1. Read the books with caution--advice from my grandmother.
At first I was totally against the idea of reading a "How To" baby book, not because I didn't believe in their methods but because I am an A plus student. Tell me what to do and give me a procedure to follow? I'm going to obsessively follow that procedure and expect and demand the result you promise me. Like, I'm going to study this study guide, therefore I should make an A on the test. However, a baby, as my grandmother says "doesn't read the book" so it's like playing a game with another player who doesn't know the rules and is making them up as they go. Therefore, since my control freaked self knew that once I attached myself to a suggested baby approach and Charlotte didn't take to it, I would be a basket case. However, a very dear friend suggested to Forrest "The Contented Little Baby Book" and he bought it, unbeknownst to me. I refused to read it for the longest time but broke down on a plane last year and flipped through it. I actually really liked her ideas about the feeding and sleeping schedule and the nighttime routine. I then was determined to follow it to the letter (just like I thought I would) because it seemed like it would help me when I went back to work. As I suspected, the baby was the variable. Charlotte did NOT care to be woken up from sleeping, even when we had to because she was so tiny and was put on an every 3 hour feeding schedule by her doctor. I found that if I let her sleep as long as she wanted (which was typically just 30 min to an hour past the 3 hour mark during the night), she woke much happier and readier to eat. Otherwise I simply could not make her eat (except when we were having to syringe feed her) and then that waking would throw off the next feeding and sleeping cycle. Anyway, I say all this to simply state that the books are awesome guides and have great ideas but be prepared to modify their suggestions to fit your own parenting style/baby needs/mommy instincts. We have had great success with an established nighttime routine as suggested by the book and also with the "no chatting during night time feedings" approach so I'm glad I read the book. Also I would suggest to choose one approach and stick to it. You read so many things and they each say something slightly different which will make you nuts so just choose one and don't stray unless it doesn't work.
2. She will make you a better man--from our neighbor.
Of course this was specifically to Forrest but I think it applies to men and women. Charlotte has definitely made us "better people". I think now we think a little bit longer before we make a choice or a decision. It's easy to make decisions when you are an adult but sometimes you are selfish about them. Now, with every decision we make, we think "how will this affect Charlotte". I want to live and act and speak in ways that will not only be examples to her now, but make her proud in the future. Also, we have learned to live life a little slower. Sometimes I will just hold her and rock her for her entire nap. even though I have blog posts to write or dinner to cook or housework to do. I know that these moments are fleeting and so I try to let go of my typical hyper-scheduled day and just "be" with her. I have to admit that it's a much nicer and freer way of living.
On this day I held her for 2 hours while she napped. The book people probably would say that's a no no but I had either most of the week and missed her.
3. We are great at parenting our child yesterday--my friend Kristen
Kristen must have known that I needed to hear that statement when we ran into each other in the parking lot of the gym one day. It seems that just as soon as I figure Charlotte out, she changes on me and I have to figure it all out again. As you can tell from this post I am the kind that likes to know what to do at all times and that's just not the case when you have a baby. This goes back to number 2, being a better person as well. You have to slow down and stop trying to figure everything out all the time. Just be, and understand that no one ever has it all figured out all the time. It's ok to learn via trial and error!
Hating the pool because the water wasn't warm enough. We will know next time!
4. Mama says there will be days like this--my mama AND my sweet office manager Carol
Sometimes no matter what you do, a baby is going to have a bad day. Or a bad night of sleep. Or an upset tummy. Or they will want to be held by only you for the entire day AND night. You just have to go with it. Press reset and start afresh the next day. Usually whatever it is works itself out, whether it's a growth spurt or a fussy spell or just some weirdness that has taken over your baby for the day. You will survive. Just remember it won't ALWAYS be like this!
5. Don't be a martyr--my mom says this a lot
People LOVE babies and your friends and family love YOU!! When they offer to help they genuinely want to help you! You DON'T have to be super mom and do it all on your own. If someone offers to help you, LET THEM! Let your mom come over and fold your laundry or play with the baby while you take a shower and paint your nails. Let your friends feed you for a month after the baby is born. Let your sweet office staff who have been begging you to bring the baby to work look after the baby when you have to make an unexpected trip to court one afternoon. You don't have to do everything yourself all the time. They say it takes a village to raise a child and I am definitely blessed beyond measure in the village department. It is hard for me to give over control to someone else or to admit that I can't do everything but I think if I didn't have as many people to call on as I do I would be a straight basket case. There is a lot going on as a new mom and it's nice to have people helping you get through it!
My mom helping with Charlotte after she got her 2 month shots.
6. Take videos!--I forget but it was a smart person
Babies change every single day! You don't know when they will stop making raptor sounds in their sleep or trying to squish their entire fist in their mouths. Pictures aren't enough! Fire up that camera on your smart phone and take a couple videos of your baby doing things you think are silly and mundane because they won't do them for long!
Silly things for me to remember that might be helpful:
-don't let your baby sleep in the newborn napper part of the pack n play because it is super cozy and they will get addicted and then you have to make them sleep on the hard crib mattress and it will be no fun (we are doing this this week and two friends have said "Oh yeah I didn't put my baby in that so they would go in the crib with no trouble"--thanks guys--haha). Put baby on the flat part of pack n play or in the crib from day one!!
-You need lots of onesies and pajamas--not so many "going out outfits". Charlotte has a closet full of darling clothes and I have to wonder where I thought she was going in them. Now that she is older she goes more places and I dress her up but at home she likes to be comfy and wear pjs or cotton outfits. For newborns and younger babies, go easy on the fancy pants outfits! (My friend Lucy warned me of this!)
Ok now what advice did you all get as a new parent!!?? Comment below or on the link to the post!