While catching up with a former colleague on the phone last week, she announced that she’s expecting. I am thrilled for her and of course offered a very sincere “if you have questions about anything…” And then when asked what my must-haves would be, I drew a blank. I think I threw out some random thoughts on snap bibs over Velcro and cloth diapers as burp cloths, but I’m sure nothing that the glowing, expectant mom hoped to see twinkling on a registry list.
After Peanut was born, I had lots of answers. When friends asked for my advice or opinions, I had them. What I liked about strollers, the best bottles, the most comforting swing, thoughts on play mats and exersaucers and post-delivery expectations… Why is it that it’s so hard now? Is it that those were all things I didn’t have to consider this time around so the decision making process is that much more distant? Or am I too busy to care anymore?
I think the reality is that the second time around you aren’t analyzing the stuff anymore. You use what works and you don’t what doesn’t. You move through life with a bit more of an accelerated purpose than you did when your focus could be whether this toy or that was holding your little one’s attention. For example, today Pumpkin’s favorite play things were playground mulch at the park and an IKEA catalog. And I’m okay with that.
So after two kids, here is my list of must haves for new mamas:
* Love – Be ready to feel love in a way that you never have before. In a way that lives and breathes separate from you but inside of you at the same time. Be prepared to lose your breath at their beauty and chunks of time staring into their little faces.
* Patience – Whether it’s sleepless nights, post-partum hormones, or fitting into your pre-pregnancy pants, you’ll need patience to deal with it all. Remind your spouse of this fact. He’ll need this one, too.
* Confidence – Everyone will tell you that your mothering instinct will kick in. In some way shape or form, it will. That doesn’t mean that you will miraculously know exactly how to handle every baby situation thrown at you or can whip up a cake from scratch, but it does mean that you will be the best observer of and advocate for your baby. Whatever you do, trust yourself to know when you need to ask for help, ask if something’s “right,” or stand up for what you want. It’s your body (during and post-delivery) and it’s your baby. Nurses, doctors, family members, grocery store clerks, they all mean well, but they aren’t going to be the ones nursing your baby at 2am or pacing the floors when they’ve missed curfew in 16 years. It’s you and your kid in it for the long haul. Start trusting yourself now.
* Rest – All moms need to recharge in order to be the best mom they can be. You can follow the whole “sleep when the baby sleeps” mantra or simply take a bath or go out for coffee or put on a pair of heels when you go to the pediatrician’s office. Whatever it takes to make you feel like you, do it. It sounds easy, but can prove to be difficult. Use that confidence you registered for above to help you stand up for your rest time.
* Stroller/Carrier/Car Seat/High Chair – Yup, you’re going to need all that stuff. Don’t stress about it. You do NOT need a $1,500 stroller just because the latest celebrimom has it. You do need to pick products that are safe and reliable and meet whatever other standards you have. Just remember that your kid will throw up in it, at least once, no matter how much you spend on it.
* A Sense of Humor – I can guarantee that your sweet, adorable little baby will wait to spit up all over you until after you shower for the first time in two days and put on your last clean shirt. You will also experience one blessed morning when you are actually leaving on time, not 15 minutes late, and realize, as you pick up the infant seat with your precious bundle snugly snapped inside and grinning at you, that he has pooped. Big time. If you can’t learn to laugh at these situations, it’s going to be a long road.
* Your baby – All you really need is this new little person you get to spend the rest of your life getting to know. And all they really need is you. The gear, the clothes, the toys, it’s all just stuff. The soft baby smell at the back of the neck, the lip pursing when they’re fast asleep, the sighs, the grunts, the smiles, the cries, the things that only you will know about your child, that’s what you’ll remember down the road, not the model number of the car seat or what color the Boppy cover was.
That being said, you will actually need diapers. But you can always swipe a few from the hospital at discharge.