When I read this article, Confessions of a Pregnant Know-It-All by Shannon Sutherland, I shook my head in agreement during the whole thing. That was me - I was once that pregnant know-it-all. I tsk-tsked moms and parents in parking lots and restaurants. My baby was going to be different, I wasn't going to let her do x, y and z.
And then I had my baby. Oof. That was an eye opener. I quickly learned to stop judging other moms (and dads) and just do the best that you can, do whatever works for you. Do whatever will get you through the damn day and you can figure out the rest tomorrow.
And now, now that I have been a parent for a staggering eight and a half months, well, clearly I know it all. Now I am that Know-It-All parent handing out advice to pregnant ladies left and right. Ugh - that's annoying, isn't it? Suddenly my $.02 should totally be valued closer to $.50 because I have lived through it (once). I can't help it! Parenthood is so amazing - it's challenging and joyful, exhausting and energizing. There are so many nuggets (or, five) of information
I want I need to share with those who are about to go through it!
I have a lot of friends that have given or will give birth this year, many to their first child. As someone who has been there, done that I thought it would be best to give you all of the advice I wish someone had given me when I was pregnant. Oh sure, I got tons of advice while I was with child - some helpful, lots of it not. As a seasoned mother it is now my turn to take the torch and pass down my words of wisdom.
And by "wisdom" I mean mistakes that I made and hope that I can warn you not to make :)
And by "wisdom" I mean mistakes that I made and hope that I can warn you not to make :)
Take these with a grain of salt, a cup of flour or perhaps a glass of wine (but not until after you have that baby, that is).
1. Get the biggest diaper bag you can find
No, seriously, the biggest one. It might even be better for you to get some sort of a weekend bag or little wheelie suitcase. I absolutely adore my Skip Hop diaper bag but its biggest downfall is that it is about 1/3 of the size that I actually need. Since it is difficult enough to carry a baby/carseat/child/diaper bag the last thing I wanted to do was carry my purse around too. I started putting my wallet and sunglasses in the diaper bag and found myself with less space than ever. When your baby gets older you have to start carrying around more/bigger toys and food. So, dear friends, I suggest getting the biggest diaper bag you can comfortably fit on your shoulder and stuff it to the max. Because, and trust me on this, if you don't bring something for every possible situation with you, that is the one incident that is bound to happen. You'll be happy you have a big, giant bag with you that is filled with every possible solution.
2. Take the sitz bath
As you know - well, hopefully you know - there is a very good chance that your lady parts are going to be sore after giving birth (unless you have a c-section. In that case you can move on to the next point). And I'm using the word sore lightly. Without going into too many details, trust me when I say, take the sitz bath. Yes, it will take you some time to set it up, take it and clean it up but it is well worth it. During those first couple of weeks home with Kaitlin I was convinced that I had to be with her every minute she was awake. And when she wasn't awake I was trying to take a nap. There's a reason the doctors and nurses suggest you take a sitz bath (and why they send you home with most of the gear to make your own at home) - it works. As much as you want to focus 120% on your newborn after you get home you really, truly need to take care of yourself too. Hand the baby over to dad/grandma/aunt/cousin, grab the latest trashy celebrity magazine on your way to the loo and take 20 minutes for yourself. At the very least you'll get a little peace and quiet. (And you totally don't have to tell anyone if you fall asleep on the john)
3. Let that baby sleep on you for as long as you can
Please excuse me while I wax poetically about our babies growing up. In the beginning you might want to get everything right the very first time. You might not want to start bad habits. You might not want to do this or that or the other thing because you swore you never would. But let me tell you - one day your baby is going to be grown and as much as you want them to be near to you, cuddle and snuggle, they will not. It might take years, it might take months, but that day will come. And as soon as it does you'll want them back. Kaitlin was never much of a snuggler. She never liked being held in the traditional newborn hold and has never once fallen asleep on my shoulder (she is a nosey one, that girl). I insisted on not starting any bad sleep habits and most of all didn't want her getting used to sleeping while I was holding her, so her opposition to snuggling suited me just fine in those early days. But now. Ooohhh but now. Now that she is crawling and trying to walk and wants to be anywhere but in my arms, I long for the days when she would be still while I held her. A few times, when she was tired enough and when I was tired enough to let her, she slept on my chest. And those are the times I miss the most. ALREADY! And she's still a baby!! Oy - this is why people have multiple children, isn't it?! So, my advice to you, dear friend, is to let them sleep on you, in your arms, and on your shoulder for as long as that little baby will do it. You can deal with the sleep problems later :)
I actually read this little nugget of advice online somewhere, probably at 3am in a sleep deprived state of delirium. Ok, it was never that bad (but I've got to milk it, right?) but really, I wish I could remember where I read this so I could link it for you. This little piece of advice changed the way I viewed nap time. Often times you'll find yourself cleaning up the dishes, vacuuming the carpets and/or doing laundry all the while thinking, "as soon as I'm done I'm going to take a nap/shower/break" and inevitably as soon as you are done with your chores that little, drooley bundle of joy knows that it's time to wake up and you haven't had any "me" time at all. And that is fine for a little while. But you will be much happier and feel less burnt out if you use the first part of your babies nap for something that you WANT to do. Read a magazine, catch up on your favorite blog (wink, wink), trashy tv show or podcast. Take a shower, a bath or give yourself a pedicure. Whatever will make you feel a little better/happier/more rested. And then when you're done - if your little one is still sleeping - you can use the rest of the time to do chores. And trust me, it's a lot easier to wash dishes/do laundry/dust the house with the little one awake than it is to take a nap/take a bath/read a book.
5. Hire a Newborn Photographer
Ok, you might be thinking that I am saying this so that you hire me as a newborn photographer, but that is not the case. Here is the deal. Your baby is only going to be teeny tiny for so long. They grow SO MUCH during those first few weeks and months and you'll soon forget how small they were. You will be exhausted, elated and probably delirious for the first month (or so). I, being the know-it-all-do-it-all that I am, figured I could take my own newborn photos - and I did. They aren't as amazing as I would have liked, but I am super happy that I have them. What I don't have is nice pictures of the three of us as a family. The only photos that I have are ones that my family took while visiting, where one of us was always in tears and the others had forced smiles on their faces. I wish we had paid someone - anyone really - to come over for a few hours and take some nice photos of us as a family. Of Brian and I both holding teeny, tiny Kaitlin. Of me and my baby. You don't have to spend a lot of money, do some research around your area and I'm sure you will find a lot of options. But I guarantee that you won't regret having them done.
And while I am on the topic of photographs please, PLEASE read this article. There is nothing more true in this world than this article and the advice that she gives. I bet we all LOVE looking through photos of when we were babies and children. We love to see our parents and grandparents, looking so young and "hip" in the latest fashions of the times. The hair - oh the hair!! How many times have you ever said, "Oh, look how fat Mom was" or "Wow, Dad didn't have any muscles back then". I would guess NEVER. Because the truth is when we look back on those photos what we see the most, is the emotion. The excitement behind your parents eyes. The unwavering love on Grandmas face while she holds her first grandchild. Even the look of exasperation on Dad's face while the baby is screaming next to him is priceless (and often the best photo of the bunch!). So, with that, I offer you advice 5b - take as many photos as you can and GET IN THE PICTURE. In twenty years time when your baby is graduating college you will not regret having those pictures buried in a box (er, hard drive?) somewhere for you to dig out and go through on a rainy afternoon. And more importantly your kids will be thankful that they are there.
After I started drafting this post I read this great article over on Pregnant Chicken - What You Need to Know About Newborns. I highly suggest that you read it if you are about to have a baby, have just had a baby or (like me) had a baby a while ago so that you can nod your head in agreement with every point she makes and wonder why, WHY didn't someone show you this list sooner?! And while you're there have a good, long look around her site. It is brilliant, hilarious and full of spot-on information - it's one of my favorite pregnancy/parenting sites.