I knew when I was pregnant that after giving birth I would experience gratitude to a level I’d never experienced before. I also knew I’d be experiencing a whole new level of exhaustion. People warn you of the sleepless nights, the seemingly constant feedings, the crying… Yet no matter how aware you are of what you’re likely to experience, you can never be truly prepared for actually living the feelings of immense gratitude and exhaustion. Below are five things that really got me (and Lillian!) through her first month especially, but that are still super helpful even now that she’s ten weeks. (Um, can you believe she’s ten weeks old already! My big girl!)
My mom sent us a HALO sleepsack right after Lily was born, and it is seriously the best thing ever. It has been such a comfort to Lillian, not only by snuggling her in when she’s sleepy, but by preventing her from waking herself up all the time with her constant wiggles as well! I would say no matter how minimal you are about purchases for a newborn, a sleepsack is definitely not something to skip over!
2. White Noise
We definitely had some rough nights trying to get Lillian to sleep when she was first born. (Heck, let’s be honest here, we still do sometimes!) I’ll never forget the time she was crying and crying and we decided to try turning on the vacuum. With the flip of a switch she was COMPLETELY out! We couldn’t believe it! But, as many parents can relate, what works one time or for a few days won’t necessarily continue working. One thing we’ve found to consistently help with Lillian is the “water” white noise in this free app. I also sometimes use this bamboo water fountain video during the day. She seems to fall asleep and stay asleep better with these!
3. Good Entertainment
For late night feedings, it would have been impossible at first for me to stay awake had it not been for Mad Men and TED-ed videos, but queuing up any show you can midnight-marathon your way through might be just the trick to pass the time and help you stay awake. These days Lillian is already sleeping for longer periods of time at night, so I’ve been able to stay awake more easily to read or play around on Instagram and other social media, but having something to watch was definitely a lifesaver 🙂 (Side note: I seem to be striking out lately with books–what’s a favorite of yours that I won’t regret reading?)
It was important during pregnancy, and is just as important now! One of the hardest things for me in the first month after giving birth was feeling trapped in our apartment because (as I’m sure some of you have heard me complain) it gets NO sunlight. Fortunately I was able to start getting outside every day pretty early on, and even though at first it would only be for 15 minutes or so, it was so refreshing to get out in the sunshine and fresh air! At first I couldn’t do much, but as the weeks go by I’m getting stronger and stronger. Usually I walk with Lillian in an ergo, but either way getting out and about has really helped me feel normal again. (Oh, and getting out of sweatpants occasionally, too! HA!) I’m hoping to eventually get back into some tougher yoga and jogging again.
5. Encouragement (from parents and podcasts!)
Joining the Tokyo Pregnancy Group was very helpful during my pregnancy, and joining the Tokyo Mothers Group has been really helpful since giving birth. It has also been amazing to get advice from my mom, my mother-in-law, my sister, and my mommy friends (even though they all live so far away!).
Something SUPER encouraging has been listening to the podcast The Longest Shortest Time. I am someone who hates being vulnerable or appearing incapable or inexperienced, and much as I know it’s ridiculous, I really don’t like admitting when I’m feeling overwhelmed, tired, frustrated, sad, in need of advice, or the million other feelings that I definitely experienced full-on in the first few weeks after Lillian was born. The Longest Shortest Time podcast helped me feel like I wasn’t alone when I didn’t want to admit how alone I sort of felt. There are even some short episodes that are perfect for when you’ve only got a 15 minute window for a walk outside!
I am so, so thankful for our sweet Lillian, as well as for every tip I can get for making it through those especially exhausting nights. What are some things that really helped you make it through being a new parent? Any advice?