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Notes From The Trenches: How To Survive Your First Month

When I look back on those first few weeks with Huck it is like looking back at a war-strewn battlefield. My body was a wreck. I was sore in places I never imagined I could be sore, and I’m pretty sure I walked around with that unique, bleary-eyed look of utter bliss and sheer exhaustion. The whole thing was very fuzzy, in that delightful, best-time-of-your-life but holy-crap-I-think-I’m-going-to-cry kind of way.

Now that I can think (somewhat) clearly, I can see that there were a few things I picked up that helped things run like gang busters. There are also things I wish I’d thought of sooner. And I’m pretty sure the next time I have a baby I won’t remember any of it, because those are just the cold hard facts of life, Barry.

So here we go! After the jump, you’re getting my five New Mom Tricks To Save Your Sanity And Help You Savor Yo Baby More Better.

(Admit it, I’m getting really good at these titles, aren’t I.)

1. Get Thee Some Aquaphor

Buy it early, buy it often. I bought a big old tub of it and used it on sore bobos, chapped winter cheeks, odd rashes that showed up when it turned out fleece and my baby don’t groove so well, and I am telling you it is the miracle cure for infant acne and cradle cap. Don’t freak out about the price tag. I mean, I did, but then when I came to my senses I was all, eighteen bucks, is that it?!?


2. Shall We Swaddle Your Waddle?

This is what I say to Huck when it’s cranky time and I can tell he could use a nap. And here’s a pro tip from me to you: receiving blankets and soft snuggly blankets aren’t going to cut it, especially as they get taller and/or tankier. Run yourself to your favorite fabric store instead and buy flannel and jersey by the yard. Have the lady at the counter cut it to square for you. Try to find something wider than 40 inches if you can. Flannel and jersey don’t fray, but you can run over the edges with pinking shears when you get home if you’d like. It’s genius, I know, you’re welcome.

3. Elle MacPherson Nursing Bras

If you’re nursing you’re going to need a Big Mama Bra for the first month or so as you’re adjusting your milk supply to your baby’s needs and your boobs are bonkers large, but after your boobs settle into their groove you’re going to want a bra that won’t make you feel like a dairy cow. I like Elle MacPherson bras because they come with extra eye hooks in the back for narrow chested girls like myself. (“They don’t make 28-double-D, they just don’t!”)

4. “Well, actually . . .”

People are going to offer to help you a lot in those first weeks, and obviously you’re going to want to take them up on it. But when you need it, you have to ask for it, and that’s the trick. I would always worry it was a bad time/they were too busy/I could really just do it myself in the time it’d take them to get there.

I wish I would have identified a few things ahead of time–such as running a load of laundry (we have laundry in our basement, it’s a total drag), or doing a round of dishes, or having someone hold the baby between 7AM and 9AM so I could catch a little extra snooze and/or stare blankly at the wall–that I could have told my friends they could help me with. Next time I think I’ll be ready with something, so when they say “Let me know if you need any help,” I can say, “Well, actually . . . I’d love it if you could come over Tuesday afternoon and hold the baby so I could paint my toenails. Bring some donuts while you’re at it?”

5. Mascara, Bronzer, Lipgloss, Clothes. Every Day.

Nothing was better for me in those first weeks than taking the twenty minutes or however long it took to get myself put together in the morning (even if the morning was 3PM). It made such a difference in my self-esteem, in my mood, and it helped make spur-of-the-moment outings (he’s napping in his stroller! let’s go be around people!) entirely possible. Huck’s first nap of the day always went (and still goes) like this: Makeup, Hair, Clothes, Crash On The Couch Till Baby Wakes Up. In that order. And then I made sure I got outside the house for at least ten minutes, every day.

What helped you survive those first few weeks with a new baby? What do you wish you had known, or what would you have done differently?

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