Thursday, October 2, 2014

If I could do it all again: Things I learned in Year One

Maybe it's the scientist in me, or maybe it's my low self-esteem coupled with my narcissism, but I spend a lot of time thinking.  Traditionally, most of that thinking has been about myself.  For the past year or so, most of it has been about everything else.  (Though I do spend significantly less time thinking about environmental quality issues.  If patchwork-wearing, Volkswagen-driving, dreadlock-having 19-year-old me could see me now, I don't think she would approve. I don't think she would disapprove necessarily, but she (and I) both know that I could be doing much more).  Mostly I think about my family.  Mr. Adventure, Hamburglar, Little Miss Adventure and the dogs.  I think about how I could be more patient and listen better and schedule more enrichment activities or even just leave the house more.

For the most part this past year, I've followed my instincts. But there are some things I really could have done better.

1) Ask for help and accept it when it's offered.  

How many first-time parents out there feel like they have to do everything?  Even now.  I have a new member meet-up tonight with other moms of young babes for a group in my area and the meet-up time is 7:30.  That is also baby bedtime.  I have never not been there for baby bedtime.  What if everyone is still awake when I get back?  What if the house catches on fire (again)?  Or (worse) what if baby Hamburglar and Mr. Adventure don't need me at all and bedtime goes super smooth?  Sometimes I'm not sure which is worse: being needed or not being needed.  You know?  But really, people can't read minds.  And if you keep telling everyone you don't need help, they will eventually stop offering.  And maybe think you're a dick.

All I know for sure is that I need to get out of the house more.  And you can't get out of the house without help.  Speaking of getting out of the house...

2) Get out of the house more.

Those first couple of months when Hamburglar's neck was all floppy were really hard.  I was afraid his head would fall off if I put a shirt on him.  So I had some of those kimono-wrap-style shirts.  (They were also good so he didn't have a onesie rubbing on his belly button).  I also didn't really get out much.  I envisioned myself going on long, lesiurely strolls with Mr. Adventure, the dogs and Chumbercules every day.  We would walk at least a mile, sometimes four or five.  Realistically, we hardly made it out of the house.  Part of that is because as soon as you have a new baby fed, rested, changed, burped and dressed, the cycle starts all over again.  Also, Hamburglar was a really high needs baby.  Moreso than other babies, from what I understand.  And that's okay.  The best way to get your needs met is by asking for them (see number one).

In addition to getting the baby out into the fresh air and into the world, you need to get out, too.  With your partner.  By yourself.  With your dogs.  People say this over and over again and it's written everywhere, but that's because it's true.  And I know there isn't time.  I work 40+ hours a week.  I really need a pedicure and I want to go back to Jimmy and get my hair done again (I've decided I need to go back to blonde).  Realistically, though I've been thinking about how I need/want to do these things, I'll feel accomplished if I get half of one of them done by Christmas.

3) Determine your priorities

My priority is sleep.  For everyone in the house.  I go to bed at 8 o'clock some nights and it's awesome.  I don't worry about the house being clean.  I mean, we wipe down counters and vacuum pretty regularly (you have to with two dogs and a baby who has developed a taste for clumps of dog hair, preferably fresh from the dog) but sometimes the laundry sits for a long time without being folded.  After sitting for a long time without being washed.  I've thought about getting a 4th laundry basket, but that would just mean one more basket of laundry I would fill and eventually have to fold and put away.

4) It's okay to make your job easier

This isn't really that important, but I wish I had a Moby from day 1.  I got mine from a friend when Chumbercules was 4 months old and it was nice, but I think it would have benefited us both earlier.  I've since given that Moby to a friend who had her baby boy in June and they have been using the shit out of it.  She is (crazy/amazing) working on her Ph.D with a newborn.  I had a hard enough time being in grad school while pregnant, I don't think I'd be able to do it now.

Also, instead of my super fancy Hushamok Baby Hammock, I wish I'd had an arms reach co-sleeper.  Or maybe just bought the $30 mattress from Hushamok and put it in a cardboard box next to my bed for baby to sleep in.  I am glad we didn't bed share, though.

I also wish I'd had a Boppy or it's equivalent.  I probably would have gotten one if I'd understood how it worked/what it was for.  I thought you were supposed to put the baby on it while you fed him and it didn't make sense to me.  Maybe that would have prevented me from getting DeQuervain's Tendinitis?

I also kind of wish I'd rented a hospital grade pump.  I've heard they are amazing.  But I bought my pump for $100 off Craigslist.

5) You don't really need as much stuff as you think you do

We have a lot of bottles.  My mentor bought the Dr. Brown's pack, plus my boss bought us 6 Life Factory glass bottles, four 9-oz bottles and two 4-oz bottles.  We didn't need nearly that many.  I think two of each would be good.  A 4-oz and a 9-oz in each type.  I liked the Dr, Brown's for when baby boy was little, though.  And now that we are weaning, we have ten million bottles.  Half of them (or more) have never been used.  We still use the Life Factory ones, though.  Because you can turn them into sippy cups with these super awesome caps.

I also have so many freaking clothes.  Really, since he's not in daycare and we don't get out much, he spent most of Spring/Summer running around in his diaper.  But you can never have too many baby fedoras.

6) Research how to clean cloth diapers

There's a facebook group called Fluff Love and CD Science.  It's really helpful.  I'm in the process of re-vamping my diaper wash routine yet again.

7) I'm running out of steam here/getting distracted, so, just do what feels right.

Unless what "feels right" to you involves doing horrible things to your baby.  Then you should refer to number one and get some counseling.  And it's okay if you need counseling.  You're not some huge loser/terrible person if you have postpartum depression and need professional help.  You're awesome because you realize this and seek out the assistance you need to be the best parent/person you can be.

8) Baby snuggles are pretty much the best thing ever.

And baby laughs.  And baby words.  And baby back flips.  And claps.  And running.  And walking.

Now, for a funny story that is unrelated to any of this:

I picked up Little Miss Adventure (LMA) from school last Friday so she could spend the weekend with us.  She had a note from her teacher and Mr. Adventure read it when we got home.  It had said that LMA had used bad language and got into trouble.  She told her dad that she had called a little girl in her class a "peanut."  After several minutes, we learned she had called her a penis.  And I still can't stop laughing.  But I did good while her dad was talking to her and did not laugh once (until I couldn't take it any more and I left the room to laugh).  I guess another girl in her first-grade class had asked if LMA liked her drawing.  LMA said no and the other kid called her a penis.  So she said, "I think you're a penis."  Hahahahaha

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