In my twenty-four and a couple months of motherhood (three of those months with two kiddos), I have learned a few (read: a bazillion) things that I thought might be helpful to others. And since I have so many good friends that are going to be mommies soon, I thought I would jot some down. Learn from my anxieties and mistakes and be prepared to have/make your own. And I'm hoping that since I have so many awesome mommies that read this blog, they will add to it in the comments. And since I have both kids napping at the same time (an awesome feat), you will actually think I am some awesome parent and keep reading.
- Relax! I know, right? It is so easier to say on this end, but trust me, a relaxed mommy (and daddy) do really make for a much more chill kid. As adults we can totally sense the tenseness in the air, kids (and especially infants) can to. Very few things at this age can really mess up your kid and saddle you with psych bills down the road. A lot of parenting is trial-and-error and no matter how many books you read, every kid is different. I prayed for patience, wisdom, and more sleep daily for the first year or so of Travis's life. Cut yourself some slack and ....
- Seek Advice! It totally takes a village to raise a kid. Definitely ask your parents (if they remember) about certain things, but remember that times have totally changed since we were little. I relied on my friends who had little ones a ton. I joined a group at church when T was about 4 months old and they truly became my lifeline. When all of our kids were little, we would just lay them in a big ol' circle and chat. Just realizing that you are not the only one whose kid (insert whatever here: no sleeping, poopy blowouts, crying for 2 hours every night) always made whatever bummer phase you were in more tolerable and seeing that so-and-so did that for a while but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Also, be on the look out for "experts" in your circle of friends. I'm a bit of a lactivist - ask me questions about boobs, breastfeeding, nursing in public, and I can usually answer it or find someone who can, but ask me about baby sleep habits, and I'm no good - I literally read every sleep book out there with T, but it is still a bit of a mystery.
- Be Informed! Take classes beforehand. Childbirth, labor, baby basics, infant cpr, breastfeeding, etc. Go out to eat before or after (dinner dates will never quite be the same!), The classes are great for education but also for encouraging dialogue between you and your spouse. When it comes to childbirth regardless of whether you want a c-section or a vaginal delivery, just be informed. As I traveled on my VBAC journey, I realized that there is just so much more that I didn't even know. Ask your friends about their labors and births - seek out your hippie friends (who tend to be much more well versed in the subject). Even though I am a happy epidural-getter, I was still able to use natural birthing techniques to get me as far along as possible to lower my chances at a c-section.
- Remember Phases! A lot of times babies are rocking along and everything is great and then literally overnight something switches. Go back and read about Travis's sleep revolts at 15 weeks. Can you even imagine what all is going on in their little bodies? Talk about sensory overload every day. Remember that there are growth spurts and developmental milestones that jack with any similance of a routine that you might have thought you had. It happens. Nothing you can do to change it so you might as just roll with it. Embrace it and remember that "this too shall pass" and seriously they will be off to kindergarten in no time. The newborn phase (eat, sleep, poop, cry, cry, cry) is so riduculously short in the grand scheme so just try to soak it in and enjoy those middle of the night feedings.
- Buy Gender Neutral! Especially if you are having a girl. We have been so blessed to have gotten to use a ton of T's stuff for M. Plus it is easy to put a girl in a blue bouncy seat but so much harder to put a boy in a pink one.
- Love! Love on baby and love on their daddy. It is so easy to get bogged down in taking care of a newborn that you forget to nurture the relationship with your hubby. Enjoy a kiss or have a family dance around the living room to calm the baby. Baby loves the warmth of group hugs plus daddy feels like he is special too. Remember how you made that baby in the first place. ;)
- Document! Take pictures even if you are a crappy photographer. Hire a professional (and not a shameless plug!) if you need to. Start a blog - I have loved going back and reading about what Travis was doing at Maryn's age. So fun to go back and look at their growth. I did the monthly pics in the rocking chair. A friend took one pic of her son every day during his first year on their bed and then made the sweetest video of them. There are lots of cute ideas out there. They change so stinking much that first year - do something to help you remember!