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By Karabo Motsiri Mokoena

Writer. Conversationalist. South African Mommy Blogger,Content Producer

The schedule of a new mom

A lot of moms kept giving me advice about how being a mother does not come with a handbook.

You just do what you can and it works. I did what I could but it was not working. My daughter was very ‘colicky’, reflux was the bane of our existence, and she just did not want to sleep.

I was using a pregnancy and parenting app at that time and it showed the importance of physically noting what time your baby eats, sleep, wakes up and bath.

From the 13th of November 2017, I started jotting down what time she wakes and eats and does all the other things a person her age does. It is important to note that at this point she was only 2-3 weeks old. This is the point in motherhood where nothing made sense. On some days, I cried more than she did (this is an exaggeration because no one cries more than a newborn).

I cried mostly because I was sleep deprived and I had no idea what I was doing. Yep, no clue. That is the thing about being a new mom, you just wing it. I stayed with my mother-in-law for the first 2 weeks, then I was alone. This was a really challenging time for us. So I took the app’s advice and this is what I came up with.

13 November 2017 baby schedule:

22:30   Wake up
23:00   Feed
01:00   Sleep
03:00   Wake up and feed
05:30   Feed
06:30   Sleep
08:00   Feed
09:30   Sleep
11:00   Feed then sleep
14:00   Feed
14:30   Sleep
16:00   Wake up
17:00   Feed

In essence, a newborn baby just eats and sleeps (adult goals hahaha). The reason my schedule starts at night is because her night was day. Babies cannot make that distinction. Several moms advised me to “sleep when she does”, but this is impractical. It’s a lie! I am yet to meet a mom that was actually able to sleep between 9am and 6pm. I tried doing it and it never worked. It was either too hot to sleep or I needed to fulfill adult duties. Duties such as eating, cooking, cleaning, doing the baby’s washing or any other adult chores. I was lucky because her dad helped with some of these, like cooking and cleaning. He has been a superstar.

My biggest issue was that Tshimo slept in my arms in the afternoon and would wake up when I placed her on the bed. So, please explain how I could ‘sleep when she does’ when she was sleeping in my arms. It was impossible for me to do. Plus, I’d be scared that I would actually fall asleep then drop her.

Another big lie is the famous phrase ‘I slept like a baby’. If sleeping like a baby means you woke up every 1-2 hours for no reason or to feed or change a diaper, then yes, you definitely slept like a baby. I used to use the phrase all the time- lesson learned. A day has 24 hours and an adult is required to sleep for about 8 hours a day. However, a new mom would be lucky to get three or four hours.

The biggest lesson from this experience was to ask for help. I was surrounded by people that love and care for us, but there was always a little voice that would whisper, “don’t bother these people, they did not get you pregnant”. My breaking point was when I felt like throwing her out the window. I love her too much to even think about throwing her out of anything. I immediately picked up the phone and called a friend who was there in a jiffy. Again, lesson learned.

In conclusion, we learn as we go. It really does get better over time.

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