First thing is that the baby sleeps very well the first few days after birth. You have two or three days of relatively decent sleep. You're going to think that you're in for a treat, that you have the first newborn ever created that will sleep quietly for hours on end with no worries at all.
And then you'll go home. The baby sleeps a lot the first two, maybe three days. The hospital sends you home two, maybe three days after the birth. I am absolutely certain this is not coincidence. It just so happens that they send you home when the baby is about to become the crankiest thing on Earth. This is the beginning of cluster feeding and means that you, the mother, the baby, the other father, the second cousin, or whoever is involved will be awake a lot. A lot. Whoever's in charge of feeding the baby might get an hour's worth of sleep at a time over the next week.
No, I'm not kidding there. Read that again. One hour at a time, followed by 30 minutes of feeding the baby, and 15-20 minutes of putting the baby back to sleep. Then you go back to sleep for an hour and do it again.
I am so glad that we've chosen to breastfeed. This absolves me of all responsibility*. I highly recommend breastfeeding your newborn so that at least one person in the relationship will get some sleep.
Now, you may ask yourself how you know that your young one is hungry and I have compiled this handy little list through my experience and I hope you find it helpful.
What My Baby Does When She's Hungry:
- Flails about aimlessly while crying
- Burbles quietly, looking around at everything
- Randomly sucks at an imaginary nipple while crying
- Bites her hand and cries when she accidentally punches herself in the head, then looks at Daddy accusingly as though I did it and makes me feel bad even though I did absolutely nothing wrong
Expect to talk about nothing but your baby for at least the first two weeks (I'd comment on more but I'm only two weeks into this) because that child will BE your life. You'll sleep differently, you'll handle your day centered on what the baby needs, and when you're not talking about the baby your family and friends will want to know if the baby is sleeping through the night***, if she's crying all the time****, or if they can hold her*****.
The baby IS your life. If it's not, you're doing something wrong.
Okay, that last line sounds judgmental. So let me reword: If the baby's not your life, tell everyone else your secret so we can judge whether or not you're doing something wrong. Now that I'm a parent I feel qualified to judge other parents.
That's how that works, right? It's why people become parents?
Now if you'll excuse me, Laura has Lois out with some friends doing some sightseeing and I'm at home alone. I'm going to take a nap for 20 minutes. Twenty. Whole. Minutes.
*But dear LORD don't tell Her I said that!
**This sentence could have actually ended here in different context.
***No. And anyone who tells you their child sleeps through the night within the first month is lying. LYING!
****Yes, but you will lie about this and tell them that she's mostly quiet and good. This is a lie that all parents tell. It's okay; it's expected.
*****Look to the one who gave birth to answer this question. If you give a quick "yes" you may later find out that you've made a horrible mistake. Look for confirmation before giving that baby to a human being who is not her mommy. Seriously.