Two pink lines on a stick and suddenly your a parent. Your world was changed with one trip to the toilet and now what are you supposed to do next [besides laugh and cry -at the same time- and eat all the chocolate]?
I’d say the number one thing that I’m guilty of [the obnoxious guilty, not the pleasurable guilty] is unsolicited advice. I’m loyal and helpful by nature, so I’m inclined to tell you every single thing that I’ve found helpful in my own experiences, thinking it will help you skip a few steps of work or struggle. Truth is, nobody wants advice that isn’t asked for. When I’m finally asked, I find myself making lists of books, products, people and other resources and having “help vomit” [too much help] on the poor soul who was brave enough to ask. So, instead of waiting to be asked, I thought I would organize my thoughts into a space where someone can find them, should they seek answers. Plus, sometimes it’s easier to ask the internet’s advice then another person’s.
Here are 10 little pieces of advice, surrounding pregnancy and motherhood, that I’ve found helpful through experience or have learned about from other mothers.
One of the first things you should do, right off the bat, is set expectations… with EVERYONE. Don’t be scared to hurt feelings, because in the end, if you don’t stay true to your needs, you’ll be the one who ends up hurt. Tell your mother, your in-laws, your husband, sister and closest friends the guidelines when it comes to YOU raising YOUR children. This can be that you aren’t having visitors at the hospital, asking your sister to be at your birth, letting grandparents know that baby won’t be sleeping any where but at home, asking friends to visit at least once a week, that you need your mom to have a crib at her house, if you want all gifts to be in the form of college tuition, what kind of milk and food you want your child to consume… anything. Be gentle and kind, remember they’re excited too, but if you’re clear now then there’s less room for friction later. Continue to share your needs as you learn them as well.
Start looking for a photographer. I saw an example the other day, comparing a photographer to toilet paper. You wouldn’t suggest “just going with the cheapest TP”, why treat your memories any different? There are so many different styles and options available in the form of photographers; but whoever it is, you’re putting them in charge of your memories, for [potentially] YEARS to come, so, don’t wait until the last minute and make a choice under pressure. Things to consider having photographed are: pregnancy announcement, gender reveal, maternity photos, your baby’s birth, hospital pictures, newborn pictures, a baby session, baptism or dedication and first birthday photos. If you find the right person early, they can help you find a photographer specific to each of your needs, most will be able to do it all and some may even bundle up all of your needs into a special rate.
To find your photographer, start by googling the service you need in the town you need it [e.g. Warren Ohio birth photographer] Also, shameless plug here.
YES, you do need that ridiculous maternity pillow. The one that wraps all the way around your body and cradles every bump and pain and fills every gap. Invest in that right now, do not wait.
Check out this one.
Birth classes are great, but in reality your body and your doctor/midwife with help you know what to do. If you’re going to invest in any kind of class, a baby sleep training class is where your money should go [all the moneys, because sleep is priceless]. Every single baby is different and ANY other mother that you know will give you all of the sleep advice [likely unsolicited] and it will all be different and possibly NONE of it could work for you. I can’t tell you how many Facebook posts I see from new moms asking for tips on how to get their baby to sleep or how they can survive sleep regressions [<- a very real thing!]. Take the class.
Find a mom-mentor or a solid group of mom-friends. They will be who you send pictures of blow outs to, text at 3 am and say that “thing” to [the thing that you shouldn’t say out loud about your kids because you love them]. Dad is great. He such a helpful husband and father, there for anything that you need and loving you all better than you ever imagined possible. But he doesn’t know, he just doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to talk to other mom strangers, join women’s groups like yoga, book clubs or bible studies, get on Instagram and stalk a young mom, reach out to your friend you haven’t spoken to in a while because she’s tied up with her own children and you didn’t get it before, but now you do. These people will be your sanity on your hardest days, your hope on your loneliest days and your laughter when it felt like you were drowning. It’s difficult to find your people, but when you find them, you’ll know and you need to hold on tight to them.
Don’t ask for advice. You know better than anyone what your baby needs. I know that you feel like you have NO clue what you’re doing and you’re wondering why babies don’t come with manuals, but trust me friend, your instinct will kick in. Most questions will be nursing, sleep and health related. If your planing on feeding your baby breast milk [pumping, nursing or both] seek out a professional lactation consultant. If you deliver at a hospital you’ll have access to their lactation services, but can be sought out locally as well. If you took the sleep class I mentioned before, then you literally do have a manual- go read it. If it’s serious, ask your doctor or pediatrician. Call the nurses line at midnight if you need to; Facebook doesn’t know if you should take your baby to the urgent care. If your asking emotionally based questions [like going from a crib to a toddler bed] you likely know the answers, you just aren’t ready to accept them. Definitely talk to your mom community about your worries and your wo’s, just remember, mother knows best!
Do noooot wait until 30 or more weeks in your pregnancy to work on home projects. First, you could have a baby in a few weeks. Second, when you start nesting you won’t want to wait on big projects to be completed; pregnant ladies and patience aren’t something that go together. If you need to change the design of a room, replace carpet, paint, etc. do that early on so that when nesting hits after 30 weeks, you can be a diligent little worker bee, organizing and cleaning ALL.THE.THINGS. Those last 10 weeks fly by [except at night; at night you’ll be miserable and awake and counting seconds].
Competition is real, y'all. You know that mom group I mentioned before? They’re fantastic! BUT they can also be daunting. Try not to compare yourself and your children to them and theirs; easier said than done. Their baby might hit every milestone a month “early” and your’s two months “late”. They are called averages for a reason and by kindergarten, they’re pretty much on the same level anyways. My best friend’s daughter and my oldest are 9 weeks apart. It was so helpful, amazing, wonderful and beautiful navigating pregnancy and motherhood along side someone, but it was SO hard not to compare. Comparison steals joy. Instead of celebrating that my child could count to 20, I questioned why she couldn’t count to 30. Don’t compete, celebrate! A lot of motherhood will be a head game; kindness, positivity and love go so much further than jealousy and comparison.
Pray. If you’ve been wanting to be more diligent in your prayer life, there won’t be any better time than your first months in motherhood. Children are a gift from God, but they are also little buggers that know how to hit every nerve, even at days old. You’ll be brought to your knees an unfathomable amount of times, let them see it and then give it to God.
Kids are expensive and you’ve got to set a clear budget. Sit down and crunch numbers with your partner, don’t go crazy cutting out expenses, though. Think of your individual needs as well as your family needs. I’ll never forget when my husband when back to work after each baby, it felt like my world, as I knew it, was shredded into smithereens, while his happily went back to normal. Keep your self care, do your nails, go to Zumba, book the massage, join the club. Whatever it is that fills your cup, figure it out now and hold onto it after you become a mom.
I wished I’d had some of these little snippets of knowledge 5 years ago. It’s overwhelming to filter through all of the tips and tricks that are being thrown at you during this season of life. If this little post can help you, great, if not, leave it right where you found it. Basically, you do you, boo! If you put God, your partnership, your children and yourself above all else you will succeed. You can’t go wrong when you’re just trying to do what’s best for you and your little fam.
Best of luck on your new adventure, Mama.