I was thinking this morning about the things I would love to tell new moms and moms-to-be. But my mind quickly rushed back to those never-ending, unsolicited words of advice, and I thought maybe I should keep my own trap shut. But then, I thought, maybe, instead of saying "you should do this," I'd say "here's what I'm glad I did," and "here's what I wish I'd done differently." Everyone has a system that works for them. My system may not work for you, but I thought I'd share what did work for me, and hopefully some of it will help you to build your own experience in a way that works for you.
So, here we go.
I'm so glad I...
1. Didn't buy a travel system. I read so many reviews about how bulky and heavy they were, and in my opinion they just looked like a pain in the butt. My solution was to register for two strollers. The first was these awesome snap-and-go strollers that fit my carseat right into it. It's super lightweight, and is easy to open and close. It was perfect for the mall and other shopping trips.
The second was a jogging stroller, for walks around the neighborhood, at the park, and on rougher terrain. It's heavier, so not as good for shopping trips, but also allows for the carseat to snap into it, and now Molly can ride in it like a big girl.
It may seem like overkill, but it cost less than the travel system, and I didn't have to deal with the bulk which was great, especially after having a c-section.
2. Used Craiglist and Freecycle! Baby stuff is so expensive, and while I really wanted Molly to only have sparkling new items, it just wasn't realistic. The swing we registered for was $170. I found one in awesome condition, only used for 4 months on Craigslist for $40. With a good cleaning, it was ready to go.
3. Speaking of swings....I'm SO happy we got a swing. When we didn't receive one at the shower, I asked my girlfriends if it was really necessary, and the answer was a unanimous "YES!" And it really was. From the start, the swing was a great place to set Molly down, and it ended up being her napping spot and where she went to sleep at night before putting her to bed. For us, the swing was so necessary that I insisted on having one when we traveled to our parents' houses for Christmas as well.
4. Transitioned Molly into her crib early. This is 110% a "do what feels right to you" thing. We moved her into her crib at 3 weeks. She was a heck of a noisy sleeper. The pack and play was wonderful, but we needed to get our sleep too, so at 3 weeks we made the transition. I truly feel that the transition went as smoothly as it did because we did it early. She wasn't old enough to know any different, and I think we all started sleeping better. But again, this is an incredibly personal decision.
5. Asked family and friends to wait a few days before staying overnight with us when we came home from the hospital. We had lots of visitors at the hospital, and I knew we'd have guests in and out when we got home. We asked for a few days without overnight guests, so we could get our feet on the ground as our new little family. And, let's be honest, your body goes through a lot of, mostly disgusting, changes after childbirth and as a private person, I was happy to not have to worry about living behind a lot of closed doors those first few days.
I wish I had...
1. Had professional pictures taken. Yes, a nice photographer will come to your hospital room and take pictures for you and then offer to give you a DVD of said pictures for a whopping $125 dollars (for 25-ish pictures). As much as we loved the pictures we were not about to spend that much money for 25 pictures of us set up on a hospital bed, and being a photographer, I figured I could just take some pictures myself. But, I had a C-section. I was up all night with feedings. I was trying to balance my new life. I was just plain tired. I think I finally took pictures around 4 or 5 weeks, just as Molly's baby acne kicked into high gear. And I don't have any of the two of us. I very much regret not having someone who is familiar with newborn photography come to our home and take some pictures of those incredibly new and precious first few weeks.
2. Registered for or cared more about the things Molly would need as she got older. You get SO many newborn clothes, towels, washcloths, and blankets. But you don't realize really how quickly you'll be needing the sippy cups, spoons, light up toys, and the all-mighty exersaucer. Having a baby that plays may seem like light years away but believe me, it literally happens in the blink of an eye.
3. Prepped more freezer meals. We had INCREDIBLY generous friends and family. We had more food than we could have dreamed of for a good 4 weeks. It was awesome. But then it ran out. And I know that eventually it had to run out, but had I just taken one Sunday afternoon and prepared a few meals myself, we would have been set for a few more days, and as any new mom knows, extra time in those first few weeks (ok, extra time at anytime) is a heck of a blessing.
4. Started pumping earlier. When you take three months off of work for maternity leave it seems like such a long time. You figure you have plenty of time to build a nice stash of frozen breastmilk before returning to work. But the weeks literally fly by, and before you know it, you're packing up the first daycare bag, and if you haven't planned well, you only have enough milk ready to go for a day or two. I think I started pumping around 8 or 9 weeks. While I don't think I would have given her a bottle any earlier than that, I didn't realize that it really takes a few weeks to get into the habit of pumping, and for your supply to build. Had I started pumping 2-3 weeks earlier, I think I would have had a bit less stress about my supply after I returned to work.
5. Brought the right clothes to the hospital (for Molly, not me). I'm laughing, but I'm also serious! Molly was born in September. I packed her pants, and a t-shirt. No onesie, no long sleeves, no socks, no hat, no blanket. Wow, I felt dumb. Of course it was like 50 degrees that day too..a chilly fall day. I have to laugh because it is a classic first-time mom error, but next time, my newborn will have warm tootsies on the ride home. :)
So, take it or leave it, these are my thoughts. Of course, I have about 1000 more, but I'll spare your eyes. I know I said I wouldn't give advice, but I do have one piece - go with your gut and enjoy every second. Everyone tells you what you need to do, and in the end, you know your baby better than anyone else on the planet. Mommy/Daddy instinct is usually right on, so do what works for you. And have fun doing it, because, for me anyway, this is the single best thing I've ever done.