For a while now I’ve been jotting down things that I really didn’t know or didn’t expect as a first-time parent. This blog post has basically been two years in the making and I’ve slowly added to it. Now seven weeks into life with another newborn, I decided it was time to share.
Zippers are your friend! Don’t buy anything with snaps. It’s cute, but you’ll hate yourself as you snap them wrong multiple times in a row. If you MUST buy something with snaps (because it’s just too cute), only put the baby in that outfit during the day. Zippers only for overnight. I promise, snaps will be harder than that college calculus course you got a D in at 4am. Of note, my husband could not do the snaps in a dim room without his contacts in so he was always looking for his glasses and eventually I stopped putting Ben in anything with snaps at night.
Whatever thing you were obsessed with during pregnancy probably won’t matter. I went through a whole thing where I scoured the internet looking for the perfect thing for Ben to wear home from the hospital. I don’t remember what he wore home from the hospital. Literally zero memory of it. It didn’t matter. I know what Colette wore home but again, it didn’t matter. I have one picture and it wasn’t even a good one.
Whatever your Amazon budget is for after you get home, triple it. There’s stuff you just didn’t know you needed. Breast pads! More nursing bras! High waisted compression leggings! More bassinet sheets because omg do they always spit up this much? More burp clothes because why the hell did we think a pack of 6 was enough?!
Winging it is fine. For three weeks of Ben’s newborn life, he cried hysterically every night from 2-4am. The only thing that calmed him down? Baths. So we did 3am baths for a good long while. Everyone is winging it. You’re winging it. It’s fine.
The amazing baby product that works for everyone might not work for you. I didn’t love nursing with the boppy. Ben was too small. I wound up buying the My Brest Friend nursing pillow (see Amazon budget above) and it worked so much better for us. Some people swear by the Mama Roo. Some babies hate them. Unfortunately this is a lot of trial and error with your specific baby. But I assure you, something you bought you’ll wind up not liking or it just won’t work for you and your baby and that’s okay.
You might not be as tired as everyone says. I was really ready for the sleep deprivation to kill me. I love sleep. I’ve always been a good sleeper. Yes, there were a handful of nights that we were both nodding off with a baby that wouldn’t stop crying. But it was a handful of nights. It wasn’t months on end of misery. We were mostly okay and it wasn’t as bad as many people said. Maybe this was just because our expectations were super low? We’re now on newborn round two and I still feel the same way. I’m a little tired but it’s nothing a few cups of coffee won’t fix.
Do not go all-in on one brand of bottles and accessories. We got the Avent bottles, breastmilk storage bags, steam sanitizer, and bottle warmer. Guess what? Avent bottles made our kid super gassy and uncomfortable. We wound up with Dr. Browns. Sure, most of the accessories still worked with the Dr. Browns but we should have just bought a few of each kind of bottle and tested them out. Luckily Babylist now offers something like this – a bottle sample kit so you can figure out what works for you.
You might be more (or less) confident in parenthood than you expect. I’ve never called the pediatrician’s office with questions or concerns. I’ve taken Ben’s temperature maybe five times ever. I haven’t read a single parenting book (probably not something to brag about but whatever). Parenting and being a Mom felt intuitive for me and that’s okay! No one said it was possible to feel this way. I was worried that by not being worried that I was actually doing something wrong. A lot of people told me I’d call the doctor for every little thing or be scared all the time but I just never was. You might be the person who calls the pediatrician ten times in the first week. You might take your kids temperature daily and read every parenting book you can get your hands on. All okay things! Trust your gut.
Emotions aren’t standard. I definitely instantly loved Ben but also felt like I didn’t know him at all. Just because a baby came out of your body doesn’t mean it’ll feel like you’re one being or you have some innate way of knowing them. I love him so much more now than I did then because I feel like I know him. He feels more a part of me now. Colette is just now waking up to the world and spending more time alert and engaged. I don’t feel like I know her super well yet but I know from having Ben that it will come with time and I’m excited for all the fun to come.
Do you have anything to add to this list? I’m sure every parent does – something about this experience is bound to take you by surprise!