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Episode 32 - Bringing Home Baby Part 1

Episode 32 Overview

Baby on the way? Or maybe just thoughts of a baby on the way? 

The transition to life with a new baby is a major one and these five pointers are what we learned from our four children and what kept us sane--and our marriage healthy--during this phase.  Check out more podcast episodes and sign up for my free online class at

You can also check out Ruchi Koval's podcast here:  Out of the Orthobox

Go to Audible to listen to Alison Armstrong's workshop, The Amazing Development of Men (affiliate link). 


00:00 Episode 32, Survival Tips For New Moms. Welcome to the First Year Married podcast, where we get real about building the marriage of your dreams. I'm marriage coach Kayla Levin, and I take newly married and engaged women from anxious and insecure to confident and connected through practical tips, real life inspiration, and more than a little self-awareness along the way. Hey, ladies, welcome back. This was a really fun episode to do. I had been waiting on doing this, but my husband was looking into the stats about the podcast and found that the episode that we've done on deciding about when to have your first kid was actually the most downloaded episode so far. So, he said, "You have more to say about this stuff?" I was like, "Absolutely." Talking to new moms is almost barely second to talking to new brides for me, so I was so happy to go ahead and record this episode.

01:11 What I want to do today is to just give you a framework, and obviously not... The chances that anyone listening to this at this moment, that you are, at the moment, bringing home or within a couple days of bringing home a new baby... Obviously, I realize that's probably not happening from the time that it's published, but I think this is really helpful to listen to beforehand. I also know that I've shared these tips with moms who have had several babies, and they have found these things to be extremely helpful, so I want to encourage you to go ahead and listen, even if you've already had a kid, and you're welcome to let me know what you think and if you would have added anything. Maybe we can add it on to another podcast and continue the discussion.

01:50 But I also think this is helpful if you're still in the stage of deciding when to have the first kid or starting to wrap your head around it, even if you're just engaged or you're dating, but you see that as something coming down the line. I don't want you to feel like you can't listen to this episode because it's not immediately relevant to you. Getting information sooner than later is always a good thing. Okay, so what I want to offer with this... I want to try to use this episode to offer you a paradigm that is going to allow you to be as relaxed and grateful and appreciative and just really enjoy this very, very exciting time in your life, while at the same time kind of preparing you for some of the things that can become stumbling blocks, especially if you don't know that they're coming. Again, these are just, really, strategies.

02:39 Then, at the end, after I give you my strategies, I've got four tips that I want to share with you. But then, after that, I'm going to share some of the questions that came in, because I asked on Instagram for things that people would like me to discuss on this episode, and I'm going to be responding to those questions as well. So, the number one rule for a new baby... I don't care if this is your 10th baby or your first baby. The number one rule is there are absolutely no rules. Everything that you consider to be standard operating procedure in your home, whether that's showering on a normal basis, or vegetables in your dinner, or not paying for cleaning help every day of the week... Whatever you consider a rule is off-limits when you first bring home the baby, and the way that we actually do this, which I think is really helpful, is we take this in three-month segments.

03:35 The first three months after the baby, my husband and I consider this survival mode. Unless it's really concerning we're not really looking at the budget, we're not making long term financial decisions. We're not saying, "Oh, we can't get takeout, because if we get into a takeout habit it'll be a problem." No. None of those are concerns. The first three months the main concern is anything that will reduce stress and add to time to rest and relax and bond and spend time with the baby. Whatever random thing you can think of... Because it's different for everyone. For some people they need to just get over the whole taking a shower every day thing; for some people they need to... A lot of you need to get over napping in the middle of the day or taking more than one nap a day, because somehow we have this rule that maybe one nap is acceptable, but beyond that it's not. No. If you need more than one the first three months...

04:28 Physical recovery and bonding. We look at it in three-month segments, okay? So, then we sort of get a little bit more back to normal for months three to six, and then we even give it another six to nine, and then we even go from nine to the first year. So, the first year is kind of that milestone, and you'll even know this... Those of you who have babies, you know that you're suddenly not at the doctor's office every five seconds once you get to a year, because you've got so many checkups that first year. That first year is really... I call it my year to get the child up and running. Not that they're running at a year, but really, that's the main focus, and it's really helpful for me to frame it that way, because even the years that I was working or the years that I was home, just sort of having that as a primary focus helps me a lot with my priorities and my expectations for myself.

05:16 This isn't the year to suddenly decide that you're going to go organic, whatever the thing is that you've been thinking about, giving yourself that time, and again, all of those rules that you had, there are none. If you want to reconsider them, go in those three-month chunks. It's so helpful to say, "You know what? I'm going to take this one off the table for three months. I'm going to increase my budget for cleaning helper. I'm going to send out all my laundry." Or whatever the thing is that can really help you go in three-month segments so that you're not constantly questioning, reconsidering, reevaluating every time. It's so exhausting you'll end up just not doing it So, just give yourself those three-month segments as you go to sort of get yourself back up to whatever normal is for you. So, that was rule number one: there are no rules, especially in that first year.

06:04 Rule number two. I see this happening a lot, women giving themselves anxiety over thinking that they will be better off if they sleep train. This is not to bash sleep training, this is not to say what you should do; go to a parenting expert for that. Personally, we did not try to sleep train in any major way, but what I do want to point out is that it is not a must. You don't need to train your child to sleep. You might find that taking that job off of your to-do list and just being with the baby and being present with the baby and staying connected to the baby is going to be so much easier for you. Quite frankly, that's the main reason that we initially didn't bother with sleep training. It was easier not to be worrying about it. As time went on I found that for me I felt much more bonded to my children because I was able to sort of have that constant connection to them and be much more focused on them.

06:58 Now, I don't want to go into details, exactly what that looks like, but one example is we don't bring them out of the bedroom for a while. They're not in their own room right away. Whether you decide to sleep train or not there are definitely people on both sides that tend to be kind of militant. So, I should actually say this two ways. Sleep training is optional, co-sleeping is optional. Whatever your friends are telling you is the must-do thing because you'll get your life back or whatever, just know every mom is different and has different needs. For you it might be more stressful to co-sleep than to just not, and for you it might be more stressful to sleep train than not. So, really, really take that advice with a grain of salt. None of that is required. There are no rules about that.

07:42 Number three, you have a new job, and that is to professionally cut your husband slack. His job, and you can play this for him so he can have a voice of authority saying it, if that's helpful... Husband, your job is to professionally cut your wife some slack. I'm going to again give you a full year on this one, but if you want to take it in three-month increments you can. Whatever expectations, whatever needs, whatever those things are, it's harder sometimes for the mom to think of it this way, but again, this is one of those paradigm shifts that will actually be easier for you if you approach it this way. So, when you're making yourself crazy with, well, I am the one who had the baby and I'm the one getting up at night and I'm the one nursing, or whatever the things are that you're doing... I'm the one who needs to recover. How come he needs to be cut slack?

08:31 I just want to offer to you that that is actually a more stressful place to be than... You know what? He just went through a major life transition, and even though I am burnt to a crisp and I'm so exhausted, or whatever it is you want to say to yourself about how you're feeling, I'm going to cut him some slack too, because it's stressful to make such a big change in your life, and whatever he's doing that's driving me nuts, he's watching more TV than I like him to, or he's going out with his friends when I'm home with spit up on my shirt, or he's not communicating with me or being romantic or connecting to me in the way that I want, I want to offer to you that while that doesn't mean you have to just accept it and you can't communicate about it coming from a place of wow, we both just need to be cutting each other some slack right now, will be so helpful.

09:22 Why? Because when something happens it doesn't have to be charged. It doesn't have to make you crazy. It doesn't have to be oh my gosh, is this my life now? It can just be like, yeah, I'm in a mode of cutting slack. I'm not offended or upset that he went out with his friends, but now I realize that that really didn't work for me to have the whole night by myself. So, maybe he and I can talk about it and figure out how he can get his friend time and I cannot feel like I'm all on my own. Then, when you bring that up with him, the two of you can work it out together as a team, not as you're on the defensive because you feel like he just ditched you and you're all frustrated and upset. So, again, tip number three, you are professionally cutting each other slack. What I mean by professionally, you are doing this on a higher level than you would even on a daily basis.

10:05 I talk a lot about having a marriage where you get to be cranky, having a marriage where sometimes you're not at your best. I've heard people describe marriages where they are like, "Yep, that year was really bad." To those of you who have only been married for six months, that sounds terrifying, but if you think about it, when you've been married for 20 years, it makes sense that maybe one of you had a bad year along the way. I know I talk a lot about just kind of letting each other be human and just engaging in that relationship.

10:36 I heard the most beautiful thing yesterday from... I don't even know how to say her name. Rohi Coval? She was saying that fighting only happens in relationships. You don't fight an acquaintance, right? It's only once you've reached the level of relationship where you affect each other, where you care about each other's actions that you even can have a fight. So, again, these things are not things that we're so concerned about, okay? This is normal. This comes with the territory of being in a marriage, is sometimes he's at his best, and he's not, and you're at your best, and you're not, and that's okay. You are, on a professional level, cutting each other slack.

11:11 Let's move on to tip number four, and I'm not sharing this to scare anybody, I'm only sharing this to give you guys kind of a a framework to work from, as with all the other tips, which is that the first few days after the baby is born... So, here we're not talking months. We're talking maybe the first week, the first 10 days, the first two weeks. You really want to focus on physical recovery, and it's very important that someone tell this to your husband as well. So, if you want to play this to him, or if you want your doctor to say it, but a lot of guys don't have the number of conversations about childbirth that women do. They're just not as exposed to it. If you're going to talk about a birth experience you're not going to just grab the nearest male coworker, you're more likely to grab a woman.

11:56 So, what that means is that, very frequently, they are less educated about what to expect, and then they get in trouble for it. It's very helpful for you and your husband to know that the first, let's say, two weeks... It really goes all the way up to six weeks before you're even thinking about being physically recovered, but for sure, for those first two weeks, we are talking major recovery. You want to err on the side of caution. You want to act like you know if you are scheduling yourself for a surgery you wouldn't plan that the next day you're going to do a target run, okay? I know for myself and for a lot of women there's a huge hormonal burst a couple days after the baby's born. My last baby, I literally decluttered my entire garage; it was a big mistake.

12:42 So, if you can have someone in your life who's like, "No, you may not. No, you can't go do that. You can't go to Target. You need to sit down. You need to relax. Here, sweetie. Have a cup of tea." Or whatever they need to give you to bribe you to stay on the couch those first couple days, even though I do believe very strongly that birth is natural and that your body has what it takes to do this in the best case scenario, it's not an emergency or it's not a terrible thing. It's so strange to give birth in a hospital where you see people who are there because they had to have major medical procedures or they have broken bones, and you're like, I'm having a baby. This is totally normal. But on the other hand, after the fact, you do need to treat yourself like you did just have a surgery. So, what does that mean? That means getting off your feet, that means drinking lots of water, that means having healthy, nourishing food for yourself.

13:30 So, if you need to freeze that ahead of time, if you need to arrange a Meal Train, if you need to figure out the healthiest place to get takeout, whatever it is, making sure that you are really, really nourished so your body can get back to itself, especially if you're nursing, but even if you're not, you need to recover. I feel very maternal towards all of you right now. I'm just lecturing you over how to take care of yourselves. I'll bring you some vegetable soup if you're near me. So, definitely, that's what you want to be doing, is really focusing those first couple days, and please, before the fact, tell your husband. Don't assume that he knows that and don't assume that he's going to be able to tell, because some of you go and throw makeup on the second the baby's born so you can take some cute Instagram photos, and then you're upset that your husband doesn't know that you feel horrible. Guess what? You look beautiful. How's he going to be able to tell? You just put makeup all over your face, okay?

14:16 Don't assume that he's going to know. Don't assume he's had the 9,000 conversations that you've had and he's heard all the stories and he knows what to expect. Let him know. Let him know what to expect in terms of recovery. Tell him what you need from him. Tell him, "I heard it's really important that I try and stay off my feet, that I don't get up and go do a lot of errands." Of course, if you're going completely stark crazy and you need to get out of the house, that's fine, but keep it short. You're going to have a lot of... If you get that burst of energy you're going to feel like you can do a lot, but if you really lean into that, then you could really crash on the other side.

14:48 So, you want to make sure you're taking it easy and really delegate for him his job, or anyone. If your mom's going to come into town... Any support network that you have, delegate to them. Don't trust yourself to be able to make all those decisions. Oh, you know what? I have five tips. I thought I only had four. The very last one that I want to give you, I think this is pretty helpful, is you really don't need much to bring a baby home from the hospital. Okay? There's even a Jewish tradition that a lot of Jews do, which is we actually don't really buy anything. Forget preparing a nursery for the baby and picking out paint colors. I mean, we have, maybe, diapers, a car seat to get the baby home. We don't buy things in advance. Some people will put together a registry, and then they'll hit pay as... Well, someone will hit pay when the baby's born, or people will bring things.

15:38 But the reason I'm sharing this one is because whether you do this or not, it's really helpful to know you really don't need much those first couple days. In fact, when you're up late with the baby, and if you're nursing, or the baby's just... You're giving a bottle. Online shopping is actually one of the things you can do with your feet up. So, it's not the worst thing to be doing it then. There's a lot of anxiety from people about preparing for the baby and being ready for the baby, and I just want to encourage you to know that... Especially my proof is this Jewish custom that we don't even buy anything, but even if you're not going to do that, if you are going to do the nursery, just know that it's all bonus. Every single thing that you're doing other than having a car seat to take the baby home, and maybe an outfit, it's all bonus. Little, teeny babies, they really don't need that much right in the beginning. They just need you.

16:25 So, you can relax and you can just feel like, oh my gosh, I also got paint on the wall and I also got... Not as an accident. I got the paint the way it's supposed to be on the wall, and I also got a crib and just give... Whatever you do, do. Just realize that that can just be bonus. It doesn't need to be done, it does not need to be Instagram worthy or Pinterest worthy before the baby comes home. The baby is not going to notice, and honestly might not even get into that room for quite a while before you're ready. Okay? There's obviously so much more to say. I've had four kids, I know people who have had many more children than me, and of course, with each of them comes a little bit more figuring it out, a little bit more wisdom about all that. But I definitely wanted to focus just on bringing the baby home, those first couple weeks, because they can be a stress to the couple.

17:11 I wanted to kind of give you that framework to work from to hopefully de-stress and also feel a little more prepared, a little more aware of what to expect. A quick update, I ended up deciding to piece this into two separate episodes. So, we're going to include the survival tips in this episode, and next week you'll be hearing the Q&A that was sent in. If anyone has more questions they want to send in, you can go ahead and do that now. We'd love to hear from you. The easiest thing is usually @firstyearmarried on Instagram, or you can email me at We'd love to include your questions in a following episode. It might not be next week, but if we get enough questions maybe we'll have a Q&A down the line. Enjoy.

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