Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Assive welcome here

I have this niece and she's the cutest little thing you ever did see--big brown eyes, curly black hair, a puppy dog's heart and a bright, warm smile that would melt the heart of Jack Frost in Winter. She's two-and-a-half years old and you have never met a more lovable toddler. Her name is Carrie Ann.

The only trouble is, Carrie Ann isn't two and a half anymore. She somehow grew up while I was getting old and now she's 26. She teaches elementary school on contract in one of the toughest neighbourhoods in Canada. She loves the arts, plays ball hockey and longs to make the world a smidgen better by her own hands. She's smart and goofy all rolled into one. I'd be lying outright if I said I'd never heard a cuss word cross her lips; and yet, she still calls me Auntie Susie in this sweet little girl voice that can't help but melt my heart. It's no wonder I still carry a big piece of her toddler self in my mind's eye.

Last Friday night, Carrie called to tell me she's pregnant. The pregnancy was unplanned and was definitely unexpected from a medical standpoint. Carrie has always wanted children even if she wasn't sure she'd be able to have them. Sure, there will be financial issues and housing issues and all the other kinds of difficulties that come from having a child before either partner has permanent (or even steady) employment, but she has a long-term, loving partner and an extended family that is financially and emotionally ready to help them along through the first tough year.

What I'd like to do with your help is pass along some advice to Carrie and her partner. I'm looking for the meaty kind of advice that never gets doled out on Baby Center and iVillage message boards. Our comment compendium will have the added bonus of containing far less beeyotch slapping and absolutely no acronyms. So how about it BTDT Moms? I'll start the ball rolling and we can all continue in the comments section.

Mad's Mad Assvice For the Expectant Mother

1. The ratio of time that most healthy pregnant women spend worrying about labour & delivery vs worrying about having a small human being permanently entrusted to their care is approx. 95% to 5%. Try to reverse this ratio.

2. Avoid the What to Expect Books. Reach for Sheila Kitzinger instead.

3. You can and should draft a birth plan and have your Obstetrician sign it. Remember, though, that it will most likely be ignored completely by the healthcare profession. Drafting it will ensure that you, your partner and your families are all on the same page when it comes to lobbying for your needs. And, maybe, if there is a rare solar eclipse on a blue moon, you'll give birth according to plan. (You have decided on an OB and not a Midwife, right? If the latter, then yay! you have options that weren't available to me and I can offer no advice whatsoever.)

4. For the first few weeks of a child's life, breastfeeding requires that at least two adults be present for every feed. All three parties involved will cry. It's better to know this and prepare for this than to be taken out at the knees by it.

5. There will be one issue (at least) that will break your spirit (at least). Practice self-acceptance and self-forgiveness well in advance. I cannot say this one loud enough. It's ok. It's not your fault. You are doing a fine job. If you need help, ask for it. If help is offered, accept it.

6. Find a mother's group or two, corporeal and/or virtual. Spend a couple of hours a week together for that first year because no one else in your life will remember the ready answers to questions like "how do I treat cradle cap?" or "What is Ovol?" or, hell, I don't even remember any of the 1,000 little questions that I knew were vitally important way back when.

7. Nothing will prepare you for the love you will feel for your child. You may not, however, feel this love on the first day or even in the first week your child is born. Do not beat yourself up about it because it is not uncommon for mothers to take a little while to grasp all that has happened to them. The love will come and it will be bigger than anything you have ever experienced.

8. Matt, when your babe is a month old, please read this. Ron, you do the same.

9. Carrie, watch closely when your Mom and your Aunts hold your babe. They have mad skillz. I can't tell you how much Nan changed my life in those first few weeks. I sometimes still do the bob and weave just for nostalgia's sake.

10. As much as possible, don't listen to the fear mongering pre- and post-natal. It will just make you feel small, and it will leave you no better prepared to deal with anything that may or may not go wrong along the way.

So, wise readers, what say you?


thordora said...

I think the biggest is-you will have doubts-about yourself, about this world, about your boobs, about pushing that creature out, or letting a doctor take it out and into the light. You will doubt every single step, at least for awhile.

And it will be normal, and every single other mother in the baby aisle at Zellers will be feeling the same way.

Accept that this is one thing you cannot control, and that babies are life's way of teaching us to accept the unpredictible and stubborn. THis doesn't change as they get older either-if anything it gets worse.

You might think you don't love them, not at first. Then something will happen that scares your heart up into your throat and you will know with such visceral agony that you love them more than anything you have ever loved, or ever will. That they are forever a part of you, and you of them.

You will be different. It will hurt to adjust to it, but becoming the mother, becoming the person that baby will bring-it's a fantastic journey.

And when in labour-remember that it will come out, it will end, and the only way out is through.

oh Mad, you make me all misty for my first pregnancy. The first time is so specific and brand shiny new.

No Mother Earth said...

Wow, I have a lot of assvice, and am rarely invited to share it.

Probably that breastfeeding was one of the hardest things I ever did, and I thought I was the only one having a hard time. I felt so alone, even with all the help. I found out much later that many people had trouble. Most people even. If you want to breastfeed, persevere. You are not alone.

Also, if someone volunteers to watch the baby for a while so you can rest, LET THEM. Nothing bad is going to happen. Get some rest.

(I wrote a post awhile back with 100 assvicey type things for new parents, if I can find the link, I will email it to you...)

OmegaMom said...

I'll start off with one of the "not spoken of beforehand" pieces of info. There will be times when it's definitely *not* fantastic. You will be tired and angry and frustrated. And tired. And resentful of a small being who depends on you for every. Single. Thing. In. Life. And tired. This doesn't make you bad, and doesn't mean you're crazy: It means you're human. It will pass.

Sleep whenever the baby sleeps.

Trust yourself; if you're doing something that works, and other people sniff or disapprove, let the disapproval slide off your back. They have their children and their ways; you'll have yours.

Ask for advice. Try different things. Keep the things that work; toss the things that don't.

Babies smell wonderful and have lovely soft skin.

No matter how much you baby-proof, your baby will fall into/bang into something that you didn't think to keep him/her away from. That's okay.

Enjoy. Babies are really cool! And they grow up into really cool people, too!

Anonymous said...

11. Before you buy any piece of baby equipment read Buy, Buy Baby
by Susan Gregory Thomas. It outlines the marketing techniques used by corporations to manipulate maternal instinct for profit. The most effective technique is to undermine a new mother's confidence so that she latches on to a line of products as a solution and remains a loyal customer. FOREVER!

12. Don't give the baby a crap name. If your primary reason for choosing a name is "everyone is going to know this kid has a cool/intelligent/funny/trekkie/hip mom" then you fail. It's not about you. Your child's self-esteem, earning potential, and willingness to support you in your dotage is dependent upon you not giving the child a name that is horrible. Especially if that name is Nevaeh.

Beck said...

1. Don't worry about losing that weight right off the bat - focus on breastfeeding and recovering from the birth. I've always found that a LOT of the weight magically melts off in those first couple of weeks, anyhow.
2. Remember that the goal of labour is to get your baby safely out, and any way that happens is fine.
3. You're going to be REALLY tired. Try not to operate any heavy machinery.
4. You need a LOT less baby crap than They Say You Do - we got by with a baby sling and some baby undershirts and a sun hat for our first baby, born when we were just young 'uns, too.
5. The La Leche League is not about tofu casseroles - if there's an active group in your community, they can provide a VITAL new social group for new moms.

Hannah said...

I'm going to show this list to my baby brother (well, he's 23, but he's still a baby, you know?) and his girlfriend, as they also embark on an unexpected but not unwelcome pregnancy.

Let's see... anything you can do to make the parenting process less onerous, you should do - even if you have people telling you to take the harder option. So if disposable diapers buy you some sanity, go for it. If you are breastfeeding and can't pump enough to fill a bottle and get a break, formula is NOT POISON. Remember a happy baby is a well-fed baby - however that happens.

Buy the most super-absorbent pads you can for the weeks following labour. I was horrified to discover that "discharge" actually means "gushers of smellyness".

Trust your partner. He may not do things exactly the way you would, but the baby won't mind. And neither should you.

When you pack your hospital bag, take a pen. You will need to fill out a truly daunting pile of forms and no nurse in the place will have a spare pencil. ;)

Try to make peace with the idea that this will be both the hardest and most wonderful thing you will ever do. Enjoy your pregnancy if you can. And take no assvice that leaves you feeling stressed or put-upon.

Good luck!

Christine said...

1. listen to your aunt mad--she is one smart cookie.

2. cook and freeze meals before the little one arrives. you'll be glad you have something to eat on those days when everyone is tired yet hungry.

3. you know your body better than anyone. don't be afraid to ask questions of your ob or midwife. don't ever feel like you are pestering them. their job is to help you and educate you so that you have a safe, happy birth experience.

4. if the medical staff you are working with while pregnant doesn't please you or you have a hard time working with them change docs or midwifes. even at a late date, if you feel uneasy about your caregiver it is worth finding a new one. you deserve good care that you trust.

Veronica Mitchell said...

Don't let anyone make you feel stupid. Any mom, nurse, doc or lactation consultant who pretends they always knew everything is lying. We all start out not knowing enough.

In a pinch, any diaper can be the right diaper.

Two of my babies pooped through their clothes three times a day for the first three months. You will need more laundry than you think.

When folks say "sleep when the baby sleeps," that means don't do all the things you planned to do while the baby sleeps. Brush your teeth and pay the bills, but let everything else slide. You are tired. Sleep instead.

Bonding with your baby is one of your new tasks. When you are feeling happy with the baby, ignore the other very important things you were working on, pick up your sweet babe, and cradle and rock and coo. In forty years you will not regret spending too little time washing dishes or making lesson plans.

kgirl said...

First off - Congratulations to you and your neice! Wonderful news, and I can't imagine how proud you must be. My own neice, now 10, will forever be 2 1/2 (the age she was when she walked down the aisle at my wedding) for me as well.

As for the assvice, oh, I have plenty. I won't read what anybody else has written, so that it will be pure.

Much of this is what my own mother taught me. We disagree on many occasion, but rarely about the care of a newborn, or the attitude you need to survive it.

Here's what I got, take it with a grain of love:

1) If you can have a midwife, do. It will the best decision you make during your pregnancy, but more importantly, she will be an amazing support to you in the post-partum weeks. Trust me on this.

1.a) Childbirth is FINE. Yes, it's totally intense, but you can do it. Contractions are finite. Every one you have is one you'll never have again, and it brings you one step closer to your baby. You are strong, and you can handle it.

2) Do not put little mitts on your newborn's hands. They need those hands to stick in their little mouths, for comfort. They did this the entire time they were in the womb, so don't take them away now. I promise, they won't scratch their own eyes out. If you are worried about sharp, little nails, simply bite them off. Seriously.

2) Babies need hats when outside, whatever the weather. Sun hats when it is hot, cotton hats when it is warm, and wooly hats when it is cold. Always a hat outside.

3) Breastfeeding may well be the hardest thing you ever do, but work your hardest to get through those early weeks. Besides the obvious health and bonding benefits, it makes living and travelling with a newborn easy as pie. Have boob, will travel, I alway say.

4) Let this become your mantra:

This too shall pass.

You won't always believe it, especially at 3 in the morning when you want to sleep and your baby wants to party, but it's true. As soon as you get used to something with a newborn, it changes. Sometimes that is great (again, that 3 am party thing), sometimes it is sad.

5) Motherhood is a gift, and it will change you forever. Everybody says this, but you don't know it until it happens. It's 100% accurate.

kgirl said...

Wow, you've got great advice here - all of it. These are smart, smart women, and it all applies at one point or another.

Just to be clear, because I reread, and I don't want you take it the wrong way, when I say in 1a) that you are fine and can handle labour, I mean, the whole thing in general, not that if you seek relief it is somehow a failure, because it ain't. Healthy mum, healthy babe is the only goal.

Mary G said...

Babies are very tough; much tougher than you think. If you make a mistake, baby will survive and prosper anyway.
You are less tough than you think. Take all that good advice Auntie Susie has collected about rest, asking for help and giving yourself a break.

Moma said...

All babies are different. What works for one might not work for yours. Also they change their mind frequently. What works for you baby today might not do the trick tomorrow. Roll with it.

A lot of these things we are told we must train our babies to do, are actually developmental milestones. Your babe won't sleep through the night until its good and ready to do so. There is no magic formula that will make them sleep through the night.

Smile at your baby a lot. You will get lots of smiles back in return.

Make friends with your boobs now. You are going to be spending a lot more time with them. In the beginning, motherhood=nursing.

When babies wake up in the morning, you might be surprised to find that they are ready for their first nap in no time at all. Sometimes only 1-1.5 hrs after first waking. It took me weeks to figure this out. Try it, its a great time to get your shower, do your hair, eat, drink coffee, etc.

Finally, do what works for you and your baby. Not what works for your Mom, your friend, your sister, the woman down the street, even the nurse in the hospital or the book on the shelf. Stop caring so much about what other people think about you, stop trying to please everyone.

Go outside multiple times a day. Walk everywhere.

ewe are here said...

I'll go the other way on one big topic, breastfeeding. I'm a big advocate of breastfeeding... but guess what, couldn't do it. Not enough there, and nothing was going to change that. My first piece of advice is if you can't, or if you don't want to, or if you want to supplement for ANY reason, don't let people bug you about it... it's why formula was invented. It saved our lives.

As for the rest, my biggest piece of advice is your goal is happiness, happy baby, happy parents. Perfection is not required for happiness. Mistakes are expected and all easily correctable and quickly forgotten. Knowing you 'are there' is all they need, period.
They don't need all the 'stuff' to be happy and loved.

Babies can sleep anywhere; they don't need much and they won't see or care about designer nursery or clothes or toys. They'll be with you for the first year except when they're sleeping; they don't even need a room of their own. our boys slept in baskets anywhere in the house; cribs in the hallway, oversized closets, etc. Almost all their clothes and toys and books were/are second hand. And they are the two happiest, most secure children you will ever meet. I expect their future baby sister will be much the same, and I say that as i browse the charity shops for some pink. ;-)

Good luck!

Bea said...

A good book about breastfeeding is great to have in the house, but DO NOT read it from cover to cover, either before or after the baby is born. When a problem comes up, look it up in the index.

The two products I found most useful:

(1) the Jolly Jumper (traditional cloth one - not the fancy versions with tables) - it's cheap, you can hang it from a doorframe or screw a hook into the ceiling, and as soon as the baby has enough neck strength (around 3-4 months) it is the MOST fun that baby has ever had.

(2) zippered infant carseat cover for the winter months - I can't remember what they're called now, but they're cozy and they eliminate the need for squeezing baby's limbs into a snowsuit.

Swaddling is also a good thing. I personally found the velcro-equipped swaddling blankets worthwhile, but they're expensive and many people with more coordination than me can swaddle properly with a regular blanket.

Good baby fact to know: babies cannot form habits based on learned experience in the three months of life. That means you can do whatever works during that period of time without worrying that you're forming habits that will be difficult to break later - and if you want to change what you're doing, that's fine too.

Bon said...

this is great.

i don't have a lot to add that others haven't already covered, with aplomb.

i want to second the whole "listen to - and call on - your Aunt Mad 'cause she rocks" mantra.

i also want to say that much of having a baby and being a parent may unfold very differently from how you imagined. if you always thought of yourself with a boy, you may have a girl. if you have your heart set on a natural delivery, you may need a c-section. if you want baby to sleep in his or her own crib and room, you may end up with a snuggler who only wants to cosleep, or vice versa. DON'T sweat it. none of it is a failure, or a sign that your relationship with baby won't be as loving or as wonderful as you've always hoped. just keep going, on whatever sleep you can scrounge up. and don't feel guilty for needing and wanting sleep.

as for the fear-mongering...i will take a slightly different pov than Mad...i say be aware of things that can happen and go wrong but do not expend energy on them. be aware but not afraid, if you can walk that balance...it's good practice for the rest of your life as a parent.

last...when you get big and waddly and people smile at you just because, enjoy that, even if you feel like a house. because from the day the baby's born, people will just be smiling at the kid. :)

Mad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beck said...

Ha! I was totally coming back over with a bit of a dampener on the whole La Leche League thing - but the good ones are REALLY good, and if it's friendly and nice, the meetings are a nice place to meet other new moms.
Also, I forgot to say "car seat." you will need one.

Anonymous said...

Just one thing to add... the days with a baby are long, but the years fly by... value every minute.

painted maypole said...

Congrats. and oh... what hasn't already been said? I'll echo the sentiments of find a community of moms, educate yourself BUT know that you and your child have a unique relationship and so make the choices that are right for you both, when you get the chance, do something non baby related that you love- don't feel guilty about, enjoy it!, as for all that baby stuff, less IS more, and get it USED when you can. Borrow and buy used and then pass on to someone else. Babies in footie pajamas are the cutest things ever. Amen to the whole birth plan thing your aunt said. I recommend Dr. Sear's The Birth Book. Take LOTS of pictures. Get a good camera NOW. I wish, wish, wish I had had a better camera when my daughter was a babe, and had taken better pictures. Get a good camera now and practice with it. Look at other people's baby pictures and see what you like.

Anonymous said...

Most baby accessories are completely optional.

Babies don't care about colors or coordination where outfits are concerned.

TV is not evil. It's a way to shower regularly when the baby becomes a boddler.

Breastfeeding is good, but don't overwhelm yourself with a long term goal. Say "I'm going to do this for six weeks" and then when six weeks comes set a new goal of two or three months. Every time you reach a goal and see how things are going (usually better than you expected) set another one. Becoming a long-term breastfeeder is a matter of setting manageable goals and being flexible. (I nursed my daughter until she was four and a half. Really didn't think in those first weeks I had that kind of an earth mother lurking in me).

Avoid baby advice books and parenting magazines because you probably know parents personally who are smarter.

Anonymous said...

How exciting! Congratulations to all.

kate said...

Oh these are great! My two cents:

I had a great experience with a doula, even though I had midwives. I would do that combination again in a heartbeat.

Read parenting books if they help, but if they make you feel bad, stop. Nobody knows your kid better than you.

Make sure you have a friend or family member (or several) you can call at the drop of a hat to come and hold the baby so you can eat/shower/insert necessary bodily function here on rough days. Set it up in advance that you might do that, so you don't feel stupid. (I didn't do this, and had a number of days when I wished i had someone like that.)

I also second the cooking and freezing in advance.

If you're planning to try breastfeeding, put lansinoh in the hospital bag (or whatever - buy it when you're pregnant).

Breastfeeding is literally a full-time job in the early days, even when everything is fine. Even if everything goes swimmingly in that department, it's still f-ing hard, and it's ok to admit that. Being the sole source of food for the most important creature you've ever been in the presence of is heavy shit.


sweetsalty kate said...

What an amazing bunch of comments... the only thing I'd add is selective listening. Ha! Not to these. These are great. I'm talking about the nosy neighbours and overbearing relatives, people who make reaching statements (or judgements) on one school of thought or another. Shake 'em off, follow your gut. Except when it's trusted friends and strangers on the internet.

Anonymous said...

Congrats! Such good advice already. I'll add a few things:

1) Try really hard at the breastfeeding. It's so worth it. Line up support from a Lactation consultant BEFORE you have the baby, so you can call them on short notice if you need to.
2) Invest in a good baby carrier. No, Baby Bjorn and Snugglie are not good baby carriers. Google these few and go from there: Baby Hawk, Didymos, Moby wrap.
3) Even if you are not planning on sharing your bed with your baby, do some research on how to do it safely, beforehand. You may change your mind in the middle of some long, long night, and this is not a good time to decide if your mattress is too soft, or your blankets too numerous and heavy.
4) Learn to nurse lying on your side!!
5) Listen to your heart and your baby. You have mam instincts for a reason, follow them.
6) Children are spoiled by things, NOT by love. Hold your infant, carry your baby, hug your toddler, tell your teenager you love them - it will not damage them or make them overly dependent.

Cold Spaghetti said...

Brilliant advice, Mad.

Here's what I wish someone had told me. Or, perhaps beat me over the head about until I heard it...

-- Secretly crying in the shower everyday and believing that your baby hates you is not abnormal. But it is something that should be discussed and treated.

-- Co-sleep. Co-sleep. Co-sleep.

-- Nurse on the side lying down. Everything else is too hard until you're a pro.

-- You're not a pro nurser until about month 3. It's a good 12 weeks of work to get there, but it's worth it.

-- You're the Mommy. Trust that. Believe in yourself. It's all in there if you let yourself listen.


mo-wo said...

1. You know it all. Never place the advice on someone who has been in the company of your baby for 5minutes over you or your partner.

2. Forget SB -- name the baby Magellan!

3. Auntie Susie is right, especially #8

nonlineargirl said...

That is pretty comprehensive.

I'd just add: you may not like your child every moment at any point along the way. You love them, but but you can love them while hating them and not be a bad person.

That thing about asking for help - wow is it important. Even if you are really bad at asking for help, your life will be so much better if you do.

Oh, and sleep when the baby sleeps. Screw cleaning, screw cooking, screw whatever else NEEDS to be done. Sleep is more important. Remember that lack of sleep is a form of torture. Do not impose it on yourself, you'll have enough of that pain anyway.

Kyla said...

This is great, Mad! Lots of good stuff. Your niece is older than me by a year!

My biggest piece of advice is listen to your own instincts. You'll know a lot more than you think you will. If you ever feel that something isn't right with your child's health or development, speak up. You know your baby/child better than anyone and for a good long time you are the only voice he or she will have. This was probably the hardest lesson for me to learn, but it was also the most important.

Also, EVERYONE has strong opinions about parenting, breast vs bottle, cosleep vs sleep training, and so forth. I've learned that very seldom is there a single RIGHT way to parent, you have to find what works for you and your children, not what works for someone else.

Janet said...

I feel very redundant trying to say anything here. But Mad knows I will anyway. :) Feel free to edit, Mad, I may get carried away. (What, me? NEVER!)

1. Vicki Iovine's "Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy." I think that's the title. She's had 4 kids. Very funny, very honest.

2. Expect everyone you encounter to ferret out the absolute most god-awful pregnancy and birth stories they ever heard (usually NOT experienced by them). I spent most of the 9 months open-mouthed in horror.

3. If you are in pain and can't breathe during labor, get the epidural. You are no less of a woman. God invented that thing for a reason.
There are some side effects to the epidural, one is a hideous headache, which I didn't get, and another is overall hideous itching, which I did. Totally worth it.
And if they finally decide the baby isn't coming out and want to do a c-section, that's OK too. Do not let anyone tell you it's a bad thing. You still gave birth to that baby!

HOWEVER - someone else mentioned that "discharge" after birth? Yeah, that's not discharge, it's a flood and will last forever. Or 6 weeks, give or take a week. And you'll do it even with a c-section, so you're not getting out of anything there. It's normal. They don't tell you what to expect, but when you call the doctor's office in horror thinking you're dying, they'll tell you THEN that it's perfectly normal.

4. Breastfeeding can be hard. Sure, it's natural, but that doesn't make it necessarily simple. It's definitely a learned technique. The La Leche League made me feel like a complete and total idiotic shit. I finally got hold of a kind and compassionate lactation consultant at the doctor's office who informed me that she'd never seen a baby act like mine did. So it WASN"T MY FAULT!!! :) Breastfeeding is totally worth it, but I didn't enjoy it. Even with my second one, who nursed effortlessly about 5 hours after he was born. Most people do, so again, I felt like a total loser until I was talking with a friend of mine whom I see as the quintessential earth mother and found out she hated it as well. I was so relieved. It did not help me bond with the baby either time. I did it for 18 months with the first one, until she gave up on her own, and 16 months with the second one, when I had to wean him in order to go on RA medication. I'll be perfectly happy if no one ever touches my boobs ever again. (The Mountain Man, who was a great cheerleader for breastfeeding, is not as happy with the final results.)

5. Now that I've rendered you open-mouthed with horror (and I didn't even tell you my birth story!), let me assure you by saying it's the greatest thing I ever did in my life. I was 41 when I had the first one. I'm not saying it's easy. It's also the hardest work I ever did, but it's the most rewarding. You will not love every minute. You will cry a lot, mainly because you feel like you haven't slept in months. (You haven't.) LET PEOPLE HELP YOU. Ignore the ones who come in to your house and preach about what you are doing wrong. Lock the door on them. Let in the ones who bring you tea and cookies and clean your kitchen and do your laundry for you.

Give the baby to the daddy early and often. Daddy can do everything except nurse (and even then, he can feed a bottle of formula or expressed milk.)

6. Speaking of the daddy, let him do things his way, unless he asks for help. If the diaper is upside down, so be it. Babies don't keep diapers on more than 30 minutes anyway. I've been known to change one only to have the baby poop in the new one before I got it fastened properly. Don't criticize the way he does things, unless he's honest-to-god endangering the baby, because he will give up trying and let you do all of it all by yourself. You do NOT want that!

7. I loved our Baby Bjorn, which was borrowed. I never carried the baby in the carseat, primarily because I could barely lift it. They both loved the bjorn. I had a sling but never could get the hang of adjusting it to where the rings didn't rest painfully on my shoulder bone. And the Queen would have no part of it, anyway.

8. Someone else said avoid buying all the stuff. We got a bunch of stuff as gifts that we never ever used, but people got railroaded by Babies R Us and other companies into thinking we "needed" various plastic items of dubious utility.

It's a grand adventure, and you'll be great at it. Good luck!

Janet said...

Oh yeah, someone said that when choosing a name, try it on for size by yelling the full name out the back door ten times in a row. If you still like it, keep it on the list.

DaniGirl said...

Oh goodness, such a great topic, and I'm going to be rude and dump in my comments without reading those above mine. (tsk tsk)

1. The beginning is SO hard. But it is NOT like this forever. It's different and shocking and there is no way you can prepare for it -- but real life does reassert itself eventually.

2. Ask for help if you need it. Little things (make me a sandwich) or big things (I'm in trouble and I don't know what to do), whatever it is don't hesitate to ask those closest to you for help, assvice, or just ask them to hold the baby while you sleep for an hour.

3. Midwifes are wonderful and worth their weight in gold.

4. Most of the awful things you read/hear about when you're pregnant won't happen. Try to worry only about real things, not things that might happen.

5. Write down scraps of daily life and little milestones, even just a few words on your kitchen calendar, and takes tonnes of photos. You'll be surprised at how quickly it changes, and how soon you'll forget.

(Writing this makes me a little sad... after three beautiful boys, a part of me would do it all again in a heartbeat.)

Anonymous said...

Wow, I wish I'd had your Aunt Mad and all her commenters around 13 years ago when my first was born.
Here's what I remember:

--All mothers feel guilt that somehow they are failing by not doing x. (the x differs from mother to mother) Somehow realizing this helped me tremendously. You're doing great. Cut yourself some slack.

--Ignore all the scary birth stories that complete strangers will want to share with you (example: with my first I was in hard labour 38 hours and then they did a c-section but it got infected, etc etc) Whatever. I have HAPPY birth stories and I would love to share them with you. Listen to happy birth stories only and remember--the goal is delivery, not being a super woman.

--It only gets easier. I was at my most tired in late pregnancy. After the baby was born, I was happy and amazed to discover that yes, life was still a blur of exhaustion, but for me at least it wasn't as deep.

Good luck and congratulations!

Janet said...

1. Let people help you. If they offer to come and clean your house, don't be proud, let them. If they want to bring you food? Hell yes! I had a friend bring me over groceries when I was encouraged and weeping in a corner with my first born. It was entirely lovely to suddenly have food to eat without any effort.

2. Don't stress about getting the baby on a schedule. Does your newborn take every nap on you? Doesn't matter. They won't do it forever and one day you will crave a baby sleeping on you like that. Same goes for not letting them nurse on demand because you don't want to become a human pacifier. Newborn babies nurse. It's what they do. They can't do it too often, it soothes them and, assuming all is going well and it isn't painful for you, it allows you to sit and relax and stroke their beautiful little heads.

3. You may be surprised at how much you resent your husband when the baby's demands feel all encompassing. You also may feel touched out from the experience of having another human dependent on you. Despite what I said above about having a newborn on you being lovely, I am saying that from a place three years away from having a newborn. At the time, it can be exhausting. It's okay. You will like your husband again later. :)

Cloud said...

I have to delurk to add to this excellent advice.

The thing I wish I had known earlier: some babies don't sleep as well as others. In some cases, there is not a darn thing the parents can do about this. If you happen to get one of these babies, you are not a bad parent. Try everything that seems right to you to help that baby learn to sleep better. If something works- great! If nothing works, and your baby seems happy and healthy with the sleep he/she is getting, adjust your attitude. The baby doesn't have a sleep problem- YOU do. Stop trying to figure out how to "make" a baby sleep (impossible). Start trying to figure out how to get you and your partner enough sleep to function given your baby's sleep pattern. And know that it will pass, and you will get some decent sleep again.

Oh, and I agree about the cook ahead and freeze advice. Except- don't make it all cheesy stuff, because some babies are sensitive to cow's milk protein in breastmilk, and will get screaming gas attacks if you eat cheese. And then all your nice frozen meals will have to sit in the freezer until the baby is about 6 months old. If you get one of these babies, and still want to breastfeed you'll get through the dairy restrictions OK, too.

In fact, you'll get through just about anything life with a baby throws at you, and a year or so later, you will look back and be amazed.

Congratulations, and good luck!

Elaine said...

Wow, congratulations!!

1. You will be more tired than you ever thought possible. More tired than after pulling a week of all-nighters for end-of-term, and then spending the weekend partying to celebrate. More tired than staying up for a week before closing a major business deal, or filing for an IPO, or any other thing else.

2. Epidurals don't always give 100% pain relief, but they can help a lot. If you have a drug-free birth, it's nice to be able to walk around right away. I've done both, I prefer the drugs, but hey - both times I had beautiful, healthy babies and that's what counts.

3. Breastfeeding - one good thing to know: It may hurt. A lot. Anything sucking on your skin for hours every day will hurt. It doesn't matter if the latch is good, bad or perfect. DS's latch didn't change from his first time to the last time, when he was 13 months old. I had lots of fussy help from LaLeche and other very well-meaning people, but his latch was fine from the beginning. I just had to get used to it.

4. Breastfeeding: Another good thing to know: Some babies like to nurse for 5 minutes at a time. Others take an hour. It's okay - just let it happen. Those same lactation consultants tried to tell me to limit it to 20 minutes per breast. We were both unhappy until I decided to take as much time as we needed - and that usually more than an hour per feed for the first few months. And you know what? It was fine - it was nice to just sit or lie there and hold the baby. I was tired. See #1.

5. Breastfeeding: Another thing to know: Supplementing with formula will not dry up your milk supply, cause nipple confusion, poison your baby or otherwise end the world. It will allow your partner to feed the baby (and enjoy that bonding) and free you up sometimes.

6. During my first pregnancy, an ultrasound turned up something worrisome. We suddenly had a high-risk pregnancy. Thanks to the Canadian health system, we had excellent care. I learned 2 things - first, it's important to retain as much control as you can - ask questions, do research, challenge assumptions, and ultimately, listen to my inner voice, because DH and I had to make the final decisions, not the medical personnel. Second, you can do everything right as a parent, and still have no control over the outcome.

We were very lucky to have a healthy baby, but I learned the hard way, before he was born, that I had to be at peace with doing the best I could for him - nourish him, provide a good learning environment, love him. After that, his life is out of my hands. The best thing I can do is to prepare him to be capable and independent.

7. Trust your baby actually knows what s/he wants. Trust yourself that you will be able to give it to her/him. And if it isn't perfect, doesn't exactly match your own vision, or a marketing image, or all the well-meaning advice you will get - that's okay. It will still be wonderful and miraculous. You will all be fine.

Hannah said...

I just remembered something else, via my sister - when doctors say "sleeping through the night" it actually means five consecutive hours of sleep, not eight or ten. So when some beyotch at the grocery store tries to tell you her infant went to bed every night at 6pm and didn't wake until 8am the next morning, she is lying.

As you were. ;)

Mimi said...

Do you live in Ontario? I do: get a midwife. Mine was great, such a help, and I never had to do that awful fasting glucose thing, because, well, I'm not sick, I'm pregnant! Treated me like a grownup, but made me feel safe.

The first couple of days are bad: you'll come home from the hospital, and all the baby will do is sleep, and you'll want to wake up. At 11pm, it won't go to sleep and you won't know what to do, and you'll be calculating how many more nights of this you will have before it turns 18 and moves out.

Some babies cry a lot, even if you do attachment parenting. It's not your fault. It's okay to wear earplugh when your baby won't stop yelling. You will probably feel mad and guilty. That's okay: the baby doesn't notice. You will all get through it.

It turns out okay. My daughter is two and a half and we love her more than anything. But right after she was born? We weren't sure if we could do it. Really.

I'll never forget, though, her little monkey toes, her big eyes, her gummy chomp. There are good memories in there too!

Susanne said...

I second Mad, especially on the part of getting help. When you wonder whether your problem is big enough to ask an expert? Go ask. Then ask again.

Remember that parental philosophies are many and they change all the time. For everything you do there will be someone telling you that is wrong. Don't listen.

It is possible to function without sleep for months but I'd rather recommend getting someone to take a walk with the baby (even if said baby is crying at the moment) and get a nap or two.

The things I said the most when my son was a baby:

- No, he isn't hungry he just had something.

- No, he won't suffocate in the sling.

- No, the sling isn't bad for his back.

- No, he wouldn't cry less if I gave him formula.

Also I give you permission to hit anybody on the nose who says the baby days are the best and you should savor them while they last. It might be true but it doesn't help a bit.

Also I'd advise everyone to co-sleep so that the getting up is less tedious, and to have a spare bedroom so that the one not breastfeeding might get a bit of sleep.

The best thing anybody told me before I had a child was a friend who said she took one look at her newborn daughter and knew that she could do this. You might be worrying all the time if what you're doing is right but in the end if you're loving your baby (eventually), keeping it fed, warm, and reasonably clean, and cuddle it that's all it will need.

a li'l bit squishy said...

Bravo Auntie!! What a great list, it makes me wish that someone had written a similar list for me. That said, I have one thing to add...Trust yourself. No one loves that little babe as much as you and your partner. The two of you will know what is best in spite of what anyone else might say. Enjoy the journey.

jen said...

how about she might absolutely hate her life sometimes and how that is absolutely OK and it will pass, all of it will pass and she'll feel normal again. we promise.

ps. i love you

Anonymous said...

Trust your intuition.

Bev said...


This is not advice for the newborn's parents, it's more for after the child get's old enough to understand - usually about 6 - 8 months later. Often the most loving word you can say to your child/children is NO.

My name is Bev and I am a grandmother hoping to become a GG (great grandmother) in the not too distant future. I wrote and illustrated a book entitled Wool E. Woola. You can see the first 16 pages of this charming children’s book if you visit www.moonbowpress.com . This is a very small publishing house. My friend Larry and I do it all except for the printing. We have a great, local, Made in America printing firm do that.

If you wish to purchase Wool E. Woola or the note cards created by Larry or me, also shown on site, follow the directions. However, since money is so tight today for all of us, I would be happy to help you sell Wool E. Woola books or the note cards from your home or, to help your kid’s school, your church or wherever use Wool E. or the stationery for fund raisers or, if you have a friend who is having financial problems at this time, your friend. If you or others do wish to sell them, contact me or have them contact me at moonbowpress@aol.com and I will email information about how to go about doing so and how much money can be earned per book or pack of cards that is proportionate to the numbers of either sold.

If you do not want to either buy or sell Wool E. Woola books, I would appreciate if you would still forward this information to your friends.

Thank you,


An Article A Day said...

I love your Assvice! Wonderful :-)

Anonymous said...

That is pretty comprehensive.

I'd just add: you may not like your child every moment at any point along the way. You love them, but but you can love them while hating them and not be a bad person.

That thing about asking for help - wow is it important. Even if you are really bad at asking for help, your life will be so much better if you do.
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Oh, and sleep when the baby sleeps. Screw cleaning, screw cooking, screw whatever else NEEDS to be done. Sleep is more
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important. Remember that lack of sleep is a form of torture. Do not impose it on yourself, you'll have enough of that pain anyway.
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