[Baby musings]: Back from the hospital, home sweet home

The hardest work starts when you are suddenly all alone with a tiny human that you need to keep alive and happy (or at least not miserable). I think many first-time parents are in shock they are allowed to leave the hospital with the baby after a few days and wonder how they are going to manage. It is overwhelming and hard, but there are a few things that can make your life easier.

Here are the things we did that I would recommend:

Line up help for when the baby is home with you. We ended up hiring a postpartum doula (Jodi Krentzman), which I am now convinced, was the best decision we made. I’m ready to admit that it might have worked just as well if we had relatives coming to help (although we didn’t have that option), but one of the nicest things that postpartum doulas do (at least at the beginning) is telling you what to do rather than waiting for instructions which you are in no state to give. Also, there is no drama or feeling like relatives should enjoy time with the baby/desire to play host etc. when you hire someone to help you.

The worst night was the first night at home. The baby wasn’t sleeping, had trouble nursing, and everyone was miserable, with me the most miserable of them all. I was sitting in my glider looking at the clock, counting hours till Jodi was to show up. When she finally came at 9 am, she took the baby from me and said: “You pump. Erik, make breakfast for the two of you. You both eat breakfast and go to sleep.” That was the best thing ever. When we woke up 2 hours later, the baby had had a nap, there was a healthy lunch waiting for us in a straightened-out kitchen and Jodi was there to help me give nursing another go. We have used the doula pretty regularly for the first few weeks. She would:

·Show us how to take care of the baby, including:

·breastfeeding help(most, if not all, postpartum doulas are certified Lactation Counselors and can help with latch, positioning, teach you how to hear if your baby is swallowing and not just using you as a pacifier, etc.)

· cloth diapering

· burping

· swaddling

· baby wearing

· bathing

· pacifying/soothing baby/make him sleep

· Take care of the baby while we/I took a nap or shower. Postpartum doulas are not babysitters, but they are there to nurture the mother and the family, so one of their goals is to help mom take care of herself

· Do laundry (ours, baby’s, cloth diapers)

· Load/unload dishwasher

· Wash/assemble pump parts (it gets annoying fast)

· Do grocery shopping and make sure we were eating well (iron and fiber rich food, for instance).

· Cook meals

We also had a doula who would come overnight for several nights which was really nice. In retrospect, a night nurse would probably also be fine (and cheaper), but that would require lining one up beforehand, which we didn’t do - we hired a postpartum doula, who lined up the overnight help for us.

Everyone says that, and it can’t be overstated: “Get people to bring you food!” You might also want to fill your freezer beforehand, when you feel particularly restless (I ended up cooking lots of golubci the night after Boston marathon bombing because I needed something to do with myself). But other people bringing you food is awesome. Examples of what people brought us (you can just give this list to someone if they ask what to bring you):

· Lasagna. It’s easy to be portioned into square portions that will fit well in the freezer.
· Savory pies andice cream.
· Ziti with broccoli and chicken.
· Salad ingredients - a great option when you’re tired of pasta and lasagna and need some veggies. This included: pre-washed greens in a ziplock bag, cherry tomatoes, peeled hard boiled eggs, chopped cucumbers and peppers, dressing.
· Normal food (pasta, lentil soup, potatoes) - our neighbours just cooked a little more than they needed for dinner and brought us the extras.

Delivery is great. This includes food (pizza, veggie sushi) and products (Amazon fairy). We also tried grocery delivery from Instacart - the link should give you 10\$ off and free delivery for your first order - which was nice. In our area they deliver from Whole Foods, Costco, Shaw's and Harvest Co-op. They used to deliver from Market Basket, but I'm guessing that the latest standoff in the company put an end to that. We have only used Instacart once so far, but that is because it wasn' t available in the Boston area until a few months ago. We were lucky that when we first had the baby that our postpartum doula shopped for us and after that we did mostly ok with our neighborhood store.  The one time we did use Instacart though, it was really nice, because it was the weekend and we had too much to do around the house to go shopping. It was fast to set up - just pick the produce off the list on your phone/tablet/computer and wait for the delivery person to arrive with your groceries. My "personal shopper" even called to ask if I'd like to substitute certain items because what I picked wasn't available in the store, and he was able to find "special request" items that were not on the list on the website (but which I knew were available at the store). It might have been slightly more expensive than going to the store yourself (although some of the prices on the site were the same as in the store), but I think that it was overall a win because I didn't have to go anywhere (and spend gas/time/energy hauling the baby in and out of the car) and I stuck to the shopping list, avoiding impulse purchases, which are not good for you or your wallet. I think Instacart can be a real life saver in the first few months with a newborn. There are alternatives to Instacart that existed at the time L was a newborn, but they didn't work for us - Roche Brothers has delivery but it's not available in our neighborhood, and we don't like Stop & Shop enough to try their Peapod service.