When you’re pregnant, people are filled with unsolicited advice for you: What you should eat. What you shouldn’t eat. How to sleep, how to exercise, how to tell what gender the baby is, how to do everything. And it doesn’t stop once the baby arrives. People love to offer their two cents, but I don’t recall receiving much advice that was actually helpful. In the least.

Here’s what I wish I’d been told ...

1. Breast may be best, but formula is fine too. I couldn’t breastfeed. I envisioned myself all earth mothery, hair flowing and child at the boob, but it just wasn’t meant to be. The first few weeks with Lily were heartbreaking and frustrating. People told me how to hold her, how to pump, and how to increase milk production. But, not once, did anybody tell me that it was OK to feed her formula. That she would still bond with me and that she would still thrive. Which she did.

2. Don’t rush home from the hospital. You have nurses waiting on you, room service, clean linens appearing without you ever having to load the washing machine ... enjoy it! Things won’t be the same at home.

3. It’s a baby, not an alien. In other words, don’t stress yourself out with fancy baby crap. I shopped around for changing tables for months. You want to know the only place all three of my children ever got changed? The kitchen counter. It’s the perfect height, requires no climbing up the stairs, and diapers easily fit in a drawer below. The fancy stuff is fun, but most times unnecessary.

4. Accept all babysitting offers. People love new babies and will be thrilled to hold your little one while you shower, cook a meal, or take a nap. Holding a newborn is a joy. A 2-year-old? Not so much. Take people up on their offers now, they have a very limited shelf life.

5. Point the penis down to prevent leaky boy diapers. (Why on earth doesn't anybody tell you this?)

6. Don’t buy infant clothes. You may not be able to resist a few pieces, but don’t go crazy. People will be giving you plenty and you will most likely just use the same few pieces right out of the dryer. And don’t take the tags off of anything until you absolutely need to. Before Lily came home from the hospital, I washed every item through 6 months and folded them in her drawers. She never wore three quarters of them and I couldn’t return or regift a thing.

7. Resist anything with a million snaps or buttons. As adorable as they may be, they’ll bring you to tears at three o’clock in the morning. Elasticized layettes will be your best friend for the first few weeks.

8. Keep an emergency diaper kit in the car. I remember showing up for our first pediatrician appointment with no diapers, no wipes, and no change of clothes. It takes getting used to schlepping around all of that crap, and newborn diaper blow-outs are inevitable. Be prepared.

{But when in doubt ...}

9. Ask for help. Once you’re a mom, you become a member of “the mom club.” We’ve all been there before -- I’m never ashamed to ask a stranger with kids if she can spare a few spare wipes should mine run out and am happy to give that crying kid at the park some goldfish. We’re all human, you know?

10.  Enjoy it. Not because it goes by so fast (and it does), but because as exhausted as you may be, the first few months are truly the easiest. If you should have another child, you will wonder why you thought a single newborn was so tough. But you’ll never believe it until you’re there.

 

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