After years of infertility and nine months of pregnancy, there’s still never enough time to prepare for life after infertility. Before our little bundle of joy finally arrived, we had the nursery decorated, a closet full of baby clothes, and more diapers and wipes than we knew what to do with, but even with all of this prep we still had to find our new normal once we got home from the hospital.
When you are a new parent, there are a lot of things you can’t plan for, no matter how much extra time you have to prepare. In fact, the years of infertility before becoming parents made the adjustment more difficult for me. I had become so settled into the life and schedule we had without children and had accepted for so long that children weren’t in the cards for us that, when the day finally came that we got to bring our baby boy home, it was hard to figure out a new routine.
Leaving the House
I never thought it could take so long just to get out the front door. Before parenthood, we could just get up and go to lunch or dinner or the store. With a little one there’s so much more involved to be able to leave the house.
- Feed the baby – since newborns eat every couple of hours, scheduling your plans to leave the house right after your baby eats can help save you from a melt down in the car or somewhere else that’s difficult to get a feeding in.
- Change the baby – it’s not just about making sure your little one has a clean diaper on, but you’ll quickly realize how many wardrobe changes they go through in a day.
- Pack the diaper bag – even if your diaper bag is packed ahead of time, always double check it before you leave. I can’t tell you how many times (even after double checking) we got out of the house and realized we were missing something we needed.
- Get yourself ready – when you’re taking care of a newborn all night and day, basic things like showers tend to get neglected. I have found that I am generally unshowered and still in my pajamas until we are getting ready to leave.
Once you finally get out of the house, the adventure continues. We got lucky and our little one loves his car seat so when we go out we keep him in it and let him sleep until its time to eat or get changed again. I personally use Britax 2017 B Agile & B Safe 35 Travel System and love how easy it is to use in the car, with the stroller, or just to carry him in his seat. If your baby isn’t such a fan of their car seat, try wearing your little one. There are a lot of options for baby wearing (I use Boba Wrap) and you may be able to find local baby wearing groups to help you find the option that works best for you and your baby.
If you’re anything like us, you filled you’re heart with the love of an animal while dealing with infertility. While a dog or a cat may have been a good companion when going through infertility, it can add another layer of stress when you finally bring your baby home. Try to remember that this is an adjustment for your animals as much as it is for you. We have two dogs and two cats and all of them have been adjusting differently. Some have required a lot more work than others, but if you are willing to put in the time (and money) it can be done. Start prepping your animals for the new arrival as early as possible. Good Dog, Happy Baby: Preparing Your Dog for the Arrival of Your Child is a great resource if you have dogs. We also found a boarding/training program for one of our dogs who needed a little more help.
You have probably settled into a routine with household cleaning but that’s all going to change when your baby comes home. I’ve never done more laundry or dishes in my life. If you are strictly breastfeed then constantly washing bottles wont be added to your to do list, but there’s no escaping the laundry. Between the pee and poo and spit up, I find myself doing a load of onesies and burp cloths at lest every two days. My advice is to accept any help that is being offered. If you are lucky enough to have family and friends who want to come over and help clean things up, let them. If they just want to come spend some time with the newest addition to the family, then take advantage of that time and get some stuff done around the house or sneak in a much needed nap.
Speaking of naps, if you weren’t a nap-taker before, you will be now. Your baby will be eating every 1-4 hours, which means you will only be getting an hour or two of sleep at a time. The good news is that your baby will be on this schedule during the day too so try to sleep while they’re sleeping. Let your spouse help you. On days that my husband doesn’t have to work, we each take half the night so we can both get a decent stretch of sleep. Whether you take shifts with your spouse or nap throughout the day, the sleep patterns of your new baby will definitely require you to adjust your pre-baby routine.
If you work, hopefully you are lucky enough to have a job that offers maternity leave. I am blessed enough to have a job that gave me 12 weeks after my son’s birth, plus 2 weeks prior to my due date. Having the time off makes it easier to adjust to the new schedule of caring for a baby, but what happens when it’s time to go back to work? Childcare is going to be part of your new schedule. Whether you are going to be taking your child to a day care center or have a family member that will be coming to your home to watch your child, you will have to factor it into your day. Taking your child to daycare means leaving the house earlier than you normally would and, depending on your job, may require you to adjust your work schedule. If you are going to have someone come to you for childcare, you are at their mercy. If they are running late one day, so are you.
Don’t worry though; you will figure out a new routine that works for you and your baby and will settle in in no time. Although it is a huge adjustment, it is beyond worth it. Some adjustments have been harder for me than others, but we continue to figure it all out one day at a time. Don’t be too hard on yourself, remember how long you worked toward this, and try to cherish every moment with your little miracle baby.