Thursday, January 24, 2008

Parenting Advice -- Notes from the Trenches

Way back when, when Mr. Daddy and I were just newlyweds, Mr. Daddy worked with a guy named Matt. Matt was nice and we all hung out for a while. But Matt was single and we were a couple and it went as those things usually do -- we eventually parted ways. Occasionally we'd still run into him in town, but then we moved to my home town and we lost touch completely.

Fast forward to 5 years later. Mr. Daddy and I had moved to Savannah. And one night, while cruising the aisles of Publix, who should I run into but Matt! And his wife! In Savannah!

As it turned out, they lived in Savannah too. We all met for dinner and got to know Erica and we liked her. We all had a lot in common and it was almost like they were our other half. We became very good friends and hung out together quite a bit.

Even after Bubba came along, it didn't really affect our relationship. They both love kids (Matt especially) and would have had one of their own right away, but he wanted to finish his degree and Erica was just beginning her career, so they weren't really ready.

And then we moved up here. And unfortunately, while absence does make the heart grow fonder the logistics of maintaining a long distance relationship are a bitch. We usually try to see them if we're in Savannah, but we don't get down there that much anymore.

And now, after two heartbreaking miscarriages, they are expecting their first child in June. A girl. And we're going to Savannah next weekend!

Last night Mr. Daddy was talking to Matt about our upcoming trip. Matt asked if he had any words of advice. Mr. Daddy said, "Dude, there's nothing I can say that will prepare you. It will be like nothing you've experienced before." Which is definitely true.

But I did have something I wanted to pass along -- something I wish somebody had said to me. "Matt," I said, "the most important thing you can do is to trust your instincts. You will know your baby. You will know what to do. Don't let yourself get freaked out by all the books you'll read. Trust your gut."

And I didn't say this, but I wish I had -- Do what works for your family. Don't let someone tell you that x is right or wrong or make you feel bad about a choice you've made. Having a baby is hard and if you've found something that works for you and makes your life a little easier, then I say go for it.

Before we see Matt and Erica next weekend, I'd like to put together a little book -- a book of real parenting advice from those of us who've been there. In the trenches, so to speak.

If you'd like to share some advice, I'll include it in the book too. And remember guys, they're newbies, so don't scare them!


Flea said...

Along the lines of your advice, I'd say that pediatricians change their minds every six months. Go with your gut there, too. Do what makes sense and don't let the doctor scare you every time you go in.

There's a great book, but it's out of print, called The Mother's Almanac. It can still be found on Very earthy and practical. Probably much like the advice you'd give them. It was the best baby gift I got and I used it with all three kids.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

Off the top of my head:

Don't waste your money on cute, complicated baby clothes. Anything you can manage to get on and off in the dark of night, and don't mind shit stains on it, is what you should purchase. Also? If the clothes have snaps, make sure they're in the front and not on the back. Nothing like waking a sleeping baby by having to flip it over to snap their clothes shut.

Stock up on several crib sheets. Diapers do leak and you will be changing them a LOT (the sheets and the diapers). Or at least some kind of protective buffer between the infant and the sheet.

Before the baby is born, in addition to your newborn size diapers, purchase a couple of size one's just in case your infant is HUGE so you don't have to stop at the store on the way home from labor and delivery (wow. sounds like I did that...oh yeah, I did!)

Don't let anyone tell you that you'll spoil a newborn by picking her/him up every time they cry. Newborns need a lot of snuggling and it makes them feel safe. Your job is to meet their needs. Meet them.

Tootsie Farklepants said...


Don't waste your money on a Diaper Genie. Get all dirty diapers as far away from the inside of your house as quickly as possible. They're a little like a litter-box in that as soon as there's "something" in it, it's noticeable to anyone who enters your home.

If you have a two-story home, invest in (or borrow) TWO bassinets. Convenient for when you need to put the baby down no matter where you are in the house.

Karen said...

Dont' be afraid of "spoiling" the baby. Love the baby stage and enjoy it for all it's worth. They stop snuggling too quickly.

And as everyone said, trust your gut. Parents know their own child better than any other parent, better than the grandparents, and better than any medical staff out there.

Don't be afraid to accept help, and get a sitter every now and then for a break. It's not a bad thing.

AndreAnna said...

Don't buy more than two fancy baby outfits. You want to be comfortable. So does your baby. Buy lots of onesies and sweat/lounge pants.

Pampers Swaddlers are the best diapers for newborns. Never had a leak. And when they're old enough, Higgies Overnights (start at size 3) are the best for long nights. Never ever ever leak.

There will be days when you want to run out into traffic. This is normal. Call another parent to commiserate.

Every runny nose or slight fever does not require a trip to the doctor or antibiotics. Call if you need to feel better. Otherwise, a little extra water/juice, love, and some tylenol is usually all you need to get through. trust your instincts.

Don't buy any baby books. Talk to real parents you repect.

Your mother in law can suck it.

Burt's Bees buttermilk baby products are expensive as hell. but THE BEST thing for a baby with dry skin. The bodywash and lotion are so gentle and mild, they can help keep baby moisturized and happy - without added fragrances and stuff.

Once the baby is old enough, motrin works better than tylenol for teething.

Get a babysitter. Go on dates. Let your baby learn to trust the care of others and feel safe knowing you will return. It is a gift you can give your child.

You can't spoil a newborn. Ever.

Above all else, every baby is different. Do what is best for you and yours. Everyone else can lick a lamp.

Lauren said...

I remember at the baby showers I had for Ladybug the most common advice I got was that "you can never have too many onsies!" was true too!

However the advice you mentioned-trust your instincts is EXACTLY what I tell my friends (who are _finally_ starting to have babies)...God made them parents for a very good reason...because he knew, 1. that He had given them everything they would need, and 2.that they would make excellent parents. So pray, trust your instincts, and enjoy the ride. It's amazing!

Lauren said...

Oh!! and...i have to put my bid in for Luv's diapers. They were great for us (though Andreanna, i DO love pampers). At least give them a try...they'll save you a couple of bucks every week. You know..for that starbucks you will definitely be needing!

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

Take every piece of advice anyone gives you with a grain of salt. Just because bouncy seats were the greatest thing ever for one baby doesn't mean yours won't scream bloody murder when one enters her line of vision.

Whoever said Diaper Genies don't work was right. If you really want an extra-special trash can for diapers, get Diaper Champ. Many daycares use them and they do work a little bit.

Before you buy anything that costs more than $25, ponder whether it really will get used more than a couple of times. Really, they grow up so fast that something that is freat for a 3-month old is a waste for a 6-month old. This includes clothes.

Enjoy every second of every minute of every hour of every day.

Lulu said...

Don't buy the Wee Blocker. Especially if you're having a girl.

All Adither said...

What a great and sensitive idea.


Leslie said...

Breastfeeding is NOT this natural, wonderful thing that just happens the first time you feed your baby. Hosptials have lactation counselors that can help you get started. Ask your nurse about a consultation if you're not offered one. You and the baby have to learn to breastfeed, and it hurts (the mother) for the first few weeks. A friend told me to give it six weeks before I decided if it was going to work for me, or not. That was the best advice I got as a new mother. After the first few weeks, it got better, but at six weeks it did become magical.

That said, if breastfeeding isn't for you, don't let anyone make you feel guilty. I had to supplement with bottles for both of my chidren and they did just fine with both. Formula is made for babies and won't hurt them.

Two best things I used with my babies: 1) Soft cloth diapers--not for them to wear, but to use as burp cloths, nursing cloths, etc. I always kept one in my diaper bag to drape over the car seat when the babies were sleeping. These wash so well and get softer with each use. Those pretty embroidered burp pads are scratchy!
2) Zippered lingerie bags. They saved my sanity by keeping little socks together in the wash!

Parenthood is the most magical journey you'll go on. Good luck!

ImpostorMom said...

Know when to put your baby in the crib and walk away for 5-10 minutes. It is okay, the little one is safe and nothing will happen while you take a moment to catch your breath and some semblance of sanity.

Can you tell Boog was colicky?

Also, this entire experience is different for everyone and try to go into it without any preconceived ideals of how things are going to be.

And give yourself some time to get to know your baby. It is okay if it isn't magical right from the start.

Esme said...

Madame Queen, what a wonderful idea!

Stuff I wish someone had told me when I became a mom:

1.) You will make mistakes. And that's OK. Don't beat yourself up about it.

2.) Do what's right for you and your family. What works for someone else might not work for you.

3.) The housework can wait.

4.) Your baby won't necessarily look like a chunky, cute, TV baby right away. Don't worry.

5.) Be gentle with yourself. Just as your little one is learning and growing and adjusting, you'll be doing the same.

Colleen said...

Wow, I think everyone got all the really good ones!
If you breastfeed, don't forget to make sure dad gets some baby time, too. After you feed the baby, dad can snuggle and burp the baby and give you a chance to grab a snack, drink a glass of water, or whatever you need.
Even though the baby is the focus and mom is getting a lot of attention, don't forget to give your husband some attention and thank him for being such a good dad and helping you out, especially in those first few weeks where all of you are so tired.
Please don't forget to take a little time for yourself, mom. Even if you just get the neighbor or a friend to come by for an hour so you can take a nap or get a good soak in the bath.
Colic doesn't last forever (although you'd swear it does). It usually lets up around 3 months. And a little mild pressure to baby's belly seems to help.
Oh, and consider picking up a package of diapers (any size) every couple weeks during the pregnancy to keep from getting the financial hit when you may not be getting paid much while on maternity leave.