Thanks everyone for all the nice comments about my earlier post. It was kind of going out on a limb, being all candid and whatnot about motherhood, but I truly wish I would have come across something like this before it all happened to me personally. So take it or leave it, but I'm glad it helped out so many of you. Writing this all down has really been therapeutic, as I realize that things aren't so bad after all. Motherhood is so so wonderful. :)
I have been thinking, and I have a few (okay, a lot) additional things to add:
- Gap Maternity had the softest maternity shirts. Keep checking online and they'll go on sale. My entire pregnancy my older sisters kept reminding me, "You'll wear these clothes more than once!" They told me to actually buy clothes that I genuinely like (and not just the ones on-sale) because after all, who gets a new wardrobe every single pregnancy? No one. You'll be stuck with your same maternity clothes (and perhaps a few new additions) throughout all (three, four, five..) of your pregnancies. So go ahead and splurge on the dress that you look fantastic in. Years later when you have to pull it out again, you'll be so glad you did.
- Buy more than just 0-3 month clothes. You'll be so excited and want them to wear every outfit right away, but it's nice to save a few things too. My little guy is nowhere near growing out of his 0-3 month clothes yet, but I will be so grateful that we have just as many 3-6 month clothes as we do 0-3 months.
- Make (or buy) yourself a carseat cover. It has come in handy when Jack is sleeping and I don't want everyone poking and prodding at him.
- Build a small network of friends who also have babies. It is so nice after delivery to have someone to talk and vent to who has gone through the same thing you have.
- If you have friends who recently had a baby, bring them dinner while you can! My neighbor had a 10-day old baby when we moved in, and I regret not helping out more. I guess being a new mom is one of those things where you have to actually go it yourself to appreciate what others do for you. But even though I didn't understand how hard it was to have a new baby at the time, I sincerely wish I would have helped anyway. I appreciate so much all of my friends who brought us dinner. Thank you!
- Take advantage of all those "Honey, can I rub your back for you?" in the last few months.
- Don't pack your hospital bag too early. I was so excited that I packed it about five weeks before Jack's due date (I like to be over-prepared), but when I was actually in labor and we had to leave for the hospital, I had no idea what was in the bag anymore. Pregnancy makes your forgetful, and so does the excitement of "the baby's coming!" Thus, most of the hour and a half spent at home before going to the hospital was re-packing the bag.
- When you're not hungry anymore, then it's time to go to the hospital. So many people go too early! I think the most helpful thing I learned from the Bradley childbirth classes we took was to look for cues to know what stage of labor you are in instead of being checked by the doctor. For example, I knew I was in transition when I started to feel the baby descend and felt the overwhelming urge to push. I completely lost all modesty, my contractions were triple-peaking, and I started panicking. (Unfortunately this is when I gave in to get an epidural, but if I hadn't, the baby would have been born shortly - probably in ten or fifteen minutes.) When you are in late first stage labor (which was when I got to the hospital), you aren't hungry, you don't want to talk between contractions, and focus all of your energy on concentrating though each contraction. Knowing behaviors and physical signs of each stage of labor helped me follow my progression and make informed decisions.
- Sign up for formula websites. Even if you're breastfeeding, I'm sure it would be nice to have emergency formula on hand. I signed up for the GoodStart, Enfamil, Similac, Parent's Choice, and Sam's Club formula websites. Each have sent me samples in the mail, and Similac (and Enfamil I think) sent 12-oz tubs. Free formula, plus coupons sent periodically in the mail. GoodStart sends me an $11.00 coupon and a $3.00 coupon once a month.
- Again, if you are formula feeding at all, my sisters recommended GoodStart as the first formula to feed baby. It's the most gentle and easiest on baby's tummy for the first few weeks.
- I haven't done this yet, but I need to. If you're feeding baby formula, keep bottled water handy (in the house and in the car). We had a lesson at church a couple of weeks ago and we talked about the "snowpocalypse" that was supposed to hit the Salt Lake valley several weeks ago. Luckily it didn't happen, but what would you do if a disaster hit and you didn't have water to mix up the milk? What if the pipes froze? What if your water just got turned off for maintenance? It's better to be prepared than find yourself in a compromising situation where you don't have food for your baby!
- Talk with your husband about a few parenting things, to make sure you are on the same page. I've got a funny story to tell you. For example, I started off giving Jack cold bottles from the fridge. I wanted to teach him it is perfectly normal to drink cold milk (and as a bonus, if I am ever in a situation out and about where I need water and my only option is the drinking fountain, my baby needs to be able to take a cold bottle!). I had never mentioned this to Tyler. So about two weeks after he was born, I realized he had stopped taking cold bottles. He'd let the milk dribble all down his chin, and he started spitting it out. I got really frustrated. After telling Tyler, we realized we had different parenting ideas. He believes in warming up the bottle, or at least giving it to the baby at room-temperature. Thus, he had been giving Jack room-temperature bottles and I had been giving Jack cold bottles! Guess which bottle he started to prefer? We have now compromised and he gets slightly colder than room-temperature bottles. Moral of the story: talk about things like this, or at least be observant to each others parenting. You won't agree on everything, but you can always find a compromise. Be consistent. It'll confuse your poor baby if Mommy does it one way and Daddy does it another!
- I suppose this could qualify for before pregnancy. Heard of Aflac insurance, with that annoying little duck? They have maternity insurance. Basically you pay $100 a month for ten months or more (you have to plan ahead on this one and be insured for ten or more months before your little one is born) and when you deliver your little bundle of joy, you get $3,145. Yes, you read that correctly. Tyler and I just got our check in the mail a few days ago! (But note to self: stay two days in the hospital, or you won't get the full check. We only got $2,550 - which is still WOW - because I didn't stay the full 48 hours. Kind of lame. I wasn't aware of this rule before today or I would have stayed an extra night, but I can't complain. We are lots of money ahead either way!) Email me at alie.jonesy @ gmail.com for more info! (No, but really...if you're interested in learning more, email me! I get a $25 gift card if I refer a friend, and you get richer for having a baby!)
- Take it easy in the first few weeks. You will think, "But I feel great!" but don't listen to yourself! I felt fantastic after delivery, but around the four to five week mark I completely lost it. I was so sleep deprived and so tired of doing the same things every day (feed, change diaper, play, rock to sleep...repeat). Really take time to relax and take care of yourself. When you do crash (which I think all women do), it's normal. Your husband will probably ask, "what's wrong?" and you'll tell him, eyes full of tears, that you really don't know. Husbands, this is your cue to just smile and hold her.
- Two books I recommend: Baby Wise (only $5.63), and Secrets of the Baby Whisperer (only $7.99). The first one will help you get your baby on a routine. It's fantastic, but just know it's not everyone's style of parenting. The second one I didn't pick up while I was pregnant because I thought just by the title that the book would be cheesy and useless. But I borrowed it from my neighbor and I love it! It has charts that help you decipher your baby's body language (which I realize would have been so helpful earlier!), lets you know what "type" of baby you have (angel, textbook, touchy, spirited, grumpy) and the best ways to handle their individual needs. It's written by a British woman and is very candid. Perhaps that's what I like the most about it.
- All you will want to do is hold and snuggle with your baby. I'm still struggling with this, but am slowly realizing it's okay to politely turn down someone's offer to hold him. After all, you did (and still do) all the hard work and he will only be newborn small for a few short weeks! When he is four months old and you've had a long day, I'm sure you'll want to pass him over to anyone who offers. But when he's that teeny tiny and sweet, cherish it, be selfish, and keep him all to yourself (and your husband).
- Another thing about crying. It's hard at first, but now I really don't mind it much. Because I have taken a few days and let Jack "cry it out", I now realize he needs about three minutes when I set him down to cry himself to sleep. That is his process, and it takes twice as long for me to get him to sleep if this process doesn't happen. It was very, very hard at first to listen to him cry and cry. Watch the clock, and after ten minutes if he still hasn't calmed down, go in there and gently pat him until he's quiet, reassuring him you haven't abandoned him. I read somewhere that most babies cry a little as they are going to sleep; it's simply a natural process. Just remember that, and it's so much easier!
- Just when you think you can't handle this "boring" newborn stage anymore where they don't do anything or react to much, your baby will start to smile! This is so refreshing. Awake time is ten times more fun! Babies go through so many stages and each one is more exciting than the next!
- Take lots and lots of pictures. I like to take pictures periodically of baby's full body laying in the crib. I think as he gets older it will be so fun to compare how small he looked in that giant crib! Don't forget to take family photos. I need to be better at this - we only have a few!
- Tyler and I don't use bibs for the baby when we are feeding him. I don't know how messy breastfeeding is, but bottle feeding is extremely messy sometimes! Jack gets a nice, thick milk goatee on his chin which eventually spills over, dribbling all down his neck. We like to use burp rags - we tuck them under his chin to catch any dribbles, and then pull it out when we burp him. It eliminates having both a bib and a burp rag.
- Something I didn't know before: it isn't necessary to use a wipe when baby pees. The diapers they make these days do an excellent job at drawing away moisture, and plus a baby wipe might just irritate even more than it needs to be.
(I'll probably end up coming up with a third edition to this as I think of more things.)