A few years ago I got an email from one of my friends from high school. The subject line was "Knocked Up" and she was basically announcing that she and her husband were pregnant and looking for advice about babies.
So, being the opinionated friend that I am, I sent her a big long email with all the stuff I could think of that I wished someone had told me while I was first pregnant and looking into that parenting vortex.
And a few months later I got another email from another friend who was newly pregnant and looking for advice. And a little later, I got another one.
So eventually I had this email all ready to go for anyone who asked.
Then I got my own website. And I decided it would be fun to put something like that on my site. It's been there under my IFAQs ever since.
Today I decided it is blog worthy, with a few additions.
Keep in mind that this is just what I've learned on my parenting journey. I realize that it absolutely reflects my parenting style and personality and you can take it all with a grain of salt. But it is honestly a whole lot of the things I do wish someone had taken the time to tell me when I was pregnant the first time.
-Get pictures of you pregnant. You are cute. You just might not feel cute.
-What are you having? Piglets. Puppies. Whatever.
-We left something as a surprise--gender, name, both--doesn't matter. Makes it more exciting for other people I think. And once the baby comes, it's fun to tell the anxious folks (grandparents in particular) and hear their reactions.
-Don't listen to horror stories. The people who share them to scare you are all dumb and you are going to be a champ.
-You get to decide what they do to you, not them. If you don't want poked, don't let them poke you. If they look at you like you are crazy, give them the "I'm the pregnant one here. It is all about me right now" look. Kick them if you have to. Well, maybe not kick them, but that can be worked into the look. And see if you can get your OB/MW to write it in your chart.
-Your husband will never know what it's like to be pregnant or in labor. That's okay. He's a good guy and I'm sure he'll be great in the delivery room.
-A good doula is a great investment. Another person. Another advocate. And she is there the whole time to reassure you that everthing is normal, rub your back, get the nurse, get ice, get a hot pack, help you in and out of the tub, help your husband help you, etc. Nurses are not there the whole time and their job is to poke you.
-Your body knows what it is doing. If you hit a wall, give it 10 minutes and maybe have them get you some juice or pop. A little sugar goes a long way.
-If you don't want to have drugs, make up your mind and they are not an option. Tell everyone involved that they are not an option. If you think you might want them, that's okay and you'll probably end up getting them. Personally, I broke my toe while pregnant with number 2 and found that to be much more painful than labor. I took drugs for my toe but didn't with my labors.
-birthplan.com A great site for thinking through what you want and don't want.
-They are beautiful. They are fragile. But they are tough little things. After all, they were just squeezed down a small tube into a cold, bright world.
-You get to decide how much they poke your baby, too. And asking them to wait until you decide is fine.
-Wear your baby! It's the best thing about babies. Whether it's a wrap, pouch, ring sling or mei tai, it's one of the greatest joys of being a parent. (And I might have a lead on some great mei tais--oh wait, I make them! Hahaha!) Seriously, wear your baby. And get your husband to do it, too.
-You can't really spoil a baby by holding him/her too much. Some babies like to be held, some have a limit. If you want to hold your baby all the time, you should. And you should do it guilt free. If your baby wants to be held all the time, you should get a few good carriers and hold that baby as much as that baby wants to be held.
-Breastfeeding is great. You will never look at your boobs the same again. Your boobs will never look the same again. Your boobs will not be yours again for a while. You will also realize that you've never SEEN your boobs that many times in a 4 hour period. EVER. And how did that boob get bigger than the baby's head?? But the convenience and health benefits far outweigh any of that.
-Learn to nurse in bed--everyone sleeps better that way. We put our kids to bed in their beds and they wake up in ours. Weird how that happens. Drunk people, obese people, and drunk obese people shouldn't sleep with their children. And sleeping on the couch with a baby isn't a good idea.
-Nurse at home like you want to in public. Strechy camisoles are great under regular shirts. Shirt goes up, Cami goes down with the nursing bra. No big HEY LOOK AT ME I'M NURSING! blanket. And you don't chain yourself to the public bathroom. I always just found a quiet corner with a chair. There are lots of those around. And if you get really good at it, only other mamas who nurse in public and their husbands will know what you are doing. And they'll smile at you in a way that says, YOU GO GIRL!!! And nursing in a carrier is a fabulous thing to learn as well.
-Babies don't need to take up as much space as Walmart thinks they do. You don't need the high chair, the bouncer, the swing, the jumper, the playmat, the other jumper, that giant stroller, the little stroller, the playpen, AND the 101 other giant plastic gadgets they make you feel like you can't live without. One or two of them is good. A high chair is good when they start sitting up. You get to decide.
-Don't read parenting magazines. They only freak you out and are out to make money off of you by making you paranoid. Wanna know how to install a carseat and put your kid in it properly? Go down to the fire station and ask. If they can't tell you, they know where you can find out. Want to know about child proofing your house? Have a friend with small children over and the kids will show you what you need to do in less than 10 minutes
-Give cloth diapers a chance..
-A baby's wants are a baby's needs. A le Leche League leader at the meetings I went to always said that. Babies only want what they need. They need fed, changed, and a sense of security. We are their feeders, changers, and we are their security. Hold them when they cry, feed them when they are hungry, change them when they need changing. By doing this we teach them that they can trust us and count on us when they need us. That makes for happy, healthy, confident kids.
Do you have anything you'd like to add to my list? Please do!
After four kids, ten moves and nearly two decades, we are still blissfully in love (most of the time) and I found myself back in the state I was born and raised in. It has definitely been a journey. In fact, on our 18th anniversary we pulled the last of our stuff up over the pass and into Montana, leaving our surprise love, Idaho, behind. But Montana is a great place. The last best place according to some. And we fully intend to explore as much of it as we can! Join us on our continued adventure through life, love and other stuff that comes with it.