Those First Few Weeks
(I'm taking a break from my hiatus, to post this wall of text.)
Unrequested advice for my sister in law, as she heads to the maternity ward this evening.
Take advantage of everything in the hospital. Not just the diapers, but don't feel shy to ask the nurses for snacks, drinks, pain meds, and to take the baby to the nursery. For me, the hospital was my last vacation! You'll want the chance to get to know your baby and figure out breastfeeding.
Speaking of breastfeeding: best shirts for wearing at home? Large button-downs. Easy access, still keeps you relatively modest. Best nursing tanks? Any stretchy tank you have, just without the shoulder straps up.
It will be OK. Birth didn't happen just the way you wanted? As long as there's a baby and a mommy, it'll be OK. She's only sleeping while being held? It won't last forever, and it'll be OK. Afraid to nose sucker her or clip those teeny nails? She'll cry, and you will probably draw blood at some point, but it'll be OK. Breastfeeding isn't working out for you and her? Don't beat yourself up; your nephew was raised on formula and he's healthy and smart, it'll be OK. You get out of the shower to realize she's been crying? She will have her needs met, and it'll be OK. The only time it's not OK is if you don't feel happy or if you feel something isn't right—I lost the first 4 months of Nathan's life to postpartum depression, and that's not OK.
Set one daily goal: take care of yourself and the baby. You'll have days where she demands every iota of attention, and if you had planned on doing the laundry, you'll feel guilty. This way, if you get that laundry done because she finally took a nap in her crib, it's a bonus.
Babies are funny. Laugh at her when she man-farts, or tries to latch onto a mole. Get that on video, because that's funny stuff.
This is the beginning of the 4th trimester. She's basically a fetus who breathes, eats, sleeps, and poops.
Ooohhh the poop. She will poop everywhere. She'll poop on your hand while you're changing her diaper. She'll poop out of her diaper as you're headed out the door. She'll poop 10 minutes into her nap and then not go to sleep again after being changed. That's why babies have lots of clothes. Also, baby poop stains if it's not washed the same day, so be prepared to run at least a load a day.
Don't run out of breast pads. (I like the kind without the sticky back, because I can shift them throughout the day.)
More poop: Don't trust the weight ranges on the diaper boxes. If she's having a blowout every day, then it's time for the next size up—unless it's just way too big, then you can experiment with other brands to see if they fit better.
Take snapshots as often as possible. She WILL grow out of that adorable outfit, that tiny nose WILL grow and change, the sweet little soft spot WILL close up, and it WILL happen sooner than you expect. I still don't have this one down.
I wish upon you peace with your decisions as parents. Know that they are your decisions to make, and no one else has any right to judge or look down on you for them.
I wish upon you a metabolism different than mine, which holds on to every ounce for dear life when I'm breastfeeding.
I wish upon you a baby who eats and sleeps like a champion.
I wish upon you a labor and delivery that you can look back on with a smile—even if you don't smile much at the time.
"They say" that everything changes when you have that baby. Going to the grocery store, mall, or on a date becomes a journey, but having that tiny one smile at you like you're the only one in the room changes you too.
We love you, and we can't wait to see pictures of our first niece!