While many around the world wait with bated breath for the tweet announcing the birth of the newest little prince or princess, I thought I'd share with you the advice I handed off to a soon-to-be mama, who is the soon-to-be wife of a good friend of mine.
They announced the pregnancy in June, and immediately the advice began to flow. As the blogger at littlemisswife.com she asked if, I (a mama with 15 years of parenting under my Caesarean scar), would consider imparting some of my own wisdom (using that word cautiously here) with her. Here's an adapted version of I told her. Maybe the Duchess of Cambridge will find some of this helpful, too.
Oh, baby! The things people will tell expectant and new parents!
There are two groups of women who are thrilled to regale you with the stories of their pregnancies: Those who will tell you how absolutely perfect their pregnancies were, making you feel like an abject failure if you so much as have a twinge of nausea or admit to feeling tired, and the ones who feel obligated to tell you how utterly ill they were for months on end and then share the horror story of their nightmarish delivery.
I am neither of those.
I did not have a perfect pregnancy. I lived on watermelon, peaches, popsicles and Rice Krispies for the first three months, moved on to Burger King Big Kings (it was 1997) for a while and then settled on my spaghetti (preferably my mother-in-law's) for the home stretch.
I couldn't stand the smell of ground beef, coffee or garlic. I was exhausted. When I was seven months pregnant and Boxing Day shopping, people were asking me why I was out in the crowds so close to my due date. By eight months, I couldn't fit behind the steering wheel. I needed help putting on shoes. My B-cup boobs swelled to a DD.
I gave up my midwives for an OB-GYN and had a C-section. Breastfeeding was an epic fail. I sat for hours with either a baby or an electric breast pump attached to me. On our first night home, my parents and in-laws came over and watched my hapless husband trying to rig up a feeding tube in a tiny bottle of formula and my finger, so our daughter would still taste skin when she ate, thus avoiding "nipple confusion." It was the first and last time I saw those four very different people seemingly in complete agreement: "We had the two stupidest children ever, and now they've reproduced."
No, I am not one of those women who should tell you how to conduct your pregnancy or your parenting. I am going to, anyway.With thanks to my sister-in-law for much of this fantastic advice, which I used myself and have dispensed many times.
Some days you'll feel fantastic. Others, you'll feel like you've been dragged by a dozen horses. It's all part of the magic, so roll with it. When I was in my first trimester and threw up constantly, my doctor soothed me with these words: "You'll get your appetite back when you need it. Don't freak out. You'll be fine." I was, and you will be, too.
Get a really good quality cocoa butter for your boobs, belly and butt. You'll thank me later.
Get a doctor or midwife you trust.
Stay as active as you can, for as long as you can.
Breastfeeding is your choice, and your choice alone. If you want to try it, great. If you don't, that's fine, too. If you try it and something seems off, get formula, a bottle and feed the baby.
You are not a horrible parent if your baby uses a pacifier.
You are not a horrible parent if you put your child to sleep in his or her own room.
You are not a horrible parent if you choose to have the baby sleep in your room - or your bed.
You are not a horrible parent if you rock your baby to sleep.
You are not a horrible parent if you let your baby "cry it out."
You are not a horrible parent if you use a baby swing or playpen to keep your baby safe for 10 minutes while you shower and pee in peace.
Get up every day, shower, put on make-up and get out of the house, even if it's just to walk around a park or a mall.
Do not (and I cannot emphasize this enough) obsess over every ounce (or gram) your baby loses in those early days. When our daughter was born, she was 8 lbs., 1 oz. When she came home, she weighed 7 lbs, 4 oz. Every day the midwives came to check on her, they would weigh her. One day she'd be up an ounce or two, another she'd be down. At one point, they were concerned she was failing to thrive. My sister-in-law (a nurse) took control of things, called our doctor and got us in for a checkup. "Is she peeing every day?" he asked. Yep. "Pooping?" Most days. Bottom line - babies gain and lose on their on schedule and a weight loss (or gain) is the difference between a full bladder and a clean diaper.
Socialize your baby. The more people you see, the better they adapt to the world around them.
Believe it or not, germs are your baby's friend. To a certain extent, anyway, provided your baby is otherwise healthy.
Daycare is not necessarily a bad thing.
Talk to your baby, now and later. We used to talk and sing songs to our daughter while we did chores. I believe it accounts for her vocabulary today.
Most important: Expect to make mistakes, because you will make them. Forgive yourself and have fun.