The crossover line is thin. Very thin, in the sense that one day you are still a member of the Pregnancy Club where you’ve gotten to know some new friends, bought new clothes and with whom you’ve been enrolled in a 9-month course on birth and delivery, with enough books to last through three deliveries. You’ve made a birth plan, studied signs of pre-term labor and most likely you’ve made friends with your midwife or Douala.
Then with one trip to the hospital, you switch right out of that Club and into the Parenthood Club. Five hundred new books to read, different friends to be made. You are learning about colostrum, sore breasts, pumps and how much pressure there is to breastfeed. What if breastfeeding isn't as easy as people say? And even if it is, you are counting wet diapers, trying to do everything according to directions and... all the while longing for sleep! Your baby may be crying and your own tears may flow.
You knew you’d be changing Clubs. You’ve been waiting for this day for ages. Still, the shock - and delight - is indescribable and the stress and new sense of responsibility are immeasurable. Absolutely life changing.
It’s a lot to take in. It always was, but the world moves so much faster now. It’s no longer the custom to take off work a month early to make curtains for the baby’s room. And once you come home with your baby, the block looks empty of other parents with babies the age of yours. You may have worked at your paying job right up to your due date. That's where many of your friends still are. Now, suddenly you are “at home,” often with no preparation for how you will handle being home for a year (Canada). It can be a major adjustment.
In some ways it’s like jumping off one merry-go-round as you jump onto a different merry-go-round with no time between to catch your breath.
IT’S TIME TO SLOW DOWN. Slowing down to the speed of a baby requires you to learn new habits, lower your expectations, and let your house go, temporarily. Sleep when the baby sleeps (everyone tells you this but it's easier said than done!). Allow some crying (both yours and your baby’s) and resist trying to keep your baby happy all the time - all babies need to cry sometimes. Sleep Consultation
TAKE TIME TO GAZE AT YOUR BABY AFTER FEEDINGS. She/he is the most charming baby you've ever seen. Gazing at and being gazed upon by your newborn begins the magic dance that leads to a strong attachment for dads as well as moms.
CHOOSE A COMFORTABLE CHAIR in your house where the sun comes in. Stock it with coffee or tea, new magazines and a novel. If people offer help ask for food. Prepared meals, please. If you are using cloth diapers, buy a couple of weeks or a month of a diaper service just to get you started.
IF BREASTFEEDING IS STILL A STRUGGLE even after getting help from a lactation service, it may be time to consider changing to formula. No guilt. Pumping can take a lot of time and may not be what you want to spend your time doing. Babies thrive as long as they are fed. Period. If breastfeeding is going smoothly between you and your baby, certainly keep it up - with feedings spaced approximately every 3 hours during the day and at least twice overnight. If that surprises you, let's set up a phone appointment to discuss a feeding routine that works best for you and your baby.
The best Club you can belong to now is your Family Club. Rely on your own common sense, seek your physician's opinion on anything medical (including your baby's rate of weight gain if anyone makes you worry), seek immediate help if you feel depression sneaking in, and remember always... YOU ARE EXACTLY THE PARENT(S) THIS BABY NEEDS!