I've been thinking about motherhood a lot lately. I know that might sound obvious since I'm on mat leave with an eight-and-a-half-month-old. But in a broader sense.
Pregnant women are nothing if not completely bombarded with unsolicited advice. This isn't new; it's just the way it is. Some bits of wisdom that are passed on to you are absolute, others might leave you rolling your eyes.
I'm a first timer, so I'm not even going to pretend to be an expert. Becoming a mother has been the most educational time of my life — I not only learn something new every day, but pretty much every minute. Here are some things that I was told beforehand or just picked up along the way.
My 10 oh-so-wise-after-eight-months-of-motherhood tips:
* Get a good camera and learn how to use it. I did Part A, but have still failed to do Part B. Technically, our Nikon D60 was a wedding gift, so I'm embarrassed to admit that I've been shooting on "auto" for two and a half years already. In the most basic setting, it still takes great photos of Jacob, but if I put it a little bit of effort, I'm sure they'd be even better.
* Buy teethers, baby Advil and natural remedies in advance. It's just easier. Sure, you won't need these things for months, but when you do, you won't want to run out to the store or try to decide what you need. We like the baby Advil more than the baby Tylenol, and we've also used Camilia and Nuby Nibblers stuffed with frozen fruit to help with sore gummers.
* Try not to drive yourself crazy when your baby is inevitably overdue. Oh, to have one of those blissfully quiet days back to sleep in, read books, watch trash TV and eat anything I want. I absolutely did not appreciate those extra 10 days to their fullest; I was too busy walking back and forth through Sunnyside Mall, willing my water to break or contractions to start. Fool.
* Do tons of fun stuff with your husband. Once the baby is born and you become a family of three, it'll be harder to find the time and energy to have date nights, or hell ... even the desire to stay up an extra half hour to watch TV together. Go out, do stuff, make the most of your couple time because it'll likely be a couple decades before you get to spend day-in and day-out as a twosome (not that that's a bad thing).
* Don't buy miscellaneous baby stuff. Sure, you think you need it or want it, but you don't really know until you've got a pile of crap in the closet that you wish you'd saved your money on. Yes, it's fun to buy a few outfits for your little one, especially if you know the sex, but you are getting and will continue to get presents and hand-me-downs. And I'm not just talking clothes. You don't know if your baby will be interested in soothers or bottles (ours wasn't), so you really only need one of each to try at first. Oh, and the toys. You might as well start mentally preparing yourself now for the hoards of stuff that will be coming into your home after your baby's first Christmas/Hanukkah/Ayyam-i-ha/etc.
* Expect to encounter competitive moms (and to maybe-sorta-kinda become one, too). No one wants to admit it, but we all secretly — or not-so-secretly in some cases — want to know about other babies and how they compare to our own. Is he bigger/taller? Does he sit/stand as well? How old was he when he reached this/that milestone? It's only natural to want to make sure your baby is thriving with the best of them.
* Get out. Seriously. Don't sit at home. When my Mum came for the week after Jacob was born, we went shopping and out to lunch on an almost-daily basis and it was great. I quickly became a pro at maneuvering the car seat and organizing the diaper bag, so when she was gone, I was totally comfortable going out and about on my own with the baby. Even now, eight months later, the dude and I like to get out of the house several times a week, if not daily.
* Never wake a sleeping baby. For Jacob, it wasn't because he'd be cranky or cry if we woke him, it was the fact that he'd then be awake. If this sounds insensitive to you, then you don't have children. Cherish the time they are asleep to do whatever you want — sleep, eat, tidy the house, oh and don't forget to shower.
* Turn off the monitor. This tip comes to you from lovely friend K who kicked my butt and told me to turn the monitor the-eff off when we were sleep training our boy. We customized the whole cry-it-out method so we were comfortable with it, but that didn't change the fact that seeing him cry or fuss on the screen of our video monitor was torture. Foolish, foolish parents.
* Write things down. I have a Google Doc on which I write the details of Jacob's life — later to be properly scrapbooked, of course. Well, that doc is horribly out of date. Every day something happens and I think, I should write that down. But every day life inevitably gets in the way and I forget. Next time, I think I'll try to take a consistent photo on each month "birthday" to show the baby's growth, like this. I know I have those monthly photos of J, but they are so disorganized I don't even want to think about sorting them out of the thousands of photos just yet.
Can somebody remind me to return to this post when I get pregnant for bebe no. 2?