What I Wish I’d Known
May 2nd, 2011

I know that a number of you who read this blog also used to read my sister’s writing over at Life in Pencil, so I wanted to let you know that over the weekend she delivered a beautiful baby girl.  She and her daughter are both healthy and happy and settling into life as a new family of three.  In that vein, today’s post is dedicated to her.

As a new mother you do the best that you can.  Sometimes you get it right.  But sometimes you don’t.  You try to call upon instincts you don’t have yet.  But don’t worry – you’ll get there.  And in the interim period until you find your way, here are the 10 things I wish I’d known when IEP was just days old:

  1. When someone offers to hold the baby – whether it’s your husband, your mother-in-law, or your best friend – it’s okay to say, “Yes for the love of God please take this baby off my hands for 15 minutes.”
  2. If, when someone offers/asks to hold the baby, you don’t want to hand her over just yet, it’s also okay to say, “Not right now.”
  3. If you decide, at any given moment during your maternity leave, that the best way for you to spend the next hour is curled up in a club chair sniffing your baby’s head, then that is exactly what you should do.
  4. At some point you will have a breakdown.  It might be because your baby won’t eat, or she won’t sleep, or your yoga pants are on backwards, or you burned your grilled cheese, or you haven’t showered in four days.  Whatever the reason, this too is okay.  Cry for as long as you need to.  And know that every mother in history has shared this breakdown with you.  No matter how alone you feel at that moment, you are not.
  5. Everyone tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps.  If you can, you should.  But there will be times when you don’t because you need to feel like a regular person more than you need to sleep.  You may pay for it later, but forgive yourself.  You’ll power through it.
  6. Have some sort of a system for keeping the hospital bills organized.  It will feel like they just keep coming and you don’t know when they’ll stop.  So keep track of what’s been billed, and negotiate the balances with the provider offices.  Ask for a 10% or 15% or 20% discount if you pay the bill in full.  If they don’t offer you a discount, ask for an interest free payment plan.
  7. Your baby is crying because she is a baby.  It’s not anything you did.  It’s not because you held her this way or moved her arm or looked at her funny or had silent thoughts of exhaustion and bewilderment.  She is crying because she’s a baby and that is what babies do.
  8. From roughly 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm babies turn into tiny banshees.  They cry for no reason.  (See #7)  You think that they will run out of reasons to cry, but they will not.  Pour yourself a glass of wine and tag team with your husband.  You’ll get through it.  (And if you’re nursing, you might up the frequency of your feedings from every three hours to every two.  Supply goes down in the evening and keeping their bellies full helps keep them happy.)
  9. Eat sushi.  Or oysters on the half shell.  Or unpasteurized cheeses.  Or lunch meat.  Or mousse.  Or whatever else it is that you’ve been missing for nine months.  And pour yourself another glass of wine.  You’ve earned it.
  10. And remember (in the words of one of my good friends), the worst case scenario is that you’re a mediocre parent.  And even a mediocre parent can raise a reasonably happy and well-adjusted kid.  So don’t be too hard on yourself.

Congratulations, Annie.  I’m so happy for you and so proud of you and I can’t wait to meet my tiniest niece later this week.  I love you!

8 Responses to “What I Wish I’d Known”

  1. Rebecca Says:

    Congratulations to your sister and her family, wonderful news!

    I have often wanted to offer suggestions like this to new moms that have come after me. Esp #7. #7 drove me to the 2 lb bag of M&M’s which only served to prolong #7 b/c newborns don’t like chocolate in 2 lb serving sizes!

  2. Laura Says:

    Love the whole list (even before I saw the last one)! Such good reminders….and especially #9. I have yet to taste a post-baby glass of wine. I have really been looking forward to it, but it just completely slipped my mind that I hadn’t had any. Do you think they will call the authorities if I head to Schnucks at 9:30 am on a Monday with my 1-week old and buy a couple of bottles of wine (and only wine)??? In any case, congratulations to Anne!

  3. Alice Says:

    Always good reminders even when they’re not newborns anymore. Congratulations Annie!

  4. Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities Says:

    Yay!!!! Congrats to Anne and to you and your entire family. I can’t tell you how big I just smiled when I read this. And what a wonderful gift to your sister (and to all of us really). Your advice is spot on and lovely :) Yay!

  5. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    Congrats to Anne and her new daughter! And congrats to Auntie Gale :) I hope to meet the little minx in August?

    I love your list. Especially #7…so true.

  6. BigLittleWolf Says:

    HUGE congrats to your sister – and to you as a new aunt. Wise words!


  7. anne Says:

    Oh sis…thanks so much. I just read this, and it made my morning. Baby also decided to let us sleep a little last night, so that helps too:) I love all this advice. And it’s amazing how every single one (besides maybe the hospital bills) has come up already. You seem to know what you’re doing. I sure am lucky to have you.

  8. Cathy Says:

    Congrats Anne and Auntie Gale. I think your list is spot on. Enjoy that little baby niece that you can hand back whenever she gets a little too much. They say that’s the best about babies that aren’t yours. ;-)