|Throwback photo: this is me one month away from meeting Chase. Oh, if only I had this list to prepare me for what was to come...|
Since my good friend announced her pregnancy, I decided it was time to round up some of the smartest moms I know (my friends) to instill some bits of knowledge to help all soon-to-be-moms ease into the transition of motherhood. I know I could have used this list! Bare in mind, these are just some friendly tips. Some you'll agree with, some you won't. And that's ok.
Oh, and sorry in advance for the length of this post. It turns out experienced moms have a lot to offer in terms of good advice. I'm not surprised.
On motherhood (simply stated):
- It is horribly cliched, but having children truly is both way more fun and way harder than I ever anticipated.
- Being a mom is just so wonderful. Congratulations. Enjoy. It's better than people let on. :)
- Enjoy the solo time with your partner. You won’t have solo one-on-one time for a long time so try to focus on that relationship while you have the time+energy to do so.
- Be present. Don’t keep waiting for the next milestone (exiting the first trimester! the first ultrasound! the gender reveal! the point of external viability!) or you’ll miss the whole miracle of what’s going on inside you.
- Drink oj before ultrasounds. It gives the wee one a bit of a sugar high and ensures that he/she is not sleeping while the tech is trying to get the right angles. *Warning: the baby might be a *bit* too active for some people’s preferences.
- Make Sara's oatmeal balls!! **side note: I didn't write this one...however, I will say that these oatmeal balls did get me through my pregnancies, labors, and breastfeeding hunger attacks!
- Appreciate your sleep. It’s never going to be the same. The baby will eventually sleep through the night (I promise!) but your sleep patterns will probably be altered forever.
On accepting support:
- Protect time for yourself right now. It’s harder to make time for yourself after you’ve gotten in the routine of always being around. Come up with a game plan to protect what’s important to you.
- Plan for a support system. Baby rearing is hard. Find people (family, friends, babysitter, etc) that can give you a break.
- Think about the things that are important to you and do what you can to protect them. Make them non-negotiable, like you would some of the other things in your life related to the baby or life, even if other people may think they're not as important. You can only take excellent care of your child if you're taking excellent care of yourself (and sometimes that means putting your child first, and sometimes it doesn’t).
- Accept help as much as you can. People love to do it and the time away makes you a better parent in the long run. Missing your child is kind of fun sometimes.
- Don’t fixate [too much] on the actual labor/delivery. Whatever is going to happen, will happen. You have no control over it and there’s no point dwelling on it.
- We are made/designed for labor, it is a natural thing so what happens is ok and normal. Trust your delivery team.
- The idea of childbirth is scary but everyday you see women walking down the street that have done it. And are willing to do it again. And have done it again. And again. It can't be that bad if that many women are willing to do it, and actually do it again. They survived and you will too.
On having a newborn:
- Beware of excessive amounts of laundry. It’s amazing how many dirty clothes such a teeny person can create.
- If you turn out not to be one of those women who bounces back from childbirth immediately and is out and about and feeling spry within days, know that you are not alone.
- No one ever mentions that there is a 4th Trimester, but there is one. Look it up. It is that first couple of months with the baby and adjusting to a new way. It may not be easy but you will figure it out.
- You will never spoil/train them to be dependent upon you by holding them a lot for the first couple months. Enjoy it without regret.
- Swaddle, swaddle, swaddle: they are used to being snug so they like it.
- You will probably be late for your first doctor appointment with the baby. It is shocking to learn how long it truly takes to get out the door. In a nutshell, try to make post-10am appointments.
- I used the Boppy pillow to sit on more than anything. It helped with taking off that extra pressure after labor.
- After the baby is born it is ok to not feel that overwhelming joy and love. It took my husband and I a few days/week to really feel it. That is totally normal.
- Once you deliver, your hormones drop/change so fast that you may start to shake and get really cold. Again, totally normal.
- Sleep when your baby sleeps. Everyone always says it, but I actually did that with my second baby and it really makes a difference. Total game changer.
- When the baby won't stop crying and you are seconds away from pulling your hair out, it's ok to put the baby in the crib, walk away and take a deep breath. The baby is in a safe place and you can take a minute to regain some sanity before you dive back in.
- Disregard the weight ranges on disposable diapers and size up to prevent leaks!
- Find your diaper: in my head, I entertained notions of being a cloth diaper kind of gal. In reality, I tried every single brand of natural organic disposable and endured many many diapering disasters (oh, the poop....) before finally turning to good ol' Pampers -- and never had to worry about leakage again. Turns out diaper brand, just like everything else about parenting, is a very personal thing.
- If you use a diaper pail, use the correct bags for them: the knock-off brands and "biodegradable" options smell more, even with the cover shut.
- Everything is a phase. When you hit a rough patch, bare in mind that everything is a phase. Hold your ground, make sure expectations are clear, and wait it out. It’ll pass. Seriously.
- It's ABSOLUTELY ok to use your free time to leave the house a mess and watch TV instead for the hour your child is napping.
- Create clear + realistic expectations for your child and stick to it. Giving in and making exceptions only confuses them and allows them to think if they push you, you'll cave.
- Routine is huge!
- Your relationship with your partner will change. That's ok! Let it morph. Relationships have different stages.
- For labor and for motherhood, I found it extremely helpful (life-changing) to have a meditation practice. It can be 5 minutes/day of mindful breathing or whatever. There are tons of resources online, including many guided meditations. (This is one blog I really like.)
- Sing! Singing is so good for you and for your baby. There's lots of research about it, and it just feels good! We made up songs about changing diapers, brushing teeth, and continue to dance together in the living room to our favorite CD's. Good stuff.
- There is a wide range of normal for everything: rashes, developmental milestones, sleeping, feeding etc. Even when it feels like you are the only one in that playgroup that doesn't have a baby that does x, you're not. And that rash? Probably normal.
- Take lots of pictures, you won't regret it.
- Go on walks. Fresh air is so rejuvenating.
- Shower and get dressed daily. You'll feel so much better.
- We all do that massive clean up the night before that playdate we scheduled last week, enlisting our husbands in a panic to help in our frenzy quick clean and promising up and down that it won't look like that again. Yesterday that place was a MESS!
- Take more videos, not just pictures.
- Visit consignment stores for adorable baby clothes for much less. Kids grow out of clothes so fast that these stores carry really nice things and you save money. Win-win.
On accepting advice (the perfect way to end a list of advice...):
- Listen to advice and try new things but remember that every kid is unique. What works for the baby down the street may not work for your baby. On the same token, sometimes all it takes is trying something different.
- You will get a lot of opinions about a lot of things. You need to do what works for you, not what works for other people. It’s impossible to remain totally unaffected by what other people think, but develop a list of people that you trust and go to them for advice.
- People will not always like what you decide to do as a parent, but it's your life, your kid, you make the rules and as long as your child is happy, healthy, and safe, who cares.
- Whatever you think is right, IS right. Trust your gut.
**Special thanks to all my fabulous, supportive, super-smart friends that contributed to this thorough list. You guys are the best!