My entire first pregnancy, I imagined what it would be like when I got to bring my baby boy home. I imagined myself cuddled up in a big, comfy chair in his nursery, loving our many nighttime feedings and telling him how precious he was, as the tiny room was lit up with a soft glow of a lamp. Fast forward to my actual first night home with him and it wasn’t QUITE like that… haha.
Here’s what you can really expect on your first night home with your baby:
You’ll actually be more ready than you think you are. First, you’ll freak yourself out with every possible scenario of how the night will go. But then you’ll realize that your mind is playing tricks on you, and you are way more prepared than you think.
You won’t even be using the nursery yet. We ended up having our newborn sleep in a bassinet in our room for the first few months of his life. I needed to be able to get to him quickly and easily — and the easiest way to do that was to have him in our room.
Your little one will NOT sleep through the night. I’m sure you’ve met one of those random people who says, “Oh, MY BABY was sleeping through the night his first night home from the hospital!” No stinking way! I call bluff on that one. No newborn sleeps entirely through the night. And that’s ok. It’s good to be reminded that you need to check on your new baby, even if the reminder comes in the form of a crying baby.
Your baby will wake up almost every hour, or every two hours if you are lucky. Newborns sleep a lot but not in long spurts. When their cries wake you, do the process of elimination. Ask yourself: Is he hungry? Wet? Gassy? Uncomfortable? Or just tired? That way, you know you’ve done all you can to appease the baby, and if he or she is still crying, he may just be sleepy.
Formula will need to be warmed. If you aren’t breastfeeding, have a bottle warmer ready. If you premix formula in the bottle and keep it in the fridge, it will need to be warmed so baby can eat.
You might leak unexpectedly. If you are breastfeeding, buy some inserts for your bra, because the second that baby cries, you will leak. Yeah, no one warned me about that one either! That was not a very fun trial and error.
You will need to tend to yourself, too. Don’t forget this! If you deliver naturally, you will need to have your necessary bathroom items set aside in the closest bathroom for the middle-of-the-night potty breaks. The last thing you want to be doing is searching the house for things in the dark.
Blowouts are a thing. Have a stash of diapers, wipes, and extra nighttime clothes for your baby on hand. Their stool is very soft at this age and can leak out of their diapers easily since they are so small.
Don’t expect to get a ton of sleep, but know that you will have the opportunity to nap a little during the day. “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is wise advice that I should have listened to better when I was a first-time mom. And if you can get a close relative to come during the day, you may get an even longer nap! Score!
Expect to fall deeper in love with your spouse. Seeing their dedication to loving your baby and helping you care for your tiny miracle gives you a love for them that you maybe haven’t felt before. It is one of the most precious things I’ve ever seen.
Above all, soak up those moments where you get to spend such special time bonding with your new baby. Yes, you will be tired. Yes, you may have a hot flash or be leaking through your bra but you will never get those days back. Your baby will grow faster than you can imagine and you’ll find yourself longing for the days when your toddler was just a tiny newborn. Try to enjoy those middle-of-the-night feedings, knowing your baby won’t always need you that much. It really is a special time, and I hope you enjoy it even when it’s not the easiest! You’ve got this!