When I had my first baby, I had no flipping idea what I was doing. Figuring out diapering and just being responsible for someone other than myself were real challenges. By the time the third one comes around though, diapering is old hat, and I’ve realized that I don’t have to do everything “What to Expect the First Year” says. I can make my own decisions about parenting, and even if someone else does it a different way, that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.
Here is a list of things I wish someone had told me when I getting ready to become a mother for the first time:
- Parenting is hard. Really hard. But you can do it! A lot of times, you have to do things you don’t want to do. You are the one to make tough decisions for your kid. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart (or stomach!). You can and will do it. Why? Love, that’s why.
- It’s OK to be a bitch sometimes. Your baby relies on you to stand up for her when it comes to her physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. If a stranger wants to give her a squeeze during cold and flu season, it’s okay to say no. It’s okay to make people wash their hands before touching your baby. Stand up for your baby, even if it’s uncomfortable.
- You can’t take everyone’s advice. Everyone has their own opinion on how to raise children. It would be impossible to apply every piece of advice you get because much of it is conflicting.
- You know your baby and what’s best for him better than anyone else, including your mother, random strangers and well-meaning relatives. You have the power to make decisions for him, and what you say is of supreme importance to his life. Have confidence in your role as parent.
- All kids are different. Even if another kid is the same age as yours, that doesn’t mean that they “should” be doing the same things. Try not to compare your child to other people’s children or to her own siblings. One of my kids crawled at 6 months, one at 7 months, and one at 11 months. They are all perfectly normal, healthy children. They are just all different.
- You’ll have a whole new respect for your own mother. Your mom cleaned poo off the back of your neck when you blasted out in the middle of the night. When you’re doing it for your child, remember that she did that for you because she still loves you as much as you love your little bundle.
- Breastfed baby poo smells like biscuits. Yes, really. A baby who is exclusively breastfed does not make stinky poo. My husband thinks it smells like buttered popcorn. Sometimes it smells like your prenatal vitamin(which you should still be taking if you’re nursing!). Whichever, the point is – it does not stink. And while we’re on the subject of breastfeeding…
- Breastfeeding is tricky… at first. It feels super weird the first few times. It’s not something that just comes naturally to everyone, but don’t give up. It takes a couple of weeks, but once you get the hang of it, it’s an awesome bonding thing, knowing that your child truly needs you just to eat. Having a little life look you straight in the eye as they take nourishment directly from the source… amazing. You’ll see.
- There’s no “right” way to parent. You breastfeed? Good job! Your kid ate today! You formula feed? Good job! Your kid ate today! Take care of your kid’s needs, and don’t worry about a specific style, schedule, whatever. Do what’s best for you and your baby, and don’t apologize for it.
- Be prepared for the LOVE EXPLOSION! My good friends Mike & Mandy get credit for coining that term, but it’s the best description I’ve ever heard. When you’re in the delivery room, you won’t believe the crazy incredible love you feel for this tiny person you just met. It’s like your heart is instantly bigger and can hold so much more love for your newborn baby.