Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advice for New Moms: JourneyChic

Back again with yet another fantastic guest post in the Advice for New Moms series. Today I'm thrilled to have Laura of JourneyChic, who welcomed her first son into the world back in, I can't believe how time flies! I feel like I was just reading about her being pregnant! In any case, Laura has (unsurprisingly) some incredibly smart thoughts on decking out the nursery, delivery and parenting generally.

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As a new mom of a 4.5 month old son, I've really enjoyed reading all of the other guest posts in this series because I'm still figuring out what the heck to do with my getting-bigger-every-day bundle of love. It's hard to believe there was a time when I didn't think I ever wanted kids! Averill, I'm so happy for you! Here are some words of wisdom and products that we can't live without in our home.

All That Stuff!

For such small people, babies sure do require a lot of things - but probably not as much as you think. Before starting a registry I sent an email to all of my mom friends asking about the products they can't live without as well as the ones that were a total waste of money. As you think about what to buy for your baby, consider this:

Will it only be useful for this child, or will it last long enough to keep for future babies? Keep this in mind when buying furniture and other pricier items. Keep these pieces gender-neutral so you can re-purpose them for baby #2.

Does it fit your house? If you are fortunate to have a large home, or at least one with a finished basement, this isn't an issue. Since we don't, we looked for space-saving toys like this frog jumper, a high chair that attaches to one of our kitchen chairs, and a changing pad that fits on top of the nursery's dresser.

Does it fit YOU? Averill addressed this issue last week when she talked about a changing table that was comfortable for her tall height. At 5'1", I have the opposite problem. I also have a bad back, so when looking for baby carriers, I focused on those that had lumbar support. Even the infant car seat had to be light enough for me to carry (a moot point now, since my baby's so heavy already that I can't carry him in his seat anymore!).

Are you buying this because the baby will like it, or because you like it? Newborns love things that are high-contrast: black/white, yellow/red, etc.. Neutral colors that look good in your living room may not be the most entertaining things for your child. I made this mistake with our bouncer (in the picture). Although it does the job very well, it's pretty boring for our boy.

What we bought and love:

Baby Einstein Around The World Play Gym: My son has loved this from the moment we put him on it when he was just a few weeks old. The globe at the top of the arches lights up and plays music, and he loves staring at it. I hung additional toys using plastic links so he can have even more things to grab, although the variety of toys in this gym is much better than others I've seen. This thing allows me to eat breakfast on the weekends.

Winkel: This toy has a small rattle in the middle, but mostly my son loves to grab all the loops, which are small enough for his hands to easily wrap around. It's one of the first toys that he held onto, and now when he sees it his legs start kicking!

Freddie The Firefly: This colorful bug has crinkly wings that my kiddo loves to grab.

Sassy MOD Pop Bouncer (aka "the monkey seat"): Although this bouncer is a bit too bland to offer lots of good times for baby, it allowed me to take showers while I was on maternity leave - I just popped baby in the seat on the bathroom floor with his firefly toy and prayed he'd amuse himself long enough so I could shave my pits.

"What To Expect: The First Year": I didn't read the pregnancy version of this book (actually, I really didn't read much of anything while I was preggo), but this book is written in an easy, casual manner and provides lots of interesting developmental information.

Due Date!

Sorry ladies, your due date is a bunch of crap. Babies come on their own schedule, so unless you have a planned c-section, you won't know when that person will decide to make his way into the world. And even when he does decide, your body may not cooperate. My suggestions:

Be flexible. Your birth plan is just that - a plan. It may not be reality. With a June 28 due date, I fully expected to spend my Independence Day sipping a long-awaited margarita in one hand while rocking my newborn with the other. He had other plans, and was ultimately evicted ten days after I thought for sure he'd arrive.

Do what's best for your baby. You may not want a c-section (I didn't), but that may be the best way get your baby out safely. If you are comfortable with your doctor and have trusted him/her so far, make sure you think very carefully about what they're suggesting and be sure to...

Ask a lot of questions about what to expect both before and after your baby arrives. Don't forget that you not only have to deal with all the contractions and other madness that leads up to your baby showing his face, you also have to handle what happens to your body after the fact. For example, I had no idea that I would experience such severe shaking after my c-section that I would hardly be able to hold my son. Shaking is very common, but that wasn't thoroughly explained to me.

{Laura's baby boy nursery}

What Now?

Every baby is different. This isn't news, but it's worth repeating. Each child grows differently in both mind and body, and while comparing notes with fellow moms is tempting (and we all do it), don't let another child's development make you think something is horribly wrong with your own wee one.

Your parental choices are yours to make. For personal, non-health reasons I chose to formula-feed my son from the get-go, and it's the single best decision I've made so far. Some moms may be horrified by this, and that's fine because I know that my choice is not adversely affecting my son. Whatever decisions you make - whether they be what to feed your baby or whether or not to go back to work - odds are that your kid is going to turn out just fine in the end. And everyone else should mind their own beeswax.

There's nothing more stressful/wonderful than being a parent. People who think that having a baby will fix their relationship problems clearly don't yet have children. Nothing is more of test of your relationships (mostly your marriage, but your friendships and family relationships as well). The sound of your baby crying will bore a hole in your brain. When you finally see that first smile, you'll be able tolerate that hole much better.

Give yourself time. All my mom friends told me that six weeks makes a huge difference. I didn't really understand what that meant until it happened. Suddenly he started sleeping better, didn't cry quite as much, and shortly graced us with his first grin. Those first six weeks were incredibly difficult. Fatigue + hormones = madness. Slowly, I started to feel like myself again.

It's not possible to be Super Mom; baby will think you're a super mom no matter what. Note that I am writing this to reaffirm this message to myself. It's hard advice to accept.

Giving birth is truly a miracle. It's amazing to watch my son become more and more aware of his world each day. His new favorite thing to do is touching people's faces. Although this means that my hair gets pulled out of my scalp and my glasses constantly have tiny fingerprints on them, I love his little way of showing affection and exploring his world.

At the end of the day, it won't matter whether you have all the "right" things in your house or the nursery decorated to perfection; all he will want to do is stare at you, and all you'll want to do is stare at him. Enjoy this special, crazy time!


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Christy said...

Such great advice - all of it! The best part of it is all the fact that you will be supermom in the eyes of our baby! It's quite simply THE BEST!!!

Couture Carrie said...

Fabulous post, darling!
Will share this one with my sister, who is expecting!


Jenn P. said...

Excellent post from an excellent mother!!

Laura@JourneyChic said...

Thanks for having me! It was actually quite therapeutic to sit back and think about what I've learned in this short amount of time. This week the boy has discovered the pleasures of shrieking and screeching. Bad for my ears, good for language development. Fun things like that make the fatigue momentarily disappear!

Sarah said...

Great post, Laura! I literally just sent Averill my text for next week and realized I wrote some of the same things (my little one is 3 months)! Congrats on your baby boy!!! Being a mother is indescribable, I love it!! Thanks for reaffirming for me that I'm a good mom no matter what:)

Sarah said...

PS. Beautiful nursery! LOVE those framed flash alphabet cards!

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