Three years ago, my son was born just a couple days before Thanksgiving. And then last year, baby Paul came into the world two weeks after Christmas. Clearly, I'm awesome at planning because as if the holidays weren't stressful enough on their own, let's have a couple babies and throw in some birthday parties on that already packed calendar.
So yes, I know what it's like to be either hugely pregnant or freshly postpartum through the busiest time of the year, the holidays.
My best advice for surviving the holidays with a new baby (and still really enjoying the season), is to gently remind yourself that you don't have to be everything to everyone. And you don't have to do it all, because you're given grace and understanding during this exhausting life transition, regardless of what time of year it is.
A few tips and tricks that have helped me survive the holidays with a new baby:
1. Skip the stores, shop online. I buy almost 100% of my gifts online. I dislike the hustle and bustle of the crowds, and all the germ associated with shopping in crowded stores with a baby. Instead, I pop open my laptop after the baby is fast asleep, and do my shopping from bed, in my pajamas.
2. Offer to bring the dinner rolls to dinner. If your family is anything like mine, holiday dinners are often pitch-in style, with everybody bringing a dish to pass. Guess what? Pregnant ladies and freshly postpartum women get to bring something simple that involves little to no kitchen prep. Take my lead by offering to bring the dinner rolls and maybe a few big bottles of soda or a couple bottles of wine.
3. It's OK to hold the baby. My firstborn was about 2 weeks old for her first Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving day, I barely held her at all, because everyone else was holding her for me to give me a "break". Guess what, I didn't want or need a break. I remember crying in the bathroom, simply because I wanted to hold my baby more. My saving grace that year? Breastfeeding her every 2 hours, something only I could provide.
4. Just say "no." You just had a baby. You're not sleeping well, and you're trying to get the hang of breastfeeding and caring for a newborn. It's absolutely acceptable to politely decline an invitation to a holiday event and stay home to relax instead. Sure, you'll be missed, but there's always next year.
5. Take care of yourself. I cannot stress enough how important it is during those first few weeks and months after giving birth to really focus on your own health. I know it's easy to get caught up in the busyness of celebrating, but it's not worth it if you get sick and rundown from too much activity.
I promise you that it's OK to say no, and it's completely acceptable to take the easy way out. Go ahead, prop your feet up, grab a mug of hot chocolate (not too hot), and hold that baby till your heart is full and content. Because remember, you just had a baby, and that's by far the greatest gift on earth.