I have one piece of advice for new mothers: Don't put the baby's blanket in the microwave.
This is a public service announcement. It happened to me and it can happen to you.
Let's back up a bit. The year is 2007. I'm a week postpartum with my firstborn. I'm leaking breastmilk on the restored wood floor, crying over sentimental Rice Krispies commercials, and feeling a profound exhaustion, an exhaustion so marked I've haven't experienced it since.
I'll set the stage. I'm living in a hip tri-plex with my new husband in Northeast Minneapolis, (it was hipper to me prior to having a colicky baby in Rewind on Johnson Street), trying to figure out what it means to be a mother. Unfortunately, shortly after the birth of our child, my husband's job took him out of state. Fortunately, my mother stayed with me to navigate the treacherous and unpredictable waters of early motherhood. On the evening of the blanket incident, I assured my mother, despite my exhaustion, that she should get some rest upstairs (the tri-plex had a mother-in-law room, how fitting) while I took the overnight shift with my newborn.
Fast-forward to 3:00 a.m. My baby woke up. I nursed him. He didn't go back to sleep. I walked the floor with him. Nope. Still awake. And then it hit me. Warm blanket. The baby is cold (it's February 2007). I have a flashback to our time in the hospital when the sweet nurses used blankets from the warmer with which to swaddle my baby. Brilliant! I have a warmer, too, right here in my hip tri-plex. The microwave!
While still holding the baby, I placed one of his receiving blankets in the microwave. Better to go with a conservative estimate of 10 seconds. Don't want to burn the baby. Ten seconds later, I felt the blanket. Nope, not warm enough. I closed the door again and set the microwave to 15 seconds. Twelve seconds in, I saw a spark. Oh, no. I open the microwave door and smoke poured out.
The baby started coughing from the smoke. Little, pitiful newborn coughs. I swiftly moved (as much as my recovering-from-perineal-stitches gait allowed) upstairs with my babe in arms and woke my mother and handed her the baby.
"Mom, I put a blanket in the microwave. I think I started a fire. Hold the baby!"
You're not going to want to skip over this material.You're not going to want to skip over this workbook in my class.
My sleepy mother said, "OK." That woman has never judged me, bless her heart. I went back downstairs, whipped the doors open to air out the unit and wept.
I can look back at the memory with humor now. I was lucky. I had support. My mother was with me when my husband went out of town on business. But you know what I regret about my birth? Not preparing properly for the postpartum period.
I had a natural childbirth. Yay. Perhaps you should give me a gold star for being a successful Bradley Method birther (please don't). You know what I could have used? Someone to tell me that I'd have hemorrhoids for a while from pushing out a 9 lb., 6 oz. boy beast. Someone to tell me that my delicate flower wasn't broken, only temporarily injured, and that I would enjoy my sensual, sexual self in no time. Someone to direct me to the local La Leche League chapter so I wouldn't perpetuate a poor latch and nurse through cracked nipples and tears. Someone to tell me that hot flashes, soaking the sheets with sweat, and a hormonal rash can be common in the postpartum period.
Before your baby arrives, read this gem:After the Baby's Birth
Please learn from my experience. Prepare for your postpartum period with the same intensity as you prepare for your birth. Get people to help you, clean for you, prepare you food, and be gentle with you.