almost as many outfit changes. But as trying as it can be, the non-stop changing means your baby is eating enough and growing.
Day 6: Doubting Everything You Thought You Knew
You know that moment that you kept telling yourself would come? Well, it still hasn’t. Things still don’t feel magical, and the absolute naturalness of motherhood feels like it’s eluded you. You feel frustrated because you thought it would be easier than this. You knew it wouldn’t be seamless or as easy as all those movies made it seem, but you didn’t think you’d feel so awful emotionally, mentally, and physically. It’s important to know that everything you feel is normal—the frustration, the sadness, the baby blues, and possibly, postpartum depression. But you don’t have to struggle alone.
Day 7: Realizing … You Can Do Anything
Your first week with your newborn flew by, but also totally dragged on at the same time. But here’s the thing; you both made it. Yes, it was hard, messy, and overwhelming, but you did it. That itself is a victory, so pat yourself on the back. Bask in the glory of all the cozy cuddles because before you know it, you’ll be longing for this first all over again.
That’s not to say that there still won’t be difficult times. There will be plenty of weeks that feel just as impossible, if not more, than this first week. But know that it gets better, baby step by baby step. So, here’s to you, momma. May your nights eventually be sleep-filled, your brain a little less fuzzy, and the grace you give yourself never-ending.