Monday, July 30, 2012

Mommy Mondays: What I'd Do Differently

This weekend, we took a trip south to visit our dear friends in Norfolk, who recently had their second baby boy. We're not sure if we'll get to see them again before we move, and I couldn't leave the country without meeting Baby Rhys, who is perfect and adorable and astonishingly tiny. (It's amazing how quickly one forgets what a one-week-old looks like.) On Saturday, the women gathered at a friend's house for a baby shower, while the men looked after the older kids (sorry about that, John). One advantage of having a shower post-birth is there are no annoying games involving balloons or diapers. Instead we sat around and drank sangria and talked about - what else? - kids.

It's a cliche, but it's true. Get a bunch of moms together in a room and they will inevitably talk about their children, even on the rare occasion they get to be without them. It's the one thing we all have in common, no matter where we're from or what we do. (I think there was only one poor soul at the party who didn't have kids, but she listened to us talk about breastfeeding and pacifiers and blow-outs like a saint.) It was funny hearing all the different opinions on things, but one thing we all agreed on was that my friend should NOT wake her baby up every two and a half hours at night to feed him, despite what the pediatrician said. As a first time mom, I did everything I was told by people who knew more on the subject of raising a human than me (i.e., everybody). Next time around, there are a few things I'd do differently.

#1 Buy a swing: How did I not have one of these with Jack? Every time we went to a friend's house who had one, I would marvel out how well their babies (and Jack) napped in the damn thing. Why didn't I buy myself one? The world may never know. I will not make that mistake again.

Baby Rhys napping like a champ - IN HIS SWING!
#2 Don't allow breastfeeding to rule my life: Like my friend, I was worried about Jack's weight loss as an infant. Like my friend, I was told to wake him up every two hours to feed him, even at night. Of course, ask any mother and they will tell you the same thing: never wake a sleeping baby! Unless they have health issues to begin with, they're probably not going to starve themselves. Ice packs on a naked infant in December are a bad idea, no matter what some 20-year-old RN tells you. Also, don't pump unless you need to. Otherwise you'll end up with over-supply issues and want to kill yourself.

#3 Take help wherever I can get it: I was always reluctant to take friends up on babysitting offers. After all, I did want to remain friends with them. But next time, if a friend wants to make me lasagna or watch Jack for a couple hours while I do pretty much anything, I'll know not to turn them down. Friends, you have been warned.

#4 Join a mom's group ASAP: I waited until Jack was six months old to join a mom's group. I wish I'd done it sooner. I made a few great friends that way, and it got my out of the house far more often. At the same time, don't think you have to be friends with someone just because you both gave birth. It may be enough common ground for a baby shower; it's not always a basis for a friendship.

#5 Don't compare myself to everyone: This is a life lesson for me, not just a mom lesson. Every kid is different, every mom is different. Find what works for you and try not to worry so much about everyone else.

#6 Stop obsessing over the damn pacifier: The kid will probably give it up when he's ready. Even if you have to take it from him, you'll both survive. Either way, your children will inherit your overbite, so let it go.

#7 Travel as much as possible before the baby can walk: We actually did a good job of this (20 flights in one year), but I wish we'd done even more traveling when Jack was tiny. It was so much easier then. Sigh.

#8 Get an Ergo: Unless you're a man, the Bjorn sucks. If baby number 2 is anything like baby number 1, you'll just end up carrying him like a sack of potatoes half the time. It's not pretty. Spend the money.

#9 If I'm going to work from home, get a nanny: I think this one is pretty self explanatory, which is why it's kind of troubling that I didn't figure it out sooner. No one will be happy if you half-ass everything, most especially you.

#10 Trust my instincts: Jack is still alive and well. I am still alive and well. I must have done something right.


What about you? Anything you would do (or did do) differently with number two?


Emily R. King said...

I'm with you on the swing. Each baby I've had there's been more and more great baby gear to buy. A Bumbo seat is worth the investment. And get the tray, too. I love it!

Beyza said...

Love this! Keep the mommy tips coming! I did register for a swing, although one that doesn't appear as tricked out as the one in your pic. Now I'm reconsidering...

Shauna said...

I remember the swing with my nieces, worked like a charm everytime. You are such a great mom Mara!! Love you

Erin Kent said...

What a great post and conversation starter, Mara! I think a theme I'm picking up on is letting go a lot more... mostly of the anxiety, worry, and self-blame. We did have a swing we borrowed from a friend, and it was great! One thing I'd do differently would be to accept as many hand-me-downs as possible. I did do this with G, but I could have done it more. And stop obsessing too much over having everything palatable to my 30-something adult taste. The more plastic (and bright) it is, the likely more fantastic to the little, you know? And I totally agree on the prioritizing sleep. Those babies, they're smart beings, and they will wake up when ready to eat (and thus be more motivated and thus eat more efficiently!). Mostly, I'd be kinder and gentler with... myself.

Peggy Eddleman said...

I wish I had learned most of those things before I had my last!

And that swing-- if they made adult ones, I'd totally be sleeping there, too. :)

Mara Rae said...

thanks for the comments everyone :) glad we have a swing consensus! erin kent - i'm totally with you on the kid taste vs mommy taste. i don't like garish toys. sadly, jack does :P beyza, i will give you more tips, i promise! i had you in mind when i wrote this post!

Angela Cothran said...

I just skipped the Bjorn and got a hiking back pack. Those things are the BEST!!! The weight rests on your hips so you can pack a baby for hours.

Anonymous said...

Great points! I especially love the travelling one, but can't do a thing about it now as I have three kids. It's a little late now. I think what I've changed (or at least trying to change) is not stressing out so much.

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

My kids never actually liked the swing. They liked those vibrating chairs. :)
This is a great post. I think #10 is the most important! You will find conflicting advice on pretty much every child/baby related issue out there. Go with your gut! No one knows your kid like you do.