Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Unsolicited Advice for the Mommy to Be

My cousin-in-law (is that a word?) Heidi is going to be having a little baby girl very soon. I was very late checking in with her to see how she's doing. (How I wish my thoughts about doing things would transfer into actions like 90% of the time! The other 10% SHOULD stay somewhere in the desert of my brain because there aren't kind thoughts or actions and I prefer freedom to prison.) Now she has not asked me for all this advice; she frankly probably doesn't want it. This is why instead of sending an obnoxious TMI email, I am blogging. Something about seeing someone in a stage of life that I've been makes my brain go into OVERLOAD with advice. This happens at weddings, new babies, and now with people having number two babies. I KNOW that everyone is different and I certainly have learned every baby is different, but I still can't STOP the flow of "wisdom"....

1) Ignore those people who, with a condescending smile on their face, say, "Sleep now cuz you surely won't sleep when the baby comes." It may be true, but it's rude. What 8-9 month pregnant woman is sleeping? It only makes her anxious about not sleeping and further leads to even more insomnia. A woman at this stage of pregnancy does not need to add to her list of "things to worry about."

2) The is no way anyone can prepare you for how hard it is to PUSH a baby out of your body. The exhaustion that quickly ensues will shock you. You will want to scream, not just because of the ring of fire taking place around your vagina but because people keep telling you to "PUSH". You want to scream, "What do you think I have been doing? SHUT UP!" (really you'll want to use much filthier language)
Now why this comes as a shock to women is really uncertain. Logically, it can't be easy to push a bowling ball through a peg just know you'll never work so hard in your entire life.

3) Sleep when baby sleeps. Yes, this is important and yes you'll plan on doing it. But when your hormones are crazy- it is VERY hard to do. First, you'll cherish the time on your own, so you'll want to "do your own thing." Second, it's just hard sometimes to sleep- so try your best, but again don't "worry" about it. Logically know you WILL sleep again and you WILL somehow survive. Do your best to care for yourself, but don't let it make you anxious.

3b) Put your baby in the nursery while in the hospital. Everyone talks about sleeping in, but whoever told me to put the "oxygen mask" theory into effect here is one of my heros. Both my children slept in the nursery. They fed them ONE bottle and one only (skipping one feed) allowing me to sleep 6 or 7 hours in a row. (I had zero problems with nipple confusion and breast feeding.) Once you are home, this isn't an option- so take it while it is.

4) If you have one of the "easy" babies who sleep 6 hours at night the first week know that it is possible and you don't need to feel guilty. Those same babies WILL give you headaches for some other reason later in life, so take the gift they are giving you now.

5) If you have one of the "I WILL NEVER EVER EVER SLEEP" babies...cry, scream, enlist help, and vent about it lots. If someone won't listen, talk to someone else. It is hard. Of COURSE you'll make it, but sometimes everyone telling you that doesn't help in the moment. You just need to complain and have people HELP you. DO NOT be afraid to ask for or accept help...sleep deprivation can do crazy things to a person; let people help you avoid those crazy things;)

6) You WILL have crazy thoughts after having a baby. The way you know you AREN'T crazy is if you recognize that the thoughts ARE crazy. Something about hormones and sleep deprivation= insane thoughts...they are just thoughts, you are okay.

7) You will miss your husband. He'll be sitting right next to you and you'll miss him. Talk about it. He misses you to. It's just adjusting to change in life stage.

8) You may cry for lots of reasons or no reason at all for a couple weeks after baby is born. This is normal post-partum blues. As long as it is just the first couple weeks, don't worry. Let the tears flow- you can't control them even if you try. It is cleansing. If it goes past the first few weeks, check in with the doctor- there is no shame in getting help; there is shame in ignoring the need for help.

9) You do not have to answer to phone; You do not have to return calls. You can go out lots or you can never go out. Every mom is different. Do what feels best to YOU and it will make your adjustment much easier. Don't let others expectations of you rule your actions.

10) The best advice I ever give: TRUST your INSTINCTS. With time, you'll continue to realize how RIGHT they are! Books are awesome- they give you lots of insight and things to try, but also trust the gut God gave you! YOU'LL know your child best.

11) There may be times in re. to the above that you feel you don't have instincts at all- that's okay, maybe your husband does or maybe not. Just read a bit, talk to others, or a doctor- it will get figured out.

12) Take lots of moments to ABSORB motherhood. Stare at your baby intently. Breath deeply and inhale that baby scent that is gone before you're ready. Cherish the feeling of a sleeping newborn upon your chest. It's wonderful and they really do grow quickly.

13) Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing, but it is not necessarily easy. It may be and that is awesome, but MAKE sure to check in with a lactation consultant BEFORE you leave the hospital. Make sure you listen when they tell you about the babies "latch"-this is NOT an area to let slide. If you are lazy about this and let the baby nurse however he or she wants you will get sore, bleeding nipples and that, my friend, SUCKS. If you do get sore nipples- use Soothies- they help. (Oh, and it is okay to be mildly horrified by how large your breasts and nipples become. It IS weird. The worst part is that in a few weeks you'll forget what they looked like before...but don't worry after baby number one- they return pretty much to normal. number two is a topic for another day...)

P.S.- The best breast pads are Lansinoh. The best pump is the advent one- it is amazing. The electronic is expensive and the Medela pump-in-style works well too. But if you are going for manual for traveling or whatever- Advent Manual get's SO much milk and does not hurt- everything else is CRAP and induces large amounts of pain.

P.S.S- introduce a bottle once a day by week two- just once a day won't hurt breast feeding. If you wait to long- it is a NiGHTMARE to get them to take a bottle. I know too many friends that were desperately trying every bottle on the shelf trying to get baby to take one before they returned to work;P

14) Your baby needs to sleep more than you think. You will have a happier, healthier baby if you learn their sleep cues and put them down in their "window". Sleep is something WORTH working at and for. You will at times feel like it is SO hard, but before you know it your baby is "sleep trained" and you are one happy mama. (Note- good habits, like putting them down awake can start in the beginning, but sleep training doesn't happen until lie 5 months or so- you'll know when you AND your baby are ready)

P.S. In the beginning, try to establish good habits, but not at the sake of your sleep or sanity.

15) It doesn't matter how someone else did something or when they did it- you'll know when you are ready.

16) You husband has really good insights on the situation. It may be SUPER annoying but sometimes it is worth trying what they are recommending. When we are entrenched in a situation sometimes it is hard to see how we are contributing to it:)

17) Find a good babysitter(s) and pay them well;)

18) Pray lots and know that God is with you in the mundane. Sacred parenting is my favorite parenting book- it isn't a guide, but he so eloquently articulated the feelings I've experienced. My favorite part is at the very end when he refers to Matthew 25:35 and 36. Who is hungrier than a newborn? Who is more a stranger than a child just entering the world? Who is more naked? What you have done to the least of these, Jesus says, you have done to HIM. He delights in your care for your little one!

I am sure lots of mommas can comment with more daughter is currently asking me to pay attention to her and as tempting as it is to continue to indulge my self-importance by touting more advice...I shall chose what is really important.


  1. Triple past is expensive but if you have a bad diaper rash- nothing like it

  2. Right on sister! Where were you when I had my first?:) I would have loved to hear this advice rather than all the "conventional" advice that I did. What a wonderful reminder too that He does delight in my care of these kiddos.

  3. Good, good, good advice! I might print this to give to new moms : )

  4. I so relate to #7.
    And # 14 sounds perfect, if only my one month old would be willing to go to sleep on his own, in his own space. Rather, he will only fall asleep in someone's arms, in the Moby, or at the breast. And then he wakes up if transferred. Makes it really hard to do # 3 :(.

  5. It's also worth saying that what you did for baby #1, although it worked and was wonderful, may not work at all for baby #2 and you will feel that you have never done this before. I remember many nights just crying about baby #2 because I felt like I was doing nothing right and nothing was working. But don't give up. That too will pass :)
    Also, take pictures and lots of them. time passes and you will wish you had taken more because they just grow so fast!
    And manners are important and can be taught early. You-and many complete strangers-will appreciate when your child is using good manners.