A beginner mom writing a beginner's guide to having a baby. There's an extreme amount of irony in this statement, but I told myself I would write a post like this when Lola was nearing her six month birthday. I am absolutely NO expert, and you may take some of this advice and tuck it far away in your brain or make some sort of use out of it for your future or now. Either way, all of these little quirks have worked for Ryan and I as new parents. And I'm sure at some point in my life I'll be happy I jotted all this down myself for future reference.
Keep in mind that you're going to try and try so many different things, but sometimes you just have to resort to what works best for you. I can't tell you how many times I stayed up hours on end searching for answers on the internet and in books. NOTHING prepares you for having a baby. The funny thing for me was that I spent zero time searching when I was pregnant. I knew being a parent was going to be life changing, but silly me didn't think it was going to be life altering. It's defintetly everything you don't expect and expect it to be. If that makes any sense? Just stick to your gut and your heart and they will lead your way. It's okay to adventure all your resources, but don't make it an obsession. The magical part of parenting is that the answers will come if you wait patiently enough.
Having a routine of any sort not only makes your life easier, but it makes your baby's life ten times easier. Think about how you started your day "pre-baby." Maybe with a cup of coffee? Or a nice shower to really freshen your whole day. And let's say you kept those morning rituals for an extended amount of time. Those "little things" become a form of comfort and you start to associate mornings with them. Guess what? Babies find so much comfort in balance and routines. Ryan and I started Lola on a bedtime routine when she was probably 3 weeks old. I know I know that sounds bananas, but the in the beginning it was more about forming a new habit for us as adults then it was for her. Every single night since then we have done what we call "Bath, Feed, Read." Around 7ish every evening we get her bath ready and warm and lather her in yummy baby soap. We let her relax in there for a bit, then start warming her bottle. We always put her in feetie jammies because she has hated blanket since she was a newborn (no swaddling allowed for this girly). We pamper her with lavender lotion and zip her up. We switch off feeding her most nights and then after a few earth shaking burps she's ready for her bedtime story. At this point she's either really really into the book or exhausted and ready for bed. She sleeps on her own in her crib every night for 11-12 hours straight. An occasional short wake up here and there for her pacifier, but that's it. So yes we believe in routine, and if you start early enough the baby will adapt to it much easier.
Be prepared. I have lived my entire life forgetting until I had Lola. Constantly leaving things at home when I need them or leaving useful and potentially worthy items in public places. I will never forget Lola's 1 month doctors appointment. We got into the check up room and the nurse instructed me to undress Lola. As I did, Lola started peeing all over the table and then of course pooping. Then to my surprise as I'm rolling up the dirty diaper she begins to pee once more! All over the table (again) and all over her precious (and I mean precious) outfit. The reason it was so precious was the simple fact that I had not ONE item of clothing for her to wear after her first one had been drenched. This resulted in her looking like a Greek goddess in a receiving blanket and diaper all the way home. Never again. I always make a mental checklist right before I even come close to the door. My diaper bag is stocked with plenty of diapers and even back up diapers, wipes, mini baby powder and diaper rash ointment, extra pacifiers, pacifier clip, EXTRA CLOTHES and pants for cold situations, bibs, at least one light blanket, and on the go formula and a bottle, and jar baby food. Anything else is just miscellaneous, like teethers and little softies of our choice. I now never leave the house unless I know we have all the goodies we need, it has even helped my terrible forgetfulness trait. Don't sweat it though, you're going to forget little things here and there and that's okay. That's the fun in being a new parent, the learning process.
Accept that you're not perfect. Easier said than done am I right? I went through so much more in Lola's first week of life than I have ever went through mentally in my whole life. From the minute I found I was pregnant I knew I was going to breast feed. There was no question about it. Never did I consider the struggles of breast feeding. Lola wouldn't latch, we tried and we tried. The doctors made a lot of excuses as to why it was such a struggle for her, and I tried to make myself feel better with their words, but I beat myself up. I felt like I failed her as her mother and I know thousands of you have felt like this before. Mommy guilt is such a horrible thing. I spent the next few weeks pumping for her because I was so very determined, but I lost myself. I recorded every pump session that I did and became so overwhelmed by perfecting it that I felt like even LESS of a mother and more of a milking machine. I felt like I just kept losing myself in this breast feeding business that I lost such a precious portion of Lola's life. Breast feeding is definitely not for everybody and I stand by that. The day I let go of breast feeding and pumping altogether, I held Lola in my arms and finally felt like I was doing the right thing. I kept striving to perfect something that was right in front of my face all along. I didn't have to be perfect to be her mommy, I just had to be me. So don't get wrapped up in anything that you feel from the beginning isn't right for the way YOU want to parent. Don't try to obsess over it and perfect it because your baby is a human just like you and nobody's life is perfect. If you constantly strive for perfection you will never reach it. Just be you and be the mommy that you want to be and don't overwhelm yourself with perfection.
Let loose. I saved the most important quirk for last. I know us as parents want our kids to succeed and to do everything "just right." We want our kids to be the best version of themselves that they can be and I know some of us can get caught in the control trap. We want things to be step after step after step because we as adults see it that way. Kids and babies do not. They like to skip steps here and there and they like to see what happens when they do something out of the ordinary. It can become frustrating, but you just have to let loose and be patient. If you child wants to take a few more minutes to smell the sunflowers let them and join in too. If your child wants to dip their fingers in paint instead of the paint brush, let them. There is a place for rules and I'm not saying that you should always let them get away with everything, but there's a balance aspect of parenting. Us as parents could learn a lot from our kids. The patience and focus that they have when learning something new or discovering something different. Learn with them, discover with them, and be patient with them most importantly. Their little minds are expanding and you as their parent need to let that happen instead of constantly glueing yourself to this imaginary set of rules. Instead of always leaning on controlling a situation, strive to just be.