Seven Weeks with Neda Maliheh Hayes

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Seven weeks (on Saturday ;). Seven hard, beautiful, life-changing weeks. Seven weeks full of so many emotions, so many ups and downs, so much love. And so many tears. Oh so, so many tears. I have learned so many things the past seven weeks as I've become a mother. I've learned a lot about babies. I've learned a lot about my own specific baby girl, and her signals and signs. I've learned it's OK to let other people help you — even if you think you can do it all on your own. I've learned a lot about myself, too — and how to function on little sleep, type with one hand and get the hardest of stains out of the littlest clothes. I've learned how to bounce a fussy baby to sleep with one arm while making dinner with the other. I've learned how to let some things go and just sit beside my baby and take it all in. I've learned a whole lot about love, too.


If I could go back and tell myself a few things before baby Neda showed up, I'd shout from the roof top that "THEY AREN'T KIDDING WHEN THEY SAY TO SLEEP AS MUCH AS YOU CAN NOW..." because I really thought they were kidding. How hard could it be to lose a few hours of sleep here and there? Hard, very hard ;) I'd also tell myself to forgo anything in the newborn size and just start buying clothing for a 3-month-old. Between it all shrinking on the first prewash, Neda not being 6 lbs like the doctors estimated and all of our naked baby time, so much newborn stuff was never really worn. I'd tell myself breastfeeding is really, really hard. And mastitis really, really hurts. I'd tell myself to appreciate my own family more now because it's their support that has gotten me to week seven with a smile back on my face.

Most importantly, I'd tell myself to relax and forgo any expectations. To trust my instincts over anything I've read or heard. I felt like I'd be so unprepared if I didn't read everything out there on birthing and babies or pick every mother's brain as much as I could. I've learned so much from others, but I've also learned to trust myself and do what I think works best for Neda and me.

I don't think I would have believed myself though if I would have told myself just how much bigger my heart would get for another person. I really loved life, my family and close friends, and my dear husband. I even loved my pregnant belly. But after meeting my baby girl, and then spending practically every second of the last seven weeks by her side, I can't even begin to tell you the kind of love I feel for her. It's just different. It's constantly growing. And it's absolutely wonderful.

Neda was gifted a baby book I'm already behind on filling out (oops), and one day I'll sit down and write her whole birth story so I never forget it — not that I think I ever could — but today I want to jot down these things I've learned. In case they help you. But mostly as a reminder to myself. After all, this is all still very, very new. And we're both very much still learning :)

Get dressed and make your bed every morning: This is something my mom stressed from day one. When we came home from the hospital, I was shocked at how much our world had turned upside down. Suddenly, the house felt unfamiliar, and although I had prepped to have a baby for more than nine months, I felt totally lost in this new life. To ease the transition, my mom told me to do two things every day, get dressed and make my bed, no matter what time of day. And, so, I have (most days ;) and it's a game changer.

The catch, of course, is that nothing fits like it used to. Between not exercising yet, indulging during pregnancy and, you know, recently having a baby, my body feels unfamiliar. The number on the scale is going down, but everything is squishy, stretchy and sticking out extra in my old clothes. I started feeling this way during the beginning of my second trimester when nothing fit but I was hesitant to buy maternity clothes just yet. Those days, I lived in ADAY's Turn it Up pants(B calls them my fancy sweatpants and would call me out on wearing them to work three or four times a week...). Now, I live for ADAY's Easy Day pants and Like a Boss sweatshirt. I was gifted these items from ADAY (I previously styled the pants here!), but I'd willingly purchase them any day. There's a fine line between looking good and feeling comfortable, and this outfit accomplishes just that.

Be willing to pivot: In Neda's first few days, we were regimented and found so much comfort when things were in a groove that we sometimes didn't notice the early changes she was going through. For example, I probably nursed her what they recommended at the hospital on her first few days for a little longer than necessary, since the moment I increased it, her activity level and physical skills increased (and the fussiness decreased, which means everything to a new mama). What I was doing at first was what I had also read was the right amount for babies under one month, but that didn't mean it was right for Neda. Babies change rapidly and rather than finding comfort in a current situation, be open and ready to adjust your perspective and approach to handling their growth.

Maintain physical regimen during pregnancy: Having a baby kicks your butt, in more ways than one. The first few weeks (/months, I'm sure) can be grueling on your sleep and eating schedules. B and I both now realize how important it is for parents to stay active in advance of the baby's arrival, whether it's going to the gym, daily walks, yoga, etc., because the rapid growth of your kid will only become more physically demanding. Holding a baby is no joke on your lower back. Woooof.

If you're not expecting or a new mama, my advice is to be there for those who are. Brian and I have talked at length about how grateful we are for those who were there for us the early days. The meals, the check-ins, the care packages for the two of us. We knew people would stop by to visit Neda and shower her with love, but the outpouring of love and support for the two of us meant the world. 

We had friends ask if we were bottle-feeding Neda so they could take a night shift if so! We'd buzz in the mailman and have boxes of treats waiting for us. My sister showed up with groceries after the first week, my brother after class a few times a week to keep me company. My parents, especially, have been my lifesavers. My mom has been feeding us for weeks, lived with us for two when part of my recovery became all-encompassing and has watched Neda overnight whenever I've gone home so I can catch up on sleep. These acts of kindness (and so, so many more) have meant the world to us and kept us afloat. I am so lucky. We are so lucky. This new life is hard one, but the best one yet <3 



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