When I was pregnant with Red, I remember reading a lot. I read “What to Expect,” the book that scares most new mothers to death thinking everything is cancer, tons of local baby magazines, parenting articles, different takes on feeding, diapering and sleep habits, all trying to pinpoint the techniques that were right for our family and all possibilities that Red would be comfortable with. I registered for tons of gear, hit up consignment shops and tried to be smart about purchases. But, even as Red arrived in May of 2011, there was still a lot I didn’t know. Before baby came, there was no way I could have anticipated the drastic nature of a schedule change, or even how much I would fall in love.
Sure, I know that sounds a little cliché… that your heart expands, your love grows, yadda, yadda, yadda, but the sentiment is certainly true, even if we’ve heard that phrase until we’re blue in the face. As far as the schedule switches, exhaustion and necessary gear during baby’s first year? Well, that part’s true, too. Here’s a short list of what I wish I knew before baby came:
You really only need a few things, but you’ll want more.
You really don’t need every piece of gear that’s ever been invented. Honestly, you need diapers, a food source and a car seat. Everything else is secondary, but I guarantee that you’ll want some of it. What are the top things I would recommend? First of all, these items I have grouped by month, as well as a playard, baby seat/swing, high chair, stroller of your choice and a nursing pillow that can pull double duty for tummy time.
There are tons of registry lists out there, but I’ve never seen one that didn’t have TONS of extra stuff on there. Things you didn’t need, things that you might want to try, or things that might not be right for your parenting style.
Stay as flexible as possible.
Baby doesn’t always like a schedule (but he will prefer a routine), and as soon as you find your rhythm, baby will change it up and screw with you. When you’re learning to breastfeed and find your way with your newborn, the doorbell will ring, friends will appear and stay for 3 hours, and you’ll have to deal with it. Juggling everything will take a dash of patience and some creativity, so try to stay loose. You can do it, just try not to be rigid. Stay as steady as you can as you feel through those first few weeks. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!! If you need a dish, a pair of extra hands, or someone just to hold your newborn while you take a shower, ask! You’d be surprised how many people are willing to support you!
It’s going to be hard as hell, but you’ll make it.
It’s tough balancing a new life! But, at the end of the day, if everyone is safe, alive and fed, you’re doing your job. Sleep will be fleeting, meals will be harder to make and consume in one sitting, but it will all be worth it. Leave the laundry unfolded and tend to what needs loving. Take a thousand photos, and make your memories in your own time. Heed only the advice you want to, trust your instincts, and make the choices that are right for your family.
What are some of the things you wish you knew before your babies were born?