First-Time Mom and Dad: They Let Us Take Her Home?
Posted by August 10, 2017on
This post kicks off a short series of stories and advice for future (and current) first-time moms and dads. We hope you will find these insights helpful.
June 14, 2016, was no ordinary day for us. It was the day we finally met the little one we had been eagerly awaiting for months. Apparently, she didn’t think we needed those final two weeks before her due date to continue preparing (we did). But, nonetheless, we were happy to meet Isabella Carsan Foster—who was born healthy and with a great set of lungs!
We were both excited and nervous as we got to know our new baby girl. It sounds cliché, but until her arrival we had never known such love … and fear.
“We are completely responsible for this tiny new life.”
“My arms are already getting tired, and I’ve held her for like two minutes.”
“So, the whole lighthearted ‘no sleep’ warnings weren’t really exaggerations at all?”
The first days
The first few days of her life included lots of help since we were in the hospital for a while. A nurse would come in to check on us every two hours, which usually led us to ask for demonstrations of “how-to-keep-our-daughter-alive” skills that included everything from definitions of jaundice to reassurances that she was breathing normally. Many people helped teach us the essentials of this new responsibility—how to change her, bathe her, feed her, etc.
Finally we were discharged from the hospital, which brought on some interesting thoughts: “They are allowing us to take home this helpless little infant all by ourselves? Don’t we have to show them we are capable? Doesn’t someone come with us just to make sure we are getting it right? Don’t we need a parenting ID card or some kind of certification?”
But off we went with little Izzy. Thankfully, we had experienced grandparents along to help, so we remained positive that we could do this.
And then evening came.
The cries of this little baby pierced our ears and broke our hearts. It went on for hours! This didn’t happen while we were in the hospital! What do we do now? Where is the nurse?
We fed her. We rocked her. We tried everything we could to soothe her. The crying finally stopped, and we all survived the night.
The tiring first week
The first week home was a blur of feedings, diaper changes, feedings and more feedings. Nonstop feedings! Cluster feeding (45 minutes to an hour at 3 a.m.) was a reality for us.
In addition, there were the daily doctor appointments for her jaundice and weight check. She was a trouper, managing all the car rides, appointments and heel pricks. Unfortunately, jaundice required her to wear a BiliBlanket throughout the day, a “bonus” that many new parents experience and don’t expect when they’re expecting.
Its use was necessary for over a week after we left the hospital. We called her our little glow worm—which helped keep us calm while she was wearing the burdensome and restrictive blanket.
We hoped her bilirubin levels would decrease and her weight would increase every time she was checked. However, her weight remained stagnant and she wasn’t having any bowel movements (necessary to combat jaundice), so we needed to supplement with formula. This was disappointing, but our baby’s health was more important than our preferences. After eight days of this neon blanket and supplements, her levels normalized and she gained weight.
As brand-new parents, nearly every challenge we faced involved things we had no knowledge of and had never experienced. Thankfully, in the midst of all these health concerns, we were reminded by others to have her anointed (James 5:14). After that, even secular observers noticed the significant improvement, even if they passed it off as good fortune or coincidence.
Some things we learned
Perhaps the things we experienced will provide helpful reminders for other new parents:
- If your first hours and days of parenthood don’t turn out the way you’d planned, remember that you are still parents. Try to remember what a blessing this new life is and that not everyone has the opportunity to be a parent. Get all the help you can and hang in there! You can do this.
- Be prepared to practice a lot of mercy and patience. The stress of having a new baby can cause friction in a family—so be ready and abundant with forgiveness.
- If you are currently expecting, our sleep-deprived advice is to stop reading and go to sleep right now, and don’t stop sleeping until the child is born!
- If your nerves about being responsible for a new little life are getting the best of you, ask God for help. It’s easy to forget to petition God’s mercy and intervention when you are in what feels like crisis mode and lacking sleep. Remember to breathe and trust that God will help you through this.
- If you have feelings of overwhelming sadness and hopelessness about your ability to be a parent, please talk to your spouse, a trusted fellow mother or a doctor. Postpartum depression is real, and there is help available.
- If your goal is to nurse your baby and it isn’t going well, look into working with a lactation consultant. The expert help can truly make a difference.
Before becoming parents, we had all these ideas of how we wanted things to go:
- We’ll have the baby naturally, without drug intervention.
- Nursing a baby is natural, so it will be easy.
- We are going to have a healthy baby, and we aren’t going to use any formula.
Well, none of those things happened in our case … but that’s okay. She’s here, and life hasn’t been—and never will be—the same. We’re enjoying our daughter and learning as we go.
For more insight into parenting, explore the “Parenting” section of Life, Hope & Truth.