Maybe it’s just me, but from the time people began to discover that I was pregnant, advice (from both friends and complete strangers) was abundant. Something about knowing that a little one is on the way must bring out the desire to bestow wisdom, because every mom I talked to had something to share. Although I am sure the experiences of these moms were all very different, many times these bits of advice started to all sound the same. And while I know that I learned (and will continue to learn) much from moms with far more experience than me, there are several things I wish someone HAD told me….things that I hope that I will remember the next time around!
1. Babies don’t have a snooze button.
Yes, this is obvious. But as someone who has relied on her faithful snooze button for the better part of 2 decades, going cold turkey was quite an adjustment. Had this even crossed my mind in those last months of pregnancy I may have considered weening myself off. Snooze is a hard habit to break.
2. Swaddling is complicated.
Practice all you want on that doll in your “Bringing Home Baby” class, but unless that doll can wiggle and scream, your practice is somewhat futile. Just go ahead and prepare yourself. The nurses make it look so easy…and we even got private tutoring! But 2 months in we still have yet to find a configuration that works consistently. Over the course of the first month we broke down and purchased every commercial version that is supposed to make swaddling simple. I walked out of BuyBuy Baby repeatedly, proudly carrying the bag that contained the next magic blanket that would hold our little Houdini. Unfortunately, however, none of them work like magic, and they all have their own unique perks and problems. Currently there are 3 different types hanging over the rail of the crib. If one doesn’t work, I try another. Here’s hoping eventually he decides he likes one of them, because we still have 2 more months of this madness.
3. Infant PJ’s are worthless.
Ok, maybe if you forgo the swaddle route, they aren’t worthless. But once Baby is bound up burrito style, anything more than a onesie and a diaper is a recipe for heat rash. I have about 20 sweet little footie outfits….none of which have ever been worn. I am thankful they were all hand-me-downs!
4. Budget to eat out at least 10 times per week for the first month.
Seriously. Even in a family where we typically don’t budget more than $80 for eating out for the entire month, we went out for almost every meal the first few weeks. It makes you feel alive again to be out of the house, and gives you an excuse without requiring much of you. Plus, you get out of washing the dishes and planning meals! If you are fortunate enough to have friends and family bring meals for you, this is helpful too. But if you are anything like me, being in the house for a solid 24 hours without leaving is just too much.
5. Locate and map out all the coffee shops in a 10 mile radius that have a drive-through.
There will be times when Baby won’t stop screaming. Yes, it is cliché to load him up and go drive around the neighborhood. That’s because it works. By the time you get to this point of desperation, you will need coffee. Good coffee. Coffee that doesn’t require you to get out of the car with the baby that FINALLY STOPPED crying and is ALMOST asleep. Coffee that will get you through the next hour and a half of driving around town because you are too terrified to stop, because he. may. wake. up.
6. Prepare to go through at least 20 diapers a day.
I don’t know where the estimates of 7-10 per day came from when I was reading ahead of time. Those first weeks especially, our number was FAR higher than that. I blame the Law of the Litter-box. (You know how as soon as you finish scooping it out, kitty decides he needs to go? Same applies to babies and diapers). Also keeping a cloth diaper or towel on the changing table will help with the inevitable times where Baby decides it is better to go without a diaper at all…catching pee with a clean diaper is instinctive…and stupid. Especially when you are using preemie diapers…at 35 cents a piece, those things are like gold! Oh yeah. And preemie and newborn diapers aren’t sold in bulk. Jerks.
7. Consider the size of your back seat when buying a car seat.
I can’t even tell you how many hours Nick spent reading consumer reports about the best and safest baby gear. When he finally decided on the car seat we would purchase, I was confident that he had made the right choice. Not only was it “like wrapping your baby in bubble wrap” according to one report, but it was easy to get in and out of the car, and snaps quickly into the stroller. I was slightly concerned when the box it came in was almost as tall as I am, but it still never occurred to me to test it out in the car. This beast of a car seat has required us to move the passenger seat so far up that the person riding up front practically is sitting in the windshield. Not the most comfortable way to travel…
8. Ignore all message boards and comments sections on blogs.
Seriously. Pretend they aren’t there. Women (and men) can be mean, ignorant, judgmental, and just plain nasty when they post comments. I think this comes from the same insecurity that causes kids to become bullies. Yes, it is best to just ignore them…but you can’t un-read a comment once you’ve read it. Just stay away from them completely. You don’t need one more thing to make you doubt your abilities as a parent.
9. Use bottles so Daddy can get up at night too.
This time we used bottles out of necessity…even though everything I read said not to. And maybe breastfeeding would have been a little easier in the beginning if we hadn’t, but I honestly, with all my heart, believe that I have made it through the first 2 months a million times easier because my amazing husband has been able to help. Being able to alternate night feedings has been a huge blessing, and there has rarely been a night that I wasn’t able to get at least one 5 hour stretch of sleep because of it. Plus, the joy I have gotten from seeing Nick cuddled up feeding Caleb in those early weeks was too precious to pass up. Daddy needs the opportunity to bond too.
10. Read all baby advice books and blogs with a filter equal to or greater than the author’s arrogance.
Nobody has all the answers, every baby is different, and no plan is fool-proof. Go ahead and read…but keep in mind that the more confident that the author is that their way is the only way, the more likely it is that they are wrong.