Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Unsolicited Advice (Sorry, Amy)

My friend Amy is in her third trimester and the poor dear keeps getting tons of unsolicited advice from me. Amy, I'm so sorry. It's just that I've been on this baby island alone for so long, I feel the need to impart my wisdom anywhere and everywhere I can.

So when I came across this post by Laura at My Thoughts - Uninterrupted, I just had to share. Her insights are spot on. I will, however, add the following...

1) No stage lasts forever. I know it feels like you will never sleep again and the baby will never, ever stop fussing. But trust me, they grow out of it. Even Will, who was seriously sleep challenged and unbelievably colicky, has transformed into an excellent sleeper with a sweet and silly disposition. So do the best you can to weather each storm as it comes. This too shall pass.

2) Breastfeeding is hard. This was easily the most shocking part of new motherhood for me. Breastfeeding is really hard! No one old me that my nipples would be so sore that it would hurt to wear a bra, or that without the right latch they would crack and bleed, or that nursing could take up to an hour. I wholeheartedly believe in breastfeeding. In fact, I wish Will and I could have done it longer. But if you want to breastfeed, make sure you have a ton of support - from your partner, your friends, a lactation consultant, a local La Leche League group, wherever. Just get people behind you that are sympathetic to the challenges and want you to succeed.

3) Sleep when the baby sleeps. This is way easier said than done, I know, but seriously. You need to sleep when the baby sleeps. At least in the beginning. Laundry and dishes and vacuuming can wait. Just lay down in your bed when the baby is sleeping. Even if you're reading a magazine or watching TV. Just physically lay down and let yourself rest. The baby will be up at 3:00 AM before you know it, and you'll be glad you took moments to rest during the day.

4) Join a group for new moms. For the same reason you need breastfeeding support, you also need new mom support. And while your friends with kids know what you're going through, it's super important to make friends who are actually going through it with you. I attended a moms club at a local hospital after Will was born. Not only did it give me somewhere to be during the week (bonus!), but it also allowed me to make friends with moms who had kids around Will's age. Because though your friend/sister/cousin/co-worker with kids gets it, you need people in your life who are actually living the same stage as you.

5) It's OK to need a breather. At the height of Will's colic our pediatrician told me, "Babies don't cry to death. When it's getting to be too much, it's OK to put him down and take a breather." I only had to do this once, but it was nice to know that it was an option. When you can't take it anymore, put the baby somewhere safe (crib, bassinet, pack and play, etc) and take 5 minutes to just breathe. The baby will be fine while you pull yourself together. Cry, blast music on your iPod, take a quick shower, whatever. Just know it's OK to need a break, even if that means the baby cries (safely) for a few minutes.

6) Don't get obsessed with developmental milestones. I read the following by an early-childhood education expert... "Children are like popcorn. They all pop, just at different times." Every kid is unique. An average is an average because there are kids on both sides of the spectrum. I actually got rid of my What To Expect the First Year book. Will was often late on many of their milestone dates, which led me to panic about his development. Yes, you need to be aware of where your child is so you can intervene early if there are problems. And yes, you should discuss your concerns with your pediatrician. But don't freak if your kid doesn't meet milestones exactly when the book says they will. You know your child better than a book. Let them develop at their own pace.

That's my two cents. How 'bout it mamas? Any other recommendations you'd like to share?

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