So you got yerself knocked up and are about to have/have just had a brand new baby. Congratulations!
Chances are, you have been stretched six ways to Sunday in places you never knew were even malleable (or maybe not so malleable depending on how well that tailbone held up during the birthing process), and the realization that you are now responsible for a tiny human life has got your head hurting just as bad as your hoo hoo.
Relax, my sistas! I’m here for you with just a smidgen of my many pieces of advice for new parents. And you should definitely listen because I’m totally winning at parenting. Totally.
1. If there’s a keep-the-baby-in-the-nursery-overnight option once it’s born, take it. You’ll have plenty of nights to get no sleep while wearing puke-soaked pajamas and crying into your Lean Cuisines when you get home. For now, it’s best to hoard every last second of sleep you can get.
2. If that option doesn’t exist, make sure you know your baby’s name and gender when the nurse comes in at 3 a.m. to check up. It may seem like something impossible to forget, but you’d be surprised. You’d be very, very surprised.
3. Ask for that baby-rearing manual they give out at the hospital if you haven’t received one yet. Seriously, they legit provide a manual for how to take care of your kid in its first year of life. You’ll probably consult it two, maybe three times total, but there’s something comforting about knowing the answer to your question is but a page turn away. (And people said raising kids doesn’t come with instructions! Liars.)
4. Steal all the diapers, wipes, butt cream, formula, bullet proof menstrual pads, and netted granny panties in your hospital room each night before checking out. They’ll replenish your stash every day, and they have to ditch anything already opened once you leave (or maybe not, but it legitimizes the steal), so might as well stock up while you can. Besides, if you think about it, they’re practically begging you to take it, leaving it all unlocked in your room and stuff.
5. Come to terms with the fact that you are most certainly buckling your little one into the car seat all wrong. It’s unavoidable, no matter how hard you study the instructions or research proper car seating installation and use. Eventually, someone will point out that maybe that strap should go over baby’s legs instead of under, dontcha think? And you’ll feel a twinge of defensiveness before having an epiphany and beating yourself up for having subjected your baby to danger the past two months, and quite honestly, there’s a lifetime of parenting fails ahead to beat yourself up about, so it’s best to just drive extra carefully until the inevitable discovery of your error, to accept the possibility that other people might actually know what they’re talking about when it comes to seat belting, and then to get over the imminent danger you’ve been placing your infant in for weeks right away.
6. Tell people if they want to come over and oogle the baby, they’re going to also have to do a load of laundry or scrub the toilets. You’re not in hosting condition upon bringing a newborn home. If people ask to stop by, make it clear that you’d love their help when they do (and by “love their help,” you mean get off those asses and do something useful instead of comment on how big your cankles are and ask if you’ve told the doctor about those things yet). And if you need company, don’t feel bad about your leaky boobs and greasy hair. It’s par for the course.
7. Accept that you will cry over everything for the first couple weeks. The grocery store commercials, how cute your baby’s tiny bum is, your neglected nether regions. All of it. You’ll even find that your morning oatmeal vaguely resembles your Great Aunt Margaret whom you’ve mourned since her untimely death on that exhibitionist cruise for the elderly. It will all make you cry. And that’s normal.
8. Get thee to a doctor if the crying lasts more than a few weeks. If you find yourself crying about Great Aunt Margaret’s likeness in the spaghetti at the restaurant and the mud puddle in the driveway and the hand print on the glass door at the department store for a month or more, it’s time to call in back up. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. More people than you would guess see a mental health professional or take medication. You’ve got to get a grip if you’re going to take care of that little human at home (spoken from experience).
9. Know that you will sleep again. Maybe not in the next few years, but eventually. I promise.
10. Limit the spending on stretch mark oil and cellulite cream. If you’re going to splurge, do some research first and splurge on something somebody real actually thinks helps. But just know that there’s no way in hell you’ll get back the very same body you had before the leech (and I say that with the greatest of love) moved in and then abruptly back out. It’s OK. Really, it is. You’ll grow to love this new body (or at least admire its capabilities), stretch marks and all.
11. Don’t feel pressure to breastfeed or formula feed exclusively. Just because your mother says you should formula feed and the women in your new moms group say you should breastfeed does not mean you must do one or the other. Many healthy babies were exclusively breast fed, exclusively formula fed, or fed using a combination of both. Do what works best for you and your baby, and tell everyone else to sit on it and spin.
12. Feel free to to get a second or third or seventeenth opinion if something about your pediatrician’s doesn’t sit right. There is without question validity to the whole motherly instinct bit. Doctors, while highly educated and knowledgeable, only see your kid for 10 minutes per visit at best. You live with him. If what the doctor tells you is concerning, or if you don’t quite agree no matter how clearly you’ve attempted to voice your concerns, find someone who will listen. And don’t for one second feel bad about it. Doctors wear big boy and girl pants. They’ll get over it.
13. Start getting ready to leave the house at minimum two hours in advance of your estimated departure time. They’re tiny little things, but don’t let that fool you. Babies take enormous effort and a whole lotta shit to get out the door. A half day trip requires more crap for baby than a week in Vegas does for you.
14. Wrap your mind around doing things you never imagined you would. Things like removing a shit-covered onesie without getting it in baby’s eyes, nose, or mouth and wiping feces off your newly painted walls. I wish I were kidding.
15. Don’t get drunk. I’m absofuckinglutely serious. It might be tempting, especially if you score a babysitter for an adult night out, but I swear on Mother Mary’s holy vagina that you will never regret anything more in your life. Hangovers and babies do not mix. In fact, if there is a hell, I’d wager it involves being hungover whilst a baby shrieks next to your rotten soul for eternity. Unless you’ve got a sitter on lock for the entire weekend, designate a cutoff point and stick to it. I’m so for reals right now.
16. Ignore everyone’s advice. I know I just dropped a whole bunch of wisdom on your novice asses, but the truth is, only you know the best way to handle your business. People cannot wait to extol their parenting discoveries and successes, but in the end, you’re the one bringing up baby, and as such, you have to be the one to figure out the path that works for you. So good luck with that. You’ll get it. You really will.
Related post: The New Mom Misery