- It's ok to send them to the nursery in the hospital. It was 11:00pm that first night with Natalie. Ginny and I were tired. Natalie would sleep in her little box for short stretches, but she wouldn't settle enough for us to sleep a long stretch. So Ginny nursed her one more time, made sure her diaper was changed, and then pressed the nurse button on her bed. To be totally honest, it made me sad that we sent her to the nursery, because it felt like I was giving up on her trying to sleep with us. After a wonderful 2.5-hour sleep, though, I felt better. We sent her back to the nursery again around 4am and got another 2 hours or so of sleep. The lesson? Send her to the nursery and grab some sleep; because when you get home, there's no nurse button.
- It's ok to say no. Not to the baby of course, but to people coming over to visit, whether at the hospital or at home. You're the ones adjusting to a new life. Ginny told people bringing meals to not come or call between 1 and 4 in the afternoon. Why? So everyone could rest. It's ok to tell people to come at a certain time. If they don't get it, they clearly don't understand what being a parent of a baby is all about.
- It's ok to feel helpless at times. Trust me, whether it's your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or heck even your 10th kid, there will be times when you have no idea what to do. And that's ok. You're not going to know what to do. But you will figure it out.
- It's ok to put a screaming baby in the crib. Again, trust me on this one. Ginny and I have had this discussion before. We go through our checklist. Is the baby fed? Is she changed? Is she burped? And we put her in the crib, crying and being loud, while we take 10-15 minutes to regroup, shower, eat, or close the door and sit in our bedroom. This does not make you a bad parent. Instead, it gives you a chance to breathe and gather yourself. I can't tell you the number of times Ginny or I have put a screaming baby in the crib, taken a shower, and come out feeling ready to go.
- It's ok to ask for help. Ask. Ask often. Ask someone you trust.
- It's ok to cry. I've cried more in the last 4+ years of being a father than I had in the last 14 years before that. Being a new parent (or an old parent for that matter) is an emotional experience. It's ok to cry. And cry while holding a crying kid.
- It's ok to wonder if it ever gets better. "The days are long but the years are short." It does get better, and it gets more fun, too.
Hopefully this should put your sleep-deprived, new parent mind at ease.
What would you add to this list?