1. Do not attempt to cut your newborn's finger nails in the hospital. I don't care how careful you are, those fingernails are still fused to their skin and they're all soft from swimming in baby hot-tub land for 9 months. Just don't do it. Trust me. You might end up cutting your baby's precious little finger and making him bleed, thus causing you to think you are the worst mother in the world when your baby is a whopping 48 hours old. Not a good combo when your hormones are already wacko.
2. Never ever think to yourself that you are going to "just run in and run out" of a store with a child, and leave the diaper bag in the car. Kids plan for this opportunity. They see you leave that bag in the car and not fifteen minutes later, unload three days worth of digested baby food and all that milk you worked so hard to produce...not just in their diaper, but their leg, carseat, and all over you too! No, instead of leaving the diaper bag, take it. And a change of clothes for you too while your'e at it. (I'm only partially kidding on that last part.)
3. Always accept the generosity of others when it comes to food. If someone offers to put a meal schedule together for you, by all means, accept it! I know some moms who turn it down because the think they can handle it on their own, or they don't want to burden others. Yes, you can always buy out the frozen pizza section at the grocery store, or become a regular at Chipotle, but that kind of adds up fast along with all those new baby items. It is SO nice to have dinners taken care of for a while. Plus, you get the added bonus of having some other adult social interaction without even leaving the house! Easy peasy with websites like www.foodtidings.com.
4. I am ashamed to admit this one is from personal experience. Always double check that your baby is safely and correctly buckled in before you leave. In those early days with Joseph (this poor kid gets all the stories) I probably forgot to buckle him in three times. You know, you take them into the store in their carseat because they're asleep, and you unbuckle them to change their diaper, and then you forget to re-buckle them, and just toss the seat in the car. Then you get home and realize you made that whole trip without baby buckled in...just tape a flourescent pink sticky note next to your odometer..."BUCKLE BABY".
5. Keep the numbers to your pediatrician, the Poison Control Center, Ask-A-Nurse, and any other medical specialists in your cell phone and on your fridge. You won't want to take the time to look them up if you need them in a hurry.
6. The BEST thing I did before Michael was born was beginning a weekly play group at my house. Every Wednesday at 9:00, some combination of six women and ten children show up to play! Somehow between the cracker messes on the floor, teaching our kids to take turns with toys, trying to drink our coffee before it gets cold, and yelling across the room to try and finish a thought, we have forged a tight bond as mothers on this journey together. It is chaos, to be sure, but I find that Joseph has really learned better behavior around other children because of this group. It's such a blessing to be able to discuss the struggles and triumphs of day-to-day life as a mother and wife. I look forward to it every week. Even if it's you and one other mom, do something for yourself on a regular basis WITH OTHER WOMEN. It's truly a God-send.
7. I will tell you so you're not disappointed later...baby poop stains like nothing else. But, as it turns out, you can launder the garment like usual, and then lay it out in the sun to soak up some rays. I've got it on good authority that this does the trick! Never tried it, but it's worth a shot.
8. If you're not a person who makes a "spot" for things, you'll want to start that habit with important baby things. Nothing's more frustrating than trying to find an extra pacifier at two in the morning. For all these important things, start designating areas and spaces that you put things back EVERY time. This will save you sanity and marital fighting. :)
9. If you thought pregnancy hormones were crazy, just wait for postpartum! No, this is not the "new you"...it's you running on no sleep with pain in strange new places all over your body and a drastic shift of hormones. Have patience with yourself, and if you feel as though you might be suffering from postpartum depression, don't hesitate to ask for help. My friend Jenny writes about this at length in her blog.
I asked a group of friends to send me their thoughts on keeping life as peaceful as possible with a newborn...here's what they've added to my thoughts:
- Just don't have unrealistic expectations. You are learning so many new things about your baby and your baby is figuring out things too. Don't be afraid to ask for help or advice. Everyone says it, but nap
when the baby naps. You will be so glad you did! Try to stay in contact with friends and family. They will be your best source of encouragement and support.
- Take a shower at night - it's calm, it's peaceful and there will be someone there to give you a break.
- Don't feel bad about "being bored." Being at home with a newborn is hard because they don't do much but it also doesn't seem like you can get much done. GO PLACES! Don't worry about napping in a crib or a schedule (for that kind of stuff). Enjoy being able to go places with a little baby who is immobile. Walk, shop, sit in a coffee shop. :)
- Be proud of being a mom - it's the hardest job on earth!
- Just enjoy it! You will love that little baby more than you could have ever dreamed of!
- use a fan for noise in your room so you can sleep amidst all the gurgles and snorts, and in their room later to drown out other house noises.
- if you have guests (family or otherwise) coming to see the baby, keep visits short and prefer to wait at least 10 days if possible. If guests are coming they should be helping you - cooking, cleaning, etc, so that you can focus on nursing and resting. Guests who aren't helpful should stay in a hotel!!!
- give yourself 6 weeks before you expect anything of yourself (like cooking a nice dinner or keeping the house clean) or the baby (what is their personality?!!?)
- This website is so fantastic for any postpartum issues/anxiety/depression, etc. www.postpartumprogress.org
- lots of wine. and one night out per week for mommy. mandatory.
- Use disposable tableware for a few weeks - the lack of dishes will be a nice perk.