Now that it’s halfway through my baby’s 4th month alive on this planet, I think I have as coherent list of advice as anyone can who chases around an active infant. It’s always important to impart whatever wisdom you have on others, a nice way to pay it forward. Everyone is so willing to give advice, and let’s be honest, most of the time you never asked or wanted it. Sometimes you’re lucky and you think back to it and go “oh well that was great advice” in a non-sarcastic manner. I’ll be honest though, most of the time you won’t be that lucky. A lot of what I’m going to say here, I have written before. But I think that my advice was so awesome, that I should reshare it. That, and I’m way too tired/lazy to go back and see it as I’m sure you are. Or maybe you’re new here, and you’re in for a treat. A treat of some sort, anyways.
- A Deer in headlights looking at the parenting section. I can recall staring at the pregnancy section of Barnes & Noble, wondering which book on breast-feeding I wanted to get. Wanted? More like needed. (More on this topic later.) Books are terrible when it comes to pregnancy, breastfeeding, and child rearing. I actually think they’re scamming new parents half the time. Sure, they are great when it comes to the changes in your body or what to expect in scientific scenarios. They don’t capture the emotions or the possibility of other scenarios you’re going to need to adjust to. Any book on these topics are a fantastic starting point. I say starting point because they don’t discuss any variables, just the way things are in normal circumstances, but how many live through normal circumstances. None of my pregnancy books had the information to prepare me on an induction, but thank goodness for free information on the internet that seems it’s only there to make you more terrified about an already terrifying situation. So, books are good if you’re new to the game in general and great for tidbits of knowledge like the fetal development and such. Terrible on everything else.
- What To Expect When You’re Not Expecting It. My first pregnancy was perfectly storybook, well in terms of its progression, not anything else about it. I gave birth right down to my exact due date. The second one? Entirely different. I gained a lot of weight, I gained it quicker, and I was nearly 2 weeks past my due date. You can compile all the knowledge you think you need, then you can compile all the information on top of that you think you also should get. I’ll give you a great word of advice: All that knowledge can only go so far, because you really can’t prepare yourself fully for any of it. It’s like a crash course, only if you fail, you take little unknowing children down with you. This is one class you really can’t afford to fail. The best thing you can do is realize that you’re not going to get what you expect to. Plans change, and we need to adjust. And in this case, always prepare yourself for the worst case scenario. It can mentally prepare you in case you’re faced with it.
- Great Expectations and Failures. Never ever let someone make you feel guilty because your plans failed. You want to go in for natural child-birth, and 4 hours later you beg for an epidural after all. You plan and study on how to breastfeed, but for whatever reason things didn’t fall into place for this. People will probably judge you for this, I’m not going to lie. I’ve even experienced this as a second time mom. It’s your job to readjust your plans however you think you need to and be strong enough to stand up for that. I planned to breastfeed, and my son just couldn’t do it. He even had problems latching onto the bottle. It wasn’t in the cards for me to nurse, but my husband felt very strongly about his children getting the best. He bought me the best pump he could afford to buy me, and I learned to grow accustomed to feeling like a milk cow. People said “you just didn’t try hard enough” or made me feel like they thought that because I couldn’t nurse my son, that I couldn’t bond with them. (More on this topic later.) My adjustment made me no less of a mother than a person feeding their child formula or having an epidural. Everyone is different, and children are born into all of these scenarios and come out perfectly fine. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty, life is all about changing plans and adapting to your situations.
- The Great Mother/Child Bond. People say that nursing and skin to skin contact is the best way to form a bond with your child that is everlasting. I think that’s a lie. You’re child will bond with you because it can sense your love and it trusts you to take care of it. Your family and friends mean well giving out this advice, but not everyone’s comfortable with the idea of putting a naked baby skin to skin with you. I wasn’t comfortable about this, and my children are doing very well. Babies know who loves them and knows who takes care of them. That’s all a baby really needs to bond with you. Every time you feed it, while you stare into each others eyes, you are bonding. Every time you smile at each other, you’re bonding.
- The Gut. My final piece of advice is simple: You know. As a mother, you might be completely lost your first time. People have asked me “how do you know if ___?” My answer is always the same: You know. Your instinct will be the #1 tool in your arsenal, followed only by patience and the ability to work under very stressful situations. You can sense when you’re child is in pain, you know when they’re hungry, and you’ll definitely know when they need to be changed. Babies are simple beings, but they know exactly how to tell you what they want. Likewise, you’ll get a nice gut feeling that you need to learn to follow. A mother always knows, sometimes even more than the doctors and other professionals do.
Keep all that in mind. All the books in the world won’t be able to help you, neither will all the advice. Sometimes you just have to accept that things won’t go as planned or as expected and you need to learn that it’s completely ok. All that matters is you raise your child to be a great person and an incredible addition to this world.