|Jack, less than one week old|
|Jack, five weeks old|
I've been compiling a list in my head of things I wish I would have known before I became a Mommy. These aren't just things that I hadn't heard before - these are things that I wish had been more permanently cemented in my mind before I became a Mom. This is advice I wish I would have believed more.
Before the baby is born:
- When you're in labor, don't go to the hospital right away. Wait as long as you can to get the epidural. Walk the halls. Women were meant to walk around in labor. It will feel so much better than just laying in a hospital bed all day, and time will pass much faster because you have something to focus on.
- Get a pedicure the last few weeks before your baby is born. I wish I would have done this.
- Read up a teensy bit on how to take care of your newborn. As a pregnant momma-to-be you are so focused on how the labor and delivery will go. But don't forget that immediately after your long-awaited delivery, you will be expected to take care of this strange new child. It's helpful to be a little prepared for that.
- Make a journal for your little one. Tape things in it, like your ultrasound pictures and cards from gifts you have received. Write letters to your baby inside it. Baby books don't have to be a big, expensive scrapbook with fancy papers and ornamentation.
After the baby is born:
- You know those motherly instincts you keep hearing about? They really do kick in. I promise.
- Don't feel bad about not changing the baby's diaper in the middle of the night. Sprinkle baby powder on his bum before bed, and don't worry about it. If he poops, by all means give in and change it. But you don't want to start the habit of him waking up because his diaper is a little wet.
- Let the baby cry. Need to eat breakfast? Let him cry. Need a shower? Let him cry. He can handle it. As hard as it is, you need to remember to take care of yourself first so you can take better care of the baby.
- Take time every day to take a shower. It may be the only "you" time you get the entire day.
- The baby isn't as fragile as you think.
- The baby loves you just as much as he loves Daddy. This isn't a contest.
- Don't play with baby at night. Don't even talk to him. He'll fall asleep so much quicker after (or during) the mid-night feeding if he realizes it's no fun to be awake. More sleep for him = more sleep for you. In the end, it makes both parties happy.
- Make sure to snuggle with your husband and talk about things other than the baby each day. He deserves just as much love and affection as the baby does.
- Don't take it personal every time the baby cries. Understand that is their only way of communicating (think of it as their way of talking to you).
- It's okay to be sad, and it's okay to cry yourself to sleep.
- Your husband is just as in love with your post-preggo body as he was with your pre-preggo body. Remember: it is you, out of all women, that he wants to spend forever with. He loves you more than anything. You are probably sexier and more attractive to him now than ever before. Remember, you are the mother of his child that he loves dearly and he is so grateful for all that you do.
- It's okay to bottle-feed. None of us are perfect. Don't be embarrassed or ashamed to bottle-feed in public, for fear of being judged by others (particularly the breastfeeding moms). People don't know your story or reasons for formula-feeding, so shame on them for passing judgment.
- Don't feel bad for taking naps. After all, you have been up several times during the night! When baby takes his first morning nap of the day, sleep in. You'll be tempted to pick up the house, do dishes, and hop in the shower and get ready. But if you are exhausted, it's okay to stay in your pajamas and cat nap. You'll be better rested and as a bonus, you'll be in a much better mood.
- The house will be messy most of the time. You won't want to clean the bathroom, do the dishes, or vacuum the floors. This is perfectly normal.
- Don't forget to laugh. When Jack was less than a week old, he projectile vomited all over the front of me. It was on my face, in my hair, down my shirt, and all over both of us. Instead of crying, I chose to laugh. Now I can look back and find humor in that moment, and be glad I laughed instead of weeping.
- Sometimes you'll miss your old life, where you could do anything you wanted to do whenever you wanted to do it. After all, you've spent forever living that way. Sometimes it will be frustrating to have to tote the baby everywhere you go, preparing over an hour in advance to just make a quick run to the grocery store. But when a little old lady at JoAnn's peers into your cart and sees a precious two-week old and gushes over how handsome he is, your heart will melt right along with her and you will realize this parenting game is all worth it.