Tips for Parents with a Newborn
I'm sitting on my bed as I begin this article. Next to me is Keegan (my husband with AS) and my 8-week-old son, Elijah. We welcomed him in November 2020 as the fourth member of our family. If there's anything that causes stress, it's having a toddler and newborn. Keegan has adapted well, but having a parent with AS poses its own unique set of challenges. And as I look back over the last 2 months, I have some advice and takeaways for other parents with AS and a newborn.
Surrender to the chaos
This is much easier than it sounds, but do it if you can. Or find ways to surrender. Say some affirmations in the morning or do a 5-minute meditation. (I often do mine while nursing.) Trying to control life in the first few weeks of having a newborn is just asking for more stress. And for Keegan, that means more pain and fatigue. As his partner, I also have to be okay with not knowing what the day will be like for Keegan and how much I'll need to cover for him.
This also means being candid with your partner. Do you need a nap? Need to take some meds? Need to contact your rheumatologist to get you through the flare-up that this phase is bound to bring? Whatever it is, ask for what you need, because without giving yourself some care it's impossible to take care of your family.
Find ways to bring routine back into your day
This one takes a while--we're just now at 8 weeks finding this a key part of feeling "normal" again. Keegan started by getting up at 7 am every day no matter what. He gets ready, brushes his teeth, and makes coffee. While 7 am may not sound early to some, it is with a night full of feedings and diaper changes. For me, routine helps me feel like the world will be okay. Even if it's a rough day, I know what tomorrow will probably look like. What tasks I need to do. When I can get a break for myself.
Hack together things, people, places to get through the day
Keegan and I budget every month and let me tell you, we eat out a lot now. And we go to Trader Joe’s much more frequently to get frozen meals. We just hack together what we can to get through some days. And I don’t think new parents are surprised by this recommendation, but it’s key to surviving if AS is in the mix. Here are some of our go-to's:
- Instacart to order groceries for the week.
- Take out from places that give us leftovers.
- Buy some relaxing candles, Epsom salt, and give the other person time for a nice bath.
- If financially possible, get some baby swag that can help, like a bouncer, swing, light up toys, etc.
- Go to a consignment shop to save money.
- Find friends/family/things that take chores off your plate. (We got a dishwasher finally thanks to my grandparents. My mom got us a lighter vacuum.)
You will sleep again and your flare-up will be over in time
The good news is that all this won’t last forever. While Keegan suffers from chronic pain, his flare-ups eventually go away even if they are months long. It’s important to remember during high emotions that the struggles are impermanent.
(I’m telling myself this as I rock my baby and hope I can move him into the bassinet.)
If you’ve gone through AS and raising kids we’d love to hear from you. What tips do you have? Words of encouragement? Helpful advice?
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?