Thursday, November 8, 2012

How can you prepare for a baby? One Moms detailed postpartum view and what she wished she knew on day one.


The answer is simple. You can't. You can't prepare for a baby. At least I couldn't. And man, did I try. The first few weeks were traumatic. Looking back now, I find that hilarious because he slept 18 hours a day. I mean really, how much can life be interrupted by something that sleeps 18 hours a day?!?

If I knew then what I know now at 9 weeks postpartum... I would have done these before the baby arrived and made my life much easier.

  • Buy baby Tylenol before the baby arrives. You never know when he'll get sick and a trip to the medicine cabinet is much easier than a trip to CVS at 2am. 

  • Write every single thank you card before the baby comes. You're huge (in a pretty, pregnant way), all you want to do is sit on the couch. So sit on the couch and write thank you cards. Also, if you know me and are waiting on thank you cards, they're on the way! (Finally!)

  • Buy about 10 fleece (or cotton if it's summer) pajama outfits with snaps from the collar to both legs. That's it. That's all the clothing you need for a long time.

  • Strategically think about your house. Once baby comes, he goes where you go. We have three floors. It made life very difficult to go between three floors all day. I finally told Jon he can turn the basement into an entertainment hub/man cave/ brewery if he would cart my home office up to the kitchen. Now my day is divided between two floors and I only ever go to the bottom floor if I'm going down with Jon in the evening.

  • Establish Stations on each level and room of your home. Every room that we spend a significant amount of time in has the following: A pacifier, a burp cloth, and a blanket. Every level of the house has the following: Bottles for that level, a bottle brush, dish detergent, formula (we supplement breastfeeding- If your full time breastfeeding, then you won't need the bottles), a diaper changing station with diapers, wipes, miniature plastic bags (I get the 4 oz ones from walmart), a boppy and extra outfits. This allows us to care for him on any level without running up and down the stairs. In the nursery, We use Tommee Tippee Bottles with an extra wide mouth, and fill plastic condiment containers from Party City (about 1.00 for 100 cups with lids) with formula measured into 4 oz so night feedings go quickly.

  • I had a special diaper pail, but I found it frusterating to use. He only has one dirty diaper a day. I stuck the diaper pail in storage in case I needed it later and put trash cans with foot pedals and a sealed top next to each diaper changing station. I also placed rolls of 4 oz. plastic trash bags in each diaper station. When he has a dirty diaper, we place it in the small trash bag and knot it,then throw it in the trash. We take the trash out every three days and haven't had a problem with the smell yet. I'm seriously tempted to go to cloth diapers, but I'm not ready for the commitment since I return to work in two weeks.

  • I figured out that I can't carry things up and down the stairs like I used to because Squishy was born almost 11 pounds and it was all I could do to carry him. I made T-shirt bags from a post I saw on pinterest and leave several on each stair post so I can load everything into a bag and throw it over my shoulder. Bonus points because I got to declutter T-shirts that no longer fit and the project cost me nothing. You can find instruction here.

  • Plan to take a walk around your neighborhood every single day (that it doesn't rain). I'm not a doctor so I can't tell you the medical benefits of this, but you feel amazing. You can feel yourself getting stronger every day, the baby loves the motion and fresh air, and it gives us a chance get out of the house. We do 30 minutes daily.

  • Get a stroller that attaches to your car seat. We have a baby trend car seat and found a baby trend double stroller for $40.00 at a kids consignment shop. We didn't need a double, but it has a HUGE basket underneath and easy access to it since we only have one car seat on it. I use it for grocery shopping rather than getting a cart, and I can pack everything in to it (I put meat in a plastic bag before it goes near the stroller- I have serious germ issues).

  • Have a schedule but understand that he won't conform to it. By about week 6 Squishy Face has an easy workable schedule that is almost predictable (I highly suspect that I've just jinxed myself.) This is our schedule:

    •  9:30-10:30am- Wake Up. Feed Squishy. Change Squishy. Lay Squishy on a blanket so he can stretch out last night's kinks while I wash out the bottles from last night and reset the nursery bottle station. I switch the laundry over. (The master bedroom, nursery, and laundry are all on the same level). I eat a snack from the snack basket in the nursery (It's stocked with life cereal mini boxes, nature valley dark chocolate and oats granola bars, bumble bee chicken salad and crackers, and applesauce cups), which holds me over for a later breakfast. I spend a few minutes making faces and interacting with him, and check his diaper. I move the changing pad from the changing table to the master bath floor next to the tub and lay him out on it so I can take a bath and wash my hair. 50% of the time, he falls asleep for a small cat nap and then I get to take my time getting dressed. If it's a really good day, I'll make the bed, but that's rare. If he's awake,  I'll make a huge production out of drying my hair and imitate 80's hair bands. He loves it which buys me those few extra minutes to get dressed. I get dressed right down to my socks, shoes and sweatshirt. I take one last look around because once I head downstairs I won't be back up again until this evening.

    • 11:30-12:30-  I eat breakfast and feed Squishy. I pack him up in his stroller, and tuck a blanket in. We head out for a walk, and when we get back, I lay him on a blanket and I lay on a yoga mat. We do exercises for baby that you can find here (mostly for interaction not an actual work out). I do exercises but incorporate him. Cheerleader push ups and kiss his cheeks when I'm down, leg lifts with him on his side watching me and I'll lift his legs to match mine. This is my favorite part of the day because he's most alert and there's a ton of interaction. He does a little tummy time and I lay down with him.

    • 1:30- I review tonight's dinner and my schedule book. I eat lunch which was already made the night before as if I were going to work. At least every other day, We leave the house. We go to the grocery store or to the library just to get out. His favorite place in the world is the colored cup aisle at party city. All those colors blow his mind. As soon as we're in the car, he's normally asleep. If we're at home, I'll wait until he starts yawning and put him in the swing where it's easiest for him to fall asleep. I'm actually trying to phase him out of napping in the swing but the pediatrician wasn't concerned about it so I'll wait a bit before I try to do that. When he falls asleep, it's game time. It's a mad dash to get my routines done (dishes, kitty litter, garbage, general straightening, tasks in my schedule book) because nap time could be 15 minutes or 3 hours. If I finish my tasks, I curl up on the couch and read (or play that stupid addicting Simpsons iphone game).

    • 4:00- Feed Squishy, Diaper Squishy. At night, we diaper first, then feed because he falls asleep feeding and diapering wakes him up instantly. In the day time, we diaper first and then feed because he tends to wet diapers after he eats. This is where the day gets tricky. I've been making all of our food from scratch so it takes about 45 minutes to make dinner. Michael is awake during this time and (obviously) can't be near the stove. I've discovered that If I put him in the stroller and wheel him into the kitchen so he can see me, I make dinner and pretend that I'm Rachel Ray and "teach" him how to make the dish, I let him smell all the ingredients and touch anything that's safe for him to touch. When I have a second free, I move him to different angles to prevent boredom and interact with him the whole time. This has worked every day for the last two weeks with a happy giggling baby every night (again, until I just jinxed it.).

    • 5:00- Dinner time, and Jon takes primary responsibility of Squishy. I make our lunches for tomorrow then I'm off duty. I take a bath, take a nap, work on a craft project or work on a task. At 7:30pm, I take over Squishy duty and Jon plays Warz, or Dayz, or plays guitar or brews beer.

    • 7:30-9:30pm- Squishy falls asleep for the night. Jon puts him to bed.

    • 1:30-4:30am- At some point (highly varied) Squishy wakes up to be fed, changed and generally loved and held.

  • Establish an equal division of labor- A schedule of "Primary Responsibility". Jon and I divide up the hours in the day equally to have primary responsibility over Squish. The benefits of this are numerous and it's the single thing that we did to make life infinitely better.

    • Prior to dividing the primary time, we both felt like we were doing more of the work. In actuality, we had so much more to do than in pre-squishy days, it's easy to feel like this. Now when I have those thoughts, I know for a fact that we're doing equal amounts of work because of the schedule.

    • One of the toughest adjustments for me was never having "off time". You lived everyday waiting for the cry and putting his needs first. Until you get used to it, it's pretty stressful. When we established the primary responsibility schedule it gives you 2.5 hours on the week day and 8 hours on the weekend to put yourself first. Relax in a bubble bath, read trashy magazines and not feel even slightly guilty about it, because Squishy is in the capable hands of your partner getting undivided attention. 

    • I believe the benefits to Squishy are huge from this. His Dad is extremely hands on because of this and he has lots of one on one time with him. When it's my turn with him, I can focus solely on him for my time, knowing that I'll have two and a half hours after to do the things I need to do. He has tons of interaction every day because of this.

    • Equal work equals equal parents. Because Jon does 50% of the work, I believe that he's earned the right to make 50% of the decisions. When I love Dr. Sears' method, and he's a fan of Ferber, I don't discredit him because I carried Squishy or I'm the Mom, or I'm doing all the work. He's earned the right to be an equal partner and that means that his say is just as important as mine.

    • Uninterrupted Sleep. It's a beautiful thing. To curl up in bed and know that you won't be getting up for at least 4 hours. No matter what. I'm giddy just thinking about it.

  • Have a grocery plan. It wasn't until Week 5 that I felt comfortable leaving the house with Squishy. Look into grocery delivery services like Peapod by Giant (Walmart just started one too if you live in Northern Virginia). Groceries delivered straight to your house the next day is hard to beat for a new parent. Peapod takes coupons, and if your an impulse buyer, can actually save you money because you don't have the impulse purchases. Check here for discounts before you order.

  • Check out the Total Baby iPhone app. I used it for two weeks to track his sleep and that's how I was able to establish his schedule. I used his natural sleep times and built a schedule around that.

  • Talk about major issues now. The big ones seem to be: breast feeding or bottle feeding, letting him sleep or nap on his stomach, and Dr. Sears vs Dr. Ferber- a.k.a the cry it out debate. Most of these were easy for us, but the Sears/Ferber debate was a biggie for us. You want to have this talk calmly when your 38 weeks pregnant and not when your baby is screeching at 3 am and your both sleep deprived and rather crotchety (and insanely hormonal).
So, that's it. That's everything that I know now that I wish I knew then. At least I'll get to try these out on baby #2 some day.

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