With a toddler looking more and more like a preschooler every single day as well as a baby getting deep into those toddler times, the memory of bringing home baby, or welcoming her into the family for the first time – twice now – is still incredibly fresh.
I remember being so thankful that I’d been gifted or purchased certain key items that made daily life, well, possible, for one thing.
The help of others… that was a big one, too. From knowing there were others who were simply there and cared about my well-being to very practical and concrete support in the form of meals and supplies, it all added up to make for an easier time for me, my husband, and our little family.
I had somewhat realistic expectations, I think, looking back. But then at the same time, I don’t think you can ever truly understand the intensity of around-the-clock feedings and care until you’ve actually done it.
Being prepared as realistically as you can is something I would for sure recommend.
From those key items to have for yourself to the things I found super clutch for caring for a newborn to gear, assistance, and beyond, check out my reflections on bringing home the baby: 20 things that got me through it.
20 Not Just A Jug
I realize that it might sound funny that one of the most important things for me as a brand-new mother was my water bottle.
But just wait.
When your body starts to make milk to feed your newborn, it can be, well thirsty work.
On top of this, you are awake for many more hours of each day, and so having something handy to drink from at all times becomes pretty crucial to staying hydrated.
Plus, hormones after giving birth, in my experience, can make you tend to run pretty warm.
I was super grateful that I had already purchased and gotten in the habit of always having with me a BPA-free water bottle that could hold a decent amount of water and was easy to drink from with one hand.
A big cup wouldn’t quite do the trick because it needs to be easy to carry all around the house with you, often with one spare finger.
19 Fantastic Fans
So as I mentioned, postpartum, I found that I was still running rather warm most of the time.
There are all those hormones happening, as well as the body producing breast milk for the first time, on top of the fact that I was holding another little person — body heat included — much of the time.
I think it was the first week that we got home, maybe, that my husband went on a very important errand, indeed.
He went out and bought — no joke — like two or three fans at once, to be placed in areas I was often resting or nursing.
With two babies now, our collection has only grown.
Just being physically much more comfortable worked wonders to keep me more content during even the more trying times. (And some of them even come with remotes these days!)
18 A Helpful Husband
Following the birth of both my babies so far, I was very fortunate to have my husband there for at least a few weeks afterward.
As we adjusted to all those huge life changes, it was just so, so wonderful to have someone there to help in very concrete ways, and to just provide reassurance.
He brought me crucial snacks and water at all hours of the night and day, as I sat in my nursing chair.
He helped me use a hand pump when my electric one hadn’t arrived in time and we were both so exhausted that we had to just take turns working it.
He ran to the store so, so many times for diapers, food, and other supplies we realized we needed, or needed even more of.
Yay for parental leave! That’s all I have to say.
17 Fish Tacos
That’s right. Fish tacos are one thing I remember as being very important to me in my postpartum days.
See, fitting in things like cooking can become very, very difficult.
But when some close friends came by to catch their first glimpse of our first little one, they also brought by, without us even asking, some of our current favorite food from one of our favorite restaurants.
I remember the serendipity of it all — our little one was actually asleep in her crib for a decent enough amount of time that we could sit, for the first time as parents, at our kitchen table and just eat.
And it was something that was such a fulfilling treat to both of use.
We just sat and enjoyed the calm, the quiet, and the food.
16 The Tiniest Technology
I think in some ways, it’s a totally awesome time in history to be a mom, right?
The first few days and weeks can involve kind of a lot of being stationary, and even a good amount of isolation.
One partner might be sleeping while the other sits and holds or feeds the baby.
It can be kind of tough to find time to get out and do much of anything, or even, like, take a shower.
And so what a wonder, I think, that these days many moms have at their fingertips a tiny computer that allows them to chat with anyone they know through a variety of means of communication, shop for supplies, or just have a little diversion or entertainment, from books to movies and beyond.
I also liked, by the way, that I could just message my husband if I needed something and he was in another room, so as not to have to call out and disturb a sleeping baby.
15 One Clutch Chair
The first time we brought home baby, some relatives had handed down their own wooden gliding chair for us to use in the nursery.
With our second, I needed a second chair for nursing in our own room, and so I splurged on the most practical, padded, and comfiest one I could find.
In both cases, you better believe these things got me through the experience of bringing home baby.
On the most basic level, you really need somewhere you feel comfortable (physically) nursing. And it really helped me to have a set “nursing station” where there were things like books and water bottles nearby, and a small table to set things on so I could very easily reach them.
From rocking to soothe a fussy baby to feeding and beyond, the nursing chair may tend to take on a quite sacred importance.
14 Having A Ball
Certain things soothe certain babies – and when you find something that works, you tend to do it over and over and over again, in my experience. It’s your go-to, basically.
Well with my second baby, that thing was bouncing on an exercise ball.
Once the sleepier first few days had passed, and she regularly needed some soothing to drift off to dreamland, we used the big red ball we’d already had around for years.
I or my husband would hold her cradled close in our arms and bounce, and the rhythm was just what she loved the best for being soothed to sleep.
Plus, we kind of got to sit while we did it, and that was nice in a way, too.
13 Plentiful Pads
Okay, so I thought everyone just bought a bunch of those disposable nursing pads and always had those in place and spares in the diaper bag.
My newly nursing nipples did NOT care for them.
I quickly realized that the washable fabric ones were, for me, the way to go, and got a whole collection of them so that I would always have fresh ones to swap in when the others got wet.
Especially in those early days of bringing home baby, leaks were plentiful.
Day and night, night and day, I needed something in place, or otherwise I’d wake up with wet PJs and sheets or get my own top and my baby’s clothes all wet as one side sprayed or leaked while I fed the newborn on the other side.
12 The Importance Of The Pump
I don’t know what I would have done if nurses hadn’t supplied me with a hand pump while I was still at the hospital.
What would have gotten me through the experience of bringing home baby much, much better, though, is if my own electric breast pump had actually arrived in time.
It’s a long story, sort of.
I had the nurses at my OB’s office put in the prescription in plenty of time. But week after week, phone call after phone call, the thing still didn’t come.
When I emailed in a huff amid feeding my newborn one day wondering why in the world it had never come (and realizing, um, yeah, I really needed it to stimulate milk production and then also to relieve engorgement), I was told someone hadn’t filled out some necessary form to complete the actual order. Sigh…
11 Hitting The Hay
My husband and I really did do our best to follow that advice all parents seem to give: “Sleep when they sleep!”
I mean, during the day, it just wasn’t really practical.
And even at night, it’s not like we went into our bed at 7 p.m.
But we really did do a pretty good job of getting ready for bed and under the covers much, much earlier than we normally would, in non-newborn times.
Shortly after the little one was down (for the first stretch of sleep… before waking 3 or so hours later for a nursing sesh), we were, too.
We’d at least read or do something restful before turning out the light and catching some shuteye.
I probably could have made “bringing home baby” a bit easier the second time around if I’d taken this approach again, but we were just never really able to give up our few hours of “adult” time at the end of the day, after hanging out with a newborn and toddler all day.
10 The Wheels
Being active is pretty important to me.
If I’m not running many days a week (such as when pregnant), well then I’m walking quickly all around the ’hood.
If it’s too hot to be in the sun that long, I’m doing yoga or floor exercises inside.
Basically, exercise is a pretty big deal to me, as one ingredient in my recipe for health and happiness.
So one really important thing in getting me through the process of bringing home the baby and welcoming another very tiny and very dependent person into my family was having a stroller to let me get out and moving ASAP.
Which one did I choose? The one I could jog with later when my babe was a bit older but could also use almost right off the bat for walking, a few days after coming home, because our infant car seat could click safely into it.
9 A Sweet Sling
I think the reason I registered for the particular fabric baby sling I ended up using allll the time was that, quite frankly, I thought that it looked really cute.
I actually hadn’t seen many moms out and about using one quite like it in recent years, and I realize now that it might have been because it could tend to put a lot of pressure on only one shoulder of the parent who was wearing a baby in it – but still, I don’t know what I would have done without it.
Having something in a very soft and rather lightweight fabric gave me a way to comfortably carry my newborn baby all around the house, out and about for shorter walks, or even while sitting and eating at a restaurant.
I would dance her to sleep in it every night for a while, and even (later) sat with her snoozing in it while I worked on my laptop.
While bulkier carriers can be great, too (more on that later…), this simpler variety was just so appropriate for those very early days.
8 A Small Carrier Collection
So if you read the item above, you know how much I came to depend on my fabric baby sling / carrier. (Like, seriously, I can’t imagine how I would have either gotten my babe to sleep or gotten anything else at all done at home without it.)
But I also think it needs mentioning that one key thing for me was to have a variety of baby carriers to use.
The fabric carrier I loved for home didn’t work well to wear for long periods out and about, such as shopping for groceries – or going on hikes.
So a fabric carrier that was more of a harness style that the newborn (check the instructions for proper use / size limitations) — and older baby, later on — could ride happily in was crucial for me, too.
There are all sorts of brands out there these days, from the basic Bjorn to high-end versions claiming ergonomic comfort and boasting fun and fashionable prints.
7 At Least Some Time To Shower
I’m honestly kind of proud of myself for this one.
I knew instinctively, I guess, that at least a very basic level of “self-care,” as they say, would really help me to tackle this whole new motherhood thing on head-on.
And so, some way, somehow, I made sure to at least get myself clean every day with a quick shower.
Sure, it was nice to actually, well, not be dirty anymore, but maybe also it was about feeling like I had at least that much control and that level of normalcy in a situation where everything else was quite different than before.
For some, maybe it’s taking 10 minutes for meditation, or carving out a bit of time to talk with an old friend.
6 Easily Accessible Chocolate
If you’ve read my writing on the very early postpartum days before, you might start to think by now that I’m some sort of chocoholic. I’m not, really!
But when I was super tired and really quite ravenous following the birth of my first baby, in those very early days at home, a gift from a relative really did the trick for me.
She had brought to the hospital, when she came to meet our little one, a jar full of Peanut M&Ms.
I don’t even love the things regularly, but something about that quick handful of chocolate, sugar, and a bit of protein was just THE best every now and then, for both me and my husband, running on near-empty after being up at all hours for feeding and soothing galore.
We even kept refilling it when it got low during the months ahead: a special trail-mix-type treat for hard-working new parents.
5 Swaddling Sacks
There are some really quite amazing folds that you can perfect for swaddling a newborn baby.
Using a soft and square-ish blanket, the right folds here and tucks there can produce a snug little bundle of happy baby, sort of like when he or she was all cozy in the womb.
But you know what I found really, really easy and convenient to use?
Those special tiny little sleeping bags of sorts that would simply Velcro closed were, well, amazing.
I had a couple on hand that I had ordered when I was still pregnant, not knowing just yet how nice I would find them to use.
I quickly ordered some more (see, things newborns sleep in have a way of getting dirtied with liquid-y poo and spit-up, so if there’s something you rely on, it’s good to have spares).
4 Donated Tools Of The Trade
It seems a simple enough thing to buy a pack of diapers whenever you need one, but man, all those things add up!
Both the cost and the effort of obtaining all the basic stuff you need to care for a brand-new baby can be a bit overwhelming, even if your expectations are really pretty realistic going into it, I found.
And so one thing that helped to get me through bringing home the baby and welcoming a new person into the family was when kind neighbors, family, and friends helped us out by bringing over basic supplies.
Our neighbors gave us diapers that their own baby had graduated up in size from.
One of my favorites was when someone stopped by when we were out on an errand and we came home to a whole stack of baby wipes on our front porch.
Both the kindness of the gesture and the practical help meant a lot.
3 Certain Shirts
I remember how hard it was for me to understand exactly which clothes and essentials would really be, well, essential until I actually brought my baby home and started our life together.
But what I quickly found was that a certain few types of shirts and PJs were totally crucial during those first days — because they were super easy to get on and off dozens of times each day.
There are the diaper changes, the switch from day clothes to PJs to keep warm at night, wet clothes that need to be changed out because they have leaked pee or spit-up or breast milk on them…
And don’t even get me started on the diaper blowout… when that super liquid-y stuff shoots out the back or leaks out the leg hole…
For all of these changes, my tired new-mom body really appreciated little wrap T-shirts, which didn’t have to go over the head of a rather limp little newborn, as well as super stretchy PJs with attached feet.
2 Being A Social Caterpillar
Sure, there’s being a social butterfly, when you make connections and interact with others with ease and grace.
But there’s something to be said, I think, for knowing when it’s not the time to put pressure on yourself to do so.
For me, the postpartum days, when we brought our first baby home for the first time and began to figure out how to make life work as a family, were not a time to worry about entertaining guests.
They were not even a time to worry about whether or not I was wearing a shirt, actually.
Instead, my focus was on bonding with my baby, learning how to take care of a newborn, resting as much as I could, and doing my best to take care of myself on a basic level, too (eating, showering…).
1 Hooray For Healthcare!
It’s something that is so much a regular part of my life as a mom that I almost forgot to include it here: It’s having on my team, as a parent, my little ones’ pediatrician.
Starting with that first visit a few days after we were discharged from the hospital and then every few weeks, then every few months, the doctor was a great source of reassurance, and he knew, I think, that this was an important part of his job, especially when dealing with parents of a newborn.
The basic checks and measurements reassured me that my newborn was healthy and growing well. Any questions I had and generally what I should expect in the days and weeks ahead could be discussed – with someone who was very familiar with it all.
And, my favorite part was that our family’s doctor always made sure to tell us, wide-eyed new parents that we were, that we doing a good job.
Here’s to preventative care (and health insurance to cover all those visits)!
Reference: This one mom's experience.