If you are lucky, your labour went well and you are thrilled to hold your newborn in your arms. If you are not so lucky, you are so exhausted and spent that you can barely muster a smile at that new life. An entirely helpless creature that needs you to do everything for him, even when you can barely lift a finger or keep your eyes open. Courage, my friend. There is always hope, and practical tips.
In the hospital there are nurses, which is a double-edged sword. You can press that button and they will come and help, but then again they will come when you last need them, waking you and your darling up to take vitals, or blood, or whatever else they need. They will tell you what to do and not to do to your little one. So just bear with them, and try to get as much rest as you can. At least for the day, you don’t need to cook or deal with the other children. Bite the bullet – pay for the private room, cut the visitors down to the bare minimum and rest, rest, rest. Gaze at your baby, bathe, pray, sleep. Talk on the phone only if this is something that recharges you. Don’t do anything ambitious, and don’t do anything to please anybody else. Just you and the baby.
OK, now back home. You really need your husband’s help. If you have other people around, you need their help too, but let’s assume it is just you and him, and that he can take a bit of time off. As an aside, if he is self-employed and doesn’t think he can afford to take time off work, you have a problem. It is not a problem to be solved right now, we’ll talk about it in a later post and do some brainstorming on addressing it. Just note it for now and move on. You can manage on your own if you have to, but it is not ideal.
Getting back on track. First prerequisite for your sanity is sleep. Along with breathing and food. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. So how do we get that?
First, your husband needs to go into exile. Not you go into exile, he goes into exile. He gets a bachelor sleeping place in the part of the house furthest from you and your little darling, preferably out of earshot of the baby’s crying. Even if he has to sleep in the living room on a mattress. It is preferable that you get something nice set up for him ahead of time, so that he knows that you care about him and his comfort. But in any case, niceties aside, it is an active war situation, and both of you need as much sleep as you can possibly get. You need him rested and ready to help, especially if you have other little children that wake up early. You can’t help but take the night shift. He should be able to relieve you in the morning. You should not be taking care of him, it is time for him to be taking care of you. Non-negotiable.
Now, the success of this little adventure depends on how you present this situation to your beloved. If you are grumpy or nag or try to send him away in a negative way, it will not work. If you try to get him to read your mind and leave of his own accord, it will not work. Just tell him that he is your emergency man. He is your knight in shining armour. And it is an emergency. He needs to come in and save the day because you can’t. You just need to tell him this plainly and politely, and he will be thrilled to come to your aid. These are concrete actions steps that he can take to make the life of the family easier. He is making a major contribution to the family well-being by being rested.
Now that it is just you and the baby at night, we are going to set up the chess pieces for a successful battle. Stay tuned.