My husband and I were caught like deer in headlights. We knew that bringing home a newborn wouldn’t be easy. But we had no clue just how much it would turn our worlds upside down. When we first arrived home from the hospital, Jake slept peacefully in his car seat. We left him there while he slept, mostly because we didn’t know what else to do with him. It was so odd to have another person now living with us. The dog, who had been part of the family for 10 years by that point, seemed to fit in more than this tiny 6-pound being nestled comfortably in his Graco.
Having just had a C-section and three sleepless nights in the hospital, I could barely stand. My feet and ankles were swollen beyond recognition. My husband hadn’t gotten much sleep either, and neither of us was in any position to make lunch. So we ordered Thai food. It felt a little guilty. We never ordered food during daylight hours. But it was all we could muster. So we ate at our dining room table, glancing constantly at our new baby, wondering when he would wake.
That night, our first night home, Jake threw us for a loop. No one slept. At all. All night. He basically screamed for five hours straight. Adam and I shot worried looks at each other, neither verbalizing what we were thinking, which was “What have we done?? Is this our life now??” It turns out that yes, this was our new life. At least for a good while. While Jake gave us the occasional good nap during the day, he was a colicky baby and screamed and refused to sleep for more than an hour at a time at night for nearly five months. We were spent.
During those first few weeks of trying to find our sea legs, Adam and I were quite literally incapable of feeding ourselves. You would think that it doesn’t take much effort to make a quick sandwich or possibly a simple plate of pasta (especially since I’m Italian and could make a nice marina with my eyes closed), but nope. Couldn’t do it. Any extra energy we had went into making a much-needed pot of coffee, or swaying Jake back and forth over and over again in an attempt to get him to stop crying. So we ordered out. Day in and day out. Lunch and dinner. Nearly every day for weeks.
Occasionally our family members would take pity on us and bring us food. Which we happily devoured. But when evening hit and we were left with our little non-sleeper, the Indian food delivery guy, the Thai delivery guy, the Chinese delivery guy, the pizza guy and the Greek food delivery guy were welcome respites for us. They kept us nourished and allowed us to forge on with Jake.
Now that I’m pregnant with our second son, I intend to learn from our past experience. Everyone tells me that you “just don’t get two colicky babies.” But I’ll believe it when I see it. And since I’ll be having another C-section, I know that it’ll be a bit of a rough road for me for a few weeks at first. More than anything, though, I now have a toddler to feed and care for—beyond myself and the newborn. While I might be happy eating take-out for most of my meals, I can’t do that to Jake. He won’t even eat a green bean, so I can’t imagine he’d enjoy a banh mi sandwich…
This time around, I’m preparing as much as possible. While we will still resort to ordering out from time to time, it will not be like two years ago. So now that I am about two months from being a mother of two, I have begun taking steps to ensure my family will be well fed during those first few weeks of insanity.
Next page: Some practical things I’m doing to prepare for a newborn this time around.
Putting my freezer to work.
The primary step I’m taking is making meals ahead of time and freezing them. While every family needs to make food that works for them, here is a list (with recipes where possible) for meals that freeze well:
- Spinach Turkey Orzo Soup
- Spinach Banana Muffins
- Red Bally Soup (this is a family recipe)
- Lasagna (both meat and vegetarian)
- Beef Stew
Stocking up on snack foods.
A friend also recently reminded me to stock up on things that I can eat with one hand, as I’ll most likely be holding or nursing a newborn much of the time. This includes snacks like nuts, granola, trail mix, things you can scoop with a cracker (hummus, spinach dip, salsa) and things you can wrap in a tortilla or put in a pita.
Getting our streaming services ready.
Finally, in preparation for my little guy, my husband and I are taking stock of all the shows and movies that we want to watch on our streaming services (like Netflix and Hulu). We are intentionally avoiding them right now, while we still have some semblance of freedom, so that we can binge-watch late into the night when the baby is born. Lucky for us, a lot of new shows will be coming back to TV in the fall, when the baby is due. But when we had Jake (who was a summer baby) our options were dismal. We were grateful to have found shows on pay channels that we had never seen. Otherwise we would have been in rough shape. (Yes, it’s nice to think that you can use all that time to catch up on reading, but my brain did not function for quite some time after Jake was born. There was no reading, and no writing. Only dazed, sleep-deprived and shell-shocked.)