Sunday, April 19, 2015

When the baby gets here, we will __________. (Famous last words)

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, 

Gang aft agley, 
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, 
For promis'd joy

I'm a planner. I can easily hold a monthly schedule in my head that features key events for both my and my spouse's lives. (Or at least, I used to. We showed up at the baby's doctor appointment yesterday at the wrong time!)

The nesting phase in pregnancy came pretty naturally to me. I read up on attachment parenting stuff and ways to soothe babies, registered for baby carriers, learning as much as I could about breastfeeding and co-sleeping.

Now that I'm two months in, I see that (at least for me) nesting comes from that anxiety that underlies our approach to the unknown. First-time moms simply cannot fathom what's in store for them. But let's try to distract ourselves from that frightening reality with strollers, expensive bassinets, advice, and more!

So many of my plans went agley as soon as the little one hit the ground. They were mere fantasies.

1) Fantasy: I'd baby-wear her all the time, and I'd get so much done and I'd get to feel all proud and superior, like "Look at me, I never put my baby down, she gets so much love."
  • Reality: She doesn't really like the carriers. She is not a fur coat! She will not be worn. At least, not yet. She's happy being in her little bouncer, or a swing, or chilling on the couch next to me while I avoid cleaning. 
2) Fantasy: Sleep together as a family, all cozy together, in our king size bed.
  • Reality: This is just not happening. Like, at all. She's in the same room, at least, so she can't hold "you let me sleep in a closet!" over my head 20 years from now, but the rest of the arrangement didn't shake out. We are even considering setting up her own room in another couple of months. 
3) Fantasy: I will never consider a sleep schedule. I'm no nazi! I'll let her wean from night feedings on her own.
  • Reality: Oh, I cannot wait until she hits four months or so and I can ever-so-gently encourage her to drop the 3:00 a.m. feeding. You know... the 3:00 a.m. feeding that turns into 4:00 a.m. awake time, that winds up with a 5:00 a.m. snack. I've learned you just can't judge.
4) FantasyI will be in love with your baby at all times. 
  • Reality: Sadly, no. It's hard work. Nothing could have prepared me for how much my life would change, and those moments where the baby is crying and kind of looks like an alien, and you have no idea how to stop the wailing, or if it will ever get better, and when you wonder whether you should run far, far away will really tax your sense of love. But don't worry, self; the love comes back, and it does get better.
Here are a couple of things I wish I'd used my nesting energy to learn/do:

1) Swaddling. Babies freakin' love it, and it's hard to do the blanket swaddling well. Those first few nights we were so frantic, trying to get it right. The sleep sacks are great but they just don't fit a newborn very well (not a six pounder, anyway). I wish I'd practiced on a doll a few times.

2) Sleeping sitting up. (this one is self-explanatory)

3)  Arm lifts. Those car seats are heavy.

4) Do nice things for family and friends before the baby comes. Cuz if you have good people in your life, you will want to thank them in advance for the help they give, whether it's a visit, a baby-sit, a midnight text message or an email.

5) Unsnap the nursing bra with one hand. Duh! This one is so important.