Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Advice for a new mom -- from you readers to me. Thanks.

I used to think the greatest thing about being far away from home during pregnancy is that I've been able to keep to myself and avoid unsolicited belly rubs, judgments, and advice. In truth, I've managed to avoid all of the above (except quiet judgments from the man at the cupcake shop). After yesterday's blog, I was inundated with advice, and ... it was fabbo (UK for fantastic). 

I'm terrible at asking for help. It's why I haven't made a Kickstarter or PledgeMusic campaign for a new album, though I've had one of those forms half-way filled out for four years. I'm a stubborn only child, and my favorite phrase is, "I can do it myself." That's not all that healthy of a mantra though, is it?

Truthfully, I've absolutely loved reading your comments, emails, suggestions, wisdom. I love that most of my friends are crazy greenies who don't laugh at the thought of cloth diapers or wipes. I love that the most common response to what "stuff" I need was: you don't need all that crap!

On that note, I thought I'd compile a list of some great advice I've gotten so far:

It's not only okay to ask for help, it's important for your sanity. I'm pretty sure this will be the most challenging for me, but I'm game to try.

Newborns don't need shoes. Baby shoes are adorable, but babies can't walk.

Rent or borrow if you can. I've actually come across a few women who "aren't into hand-me-downs," and I think they are insane. Most of the advice I've gotten suggested renting breast pumps and borrowing clothes or other accessories. I'm into anything that avoids a shopping mall or a landfill. These avoid both.

Boppy pillows may not actually be a waste of money, as I'd previously thought. I'm still hesitant on this one because, well, can't I just stack a couple of pillows up and stick the baby on that? But so many smart women have said they couldn't have survived without theirs, that I'm beginning to question it. A great friend loaned me hers, so we shall see.

Even if you get one of everything, your baby will probably never touch most of it. Who knew that babies are incredibly simple and easily amused? Some love the swings and some hate them. Some never once slept in their fancy cribs, favoring their carseats instead. So maybe it's best to start with nothing and work up from there.

Babies are portable. Throw them in a sling and go on a trip around the world. Okay, so this one didn't actually come in any sage emails, but it's a theory I'm working on. I'll keep you posted.

Sometimes "stuff" is okay, if it makes your life easier. As much as I hate to believe this, it's probably true. We haven't accumulated much in Scotland, but I imagine when we move back to the States, we'll start collecting things that make our lives easier. I guess if I can have a KitchenAid Mixer, my kid can have a few toys, right? I mean, sure the only things you need in the kitchen are a pot and a wooden spoon. But ...

Anyway, I promise not to write about babies forever ... if it becomes a problem, I'll just start a separate blog for all-things-baby. I do have a lot of thoughts on health care systems and a few other differences between Europe and the US that I'll share at some point. For now, though, thanks so much for sticking with me on this blog as it morphs from wild music tours to gardens to diapers.

And thanks for sharing your wisdom -- keep it coming. Only one request: no bad birth stories, please. I'm keeping it positive on that front.


  1. The part about asking for help is super important to remember. It's the moms who don't ask for help and think they can do it all that end up on the 6 o'clock news.

    I didn't have a Boppy with my first baby, just went with the "stacks of pillows" idea. Yeah, like 4 pillows that had to be within reach of my armchair at all times. With my 2nd baby, we got a Boppy and wow what a difference. On a related note, make sure your armchair has good back support and is comfortable enough to sleep in.

    A crib is a pretty good thing to have, but a bassinet or cradle or whatnot is likely a waste of space and money. My son absolutely hated his cradle, I slept in the armchair (see previous note) with him for the first 2 months, and finally my mom bought us a crib. He slept through the night for the very first time that night. Also, a crib is a safe place to put the baby when you need to do other tasks, like clean up from a diaper change gone wrong.

    A Snugli is a Very Good Thing. A sling can serve the same purpose, but I always found it to be somewhat awkward, and never managed the hip-carry with it. Guys seem to find the Snugli easier to deal with, too.

    What about putting together an album of Scottish lullabies? :)

  2. Another shout out for the Boppy. I thought it would be unnecessary but it was super useful. Dads or anyone else can also use it for bottle feeding or just snuggling.

    My favorite baby carrier is the Ergo. Not great for newborns but once they can hold their head up it's fantastic.

    In the get help department: if you're planning to breastfeed and you have any trouble, don't wait to call a lactation consultant. Best $100 we spent.

  3. We have certainly gotten our (well, technically my mom's) money's worth of our bouncy chair. We didn't do a swing, but Linus lived in that chair his first couple of months. He's napping in it right now. It's handy to have a safe place to put him other than his crib. I love our Babasling. Easy to use and gets loads of comments in how cozy it looks when we've out and about! I agree with your theory about portability. So much easier to take them places now than when they are toddlers who want to run and jump and exert their own will!
    Great idea to keep it positive. You don't need bad vibes! Have you read Hypnobirthing? I found it helpful and really interesting.
    We're a little hippy when it comes to baby stuff too, so I'll recommend coconut oil for diaper rash, moisturizer, and clearing sinuses. It's the only thing we really use on Linus (there's some shocking stuff in a lot of baby products) and it's safe to use with cloth diapers.

    1. I have read Hypnobirthing! Funny you mention it. It's definitely put me in a better place about labour. Thanks for the advice:)

  4. The boppy pillow is worth it's weight in gold, both to you and Daddy, I wouldn't have thought it either until we got one!

  5. Oh! Also! I don't know if you have Children's Centres in Scotland like we have in England, but they are great resources. (My midwife was based out of ours, as well as our (less than awesome) pre-birth education classes). Where they really shine is in providing a gathering place for new moms. I go to at least 2 different groups each week. Rhythm Time (a music group) costs 2 pounds. Baby Yoga is 3. A social play group is 1! I've made some really good friends and there is always someone around to hold your baby so you can go pee in peace :)

    1. Will definitely look into this! Do you have a Toy Library? We're a while away from using it, but I think it's genius.

  6. I'm not a mom so I have absolutely no business posting about this, but I just wanted to say thanks for not being a neurotic hyper-consuming mess about this baby. (Of course, you wouldn't be.) I love the summary of your advice, and it looks like you are surrounding yourself with sane women - good on you. I thought strollers were a normal part of life until my mom reminded me that I never had one. They stuck me in a backpack until I could walk. I'm not saying don't get one, I'm just saying apparently they don't have to be a standard issue with the birth of a kid. Can't wait to meet baby!

    1. That's great... I love that you didn't have a stroller. D & I were just talking about them. Most kids here seem to walk more than US kids, but we still saw a few today who were clearly too old for strolling. Of course, we've been into being judgmental non-parents for years, so we may be asking for it.
      What kills me is that it's not all that uncommon to buy a stroller than I ever have for a car. I mean, I guess I've always driven crappy cars, but still...