I spoke to a group of future parents at Families Supporting Adoption. Being a new parent can be overwhelming, especially if you receive a call with the good news you have been chosen by a birth mother, your baby is at the hospital waiting for you! I put together a presentation of what I have found to be helpful. I am not a parenting expert, I believe each child has their own personality, one way does not work for all. This is my guide, my opinion, what worked for me.
NEW BABY BASICS
I just want to start by saying I have had a very emotional week and talking about adoption always makes me emotional. So please bear with me as I speak.
I am Niccole, my husband Tim is at home with our baby Oliver. We adopted Oliver 18 months ago at birth. We were at the hospital when he was born and had the opportunity to be in the hospital for 2 days with our birth mother and Oliver. Originally, our birth mother had planned on not spending too much time with Oliver. After giving birth she realized she wanted to love on him. While at the hospital I let our birth mother know that if she wanted alone time with Oliver to let us know. We wanted for her to be able to enjoy him while she could. Watching this take place was so tender and special while also being so scary. Of course I was worried about her bonding with him and becoming even more attached. I continually prayed for her and tried my best to remain faithful in whatever Heavenly Father’s plan was. It was very difficult. It was so hard because I was extremely excited and wanted to hold Oliver and kiss him over and over and over again but at the same time my heart was breaking for our birth mother.
I am not an expert when it comes to babies or parenting. I will share what I have found helpful and useful with my child. Each child is different, what worked for one may not work for another. Do what you feel is best for your child. First and foremost, I believe that through my relationship with our Heavenly Father and having the spirit with us was by far the most helpful and comforting in bringing home our new baby. By having the spirit with us we were in turn able to really listen to our babies promptings and know what he needed. When you feel like you don’t know what to do or what is wrong with your baby, turn to Heavenly Father in prayer. Do not be afraid to ask your friends and family for help or advice. Being a new parent can be overwhelming, especially when you are sleep deprived.
Our birth mothers are so precious and special. Giving each of us the opportunity to be parents. The most incredible gift ever. I wanted our birth mother to feel as comfortable and loved as possible at the hospital. We wanted to bring her gifts that she could use while at the hospital if she chose to.
HOSPITAL GIFT IDEA FOR BIRTH MOM:
Underwear – a size larger than what she normally wears
Going home outfit
Toothbrush & toothpaste
I did research and found that cabbage leaves help dry up the milk supply. This is a helpful tip for all our birth mothers. They have gone through so much and I can only imagine how emotional it is when the milk comes in and they are with out child.
Prior to your birth mother going into labor discuss the hospital plan. Remember this will most likely be the only time the birth mom will get to spend with the baby she just gave birth to. Emotions are high for everyone involved. I found it was extremely comforting for us and our birth family to be comforted through the power of prayer. We had asked our friends and family to continually keep our birth mother in their daily prayers. Our birth mothers family who is not active in the church shared with us that the day our birth mother left the hospital with out the baby, they all felt the power of all the prayers being offered on their behalf. Our friends then fasted the next day for our birth family. Heavenly Fathers presence is felt through out the journey of adoption.
If possible, schedule a tour of the hospital for expectant parents. Our hospital was accommodating when I called and notified them we would be adopting a baby who was going to be born at their hospital. They had us join a tour with all the Pregnant Ladies. For me it was calming to have some sort of idea how the hospital operates in Labor and Delivery and Recovery.
Discuss with your birth mother if you will be able to see the baby and if you will need a wristband. Hospitals are very strict in this area of the hospital. Once again remember this is the time the birth mother will get to spend with the child she just birthed. Be respectful of her wishes. Be prepared mentally knowing that the plan can and may change at the hospital. This is an extremely emotional time for the birth mother/father and their families. Be patient and calm. Most of all be yourself!
BEING PREPARED FOR THE HOSPITAL:
Folder for all the paperwork
Car seat – installed in the car prior to arriving at the hospital
Coming home outfit
I brought home his wristband, nametags, footprints, a hospital blanket and a hospital tee as keepsakes for Ollie.
Some hospitals will give you formula in bottles and diapers. But it is best to be prepared with all your own items, especially if you are traveling from a far place. I used the Costco brand formula from the day we brought Ollie home from the hospital. We had no problems with it. Babies are gassy, as your doctor will tell you. There is a stomach rub you can do on the baby and leg movements you can do to help with the gas. My Doctor said, he hears from moms whom breast-feed that their baby is gassy and he hears from moms that formula feed that their baby is gassy. It is normal! Do not feel guilty that you are formula feeding. Consult with your doctor about the formula you will be using. If necessary vitamins are needed he will let you know. With our formula we needed to add some drops to it.
If you have a pet it’s a good idea if possible to bring a blanket to the hospital and put it on the baby, then bring it home before you bring the baby home and let your pet sleep on it. This way they are familiar with the smell of the new baby. When you do bring the baby home bring the baby in the house in the car seat, set the car seat on the floor and let your pets come smell and check out the baby.
CAR SEAT INSTALLATION:
Check out www.nhtsa.gov for child safety seat laws.
There are 2 types of harnesses found on car seats:
5 point: A harness that comes over each shoulder, across both hips, and has one strap between the legs. All 5 parts of the harness come together at a common buckle. 5-point harnesses are considered to be the most protective type of harness.
3 point: A harness that comes over each shoulder with the shoulder straps coming together at the buckle on a crotch strap or in the shell of the car seat. These harnesses are found only in rear-facing car seats and are primarily found on older models.
• For use in the rear-facing position, thread the harness straps need through the slots located at or below your child's shoulders.
• Place your child in the car seat with the child's back flat against the car seat.
• Place the harness straps over the child’s shoulders. Harness straps should lie flat, not twisted.
• Buckle the harness, and the chest clip. Tighten the harness until snug. The harness is snug enough when you cannot pinch any extra material on the child’s shoulders.
• Bulky clothing or blankets can prevent a snug harness fit. Always buckle the baby in the seat first, and then place coats or blankets over the harness.
Place the chest clip at your child’s armpit level. This holds the harness straps in place on the child’s chest and shoulders.
Babies need support to keep their airway open. As your child grows the angle may be adjusted, so be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions. Most car seats have built in angle indicators or adjustors to assist you.
• If your baby needs support, fill the empty spaces with small, rolled blankets on each side of the baby’s shoulders and head.
• If there is a gap between the buckle and your child’s groin (common for young infants), try placing a rolled washcloth or diaper in the space for a more secure fit.
• Thick padding must not be put under or behind the baby unless it is recommended for use by the manufacturer.
201 N. El Camino Real San Clemente, CA 92672
Safety in Motion
Be sure to consult with your Pediatrician before changing the car seat from backward facing to forward facing. I am a huge advocate on not turning the car seat forward facing too soon! An infant’s neck is not strong enough to survive a car crash when facing forward. It is better to have a broken leg than a snapped neck.
At this time you should already have a pediatrician lined up. It is best to be prepared since you could literally get a call at any given moment that you have been chosen by a birth family! Talk to your OB/GYN and friends who live in your area about who their Pediatrician is and what they like / dislike. When we had been chosen I called the Pediatrician whom we wanted to use and let them know our situation.
At this time it is also a good idea to check with your insurance to ensure that your chosen Doctor is covered. Once the baby is born call the Doctor to schedule your first appointment. LDS Family Services will tell you how many days after the baby is born that you have until you need to see the Doctor. I believe its 3- 5 days????
NEW BABY CHECKLIST:
2. Infant car seat
3. Baby bouncer
4. Swing or Motion Seat
6. Diaper Bag
7. Tummy time blanket
8. Carrier ex. Ergo baby
9. Changing pad
1. Bath tub
3. Wash cloths
4. Olive oil or Coconut oil
5. Diapers & Wipes
7. Laundry detergent
10. First aid kit
11. Nail clippers
12. Nasal aspirator
13. Hair comb
LAYETTE and BEDDING:
2. Swaddle wraps
5. Sleeper gowns
6. Kimono t-shirts
7. Swaddle blankets
10. Mattress pad
11. Sheets – a lot of them!
12. Sheet savers
2. Burp cloths
4. Bottle brush
5. Drying rack
6. Divided case for formula on the go
8. Sippy cups
1. Monitor with a video screen
3. Noise machine
4. Plush animals
5. Toys for the car seat
6. Mobile above crib
7. Teething toys
BOTTLE FEEDING SCHEDULE:
There are many apps available for keeping track of feeding your baby. I found this very helpful to track the time and amount drank during each feeding. I used the similac app. On babble.com there is list of 50 apps for new moms http://www.babble.com/mom/mom-products/top-50-iphone-apps-for-moms-3/50-best-iphone-apps-for-moms-baby-connect/
Also check out the Iphonemom.com
There is only one baby prep book I read before Ollie was born Twelve Hours of Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old by Suzy Giordano with Lisa Abidin . In this book it explains feeding your baby a certain number of ounces based on their weight. I did not follow the book exactly I went with what my instinct told me. This worked for us. Our baby ate very well and in turn also slept very well.
When bottle-feeding it’s the perfect opportunity to bond with your baby. You never want to prop the bottle up in their mouth. Always hold the bottle for your baby. You do not want the baby to choke.
Research bottles. There are a large variety of bottles and nipples. You may need to try a couple different bottles and nipples until you find a combination that works best for your baby. Not all nipples have the same shape and hole size.
BONDING AND ATTACHMENT:
I actually never even thought of or questioned how I would bond with Ollie. It was not until just this month that my sister inquired about the time frame it took for Ollie and I to bond. Before I ever met Ollie I already had a love for him. In our adoption situation we had the wonderful opportunity to have our birth mother stay in our home on many occasions. I believe that through the relationship I formed with her and the deep love I have for her, made it all that much easier for me to feel connected to Ollie before he was born. The moment I walked into the delivery room and saw our tiny little Ollie on the table my heart melted. I loved him so much already. Each day I spent caring for him and watching him take the world in, I fell more in love. I still feel the same way today, each day I love him more than I could have ever imagined.
Now this may not be the case for everyone who adopts. For my husband the attachment was not immediate since he was not the person meeting all of Ollie’s needs day in and day out. Over time he became more attached to Ollie.
www.sheknows.com/parenting (article titled helping your adopted child bond to you)
Bonding and attachment often are used interchangeably, but they are different. Bonding, which occurs when you meet your new child's needs consistently and in a timely manner, can begin immediately. Attachment, which is the relationship that grows between you and your child, occurs over time and as a result of many factors, including trust, feelings of affection and met needs.
Katie Prigel Sharp She is the co-owner of Heart of the Matter Seminars, an educational company with the mission to "prepare, not scare" adoptive families with realistic and honest adoption education. She is also the author of Adoptive Parenting From the Ground Up.
Prigel Sharp emphasizes that humans are biologically programmed to behave in ways to promote attachment. Prigel Sharp feels that your newly adopted child will benefit greatly if you are very conscious of the attachment process and act in ways to promote attachment. It is important to learn about the bonding cycle and attachment process so that you can engage in more intense repetitions of the behaviors that promote and build attachment.
FIVE TIPS TO START THE BONDING PROCESS (from Sharp):
1. Stay in close proximity.
2. Respond, respond, respond! Remember, you cannot spoil a child simply by meeting her needs.
3. Do not be fooled into thinking that a clingy child is an attached child.
4. Establish a routine and establish yourself as mom.
5. Keep life with your newly adopted child simple. Avoid overstimulation and too many people.
Of course, keep in mind that is a simple, short list. Nothing about attachment is simple or short, so do your research. Knowledge is power. As a parent, you want what is best for your child. One of the more important things you can do to help your child grow up feeling strong and secure is work consciously and actively toward healthy mutual attachment.
-Go out by yourself and buy something for your baby.
-Think of doing things together with your child as he/she grows up.
-Hold your baby in your arms and say, “I am your father”.
Swaddle your baby. The best blankets for swaddling are Aden and Anais. www.adenandanais.com
A sound machine such as sleep sheep.
Fan to circulate the air – our doctor recommends this
A routine is key! Start a routine and stick to it. Do the same thing each night when you put your baby to sleep for the night at the same time each night. Here is what we do at the same time each night:
Turn on the fan in the bathroom, turn on the fan on the dresser, turn on the sleep sheep that is attached to the bottom of the crib, turn on monitor, change clothes into PJ’s, put all diapers on (he wears three at night!), brush teeth, turn off all lights, then hold Ollie and feed him his bottle while he holds his blanket. We have done this routine minus the tooth brushing since he was 4 weeks old. He slept through the night at 4 weeks old, a minimum of 14 hours straight each night. He still sleeps 11.5 – 12 hours each night. I believe you should never wake a sleeping baby. We have gone by this in our home and as you
can tell this is what worked best for all of us.
CALMING THE BABY:
When your baby is crying and you are unsure of the reason try the basics: is she hungry? Is the diaper wet? Are they too hot or too cold? Do they want to be rocked? Is there a random hair tickling them? Do they have gas? Try leg exercises or rubbing the tummy. Many people use the 5 S’s by Dr.Karp:
According to Dr. Karp, to sooth a crying infant, recreating the womb environment helps the baby feel more secure and calm. Dr. Karp recommends:
Swaddling: Tight swaddling provides the continuous touching and support your baby is used to experiencing within the womb.
Side/stomach position: The infant is placed on their left side to assist in digestion, or on their stomach to provide reassuring support. “But never use the stomach position for putting your baby to sleep,” cautions Karp. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is linked to stomach-down sleep positions. When a baby is in a stomach down position do not leave them even for a moment.
Shushing sounds: These imitate the continual whooshing sound made by the blood flowing through arteries near the womb.
Swinging: Newborns are used to the swinging motions within their mother’s womb, so entering the gravity driven world of the outside is like a sailor adapting to land after nine months at sea. “It’s disorienting and unnatural,” says Karp. Rocking, car rides, and other swinging movements all can help.
Sucking: “Sucking has its effects deep within the nervous system,” notes Karp, “and triggers the calming reflex and releases natural chemicals within the brain.”
Something that was helpful to us in those first couple weeks was, we had a couple friends come over around 8pm and stay till midnight. At this time we were able to sleep and they tended to Ollie. This is something I will never forget and it meant so much to me. And it was super helpful. Being a tired new mom is exhausting! I needed some sleep!!
Another tip I would recommend is have your meals prepared and frozen if you do not have family and friends bringing meals to your home. Being new parents is exhausting! And you will want to spend as much time as possible loving on and holding your sweet new babe. We had meals brought to us for 2 weeks, which was awesome! The last thing on my mind was eating! Also have snacks in the kitchen so you can grab something quickly to nibble on. I never wanted to put Ollie down, so most days I would not even think to eat. But we all need food to keep us going.
Have lots of laundry soap on hand. The one thing I was least prepared for was the massive amounts of never ending laundry!! Which still exist today in our home. I had no idea how much clothing, blankets, burp clothes, sheets, liners etc that a baby uses each day. I was constantly doing laundry! And still am today. I always buy two large containers of laundry soap when I go to Target.
Washing bottles is also never ending. Be prepared! Read the instructions on all your different types of bottles before the baby is born. Wash them as recommend sooner than later. When you arrive home with your baby you want everything ready to go! I found a couple of drying racks were needed, one is not enough! Have plenty of bottles on hand, I would say in this case more is better. You might need to try out different bottles and nipples with your newborn until you find one that they like the best. In our home we use Tommee Tippie.
NEW PARENT SURVIVAL GUIDE FROM DR.KARP:
The Top Ten Tips for Parents of New Babies
1. Trust Yourself: You Are the Latest in the Unbroken Chain of the World’s Top Parents Most new parents alternate between feeling like a major‐league pro and an inept roo kie.
But, always remember: You are part of an unbroken chain of successful parents that stretches all the way back to the beginning of time! Trust your feelings and relax, all your baby needs right now is milk and your nourishing love.
2. Lower Your Expectations
Many pregnant couples today have never even touched a newborn, yet they expect to automatically know what to do the moment their baby is born. Another little‐told truth about becoming a parent is that many new moms and dads don’t feel smitten right away. Falling in love might take a little time.
Also, your hormonal rollercoaster often leads to forgetfulness. And, ditziness is made ten times worse by exhaustion. Clear thinking is tough in the face of sleep deprivation. So be patient and kind to yourself.
3. Accept All the Help You Can Get
Never in history were a mother and a father expected to care for their baby all by themselves. Get help and don’t feel guilty about asking ‐ or paying ‐ for it. Lean on your support network to help take care of you—you’ll pay it back later.
4. Get Your Priorities Straight: Should You Take a Break or Do the Dishes?
Addressing baby announcements and retuning phone calls is NOT your top job. Don’t try to do too much and remember to rest. Fatigue can make you depressed, irritable, and distort your view of the world like a fun‐house mirror. So please get some rest!
5. Be Flexible: It’s Better to Bend Than to Snap
The universal bumper sticker of parenthood says, “Be flexible...or die!”It’s fun to choose which parenting options make sense to you, but, it’s important to be flexible and recognize when things are not going as planned.
6. Know Thyself: How Do Your Baby’s Cries Make You Feel?
Your baby’s screams may trigger a flood of upsetting feelings. You may suddenly remember voices of anger, criticism, and ridicule from long ago. Fatigue and stress can fool your mind making innocent cries feel like stinging attacks. This is normal. Share your feelings with someone who cares about you. Discuss your past pains, will help you see how unrelated your baby’s cries are to those old experiences.
7. Don’t Rock the Cradle Too Hard: Babies, Frustration, and Child Abuse
The sound of a baby’s cry sets off a “red alert” inside our brains. This crying can sometimes push even a loving parent over the edge into the dark abyss of child abuse when coupled with fatigue, depression, financial stress, hormonal chaos, family conflict, and a history of being abused. When you’re near your breaking point; get some help. Talk to a friend, relative, or crisis hotline.
8. Keep Your Sense of Humor Handy
You don’t want to make mistakes, but you will. Remember, perfection is found only in the dictionary. So, forget dignity, forget organization, be gentle with yourself and laugh, laugh, laugh. Laughter raises your spirits, lowers your stress and is exactly what this doctor orders.
9. Take Care of Your Spouse (S/he Just Might Come in Handy Someday)
Taking care of a new baby is so demanding it’s easy for a parent to start feeling like s/he’s giving a 110% effort (usually true) and their partner is giving only 75% (usually false). Caring for your baby is only half your job; the other half is giving each other some TLC. Dads must support and adore their wives; moms must nurture and caress their husbands. Cut each other some extra slack and avoid harsh criticisms.
10. Don’t Ignore Depression: The Uninvited Guest
As shocking as it sounds, approximately forty percent of new moms experience unhappy feelings during the weeks after giving birth. Becoming tearful, worried, or exhausted yet unable to sleep may all signal postpartum depression? Get help!
Our children grow up all too fast. Before we know it they are eating solids, walking, talking, using the potty, then its off to school, many activities and sports, dating, spending more time with friends than us. Before we even realize they are in high school! Cherish each moment. Try to remember the little things each day. Far too soon those moments will have passed and we will each be craving for our child to sit in our lap just one more time. Find joy in each day spent with your children. When you find yourself becoming frustrated or fed up, take a brief moment to pause and gain control of yourself. Think before you react. Remember they are only young once, this is the only time you have. So make it enjoyable for them. The laundry will pile up, the dishes will still be there, your friends can chat latter, the floor can be vacuumed later but this moment now will last only for a brief second. Cherish it!
"i know it is hard for you young mothers to believe that almost before you can turn around the children will be gone and you will be alone with your husband. you had better be sure you are developing the kind of love and friendship that will be delightful and enduring. let the children learn from your attitude that he is important. encourage him. be kind. it is a rough world, and he, like everyone else, is fighting to survive. be cheerful. don't be a whiner." [marjorie pay hinckley] ♥
When it comes to parenting "whenever possible say yes, they are only kids once!" -Marjorie Hinckley
I have a book “Mom’s One Line A Day” it is perfect for keeping a memory of the tender sweet moments of your child. It is so easy to get caught up the day to day and forget the little joys of being a parent. Each day I try to make an effort to be the best mother I can be to Oliver.