Holidays with a new baby are very different.
I was pretty blown away with how emotional and frustrated I was when we celebrated our first Thanksgiving together as a family of 3. Duke was just about a month old and I was not prepared for how it would feel.
The glorious meals that you look forward to all year were interrupted by a crying baby or a nursing baby or an exploding diaper. When I look back now, it's easy to think, Oh Claire, you just should've been more chill about that. But it was hard. Wasn't Thanksgiving supposed to be a time for lazily watching TV, falling asleep at random times during the day, and eating until I'm going to explode? Thanksgiving 2011 did not feel that way. It was not what I was used to.
That first Christmas wasn't any different. I will never forget having Colt open all of my presents at my parents' house so that I could nurse Duke. I felt pretty isolated in that moment - not because anyone made me feel that way, but because I couldn't participate like a normal human, opening presents with her two hands on Christmas. I wanted to soak it all in - feeding my child as a new mom during the magic of the holidays while also opening gifts from some of my favorite people and watching them open things I had given them. But it wasn't that easy.
What I would tell myself now is what everyone else told me then. (I just didn't believe them.)
It's just a season.
Every Thanksgiving and Christmas will not be like that for the rest of your life. It doesn't mean it's not hard or that you don't deserve compassion or that you should get over it. It just means that babies will be babies and they will need you so much and so bad and so often that you feel like you've lost yourself. But then one day, you realize your kid is sitting with you at dinner, using a fork, and you're carrying on a conversation with your husband like old times. (Not all of our meals look like this, of course. But for the most part, our now 2 year old son is pretty self-sufficient when it comes to that.) They really don't stay babies and while the challenges are different with a toddler, they do become more independent. And to me, it's a beautiful thing for all involved!
When it comes to the chaos of the holidays, do what's best for you and your baby. For us, it was tricky that first year to get in Duke's naps and breastfeeding sessions all while still feeling like myself. I did it and we survived, but give yourself some grace. If you need to show up late to a family deal, show up late. Leave early if you need to. If you need to take a nap in another room while your baby naps, do it! Cut yourself as much slack as possible and do what you need to do to make the holidays an enjoyable time for you.
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