Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Things I've Learned, Baby Edition

1. All statements beginning with all babies, most babies, or even my baby should be accepted with a smile and a lot of grace. This is one area in which I hold to the "precious snowflake" view - your baby is unique, and so is theirs. So don't feel confused, surprised, concerned, or guilty when your baby functions differently - and don't place expectations on your child of reaching certain milestones by a certain time, or behaving in a certain manner, or let others force their expectations onto you.

2. 36 weeks goes by much more quickly after the baby is born. And they go through about the same amount of change. But it's much more interesting to watch a tiny person learn how to smile and sit up than it is to watch your wardrobe shrink as your belly expands (or that could just be me - I know people who enjoy the pregnant part of having a baby. I was not one of them. Morning sickness and back pain - gack.)

3. Waiting is best done progressively. If you're going to have to wait at an airport for an hour, drive around for an extra 15 minutes, hang out in the car until it becomes boring, suggest a snack perhaps? and then go inside and happily people-watch for 10 minutes. Because the longest anything is going to be amazing is about 15 minutes - but 5-10 is more likely.

4. You are not alone. Whatever you're going through, other moms have been through it, too (no, this does not contradict #1), so don't be afraid to reach out. For every adorably Instagrammed smile there are dozens of deleted photos, a bucket of unseen tears (mum's and baby's), and a clutter of laundry or toys or shoes or something just outside the frame - and for every sappy tweet there are more than 140 characters she wishes that she hadn't said out loud. Your vulnerability and honesty will provide encouragement for you (oh, yeah, we're going through the exact same thing right now! or it's a phase - don't worry, he'll grow out of it) and solidarity for everyone else.

5. Ozark Mountain Mama makes the best baby shoes. I got these at Terra Tots, in Fayetteville - they're soft, and cute, and stay on quite well. Did I mention that they're adorable? And gender-neutral - she makes woolly winter ones and cottony summer ones, in boyish and girlish and I-don't-yet. My big-footed little is on her third pair (not from wear, but from growing), and I plan to keep her in them until she outgrows the largest size.

6. They do grow and develop quickly (some more quickly than others, but there will be an amazing amount of change at the beginning, regardless). Let this be your hope through the rough spots - this too shall pass (and then be replaced by something else, but at least it will be different). Besides, however traumatic the pre-nap crash was, there's peace to be found in watching them sweetly sleep.

7. On the topic of sleeping, get jammies and crib sheets that contrast. That may sound silly, but when it's 3am and you're up for the third time because someone has been waking up every 1.5 hours and you're tired enough that you misjudged where the doorframe was --- being able to easily spot a white onesie against a dark brown background is oddly helpful. Even if your baby is a Good Sleeper and doesn't wake up often, it's still nice for when they do.

8. If you have the option of exclusively nursing, take it! (I know that not everyone does - if you can't or don't want to, that's completely fine, too :) Then you don't have to worry with formula, or pumping and all of the sterilization and storage hassle that goes into it - to me, the "freedom" isn't worth the trouble, and that way everything you need for an outing will fit into a medium sized purse (I have a lot of those, being a knitter and all). I adore my nursing cover from Terra Tots, and a receiving blanket, Emergency Backup Onesie, package of wipes, burp cloth, and handful of diapers fit nicely into a FEED Guatemala bag that I snagged from The Mustache. You don't need much - really!

9. You really don't need much (this one pretty much applies to every possible category, except diapers and plain white onesies. Those are two things that you cannot have too many of). Kitchen utensils waved about while watching you cook are infinitely more interesting for far longer than the most "educational" of toys (also, they don't require batteries, or sing songs that become annoying after 5 repeats and insanity-inducing after 50), and while being with you and doing what you're doing may make that task take a little longer, there will be joy in the journey, plus they'll learn by example and eventually be able to actually do it themselves (double bonus!)

10. Don't be so caught up in capturing every moment that you miss out on experiencing every moment. Pictures and statuses and tweets are great - but spend more time directly engaging in the Cuteness than you spend talking about it online. The moments are fleeting - but in the end, the person taking the picture isn't part of the "Kodak moment" and what you hold in your heart can never be accidentally deleted or flushed down the toilet two years later.

Tell me, mums - what have you learned from your littles?


Amanda said...

Good list. As mom od a 13-month-old, I think "This too shall pass" is a big one. Teething seems like it will last forever, but there are some breaks.

Kayla said...

Yes and amen! :) Your list is great!
Something else I learned: Don't be afraid to try something new. I am a creature of habit... and I always heard that babies love routine. As with number 1 on your list, this *can* be true but does not necessarily hold fast for every child or even every detail of the day. Sometimes a slight change to the routine can bring some relief to whatever development/phase you're struggling to endure.