Surviving the first two weeks home with a Newborn and Toddler
In case you missed the news, we just had our second baby! We call her Little Badger. Badger ended up being a great choice because she has her father’s hair and eyes. We went home from the hospital roughly 36 hours after delivering Little Badger, and since then I’ve had two weeks at home with a newborn and toddler. There were some rough patches, but we made it through. Let me catch you up on how our family (and especially I) has handled the first days of life with two little ones.
One: Watch Mom’s Health
This is one of the best tips I can give you. Make mom’s sleep a priority, especially for the first few days. This is the best way to try and help mom through the challenges of the newborn stage. Lack of sleep can lead to many other problems for a new mom. It increases the risk of postpartum depression, can affect milk supply, and leads to poor decision making.
With Little Fox, we went to Baba’s house for our first week home from the hospital. This really set us up for a good start. During the night, all I had to do was nurse her and then I went right back to sleep. Baba handled the nighttime diaper changes, burping, and putting the baby back to sleep. Plus I was pumping for five minutes at the start of feeds during the day, so my husband took the 6am feed while I slept in.
Go to the Doctor Right Away if You’re Not Feeling Well
Unfortunately, the second time around didn’t go as smoothly for me getting sleep. And not for lack of planning. My husband took the 8-10 shift, and I took the 10-6 shift, then my husband took 6-9.
Only, I wasn’t able to get any sleep, even when my husband was watching the baby. Last time I fell asleep so easily between feeds. And I felt just as tired.
It turned out I’d gotten an infection from my stitches. During labour they did an episiotomy – which was better than the third degree tear I got last time. A few days after delivery I was feeling nauseous, and hot and cold at the same time. Also, I couldn’t make myself eat in the evenings. This didn’t really worry me, since I could eat during the night (4 am suppers). A week later though, we took me into the doctor. I was put on antibiotics. Within 12 hours I was able to sleep again, and by 48 hours I felt like a new person.
So if you’re having trouble sleeping or are having other symptoms, go to your doctor right away. My first week home with our second baby would have gone a lot smoother if I’d realized I wasn’t supposed to feel so sick and gotten the help I needed.
Two: Halo Sleepsack Swaddle
Newborn arms are magnetically attracted to their heads. They like to scratch, hit, and rub their face. Not to mention how the startle reflex wakes babies up when their arms flail about. When Little Badger was 5 days old, I ordered the Halo Sleepsack Swaddle off Amazon. It is amazing. The first night we had it Little Badger was able to sleep two and a half hours straight without being in someone’s arms. Without the swaddle, the record was something around 15 minutes. Needless to say it has improved both mine and my husband’s sleep schedule.
Little Badger can still work her hands free over time. But the Sleepsack swaddle is a lot more effective than just using a Muslim swaddle. Plus even if Little Badger squiggles her arms free, I know she isn’t going to be covering her face with cloth. This gives me a lot more peace of mind for sleeping too. Every little bit helps when it comes to baby sleep.
Little Fox has been doing well with the transition to being not-the-only-one. She loves her little sister, and walks around talking to us about the baby and things that are for the baby. We’ve taught her that she can kiss the top of the baby’s head. And Little Fox does that often.
The only trouble Little Fox is having is that we can’t come and do all the things she wants exactly when she wants them. And 21 month olds aren’t known for their patience.
Before Little Badger was born I put together a kit full of “busy bag” activities for Little Fox. These have been great for handing Little Fox when I’m about to start nursing. She loves exploring the new “toys.” I wrote an article about the kind of things I made for her, and you can read it here.
Four: Frozen Meals/Easy Healthy Snacks
Getting through the first few days at home is a lot easier when you don’t have to worry about cooking. A lot of people talk about having frozen meals ready. And that is a key to early new baby success. However, there is a second part to this too: having healthy snacks available.
When you have to wake up in the middle of the night to feed your baby, you’re going to get hungry. With Little Fox I devoured boxes of granola bars. This time I also have a snack eating toddler so I knew I wanted more healthy snack options around. Plus I knew it would be nice to have a little more variety.
Some of the best fast and easy snacks I’ve found are cheese sticks (cheese strings made of real cheese instead of processed), fruit bars, and hard boiled eggs.
Five: Build Your Parenting Confidence
Especially with your first baby, it’s easy to feel stuck at home. I happen to like being at home all the time, but I know lots of people who like to get out of the house. My firstborn, for example.
I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my ability to go out by myself with a one month old. Little Fox was born in the summer, but I waited until the following spring to take her out in the stroller. That’s one of my regrets about how I did things the first time. The fresh air and exercise would have been great for me.
This time I went for a walk (with my husband present) on Little Badger’s first day home from the hospital. I’m starting early this time to build my confidence up. While I was still pregnant, when people saw me with a Little Fox and a big belly, they told me I was very brave. But lots of people have had several children under five at a time. In fact, some mothers survive through having twins or triplets! It takes some effort, but I don’t let the idea that having two little children is too hard get to me. Instead I remember my grandma, who had 11 children, some of whom were only a year apart. If she (and so many others) can do it, so can I.
Keeping up the positive thinking can be difficult through the baby blues. But not doing the things you love won’t help you feel better. Getting out, and proving to yourself you can parent and do the things you love, can. So go out for walks. Plan visits with friends. Find a mom’s group in your area.
The Byzantine Life
Don’t forget to follow us on social media. On our Pinterest we have boards full of baby and toddler activities! New posts are always shared to Facebook, and my husband runs our Twitter (@LifeByzantine) and Instagram accounts (username: thebyzantinelife)! And if you want to support our work at TheByzantineLife.com, consider joining us on Patreon. For as little as $5 a month you can get exclusive access to special posts, photos, and updates from our family! https://www.patreon.com/thebyzantinelife