Dear Future Shannon,
I am writing this letter to help you through some of the struggles of having a newborn baby at home. You are about to have a second baby and I want to give you some advice to make things a little bit easier. By now you have probably forgotten the specific details of when Ryan was a newborn, so here are some tips from the past you.
~Don 't rush the baby out. As it gets later and later in the pregnancy, you are going to be very anxious for the birth of the baby. But its important not to rush things along. Remember that the baby will be healthier and happier the longer they are inside. Be patient and let your body do its job.
~Everyone says it, and you know its true, but make sure you cherish every single second of the first few weeks. The time goes by soooo fast and it all becomes a blur. My advice would be to stop whatever you are doing every once in a while and take a moment to soak in whatever is going on around you. Just take in the sights and sounds that surround you and breath in the perfect new baby smell. Give an extra hug and kiss to that precious little baby because it will never be that small again!
~Don't sweat the small stuff. I know, I know... another cliche, but seriously, don't do it! Don't worry about the laundry, or the kitchen floor, or cooking dinner, or clearing the clutter. Who cares about all of that. Don't spend your time trying to be super mom, spend your time holding your baby. Again, it goes by to fast to waste time worrying about your house.
~Let people help. Whether its chores or shopping or coming over so you can take a nap... don't be afraid to ask and accept help.
~If you have another very fussy, colicky baby, I promise eventually the crying will stop (or happen less frequently at least). You are not doing anything wrong and there is know way to "fix" the problem. Just try to comfort the baby in any way you can and trust the fact that it will get better.
~ Don't worry about all the little details (exactly what time should he eat, how long should he nurse, he just ate an hour ago he can't be hungry again, he has been sleeping for 3 hours should I wake him up, how many ounces is he getting, when should I start solids, am I holding him too much, why doesn't he like his swing, etc etc). For the first three months of life, just go with it. All babies are different and all babies need different things. So do what you think is best, trust your instincts, and don't over analyze every decision you need to make. You will not totally screw up your child by nursing him too often or holding him to long.
~I know you love to be on a good schedule, but don't force it. Babies need to find their own schedule that works for them. So go ahead and guide things in the direction you want them to go, but don't stress out if its not going as planned. Eventually the baby will fall into a schedule that works for them and you will be able to adapt. Ryan found a good routine around 6 months.
~I promise you will sleep again one day! Maybe not the same way you slept before having kids, but it will get better. Eventually babies sleep for longer stretches. So even if the baby is 4 months old and still waking up every 2 hours, have faith that it will get better!
~Go to sleep when the baby sleeps. This will be hard during the day, especially because this time around you have another kid to worry about. But if they kids go to bed around 7-8pm, you should be in bed by 8:15. Its so tempting to stay awake, spend time with Mike, watching TV, or whatever it is you want to get caught up on. But just go to sleep. You will need the rest big time!
~Cuddle with the baby as much as possible. With Ryan, I was always trying to get him to lay down to sleep and he only wanted to sleep in my arms. Now he finally sleeps all on his own and I miss having him sleep in my arms. Enjoy the cuddling, sleepy moments now because they don't last long.
~Its okay to sneak away from the crowd to spend some quiet time with the baby. Use nursing as an excuse if you have to and get away from the noise and the people. It will save your sanity!
~Nurse as long as you can. Don't set a specific end date or any expectations. Its easy to get frustrated if its not going well or set specific time limits... but just do whatever works for your body and try to nurse that baby as long as possible. Bottle feeding is no fun!
~Last but not least, don't forget about time for you and Mike. You need some couple time and some alone time to help get through the difficult transitions. You and Mike are a team and you need to keep him a priority.
Just breathe, relax, and enjoy that baby!
Love, Shannon (November 2011)