Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Planning for postpartum
I didn't really plan anything for when Marko was born. I did manage to pack a hospital bag! We had the carseat and Moses basket set up, and that was pretty much it. I went into labor, went to the hospital, and came home in a state of bewilderment. I was ready to pop the baby into his Moses basket and go to bed, only to find that he did not want to go to bed at seven or eight or nine p.m., and also that he had apparently totally forgotten how to eat. I spent all evening camped on the couch with a boppy pillow and a feeling of desperation. How was I supposed to make dinner?! I had expected to be tired and sore, but not THAT tired and sore. So when John's mother asked if it was too soon to drive down, I said "PLEASE COME NOW." By the time she (and four of my sisters-in-law) had left, I could actually walk, so it wasn't so bad. Still, I lived off Chips Ahoy and leftover casserole for about three more weeks after that.
So this time, I'm doing a lot more planning. However, I have a toddler to worry about, now, too, so I imagine a lot more planning will be required. It's quite likely that I will plan just enough to be as hopelessly lost as I was last time!
This time, I won't be having family coming right around the birth. Since my own family lives in Korea, they can't exactly fly over at a moment's notice, and I wanted to be sure I would have the baby in time for them to see it, so I asked them to come later in May. I've just heard one too many unfortunate stories of perfectly planned visits and two-week late babies, ending up in grandma having to go home while her grandchild is still on the inside. No thanks! I want very much to be relaxed about when this baby comes, not freaking out about it being too soon or late. John's family is coming, too, about a week after the due date, so we'll have some time with no family, and then help coming later in shifts.
John, however, is NOT going to be in another state this time, thank goodness, so he will be taking some time off work that first week. So it looks like I won't have too much time to fend for myself: first, John will be around; then his family; then my family. But depending on the actual day the baby is born, I might have a week or so in between where I'm on my own during the day.
The number one thing I'm trying to plan for is food. If it were just me, I could probably scrounge enough to get by on throughout the day, and just starve the rest of the time. It's what I did last time (I lost the baby weight so fast! And felt so lousy!). But there's Marko to think of. He's not going to want to wait until the end of a marathon nursing session for me to go and scrounge spoonfuls of peanut butter for him. He will want actual food, food that can be prepared quickly and food that he likes. John might be able to manage dinners (though maybe not, since he comes home at six p.m.), but for breakfast, lunch, and the many snacks Marko and I usually eat, I'm on my own.
That's what I'm stocking up on right now. I've got a lot of baked goods in the freezer waiting for me: carrot muffins, homemade hot pockets, and English muffins. I'm also planning to keep the fridge well-stocked with lunch meat, cheese, and bananas, which are Marko's favorite snack foods. For me, I'll make sure I have celery and carrots to munch on (I remember how desperately I craved raw, fresh veggies last time), and I should probably make sure to have some hummus in the freezer too. I also need to keep up on making yogurt in big batches, so I always have some at the ready. I usually make four pints at once, every week or two when I buy a gallon of milk.
There's no way I can make and store all the dinners we'll be eating in the first few weeks, but I've got a few containers of chicken soup in there now, and I hope to put up at least a lasagna or two and some tuna casserole as well. For the other days, I think John or I should be able to manage at least some very basic dinners: chicken and rice, or baked chicken with potatoes. (John is quite capable of cooking stuff like that: it's just the "fancy" stuff I make that he doesn't know how to do. But what he makes is plenty nourishing and delicious even without a fancy sauce.)
Chores -- ha! I'm going to let the place get messy. John can do some picking up here and there, and I may do some picking up here and there, but let's face it: we'll be stepping over toys much of the time. I really don't care. Dishes are the one thing that really MUST be done ... so John will have to pick up whatever I can't do.
Entertaining Marko is the big challenge. I mean, that's a lot of what I do all day. I'm trying to keep the house well stocked with library books, which are always a hit. If we spend the day sitting on the couch nursing the baby and reading books, he'll be at least relatively happy (since books are usually more of a treat for a few times a day -- he always wants more long after I'm tired of reading them) and I'll get rest. I'm also going to buy a few new toys for him at Goodwill or the dollar store which will come out once the baby's born. A new toy usually buys us one really easy day as he tinkers with it and exhausts all its possibilities. Finally, we're lifting the TV ban for awhile. I just am not sure I could make it through with no hypnotizing backup available for when they both want attention. (I spent Marko's first month of life watching documentaries on Netflix. This time, perhaps some Discovery Channel shows on Hulu. What do you know of that's a hit with toddlers and available free online?)
The hard part for me is probably going to be taking a break from my online life. It's my main social outlet, and I know I'll be lonely without it. However, I just can't imagine having time for much other than an occasional Facebook update here and there ... it may be awhile before I can get the time to blog. I may not even be able to manage many phone conversations, if they are both needy and/or hollering when I am trying to talk on the phone. So I'm very likely to be lonely on those days when I have neither John nor either of our families.
On the other hand, I actually do have friends who live in the area! Who have asked what I need! I'm not really counting "help from friends" on the list of things I'm preparing for, but I am sure if anyone does come over to help out, it will be a tremendous help. So here's my list of things I think I would like, to share with anyone who plans to stop by:
*I would really like to sit and talk to an adult. I know many people just want you to drop off dinner and leave ... but I am pretty sure I would prefer at least a short visit.
*I would like dishes done. It's going to be hard for us to get all of those. So visitors may make themselves quite at home in my kitchen, to wash a dish or two or the whole sinkful. Every dish washed will help.
*I wouldn't say no to food of any kind. Dinners are helpful, but so are snacks, baked goods, etc. I am not planning to be on any special diet, and Marko isn't on one currently either. Of course, if the new baby is fussy or rashy, I may start eliminating things, but I expect to be eating everything in sight at least for the first few weeks.
*I would like playdates for Marko. So friends with toddlers are welcome to come over and play ... especially if you are going to be doing all the "jumping up and breaking up fights" part. Not sure if I will be up to jumping anywhere. But Marko loves to have friends over and it would be a load off my mind knowing he was getting some outside interest. (Friends without toddlers can just come play with Marko themselves, of course, if they want to!)
*I would like to be told in advance when you're coming so I can let you know if that's a good time. Facebook will probably be the best way to do that.
I'm not sure how much help, realistically, my friends will be able to offer, since most of them live at some distance and all of them either have jobs or kids, but I can tell you right now, a visit from a friend would probably make my whole week, even if they didn't bring or do anything! Phone calls are nice, too, though (like I said) I'm not sure I will be able to talk long.
I'm hoping that by the time my own family leaves, I'll be ready to take on full responsibility for the house again. It took me four weeks last time to really feel strong enough and confident enough as a mom to get back into the swing of things. So my plan is as follows:
*Week 1: care for self and new baby. John does everything else. (How I do love that man.)
*Week 2: care for self, new baby, and Marko. Survive till six p.m.
*Week 3: care for self, new baby, and Marko; and prepare food as needed.
*Week 4: care for self, new baby, and Marko; prepare food; and wash dishes.
After week 4: do all my usual chores, plus take care of the new baby, of course.
The scary thing is that Marko doesn't nap, so I won't be able to "sleep when the baby sleeps." Then I remember that, once my in-laws went home last time, I never, ever slept when Marko slept. I finally started doing it when he was about five months old. That's a lot of naps I really should have taken, and didn't. And somehow I survived! And this time, with cosleeping and hopefully getting the hang of nursing lying down, I should be getting more sleep at night. As long as Marko manages to make a habit of sleeping through the night!
Moms, especially of multiple children: what did you do to get ready for those first few weeks? What do you wish you had done?