Keeping it Real: Surviving the First Seven Days With a Newborn

Our family just welcomed our caboose and third bundle of joy into our family last week. Of course, I am absolutely enamored with my cotton top little man, but it was touch and go for a couple of days. I just completed the rigorous and sleep deprived first week with a newborn, and I want to document every last detail because I feel like I have earned expert status. I have two other children, so how is it possible that I forgot how little sleep I would get? How did I forget about the anxiety of breastfeeding a newborn every 1-2 hours? Cracked and bleeding nipples? Of course, yes please! Is there some biological mechanism in our brain that gradually erases the horror of the first seven days from memory so we will continue to reproduce and avoid extinction? Is this how the human species has survived?

Things to Never Forget:

It Sleeps During the Day and Arises at Night

My husband quickly started referring to B as an opossum; this was a light hearted way for us to refer to our nocturnal son with a little humor and to keep me from crying. In the hospital, he fed every 2-3 hours and napped like a champ, during the day. Mostly because he was held by a grandma or visitor, but once the sun went down, he was up every 1-2 hours wanting to nurse and he would only sleep if he was held in your arms. As soon as you tried to lay him down, he would wake up and start screaming and want to nurse again. We may have gotten 1-2 hours of sleep each night. Now repeat this process for seven days.

I should consider myself lucky, scientist say that bottlenose dolphin and killer whale babies do not sleep for the first month of life … #supermoms 

Nursing a Ravenous Beast

Breastfeeding is a great way to bond with your baby, and nursing a child without difficulty is something not every mom gets to experience. But sweet baby Jesus, it is also one of the most stressful experiences for any mom; new or seasoned. This baby had no trouble latching and nursing within the first hour of birth after my c-section. All is good right? Yes all is good, but I might as well have never put a gown on once we got to the room because that baby nursed around the clock for a week. He is the boss and dictates everything. Can’t stop, won’t stop. My milk came in on day 6-7, which is the longest of any of my children. On top of that, I had mastitis on day 3. An experience I vow to never forget …

Your Bundle of Joy Will Only Sleep in Your Arms

Forget that precious bassinet that your other two children slept in. Forget the three other baby seats / swings that are collecting dust in your den. There is no need to even get those out of the attic until day 8, because your baby thinks they are hot lava and will start screaming as soon as you put him down in it. Every. Time. Your bundle of joy prefers to be held, it doesn’t have to be you, it just needs to be a human. So start recruiting your overnight helpers. My husband was a ton of help at the hospital and on the Saturday night that we got home from the hospital, but come Sunday he had to “get some sleep so he could go to work on Monday.” Lucky duck.

I wanted to document this experience before my evolutionary instincts kicked in and I forgot everything. Again. For a third time. This is not intended to scare anyone, I just want to remind new moms and expecting moms that it does get better, stick with it, and accept the help if you have it. Talk to your mom tribe; they will hold your hand and help you through this difficult time as well. I hope this brings your erased memories back to you, because no matter how prepared we think we are for that baby to get here, there is nothing we can do to prepare ourselves for that first week.

After three days with no sleep, you shift into survival mode and just pray that it all gets better. Which of course it does! 

Lauren James
Lauren is a native New Orleanian that was transplanted to Lafayette in 2008 by her husband of 11 years, Daniel. She has a B.S.N. from Louisiana State University – School of Nursing and a M.S.N. from the University of South Alabama. Her “paying gig” is as a Nurse Practitioner with a focus in Quality/Infection Prevention at a local hospital. Her other full-time gig is as keeper of her home and mom to William 7, Mary Kathryn 6, and Benjamine 2. Most of her days at home are spent picking up toys and socks off the floor so the family Bernese Mountain Dog, Tipper, does not demolish them. When she has a spare moment, she enjoys reading crime novels, playing board game with her kids, cooking and baking foods that are not on her diet, and finding any reason to celebrate by drinking her beloved champagne. To burn off a few calories and any leftover energy, the family enjoys walking or riding bikes on the shaded boulevard on which they live. Lauren has fallen in love with the people and city of Lafayette and is very proud to raise her family here and to now call it home.


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