As I have mentioned, I am working with several pregnant coworkers, and they are either first time moms, or moms having their second child. Several of them have been asking me lately for any advice I might be able to give them regarding birth, motherhood, juggling more than one child, etc. Apparently because I have three kids, they think I am a sage. I also think they have this idea of me as a Mom who wears an apron, cooks and bakes all day, keeps a clean organized house, does lots of projects with the kids, is a room mother and always has fresh flowers on the table. That's just not me. Some days, I'm lucky if I get the dishes done or can get all the milk stains off my hardwood floor. But, I digress. I don't mind them asking, but when it comes right down to it, there isn't really any advice that holds true for everyone when it comes to motherhood. All I can tell them is what worked for me.
1. Cook and freeze meals. I figured out the day Clara was delivered by c/s that it would be a good idea to cook meals and freeze them so Husband and I weren't living on hotdogs and take-out. With Isaiah, starting I think about 35 weeks, I started cooking things like lasagna, meat, sauce, noodles, meatloaf, etc. and freezing portions enough to feed us and Jacob and Clara. It was one of the best things I had done.
2. Buy Butt Paste. And yes, that is the name of the diaper cream. Jacob had one of the nastiest diaper rashes when he was a baby and we tried probably every. single. diaper cream and none of them helped, until we found Buttpaste. When I worked in a nursing home as a CNA, I had an elderly gentleman that used it on his, er, scrotum and he just raved about how wonderful it was. Really, that Boudreax is a genius. It is more expensive than the usual brands, but we bought a jar of the stuff instead of a tube, and it lasts forever.
3. Ignore people's ignorant remarks. If you are breastfeeding, ignore the people who keep trying to get you to give your baby a bottle of formula. If you are bottle feeding, ignore the people who want you to just give breastfeeding a try. If you do both, do both. Only you know what will work best for you and your baby. Don't be guilted into something you don't want to do. Trust your instinct. And don't listen to crap like "well, my baby was doing this or that at that age. Why isn't yours?" Those people are just feeling insecure and need to make someone else feel insecure so they feel better.
4. Load up on diapers in a couple sizes and wipes. Just when you think there is no way you could get through the stash, buy a case more. And not the newborn size. If your baby is much more than 8 lbs, they will outgrow them very quickly.
5. Take advantage of your bathtub during your pregnancy. Nothing felt better (other than a back rub) than a nice warm bath. For extra relaxation, grab a book, buy some sparkling grape juice, pour some in a champagne glass and sit in a nice warm bath. The water helped the heavy feeling in my abdomen and pelvis. I did kinda feel like a beached whale at the end when the water wouldn't quite cover my belly, but nonetheless, it was relaxing.
6. Another thing they have asked me is to describe the difference between Braxton-Hicks contractions and real labor contractions. This is something that really, I can't do. Everyone experiences labor differently. And these are first-time mom labor nurses asking me. I told them that it felt to me like a charlie horse in my abdomen. It was a cramp, but it was a sharp cramp. I kept rubbing my belly, like you would do a charlie horse in your calf, hoping it would ease the cramp. Obviously, it didn't but it gave me something to do. I doubt that any two people would describe it the same. I think they are just afraid to come in too early because they think "I should know better, I'm a labor nurse", but until you have experienced labor, you can't always know for sure, and your second, third labor may feel different. I also couldn't describe what went on in my head when I was taken from the office straight to the OR to deliver Clara, or what it felt during the c/s or after. Again, I could tell them what it was like for me, but it may be different for them.
7. Accept help in the weeks following birth. Let people clean your house, cook you meals, etc. Sometimes just having an adult to talk to can help break up the day. Keep plenty of hand sanitizer and obviously discourage anyone with cold/flu s/s from visiting, but nothing beats a hot meal you didn't have to make.
8. There's no way I could have prepared myself for what going from one baby to two would be like. It took me awhile to figure out a routine, how to juggle a 14 month old and a newborn, but I did it. Looking back, it wasn't so bad. I think when you start talking about what it's like to bring home another baby and how to integrate them into your family, it will be different for every family. That's a great thing about being a parent: you just figure it out.
9. Let go of any preconceived notions of what you think motherhood will be like, what type of mother you will be or what kind of child you will have. The thing about being a mom is just when you think you know what its going to be like, it changes. I remember thinking "my child won't do that" when it came to many annoyances that kids do. And guess what? All three of them do every single thing I said my kids wouldn't do. Like screaming just to scream. And I've done things I swore I wouldn't do, like letting my 18month old take a sip of my diet coke. And that's okay. You could have 10 kids and things that worked for one child may not work for the others. Jacob would take a paci, the other 2 wouldn't. Jacob and Clara slept through the night by 3 and 4 months. Isaiah still doesn't consistently sleep all night. Roll with the punches. Like they say, motherhood is the best, hardest, most emotionally draining/rewarding job there is.
And when you get right down to it, everything I wrote up above may not work for anyone else. That's what worked for me and my children. I had to adjust my thinking with all three kids and when we have #4, I'm sure things that worked for the other 3 won't work with that child. That's just the nature of the beast we all call parenthood.