So here you are. You have just birthed your new baby. All that anticipation and waiting has finally paid off.
For most women in the U.S., you will have delivered in a hospital, stayed a few nights, were given a quick "how-to" from the nurses and then ushered out to start your new life. I don't know about you, but it was at this point when we closed the car doors and waved goodbye to the nurse that it hit us; I can't believe they are letting us take her home.
The first night as a new parent was one of many emotions. I awoke with every sniffle and grunt she made and every love song that had something to do about a girl made me break out in an ugly cry. These emotions are just part of the postpartum journey and they too shall pass. Amidst all the hormones and adjusting to parenthood, our sweet little girl had something that "the experts" like to call Purple Crying. This is where your baby cries for hours on end for no reason except for the fact that it is their way of coping in their new environment. No one told me about this and I wish they had. It would have saved me a few nights of pacing in her room, crying along with her thinking I completely bombed at this whole mother thing. (If you would like an entertaining, yet colorful, commentary of this, check out Pregnant Chicken's blog on the subject.)
During these precious first weeks, try not to beat yourself up that you aren't that pintrest perfect mom with Heidi Klum's abs. Motherhood is raw and it is something to be taken in, like that first cup of coffee in the morning. It is okay to go slow, in fact studies are showing that it takes a woman's body a full year to recover from pregnancy and childbirth. In the first few weeks, nourish your body well with nutrient rich foods to give yourself a great foundation on your road to motherhood. Ease yourself back into exercising as your uterus and lady land will be sensitive from the previous week's event. And if this is your first or only child, be selfish. Lay in bed and soak your baby up. Don't feel bad about petting their soft head for hours while you just stare at them. You will never have this moment, this feeling, again. Soon lazy days will fade into sleeping patterns and alert waking hours. With subsequent births, you will have other children to tend to which make the cuddle times shorter. Have visitors do the dishes and laundry when they ask "can I do anything?" or ask them to stay away for as long as you want. Guard your time with your baby, listen to your body, surround yourself with people who care and encourage you. When you are feeling up to it, find a mom group with women you can talk to. Being social and having the opportunity to process all that is going on is very beneficial.
Ultimately know that you are doing a great job! Being there for your baby and meeting their needs is an important job that seems mundane, but it is not. Your interactions with your baby are shaping the way they perceive and react to the world. You got this.