Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Preparing For Parenthood

Are you having your first baby?  Congratulations!  I have some advice for you.  You're going to get a lot of advice during your pregnancy whether you want it or not, or sometimes just unwanted comments.  Like this one:

"When are you due?"

"In about 5 weeks."

"Wow, that's going to be a big baby!" 

Nothing makes a first time about-to-be Mom feel as secure as someone telling her her baby is going to be ginormous, maybe even too large to give birth to.  I don't know what it is that gives people urges to say these sort of things or decide it's the best time to tell you the worst labor stories you have ever heard.

And do yourself a favor.  Don't watch shows like "Call the Midwife" when you're pregnant.  It's a great show, but a lot of things go wrong.  Instead, watch birthing shows where everything typically turns out great.  I spent a lot of time watching "A Baby Story" and that really helped me prepare mentally. 

Don't buy white outfits for your baby or really light pastels unless you plan on having a baby who doesn't have blow-outs (pssst ...... They don't exist!) or you are the queen of laundry.  I can't tell you how many outfits my daughter couldn't wear anymore because of some unfortunate incidents.

It's wise not to tell people what names you are considering because they will either tell you they don't like the names or possibly even complain that they were going to use that name for their children.  My brother and his wife were really smart and kept their name choices completely secret until the child had officially been given the name.  I was not wise and received a lot of unwanted feedback.

Some baby items are wonderful and others are just impractical.  What was I thinking when I bought the light colored baby papazan?  Just ask yourself how much of a pain it will be when they poop or spit-up on it.  Do you still want the item? 

Sleep sacks are the best!  I used these a lot more with my daughter because it's so much easier to get them into, especially if they have already dozed off.  My kids seemed to sleep better in them.

Buy onesies with really stretchy shoulders.  I learned the hard way that when your baby has a natural disaster in their diaper (that travels out of their diaper), you can pull the onesie down towards their feet instead of smearing everything into their hair.  I seriously didn't figure this out until my 4th child.  I also saw the wisdom in just stepping right into the shower with my baby instead of using what seemed like an entire box of wipes. 

Speaking of wipes - you know those slender containers for traveling with wipes?  They don't hold enough.

Stockpiling diapers can be a good idea, but don't buy too many in newborn or size 1 because they quickly outgrow them.  Size 2 and 3 are better to buy in bulk. 

As you prepare for labor, it's a great idea to take a childbirth class whether you plan on getting drugs or not.  A friend of mine was very upset when she got to the hospital and they sent her away until she got to a 3.  She said, "I was in PAIN!"  So it's good to learn how to manage it until you receive your epidural.

If you're not planning on getting the epidural, prepare for people to tell you, "You think you won't get it, but you will."  I never had one and still had people telling me that with my 4th.  I said, "I've never had one before.  Why would I get one this time?"  With my first, the doctor said, "Well you don't get a medal for not getting it."  "Really?"  "Well don't wait too long to get it."  "Don't worry, I won't!" I snapped.  Then the anesthesiologist came in and said I was breathing better than anyone she had ever seen and didn't feel like I needed it.  My husband is going to have a medal made for me when we're done having kids that I will wear every Mother's Day.  I'm thinking I want an Olympics style medal.

Lower your expectations.  Several friends have asked me, "Why didn't you tell me how hard it was going to be having a baby?!"  Well, I thought I had emphasized that when I had my kids.  Don't expect yourself to be everything you were before you had a baby.  You will drive yourself crazy.  Just enjoy your baby and expect to do the bare minimum for a while, which is really hard if you're a perfectionist.  For some of my friends, it took their third baby to finally accept this.  A good friend said she struggled with this until her mom said, "Your new job is to feed the baby, change the baby, and burp the baby."  It's amazing work bringing a new child into the world and helping them adjust to life. 

What advice do you have for new parents?

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