Having a baby? Be prepared, be very prepared. Being a type A personality I normally have every single detail regarding any major life event pre-planned and organized to the T. Oddly enough no matter how many diapers I stacked up or how many times I organized and reorganized my sons clothes, bibs, and socks prior to his arrival when he finally did grace us with his presence I was completely caught off guard. There were a million and one things I had overlooked, forgotten, or just hadn’t known about.
So here’s a few pointers for any mommas-to-be out there. Or maybe just anyone who would like to be über prepared to expect the unexpected before they’re even expecting!
So I’ll start off with the basics. The actual physical things that you will need to care for your child. This list is not exhaustive by any means but just any items which have stuck out to me as super useful over the past month and a bit.
Receiving blankets – you can never have too many. I am not sure why they are called this. Perhaps because you receive a whole lot of them during your babyshower. Keep them all. They will not only act as a shield between your baby’s precious little mouth and people’s clothing as they eagerly hoist him or her upon their shoulder or against their chest but it will also protect you and and your back from dripping with inevitable copious amounts of spit up.
A large size diaper genie – because although shit will most likely get real when your little one arrives it doesn’t have to smell like it. And I say large because there’s going to be a lot of poop, like I am talking loads and loads – no pun intended.
A nasal aspirator – don’t get those weird contraptions where you suck the boogers out. I don’t know how that works and quite frankly I don’t want to, the concept grosses me out. Just get one of those automatic fancy ones, they might cost a little more but trust me when your little angel can’t breath right you’ll be grateful you invested in one of these bad boys.
A rocking chair – you’ll most likely live in it for the first two weeks. Especially if you are breastfeeding (shudders at the memory). Make sure it’s a comfy one and add some pillows for extra back support. As odd as it is sitting can become mind numbingly exhausting when you’re not allowed to stand, not to mention when you’re in too much pain to do much else.
This brings me to my next item – the postpartum “goodiebag.” If you listen to anything from this list grab these items beforehand. They’ll save you a whole of pain and grief. And your husband the stress of running out last minute on a hunt for these items because you will definitely be begging for them. Buy a donut seat cushion. You just squeezed out a watermelon sized mini human out of your “area” so naturally sitting on that “area” doesn’t feel all that fantastic. Witch hazel, tea tree oil, and a sitz bath to mix it all in. Sitz baths will be your little five minutes of nether region heaven. This is the ONLY thing which will make you feel better and heal quicker. Make time for them several times a day, I used to refer to it as a mini spa treatment for my stitches. Ah yes, the lovely stitches, side note just don’t bother asking the doctor how many, and don’t look, I repeat, do not look at them no matter how tempting – there’s just no need.
It seems as though anyone I spoke to had a problem with “low milk supply.” Something I hadn’t even heard of let alone considered to be a potential challenge until it was one for me. I had close to no milk come in, which meant my little baby boy wasn’t getting the nourishment he needed, so he dropped too much weight too quick and wasn’t putting it back on as he should’ve been. This led me to vigorous googling and nurse harassing to see what I could do to avoid giving the all feared formula to him. So I discovered some herbs (I was very skeptical about their efficacy but they proved useful). I took three supplements: blessed thistle, fenugreek, and drank mothers milk tea three times a day – religiously. This boosted my supply and allowed me to continue on without formula, mission successful.
Now I’ll just give a random jumblement (yes I made that word up) of advice just from the top of my head which I wish someone had told me.
Address any apprehensions you have BEFORE you have your baby, because quite frankly afterwards you’re going to be too emotionally and physically drained to deal with extra bullshit. So make sure any issues in your life are resolved beforehand.
Either go stay with someone who can take care of you while you care for your baby, or have them (like your mom) come stay with you. You might think you can do it all, and you probably can, but you’ll only exhaust yourself and make things all that much more unnecessarily difficult for you and your child.
Follow your gut and do what works best for you (and your baby). Don’t listen to relatives, don’t listen to your peers, and most importantly don’t listen to that little voice of guilt or uncertainty in your head. Just do what feels instinctively right. Whether you think so or not you do have motherly instincts and they will kick in the moment you see that precious little face.
Follow the medical guidelines of how to care for your baby but don’t kill yourself trying to do it perfectly. I am guilty of always trying to do everything exactly by the book. And sometimes this backfires. I consulted with nurses a lot in the first few weeks. Some of their advice saved me and some suggestions from the medical world are just plain ridiculous. Like have “nursing sit-ins” and nurse around the clock? Don’t sleep? Nurse through the pain? It’ll get better. Yeah, no, it doesn’t. Sorry to be blunt but as beautiful as it is breastfeeding hurts like a bitch. And maybe it’s NOT for everybody and if you CAN’T do it don’t beat yourself up over it. Or allow the nurses to bully you into keeping up with the agony. If breastfeeding is important for you for the nutritive value and not solely for the “bonding” aspect then you do have other options. You can pump. Albeit you’ll feel like a cow (literally) and it’s double the work it is another avenue you could explore should you have the need to.
Overall my most important piece of advice is to just know all hardships with motherhood do pass rather quickly. You will jump hurdles, feel despair followed by triumph, and joy followed by tears. It’s just the way it goes. But embrace it all because before you know it those little fingers grasping yours and those big round eyes looking up at you for love and guidance will no longer be needing you for sustenance, or much of anything at all. And you will miss the sleepless nights, the seemingly endless feeds, and the countless diaper changes. Another strange aspect of parenthood is that sometimes you miss each stage of their growth as they reach a new milestone. While at other times you may find yourself yearning for the next because it seems like THAT’S when it’ll get easier, that’s when it’ll be more manageable. But the truth is it’s all about perspective. Just keep hold of the big picture, and you’ll learn to soak in and love every minute of the little details too.