The First Weeks and What Helped Us Through

The First Weeks with a Baby and How we survived | The Fresh Exchange

Here we are, almost 2 months as parents. They say these first 3 months are the hardest and most beautiful times and I will be the first to agree it is 100% true. I won’t lie that it has been a wild ride these last few months with a newborn and then recovering myself. The struggle of learning this new road is a tough one, in the process you feel a little like you have lost yourself as the exhaustion kicks in, the lack of doing your normal things begins to hit, and you begin to realize how life has forever shifted in good ways, but trying ways as well. There is no doubt life has changed, but the reality in the first 3 months isn’t forever, which is something I daily have to remind myself as a new mom. Both Mike and I have taken time off, Mike went back after almost 4 weeks and I have been little by little getting back to things between naps and feedings. I am still giving myself time to breathe, not feel pressured, and take on things with baby steps. Somedays are great and somedays I feel like life is caving in, those are days I know I expected too much of myself and our new reality. I think it is hard to really talk about the difficulty of the first few weeks in an honest way. Keeping it together is a realitive term that relates to the current moment and not in comparison to what life was pre-baby. Simple things feel like major victories such as going grocery shopping the first time, baby-wearing, eating out, driving somewhere on your own, and then the first time you take steps back into work. At this point many women in America head back to work, and I realize not only do I have the luxury of choosing when I get back to work, but how I do as well. It is a real gift, but no matter how you slice the first three months of life whether you have an easy baby or not, have to go back to work or not, have a c-section or a home birth….life post-baby is about surviving in the first 3 months without a doubt. Thus, I wanted to give a few things we have learned in this process thus far that have helped us survive ourselves.

The First Weeks with a Baby and How we survived | The Fresh Exchange

The First Weeks with a Baby and How we survived | The Fresh Exchange

At almost 2 months we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel in some regards. The haze of newborn life is lifting, we are getting some level of sleep (this means 6 hours of broken sleep if we are lucky), and the learning curve has gotten a little less steep (actually a lot). We have been very lucky as little H is a very easy to please baby. He sleeps easily and communicates clearly. I think people would dub him a textbook baby. He believes currently he can walk and wants to jump and see the world so badly. He is in love with watching us talk and talking back to us in his own way. He has always recently been conquering his first developmental leap and showed us that sleep will continually shift week to week as growth happens. A lot of you have asked for the things that have made this time easier, and it has taken time to write this post between naps and hand-offs to Mike without losing sleep in the process, but I wanted to share because I want to help some of you to be able to find joy in this process as we have because of these small things. I gathered up the 8 clutch things that have helped us from not going nuts during this time. I have another post I will share about the necessary items for the first 3 months as well. It is amazing what you don’t need.

The First Weeks with a Baby and How we survived | The Fresh Exchange

The First Weeks with a Baby and How we survived | The Fresh Exchange

  1. Swaddling:
    Not every baby is the same, but for us HW loves to be swaddled. He was very little when he was born (6.8 and then dropped to 5.15) and his hands and arms weren’t his best friends in the world. At first we swaddled him like they did at the hospital, but then at about 1.5 weeks we discovered this magical item. Why so magical, you swaddle them (makes it easy and fast) and the zipper is at the bottom so you can easily unzip the bottom, change them, and zip them back up without having to fully reswaddle and wake them. Absolutely a necessity and thankfully Prime Now had them and you can bet we ordered it right away after a couple of rough nights. It has been clutch the last month for us to get good sleep and helps calm him down during the wonderful witching hour that occurs before bed times. The other swaddles we love for nap times are from Solly Baby. They stretch well so you can get a good tight swaddle on them, which is so important for the little Houdinis out there.
    The First Weeks with a Baby and How we survived | The Fresh Exchange
  2. Learning his cues and signs:
    Whatever your parenting style I think communication is key. The truth is that babies come out with their own way of communicating with you through movements, gestures, and even their cries. Friends suggested we read the Baby Whisperer in order to learn some key cues and then another friend suggested watching this video about the different cries. I thought all of it was completely nuts, but the last thing I wanted was to make H feel as if he wasn’t understood. So from day 1 we have made a point to stay on top of learning and listening for his cues and thanks to the two above sources, we have a little guy who trusts he doesn’t need to yell to get his point across…well very often anyways.
    The First Weeks with a Baby and How we survived | The Fresh Exchange
    The First Weeks with a Baby and How we survived  |  The Fresh Exchange
  3. The Swing:
    We received this swing from Nuna along with their brand new Wind attachment to keep the motion never ending. Not only is it one of the best designed swings on the market, but it creates motions that can only be easily replicated by human movements as well. This way you aren’t too reliant on that little machine if you can’t get your baby to sleep or soothe them. We use it most often when H is awake and we need to eat, cook, clean, or just need an extra arm. I looked all over for something that could fit into the decor of our living space, was easy to move, would be quiet, and most of all would last longer than a few months of use. This swing will hang with him until he is nearly 100 lbs and with the Wind attachment the movements will keep going endlessly or you can unattach the Wind and use the swing anywhere and it will swing on its own for up to nearly 3 minutes. I was anti-swing because I didn’t want to create a bad habit with it, but this one has been the perfect inbetween item for me. The best part is he loves the toy bar and as toy bars go it is the coolest looking one on the market. Mama and baby are both happy this way!
    The First Weeks with a Baby and How we survived | The Fresh Exchange
    The First Weeks with a Baby and How we survived  |  The Fresh Exchange
  4. Development Apps:
    Out of the gate HW was an easy baby. He has been right on track, but most importantly he sleeps. I started to think about a schedule with him and realized after observation he already was on one on his own. He is very happy and communicates clearly to us. We couldn’t ask for a better baby, so when we had a few really rough days I got scared. I really thought our sweet, easy baby had just started becoming another type of baby all together. The moment was just before 5 weeks. He fought everything and I was at my limit with him. Then one of my girlfriends asked if I had heard of the Wonder Weeks app and I immediately searched for it on my phone. Hello to all my answers! This little app gives you a heads up on when major development is happening for them and lets you know it may be a little rough with them during specific times of the month. Not only that it tells you how to help them through this stage. I read the first development stage and realized we were knee-deep in him making his first leap mentally. Instantly I was releived and knew we could make it through knowing on the other side we might have a more socially engaged, sleeps a little longer, and happier little man. It also shows on the calendar when turbulent times are ahead so if you are planning a trip you can avoid those moments or at least know what to expect.
    The First Weeks with a Baby and How we survived | The Fresh Exchange
  5. You-time:
    When we came home and I was recovering I knew I needed a regular shower and coffee. I kept hearing women say they went without showers for days and I knew I couldn’t do that. I wanted to feel clean and hated the perfume I suddenly took on as a new mother…aka sour milk. So I told Mike this is what I need for my time each day. We figured out how I could squeeze in 20-30 minutes at the beginning and end of the day for me. Those moments kept me sane in the first few weeks especially. Now a days with HW taking more regular naps I am able to find more time for myself if he keeps to the schedule, but my biggest piece of advice is to name the one or two things that will keep you and your partner sane when you are recovering and in those first 5-6 weeks. Communicate it to each other. Give each other that, which leads to my next point.
    The First Weeks with a Baby and How we survived | The Fresh Exchange
    The First Weeks with a Baby and How we survived | The Fresh Exchange
  6. Accept help:
    You just spent 9 months growing this little one all on your own in many ways. Though, Mike made sure to always reassure me that I wasn’t doing this alone, which was great…it felt like it was all my job at that time. At the end, I especially needed to accept help when I couldn’t do chores like I used to. It felt good to know I didn’t have to do it all. Post having H though I needed help in all new ways. Even though I had a quick labor there was a definite recovery period just with any birth and doing much of anything beyond feeding him and carrying him around the house felt exhausting and hard on my body. We had my parents with us for 2 weeks and they cooked, took HW while we slept, and just were there for moral support. Then my brother came for a long weekend and Mike’s family came for a few weeks later to help as well. Not to mention the number of meals friends and neighbors have brought us that have kept us healthy and fed the last 6 weeks. The one piece of help I didn’t expect was needing a support group of moms. I have a lot of girlfriends both here and all over the world who I have leaned on, asked questions to, and been in touch with to ask questions, text with in the middle of the night while feeding and trying to get a baby to sleep, and more. It may not be the kind of help that cleans your floors, but having women who get it and can support you without judgement is VERY helpful. Your husband can only understand so much of the recovery and emotional things you are going through, but other women get it. Finding women who had no judgement for our own decisions and then supported me and listened even while they went through their own struggles has been so helpful in keeping me sane. So my suggestion is to lean into those relationships because it truly takes a village.
    The First Weeks with a Baby and How we survived | The Fresh Exchange
  7. Don’t be hard on yourself:
    I missed work long about 3 weeks postpartum. Work isn’t really work to me as I love it so much, but that doesn’t mean I should be getting back to it that quickly. Taking time, easing into things, and also learning the hard way that my body needs time to heal has been hard and important. Don’t expect to fit into your old clothes quickly (even if you didn’t gain much your hips are wider for a while). Remember you just created life and that is the ultimate thing you can do with your body as a woman so give your body the time and place to recover. It will be better for you and your baby this way…not to mention your partner. I am the first person who needs to listen to this advice pretty much hourly especially these days as I am getting back into life.
    The First Weeks with a Baby and How we survived | The Fresh Exchange
  8. Communicate with your Partner:
    We have this saying we say to one another when things start to get hard where we look at the other and say “Same team!” and sometimes HW gets that as well when he is fighting a diaper change at 3 AM, but I think the most important thing that has gotten us through the last few weeks is each other. We had some unexpected things come our way during this time with work that were wonderful, but it meant shifts of expectations. This meant I had to pick up in areas and Mike did as well that we weren’t expecting. Hard as it has been, remembering we are in this together, both working through things ourselves, and communicating our feelings, making sure we are feeling heard, and reminding each other we are on the same team has been very important. We have had some tough fights and some moments that aren’t pretty recently as it has meant a lot of shifts I especially wasn’t ready for, but finding time to really talk, sit and get emotional and honest is extremely important. As women this time is full of really wild hormones that can lead us to difficult and dark places, but allowing your partner to be there for you is important. I have a tendency to communicate poorly especially about my feelings and what I am thinking, which hasn’t been good for us. I am working on it and it is helping. The most important thing is just remember you both are giving 100% and figuring out how to help the other where you can and when you can. Adding a little life into the mix isn’t easy, but it can be an opportunity to grow yourself and your partnership together. It takes work and a willingness to step outside of your own perspective which can be hard with maybe a few hours of sleep over a matter of days, but it can happen. I promise!
    The First Weeks with a Baby and How we survived | The Fresh Exchange

There are a lot of ways to make it through this time but this is how Mike and I have been making it work over the last nearly 2 months. Now that I am slowly getting back to work and beginning the journey to find a balance of parenthood and career there are other challenges on the horizon, but getting through those first few weeks is the hurdle. If you can do that, you start to feel like anything is possible with focus, patience, and a lot of self-care.

I apologize if this post isn’t as well put together as some other posts, but I really wanted to get it out there for all you new mamas-to-be and moms. It is a hard and challenging time there is no doubt, but it is also beautiful and everything feels so precious and new. I have never loved mornings so much. Your world will look different and I had to mourn the loss of life the way it was some especially around weeks 4 and 5. Now I am realizing the beauty of this time in life and how it is one of the greatest adventures we have taken thus far. I wouldn’t go back to our old life for anything anymore, even with the lack of sleep. Feel free to share your thoughts and things that helped you as a new mom as well as ask any questions!
The First Weeks with a Baby and How we survived | The Fresh Exchange

All the photos in this post have been from our first few weeks as a family. It has been so precious to watch this little guy begin to open his eyes to the world and to see how he fits into life little by little these days.

I would love to hear your thoughts and on this time as well and how you made it through. Feel free to share your thoughts and things that helped you as a new mom as well as ask any questions!

Leave a comment

  1. I am currently 36 1/2 weeks so it’s been a blessing to find your blog and read your journey into parenthood as I know ours will begin soon. I look forward to your fresh, honest updates. Such a beautiful family! Congratulations!

  2. I loved reading this and had Matt read it as well in preparation for out little one this August! Loved the “we are a team” reminders. sounds like a great and quick way to reassure each other that you’re in it together!

    1. I am so excited for you guys!!!! It is such a journey, just remember to take one moment at a time. It is easy as business owners to get ahead too soon. I thought I would jump back in 100% by now and I emotionally and mentally aren’t as capable as I would have hoped. So I am taking it one week at a time. It is hard turning down work, but at the same time it is worth it if I am not emotionally out of control. Know that you are always welcome to shoot me an email or get in touch through the process. Talking with other women who do what we do and have had kids has been so grounding.

  3. passing this along to my husband .. we are due may 7 and run our own very seasonal beachside business… i am very nevous to see how this summer will play out, needless to say! x

    1. I get it. Take help and remember you are in it together. It will be a journey but take each moment as it comes. Don’t get too far ahead…that is when I spiral out of control.

  4. Such a beautiful and relatEable post! The first few months are so hard. It does take a while to figure everything out, and just when you think you have it down tHey change! But every moment is so special, RememBer it wont be this way forever. Soak it up, the good and bad. Youre doing an incredible job! I love your last post on Insta about adaptIng your blog to your new reality, i think its so important to be honest! Although ive found its a trickY balance – work & life conteNt – but you guys do it brilliantly wIth so Much style! Keep It up xx

  5. This post is so honest and so real. Those newborn days Are soooo hard! IT is really nice to see someOne be able to talk about it while youre still in it. I felt like i couldnt reveal these things until they were hindsight, so good for you. Hang In there. It just keeps getting better and better. My son is 17 months now but i reMember each milestone with so much joy. Three months when we really started getting lots of smiles, four months when cooing started and he really started chunking up, six months when he started sitting up, seven months when he started crawling….it really does all go by so fast, but it doesnt really help to hear that when youre in those first exhausted months. Just embrace this time as much as you can, keep leaning on Mike and take care of you. Everything you seem to already be doing. Oh and facebook! Get on some local moms facebook groups, they are a freaking lIfesaver. I met some of my best mom friends through facebook and have gotten my best advice there as well. It is great for setting up playdates, which at this age, is really mostly, for the moms to talk Moms need moms. For real.

  6. Thank you for being so vulnerable. I have always been a bit reluctant to parenthood , but your posts remind me of it’s beauty and bring me hope for the day I have my own little. Wishing you joy and peace on this Easter day!

  7. Such a great post 🙂 As a mum, who is also a business owner, I really missed work early on after Isla was born, and got back into things a little too early. Now I’ve backed back off a little and am creating a good life / work / mum balance. One of the biggest things that helped was creating that ‘me’ time that you talked about. When Isla goes down for her first nap, I brew a coffee, and read, sit, sew, create, whatever I want to do. It’s been such a powerful time, and really gets me started in the morning! Glad to see you’re finding your feet and enjoying the journey. 🙂

  8. I’ve appreciated every bit of you sharing this Journey. Especially as you’re seven months ahead of me on it…it’s a little like peering into the future. I’m now in the “learning to travel Pregnant” phase (ugh learning curve), and just reading about you guys is such a comfort as each unknown phase approaches! Much love to you guys!

  9. i felt like postpartum round one was a breeze. i loved it so much. i never felt so well rested, content and in love with life. it was the best 12 weeks i was blessed to take part of and enjoy. postpartum round two…was a complete 180. it started in the hospital when i passed out trying to get to the bathroom to pee. baby boy wasn’t breathing and choking on fluids because he came out fast. our first night home, the power was out for 4 hours. at 4 weeks old, i thought he had croup and was having difficulty breathing. scott and i were never SO scared. that moment scarred my husband and he has since gotten a vasectomy, couldn’t stand to lose a child or watch me go through it. after our trip to the er, that night i was having chest pain…enter mastitis. -_- What got us through? each other. what helped keep me sane? other mothers that have experienced the same thing. each child is SO different. each experience is SO different. I still want another baby, and we’ve been talking of adoption. if that ends up being a part of our journey, each experience will be completely different and i can’t wait to experience it. i will also say that i was one of those moms the second time around, that didn’t get to shower every day. i was the human feed bag from 9pm – 6am. baby would finally go to sleep and i had to get up to get my daughter ready to go out the door each morning. by the time i got her out and was settled, baby was up to play. he’d fall asleep in the afternoon right as everyone was returning. it was HARD. very hard. then i went back to work and i was pumping in the parking lot and managing to not fall asleep…my schedule was insane. owning a business and working out of your home has its’ perks, enjoy it!

    http://www.gabrielleorcutt.com

  10. How funy how we each have our own story and journey. I found those first months the easiest. I was so high on adrenaline that I had no problem with the 2-hour lap sleep, even if I had to deal with the nights mostly on my own as my boyfriend had just opened his own restaurant. I really thought that mother-thing was so easy. The summer had just started and I was so often out of the house, wandering trough the city we had just moved into, enjoying the short visit of friends and family. I am a graphic designer and went back to work after 3 weeks, from home, with my sleepy tiny one. But then around 5 months it hit me hard. Motherhood, the sleep regression, the not being able to do anything for more than 20 mins, not being able to focus. This hard time lasted for around 6 months. Just to say that each story is different, but one thing remains the same: you need patience. Every stage has its difficult parts and its beautiful parts. Now that nbr 2 is on the way, I know 1 thing: I will take things how they come! Keep my expectations low and see the good in every stage.

  11. SO honest and beautiful! communicating with your partner is key- our relationship has changed so much, and being in communication is key to making it work. Being able to accept help is so important- it truly does take a village and i was so thankful for how large our village really has become. now that i’m back at work i realized my village extends to co-workers who understand that i need to go pump, or might not respond to emails so quickly (or at all) over the weekend. feeling supported in all aspects of my day make this change so much easier. i think of my “old life” all the time, miss it some, but feel so thankful for this amazing growing 8 month old boy and can’t imagine life without him.