Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Things they don't tell new moms

Several of my friends are expecting and due very soon or just had babies.  And lots and lots of us have small children and are going through that insanity all together.  I decided I would dedicate a blog post to non-traditional advice.  Here are some of the most useful things I was told, or I seriously wish someone had told me so I didnt feel like an idiot or like a horrible mom.  These are my top 10 pieces of advice for new moms (dads, too, but this is written with moms in mind).

1) Your kid will roll off the bed, couch, or changing table, eat dirt, hit his or her head, swallow a non-food item, bleed on occasion, and otherwise attempt to maim himself/herself.  This is normal.  This does NOT make you a bad parent or neglectful.  Someone once told me that moms in Africa let their babies touch the fire once so they learn not to touch fire.  This is how they learn, and truly, what doesn't kill them makes them stronger.  Babies are built to learn things the hard way.  And you CAN NOT watch them every second.  See also: running fevers, diaper rashes, and throwing huge tantrums in the middle of the store.

2) You will hate your baby from time to time.  Some people feel it more than others, but at some point you will probably be so exhausted, frustrated, confused, and overwhelmed, you will want to give your child away or maybe even be tempted to do something like throw them out the window (my personal feelings on many an occasion when little man would not sleep for love or money).  This is normal.  You aren't a bad mom.  The thoughts are super scary, but you wont hurt your baby (if you think you will, seek counseling - the feelings are still normal but you could probably use some help).  You are totally capable, and you CAN do this, but you need a break.  Go get a friend, dad, your parents, a neighbor, anyone.  Take a few minutes to yourself, and longer if you can.  If no one else is around, put the baby in a safe place like the carseat (inside only please) or crib and take a break.  Go to a place you cannot hear him or her and breathe.  Don't watch the clock, just chill for a little while until you feel better.  You still need a real break later, but that will help get you through.  When you can, take a long shower, go shopping, or do something without baby for a while and focus on you.  You need breaks, and your baby needs to get used to periods where you are unavailable.  (my mom said she wanted to smother me with a pillow once just so I would stop crying... not really maliciously, but still shocking unless you are living it!)

3) You deserve to have a partner for night feedings.  So many moms who are on maternity or stay at home feel that if dad is getting up to go to work, he must sleep undisturbed all night.  WRONG!  If you are bottle feeding, let dad take a shift overnight.  If you are nursing, try what hubs and I did - he woke up and diapered, then I nursed little man back to sleep and put him back in his cosleeper.  The little extra help kept me from waking up totally, so all of us fell asleep faster.  Do what works for you, but just because he is at work does not make dad unavailable at night.

4) Keep an extra outfit in the diaper bag.  Not for the baby; that goes without saying.  I am talking about YOU.  And as soon as you leave it in the trunk of your car someone else will drive.  And there is nothing worse than smelling like poop from a blowout diaper or like vomit from that one last burp at a fun party that you really don't want to leave because its the first one you've been to in weeks.  Wearing your old gym shirt is better.  I promise.

5) You do not need every dang gadget on the face of the planet. Baby manufacturers do not make products to make your life easier.  They exist for one purpose only: to separate you from your money.  Aside from the basics like a crib, carseat, and high chair, stuff that you do need you can probably borrow.  I have a swing up for grabs.  And let other people buy the toys.  If you have any surviving family members they will spoil the heck out of that kid.

6) Ask for help.  You can't possibly do all the laundry, make meals, take care of older kids, blah blah blah, and be superwoman.  Women before us had sisters, mothers, in laws, friends, etc to help them with new babies.  We as modern women need to learn to ask for help.  Chances are all of the above would LOVE a little face time with the new baby while you shower or would love to come over and bring you a lasagna and give a kissy and a snuggle to the bundle of joy.  The flip side of this one is that people are NOT allowed to come see the baby unless they do something for you, ie: bring food, clean something, baby sit, etc.  People will break your door down wanting to visit.  Put those visitors to work!  They probably don't mind and even if they do, that will just ensure they don't come back to bug you.

7)  They will not remember their first birthday.  Or Christmas.  Or Easter, or Valentine's Day, or Groundhog Day, or Arbor day.  Don't panic if you don't pull out all the stops for every holiday.  Sometimes you're just too tired, and that is okay.  A quiet little gathering at home with just you two or three is just fine.  No one will be disappointed.  Promise.  In ten years no one will even remember.

8) No one knows your baby better than you do.  Read all the books you want, listen to the doctors, listen to parents, friends, strangers, but follow your heart.  Your mother's intuition and what you feel is right for you and your baby is almost always the best answer.  I hesitate to say always for fear of the exception trolls, but in my experience, always. Parenting comes with some tough decisions: cosleeping, feeding, discipline, teaching, potty training... Others know what worked for them, what worked for the majority, or what works scientifically, but only you know what works for your family.  With that, ignore any conflicting advice, including the ones listed here as it applies.  Tell pushy advice givers that you will "take that under consideration" to get out of agreeing with them.

9) Your nursery does not need to look like it fell out of the pages of a magazine.  Buy stuff that you can second hand, so long as it is safe, in good condition, and not recalled or anything.  Not everything has to match or follow a theme (or even be gender appropriate colors).  It will be a whole lot easier to dress your baby in a fancy dress that will probably be pooped and spit up on inside of 5 minutes when you only paid $5 and not $50 for it.  It will stress you out much much less when something does get ruined.  Plus, other babies only stay in clothes for about 5 minutes, too, so many used clothes look brand new because they were only worn once!  And trust me, your son doesn't care that he is eating off of bunny rabbit plates and got dried off with a pink towel.  It will not scar him for life.

10) He/She is just a BABY.  Babies don't do naughty or annoying things on purpose.  They don't wait till you are eating to be hungry or wake up 6 times between 1 and 5 AM just to spite you.  It will feel like it.  But when you are at the end of your rope, take a break and tell yourself that he or she is just a helpless little one and that you mean everything to him or her, and that is why he or she wont sleep unless you are right there.  Remember how you looked forward to meeting him or her and relish the sweet moments where you are the center of his or her world.

Well, those are my top 10.  What is your advice for new moms/dads?

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