Becoming new parents is a joy, a blessing, and a logistical nightmare. Adoption in itself can be a complex and stressful process. Many adoptive parents look forward to breathing a sigh of relief once their newborn is home. Unfortunately, the relief can be short-lived with a baby in the house. Here are a few things to expect during the first year.
Learning Your Baby’s Habits
No matter how well you have prepared for this, there is no way to predict exactly how your baby’s routine might be during this first year. You know they should sleep a lot, cry a lot, feed frequently, and poop regularly, but each baby is different in how they do these things. It will take a little time to become accustomed to your baby’s baseline of behavior, so don’t panic right away if they aren’t doing what you think they should. In time, you may be able to get an idea of what your baby needs when they need it, in other cases you still may not have a clue. Some babies will cry when they are hungry or when they are tired, some may just cry when they are alone. It will take a lot of trial and error to figure out what they want, and sometimes you may never really know. You do your best and catch sleep whenever you can.
After the incredible stress of the adoption process, adjusting to life with a newborn can seem monumental. All that ‘not knowing’ and uncertainty of pinpointing perfect newborn care can feel overwhelming at times. The immense joy can be mingled with feelings of frustration and even anger. It is normal to feel mixed emotions this first year as it is an unbelievably hectic, wonderful, exhausting time. Seek support whenever you can and if any feelings of depression last for extended periods of time, talk to a professional.
It’s Like Nothing Else
Adopting a newborn changes everything. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get everything right as it is impossible to know what is right when it comes to newborn care. Do not feel guilty if you don’t ‘understand’ your baby right away. You will be so busy caught up in the everyday needs of your newborn that the last thing you need is to stress yourself out over not being a mind reader. As crazy and frightening as this first year might be, try to cherish those little quiet moments when you can. Much to the relief of parents everywhere, this time of brief baby insanity will go by fast.
The first year with your newborn will feel like it may drive you mad at times, but it is important to remember that it will pass. Take it moment to moment, day by day. You and your baby will make it through this. Always reach out whenever you can either to talk or to ask for a break. Even the smallest moment to yourself like a short outing or a warm bath can be immensely helpful when you are on a 24-hour shift with your newborn baby.