A while ago I was asked by a mommy-to-be with a deployed daddy-to-be about how I do it with a newborn at home and Mikey out to sea, and honestly I have had some extremely low moments but it truly is something that gets better with time. Aria’s smile gets me going everyday, and the older she gets the more she smiles! It gets tough out here in Virginia but we are beyond blessed to have each other, our lives together, and a beautiful and amazing daughter — not to mention, everything happens for a reason!!! I decided to post my entire answer to this question because I know I have other new mommies and mommy-to-be’s that could greatly benefit from it!
I had no idea how hard it would be with newborn Aria, my crazy emotions, and Mikey out to sea while I’m living in a place that I would really rather not be. Is everything rhyming? I’m so poetic… Hmmm….. Anyways… It was extremely hard in the very, very beginning especially, while I was figuring out everything that comes with being a new mommy and how to keep Aria happy and healthy, let alone myself. There were a few nights where I would just curl up and cry on the couch when Aria would finally go to sleep. I would think that I was a horrible mom especially if I found out that I was doing something wrong. I would think that I ruined her forever and that here was no turning all of it around.
I was extremely wrong of course. Because of our situation and how much it made me want to be a better mom, I think that it made me a pretty awesome mom. Get out of your funk and know that military moms can be the most kick-ass moms for a reason!
Put Yourself First Too
Take care of yourself. Yes you want your baby to come first but taking care of yourself will help you take care of baby in a greater way! Make sure that you are getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of fluids, eating enough and eating healthy so that you have more energy and don’t get too worn out and stressed!
Find easy, one pot recipes and crock pot recipes. Brown the meat, take care of baby, add other ingredients afterwards, let simmer, take your time and do what you have to do to get lots of food for yourself! It’s a game of survival! Haha.
Once you start getting the swing of things, start having a mega relaxing after baby sleeps hour (or when daddy can take over) once or twice a week where you take a nice bath with maybe some salts and a face mask. Whatever you like to feel relaxing and amazing! I always feel like a newborn baby myself!
Sleep, Sleep, Sleep, Sleep, Sleep… Did I Mention Sleep?
Get at least one nap in when baby naps in the middle of the day, especially in the first 2 months. It’s hard to sleep when the baby sleeps when there are either so many things that need to be done in between taking care of baby or you just want to enjoy some down time and veg out, but especially if you need to pump! I started pumping every 4 hours instead of every 2-3 so that I have quality down time. I don’t recommend it because our bodies are different… but another thing that you could do is pump while baby is awake and relaxing next to you, maybe turn on some cartoons to distract them and get that baby swing swinging! Multi tasking has definitely become a must.
I was also quick to make a bedtime for Aria. Lights out at 8 o’clock!!! Every other night we have bath time at 7:30 pm and I am ready to feed her at 8:00 pm in dim light and peace and quiet. Bath nights are magical nights, it takes nothing to put her to sleep. She loves her baths like her mommy. She loves bed time stories too, which I am SO glad because she has about 100 books! Mikey also got her a glowing giraffe (by Fisher Price), both Aria’s and my own favorite animal, which helps me escape the room because she loves looking at him before she falls to sleep. Fisher Price also makes a growing seahorse. I take it out of her crib (former pack-n-play) before I go to bed.
After she has gone to sleep at 8:00, she always wakes at 9:00 to eat again then she starts her 3 hour shifts! Haha, filling up for hibernation!
We used the carrier a lot in the house up until she was 2.5 to 3 months old especially in the evening before bed when she got really cranky. She would look around then fall to sleep. We still use the carrier when we are out and about.
Other sleep tricks that work with Aria include making a thumping sound near her with the bottom of my palm (like the sound of mommy’s heartbeat), singing, putting lavender essential oil on her sheets or on her humidifier, and shushing near her OR I just recently started shushing through the baby monitor.
I usually stay up until 11:00 pm or midnight and then Aria eats every 3 hours in her sleep. She is wide awake around 8:00 am or 9:00 am. A pretty good night of sleep!
Aria was introduced to her new place of night sleep, the crib, around 3 months old and I think that because I started putting her in there for daytime naps around 2 months old that she had no issue with it. Now I can watch my shows in our room at night instead of out in the living room! I felt like I was sending her off to college though!
Figuring Out Baby Isn’t Hard if You Pay Close Attention
Something that I didn’t learn until Aria was about 3 months old was that babies get overtired and it is hard for them to go to sleep. After I started paying more attention I realized that when we were playing she would start to yawn and/or rub her eyes. Now I put her down for a nap as soon as she does this before she gets overly cranky and it is always exactly 40 minutes after she started eating unless it is her 2 o’clock nap where she sleeps a lot longer. I also read that babies who sleep good during the day sleep better at night. Sounded backwards to me but now I think that it is so true! However, I do not let her take naps after I eat dinner around 5:00 pm. We never had an issue with sleeping through the night, probably from setting a bed time, but that is definitely good to know and helped me learn to pay attention to her yawns!
Every baby is different. The more you pay attention, the more you will learn about what exact your baby needs and when exactly they need it! And that makes you ready before any cries begin and therefore less stressed!!! I know Aria so well now that I startle her when she opens her eyes from her nap hahahaha. Heeeerrreesss MOMMY! Haha. Easy day.
Also, know what’s next! For example, we have the introduction of solids coming up. We are skipping cereal after I did research — and do just that! Research what is coming up and what you want to do that you think is best! You’ll feel less like you have no idea what is going on and more prepared for what’s to come. Don’t be afraid to ask the doc either!
Listen to Music
Some of our best days are when I wake up listening to music and dancing around with Aria for most of the morning and afternoon. Music is so therapeutic for mommy, dancing around a little lets baby see things in the house that interest her, and singing is great for baby’s speech development! Win, win, win. We love to sway around and listen to Colbie Caillat Radio on Pandora or our favorite Spotify stations!
Put Down the Baby!
Don’t make unnecessary work for super mommy and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for not holding baby all the time. If you are a stay at home mommy, which most of us military mommies are, your baby is most likely getting good, quality attention and comfort all day long. Not to mention the best quality time when you play, and we play more than 5 times a day!
At the 2 month appointment your doctor may tell you that around 3 months old there will be more crying, and that if all needs have been met it is okay to let baby cry it out. I don’t like the idea of Aria crying herself to sleep, shushing usually does the trick but I do not pick her up unless her crying gets completely out of control, which is rare. Picking her up just makes the process take longer. So, more crying when I put her down again? No thanks.
I love holding Aria but I’m trying to let her do her own thing more and more everyday. I think that slowly letting baby do their own thing is the best throughout the day. And I can tell that she is more and more interested in being a mobile little baby (by the way, she is 4 months old now). Aria eats, goes potty, plays and does tummy time or spends time chilling out and observing things, then sleeps. We mostly play together but sometimes I just let her roll around on a blanket on her own in her room while I clean it or on a blanket in the living room while I just watch with Doc McStuffins, Sophia, or Peg + Cat playing for her. She watches them for a little bit then blabbs at the ceiling fan (she’s been obsessed with that thing ever since I turned it on for a second in like December). I usually lay next to her and try to enter the convo, sometimes I’m more than welcome and even the life of the party, sometimes I get stared at hehe.
Again every baby is different, but almost everything is worth trying out!
When You Need Food
Practice using a baby carrier in the house if you think it might be uncomfortable for you, then take it for a spin at the grocery store! For us it was so easy to shop with, and she slept the whole time after she was done looking around at people. In the stroller she would be fine for a little while then she would get pretty upset. We don’t go anywhere without the carrier now.
Putting the car seat on top of the cart isn’t safe and inside of the cart we would have to live in the grocery store because there was no room for anything else.
We have an Infantino Mei Tai and love it. Super comfy, like half Boba wrap and half Ergo, inexpensive, and easy to get in and out of.
Find Your Getaway When Everything is Still Again
Reading and TV Series! Pick one that really entertains you when you have time to yourself when you’re actually awake and able to relax. I chose Keeping up With the Kardashians because before Mikey left we accidentally started watching the newest episodes on TV after the football games on Sundays haha. It surprised me that I liked it so much and I watch the new ones and the older ones on Hulu now and it’s like my quiet little getaway of comedy and drama in the evening. I also want to start reading right before bed again! Both just keep your mind from running wild with stress and anxiety when everything is quiet.
Embrace Those Who Truly Care About You and Baby
Do not take your family and friends that always have you in mind for granted. Keeping them updated on some things every once in a while will be a little bit of a vent for you sometimes and they are great to have for their amazing support! They will love to be there for you to lean on when you need them too! Family can be so heart warming during tough times and now you have two sides (mommy’s side and daddy’s side)! More is truly merrier.
You can also find tons of uplifting support at church. Church itself may be a little far fetched when you’re an exhausted new mommy but it is truly a rewarding breath of fresh air in so many ways when you can make it! I wasn’t into the idea of daycare even though the one at the church we went to was great — and it still worked out because Aria slept in her carrier through the whole sermon!
Trust in God’s Plan
It gets better with time and in the end it will be the best because of how much you guys have grown from the experience. Know that God is rooting for you to get through whatever you are going through and he wants you to be a strong and amazing mommy. If you are somewhat on your own with this while daddy is out to sea know that your family will be that much closer and that much stronger if you all have faith in what has yet to come for you and your family! Just as you overcame tough times in the past, you will overcome this!
It is rare that Mikey’s job goes on a ship, but he was up for sea duty and going overseas and having Aria in some foreign country was a terrifying idea. Even places like Spain that have great hospitals for us have other issues going on in the country that we would have rather not put ourselves and our child in. He chose to be on a ship so that we could have her in the states, and he chose a ship that was being worked on so that he would also be around for her birth!
I am so glad that we can email each other every day..he tried sending a letter in the very beginning (in November 2015) and it took a month to get here when they were only near Florida! What the heck haha. But we will permanently be back together as a family at the end of the year and I can’t wait. I know that it will go by fast with me just trying to keep up with little Miss Sunshine over here, and I am going to cherish my family being happily together so much from that moment to the very end of my time.