by: Kimberly Bowman

There is a great cartoon showing a mother in the hospital bed with the baby and the father, dutifully standing next to her. All three have thought balloons above their heads reading “Now what?”

During your pregnancy you likely went on tours of where you would give birth, took classes on infant care, CPR and breastfeeding. You prepared and purchased, installed and assembled. The baby has seventeen different places to sit and more blankets than he’ll ever need along with books, toys, stuffed animals, a DVD titled How to Speak a Foreign Language When You’re Under 3 Months Old and a college fund. Now the baby is here and he is small, not that cute and doesn’t seem to play with the twelve different rattles in his room. He hasn’t even seen his room. You remember nothing prior to the birth, including everything from all those classes.

The first six weeks of a baby’s life are an exhaustive time, and yes, beautiful, magical, incredible, absolutely fantastic. Anyway, during this time the important thing to remember, aside from the massive amounts of information swimming about in your brain that you likely won’t need to recall for another six months, is that you and the baby are meant to do this: sleep, eat, heal, adjust. That’s it. Even if you are returning to work at the end of six weeks, allow yourself the true measure of that time to accomplish those four things. Sleep when baby sleeps, eat well, heal your body by following doctor’s orders and take one moment at a time.

The baby will nurse between 10-12 times in 24 hours and will often seem sleepy. He will be wrinkly and will contort his face in unimaginable ways. He may utter sounds like that of a grizzly bear. His poop will astound you. Enjoy his funny little body while you give him a bath. Pump if you need to make yourself more comfortable and nurse as much as you would like and he will accept. Wake a sleepy baby by changing the diaper, gently blowing on his head, removing his socks or burping.

Cute babies who are sitting up, smiling and are able to let go when they grab a fistful of their own hair are not newborns. Newborns are funny, amazing little creatures and will let you know, in no uncertain terms that they have arrived and will change all the rules. Letting them do this for a couple of weeks is OK. They won’t remember the thrill of the power but you will remember the letting go of the books and the classes and the learning of listening to your baby.