Elsa at two months
I have these ideas, these thoughts, and I imagine that I may save you the same trouble I experienced as a new mother. Believe it or not, I wrote this post 20 February 2009! I finished all but the last tip and never posted it. So the original content is regular font and any corrections/additions I've made in February 2010 appear in italics.
Besides the obvious things that people will tell you, here are a few things that I learned that you might consider as you become a parent.
- Have help at home with you the first few weeks. I have no idea how single parents manage an infant completely by themselves. Elsa and I were simply blessed by the presence of her father and my spouse, Ian. He did more than fifty percent of the work and let me rest and recover from my c-section. He went without sleep more than I did and still takes on bottle sterilization duty. His excellent help made the whole first few frazzled weeks of motherhood seem not so terrible at all. Really.
- Rent a breast pump before spending hundreds of dollars to own one of your own. You may think you can breastfeed or that pumping is something you can do, or that you will produce enough milk to make pumping worth the effort, but you cannot know that the first few weeks. Rent at least two months before you make the plunge.
- Go ergonomic with as many items as possible. For example, when we picked out the rear-facing baby carrier that latches into our stroller, we had no idea how difficult carrying the thing around would be by it's UN-ergonomic handle. Ugh.
- Skip the baby manicure sets. The small nail clippers are bulkier than adult sized ones and are difficult to maneuver. They are also, generally speaking, cheaply manufactured, and thus, inferior to adult ones, as well. Before I "graduated" to adult sized nail clippers, I used cuticle scissors to trim Elsa's nails.
- Don't bother with a monitor. Okay, if you live in a McMansion, maybe you ought to have one. We live in a ranch home, all one level. When I left the monitor on I heard her every noise and it disturbed my sleep. You need your sleep. It should not be disturbed. We realized that when she cried loudly, we heard it through her closed door. Spend your money on something else.
- That advice they give you called "Sleep when baby sleeps," is a load of hoo-haa. If you sleep when your baby sleeps, then how does the laundry get done? Who washes and sterilizes the bottles? Who pumps your milk while you sleep? Sure, if you have a nanny and a cook and a maid, you can sleep while the baby sleeps. Otherwise, if you're just a plain old person without all those extra helpers in your house, then you're screwed.
- Shower as often as possible. It was the only activity that refreshed me and made me feel as though I was almost human. The first week or two sometimes I'd skip a shower for 2 or 3 days because sleep was more important to me than cleanliness. But once I developed a regular routine of showering, it was therapeutic.
- Become financially sound while you're thinking about getting pregnant. I never thought I'd want to stay home with my child. I love working and having that professional identity. My husband expected me to return to work after I depleted my leave time. When my four months was up, I wasn't ready. Getting a taste of being home all day did nothing for my morale. I loathed being apart from Elsa. And I still feel as though I miss out on so much everyday that she spends with my mother. I had to go back to work because we use every dollar in our two-income household.
- Quality shoes are expensive and worth every dime. Once Elsa started walking, the shoes that fit her best were between $20-40 a pair. I know, that's so much; it seems a ridiculous amount for a baby/toddler. But when we bought $8 shoes at discount retailers they never fit her feet correctly and their soles were hard and inflexible which made walking in them tough for a beginner.