Advice for a New Mom

Posted by in Navel Gazing and Other Hysterics

Today I’m on my way to Pennsylvania to meet my girlfriends for a weekend of shopping, chatting, and eating! It feels so good! Josh is staying home with both the babies for the first time. He is more than capable – but send him some good vibes okay? It’s very weird to think that for the next few days I’m just going to be responding to “Megs” and not to “Mama.”

Sniff, sniff!

My best friend is pregnant, and getting ready to have her first baby – so no boozing it up – but I’ve also been collecting items for her for the last little while, and trying to think of all the things I couldn’t live without/wish that I knew when my babies were tiny.

Stuff/products are hard, they change constantly and it depends so much on your baby. Willa loved her swing, Redding not so much. With Willa, I babywore her quite a lot, Redding was heavier and it was much harder on me. Willa used a plug (pacifier), Redding didn’t. Willa threw everything up and still doesn’t sleep well through the night. We bought everything and tried everything. Redding was naturally a great sleeper from about 2 months on. But…. things I recommend:

  • have granny panties in dark colors, and numbing spray waiting for you at home.
  • buy an extra set of sheets for your bed and some extra towels – now is not the time to have to do laundry all the time.
  • use stretchy sports bras/built in bra tanks for the first couple weeks until your milk supply settles, then invest in those pricey bras. (this also gives you the chance to decide if nursing is for you before you make the investment.)
  • onesies – my kids both lived in them. babies look adorable in their pajamas all day. Do whatever is easiest for diaper changes because there will be many. Side note here – make sure that your diaper changing station is at a height that is comfortable for you. With Willa mine was way too low – we used the top of a dresser, and it was horror on my back. With Redding we use the top of a built in in our living room, it’s counter height, and seriously, so so so much better.
  • sound machine – both of my kids still use them. Makes white noise that helps extend sleep time by covering noises from the rest of your house. (Like if you have a horrible dog who backs at freaking everything.)
  • black out drapes – seriously, makes all the difference.
  • diaper clutch – diapers and a small packet of wipes tied together, keep on in your purse and in each car. It’s great to be able to toss to Dad so you don’t always have to do the changing, and you never get stuck anywhere with a wet/poopy diaper. When they are little put a onesie in there too – cause, blowouts.
  • black yoga pants. They look more put together than your pajamas when the mailman needs a signature, and hello, stretchy wonderful.

Things I wish I knew:

  • You’re going to try a lot, and fail a lot, and that’s okay. You’re not going to know whether you like washable or disposable diapers better until you try. You’re not going to know what nursing positions work for you until you try. Or if you want to nurse at all! Co-sleeping? Bassinette? Pack and play in your room? Straight to the nursery? It’s up to you, and only you are going to know what works.
  • Do/Use whatever works FOR YOU. Don’t worry if ‘baby wearing’ is the hot thing. If your baby doesn’t like it, you’re going to be miserable. Don’t feel pressure to do/use something just cause all the Mom blogs say it’s amazing.
  • Don’t be afraid to change your mind. You might have thought that you’d nurse til he’s 2 but are finding at 4 weeks, or 6 weeks, or 6 months that you’re miserable. You can change your mind. You can adapt. You might have thought you wanted to stay home from work, but now crave your job and your life, you can change your mind. People are always “perfect parents” before they have babies. They know everything, they don’t have doubts. They are always certain. Then you have a kid who won’t stop crying even when you’re doing all the things the book said to do. Real parents are terrified sometimes and try everything and frequently do the wrong thing, but it’s okay. You can change your mind.
  • The people who tell you to “savor every moment” with your infant/toddler/child – if they are related to you or your husband, feel free to roll your eyes. If they aren’t, feel free to tell them to fuck off. You can’t savor EVERY moment. There are too many of them when you are exhausted, delirious, or covered in bodily fluids. Don’t savor those. But if you find yourself enjoying a moment, tuck it in your back pocket. Thankfully, they do grow up, and while the challenges haven’t reduced in number (for me at least) there is relief in change.
  • Everyone has an opinion and wants to tell you, my advice (haha) is to listen. You never know when that knowledge might be useful to you. But you know, some adult women wear rompers (ie, not everyone has great taste.)
  • Sleep when you can. Eat when you can. Shower when you can. Seriously – forget about cleaning, take care of you.
  • If you don’t want visitors – be honest-ish. You don’t have to tell people you don’t want them to come over, but you also don’t have to entertain people just cause THEY want to see your baby. Think of a lie that works for your family and use it.
  • Free stuff is good. Even if you don’t use it that much, even if it isn’t your taste, free is good, let people hand stuff down to you.
  • Sometimes the more expensive item IS the best, and sometimes it’s not. I like pampers swaddlers diapers, they just worked best for us. My cousin swore by the target version and I hated them. Others love Arbonne diaper cream, I thought the cheapie target version was the best ever. But – dry clean only baby clothes are stupid. Babies poop/puke on everything. Don’t buy anything precious.
  • Take a lot of pictures. Of the baby. Of you and the baby together. This is my biggest regret as a parent. I hated how I looked post-baby. I was heavy and puffy and sleep deprived and looked terrible, so I avoided having my pic taken. Take the pics, you don’t have to share them. Save them for later. I promise in a year or two you’ll wish that you had.

I hope this helps. I made a lot of mistakes. I cried a lot. Motherhood is the hardest and best job I’ve ever had, but it’s certainly not what I’m best at. I probably get a B, maybe a B+ if adjusted for effort, because you know, I try.