The First Forty Days
Making it through the first forty days as a parent feels monumental. In cultures different from our own, it’s viewed as a sacred and true time to heal. It’s also undeniably challenging. Getting through it feels like we won the first real challenge. While I don’t claim to be an expert (duh… it’s only been 40 days), here are my major takeaways:
1) MANAGE EXPECTATIONS
I expected this time to be awful, exhausting beyond belief, just truly horrible. Part of me believes that because I expected the worst, I was actually surprised at how not terrible it’s been. Sure I’m tired, but I’ve been managing pretty well. So… expect the worst and allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised when it’s not hell on earth.
A friend gave me the absolute best piece of advice I’ll recommend to any new mother: stay in bed for the first week. Like… actually stay in bed. Have meals brought to you. Don’t go for walks. Remain horizontal as much as possible. Allow your body to heal. I mean you basically were just in a car wreck. Also go to bed at 9pm, or 8pm… or 7pm!!
Holy mackerel. This one has been awesome. We’ve been so wonderfully fed during this time. We were warned how difficult it would be to feed ourselves with a baby. So as soon as Fizzy arrived, we sent out a request to our community in NYC and asked friends to sign up for a day to bring us a meal. We’ve been fed almost every single day so far and the meals continue through the end of October. That’s two whole months of not having to think about our bellies. We just know we’ll be fed an amazing array of healthy and nourishing meals (plus the occasional pizza and coke floats).
4) COMMUNITY SUPPORT
This is tied to the one above. Turns out people want to help when a newborn arrives on the scene. Accept the help and ask for additional support whenever necessary. We were lucky enough to have at least one of Fizzy’s grandparents stay with us for the entire first month. That was invaluable. Then there’s the rest of our community. Because we asked for meals, we had a built in social life. We’ve had so many visitors that we haven’t missed what’s going in the outside world. Food + company from our community has helped us stay connected and feel human.
5) SLOW TIME
“How bored are you?” I’ve gotten this from a few people (both from parents and non). I’m not. I haven’t had a minute of boredom in these first forty days. Boredom will undoubtedly come and I welcome it. But for now, I’m relishing this slow time. I’m noticing every hour… how they differ and how routines are beginning to form. It’s the first time in years I’ve allowed myself to take a break from burning the candle at all the ends. I’ve signed out of my emails and go for super long walks every day. And I get to do this with my new buddy strapped to my chest. I only get these first forty days once. And now they’re over. Already. Thank god I have lots of other monumental things to look forward to.
Maybe I’ll look back at this in three months (or three years) and laugh at how naive I was. But I doubt it. This has been my experience through and through for this special short time. Nothing can change that.