Why my Toddler was in my bed last night.

It happens occasionally, very occasionally in my house, but it does happen. Sometimes there’s a kid in my bed at night. I’m pretty protective of my sleep and once the young’uns are old enough to sleep in a crib/bed at night, they do so. Every move, snort, slap in the face or kick in the stomach is very disruptive. BUT. They are still young and occasionally, they end up in my bed. Last night it was the first time the 2 year old successfully slept in it; she usually just pokes me in the face and giggles at me until I give it up and put her back in her crib where she cries until she falls asleep. Last night was different.

  1. She wasn’t crying. She was fake crying to get attention, but stuck in what I call the two year old loop. This is the loop of wanting and not wanting something at the same time. She was exhausted but wouldn’t lie down. If I lay her down, she screamed like a banshee. Once, I put a blanket on her and she sounded like I was trying to kill her. So, she sat there, fake crying but unable to fall asleep because she WOULD NOT LIE DOWN.
  2. The sound she was making weighed on my ears. It sounded like the most annoying sound in the world from ‘Dumb and Dumber.’ Ok, probably not, but that’s what it sounded like to my ears at 3 am. I would have done anything to make it stop.
  3. My four year old needed sleep. She was hanging in there like a trooper, but when your kids share a room, one or the other is awoken by the other when there’s a problem. Elizabeth needed sleep. So now, one kid or the other was going to be in my bed regardless.
  4. I was cold. It’s winter and it’s 3am. We have the heat on, but it’s chilly and my feet were slowly turning into ice cubes.
  5. I was tired. Did I mention it’s 3am? Actually, by now it’s probably almost 4. She’s been making that sound for almost an hour.
  6. I tried being in the room. I put a pillow on the floor next to her and lay there, patting her, shushing her, singing to her, trying EVERYTHING to make her lie the fuck down and go to sleep. Nothing doing.
  7. She’s sick. This is probably the biggest reason. If she wasn’t sick, I’d leave the room (my presence was obviously only encouraging The Sound), and make her go to sleep. There was nothing wrong with her other than she wanted my attention. If she had been well, 15 minutes of her crying with no attention would have seen her fall back asleep and all would be well. But I challenge even the most stoic mother among you to ignore a sick child who obviously wants you and is coughing intermittently and can’t self-sooth because her nose is full of snot.
  8. She’s sick. Yep, it gets listed twice. All sick children want their parents. Who am I to argue?
  9. When I picked her up, she melted into me with a contented little sigh that melted my heart into disgusting goo. I stepped in it and caved. I totally caved.
  10. Once placed in our bed, a little hand drifted up out of the darkness and patted my arm and my back, the same way I do to sooth her, and then she patted my cheek.  Jesus, she’s so sweet.

Yep, I caved because I love her so dang much and it was so worth it for the baby snuggles. She’s my last baby and the only one who really likes to cuddle. She fell asleep there with her tiny hand in mine and it was amazing.

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The Terror of Parenting

Who remembers what it was like to bring home your new baby? What were the things that scared you the most?  I’ve made a list for your entertainment. 🙂

  1. Leaving the hospital. Let’s face it, at the hospital you have nurses to help you with feeding, people who bring you food, and the secure knowledge that you are not alone and if you DO mess up, people are there who can help you fix it. The idea of leaving that safe structured hospital is pretty darn scary because really, what the hell do you know about babies? Why do they think you can just take it home? Shouldn’t there be a test or something first? I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!
  2. Driving home from the hospital. First you have to get the new infant in the car seat which you’ve never used before. Then get it in the car. This is when I froze up. I could NOT sit in the front seat. What if the baby woke up and needed me? The front seat was way to far away! So, my husband became an Uber driver and I sat in the back, next to a sleeping infant, on the off chance she woke up and needed to see my face. And THEN I spent the entire trip telling my husband to slow down, make smoother turns, and not hit every damn pothole. THE BABY IS IN THE CAR!
  3. The first bath. I’ve learned a lot since my first one, like how a newborn doesn’t really NEED a bath, just a wipe down with some soft cloths every once in while, barring some horrible diaper incident. But with my first one, I put out the baby tub, got the sling ready, filled it with warm water, and then spent a terrifying 10 minutes trying to not panic. She was so slippery! What if she fell into the water? OMG I’M GOING TO KILL MY BABY AND SHE’S ONLY BEEN HOME TWO DAYS!
  4. Trimming her nails. Baby nails are sharper than anything on earth. And newborns are spastic things that really don’t know how to move their arms or hands yet and if you don’t cut those little nails they will scratch themselves. Like, you will look down and see a bloody gash on their face and think some creature must have attacked your precious baby. Nope, baby nails. So, being a good parent, you buy baby nail trimmers, grab a tiny hand, and then freeze. Those nails are so so so small. What if you miss? What if you cut her precious fingertip off? What if she moves at a key moment? Maybe I don’t have to trim them right now? No, she’s cutting her own face. I need to…just hold still…don’t breathe…..
  5. Giving her to someone else. I hated handing her to other people. I hated leaving her without me. What if she cried? What if they dropped her? NO ONE would do as good a job as me, so hands off! I got better at this one, but the first month or so I was  super protective of my little bundle of joy and if she cried while you were holding her, you got a dirty look and a caustic remark while I snatched her back from you. Sorry. The hormones made me do it. Yeah. That’s why.

Did you have super scary moments as a new parent? It’s all super scary, really, but these are the things that actually had me on the verge of panic attacks for the first month or two.  Practice makes perfect and hormones even out eventually and suddenly you’re a pro.

Disneyland with a toddler

I took my almost 4 year old to Disneyland for the first time a week ago. It was super cute and so much fun and I’m so glad I waited until she was this age to take her. Much younger and she just wouldn’t have appreciated the magic as much. I needed to write something today, and someone suggested that I write about how to do Disneyland with a toddler. So, here’s me giving that a shot.

Some points before I start:

  1. I live 20 minutes from the park, this means I don’t need to pay for a hotel and can leave when I want. This might not be the case for you, so do what you need to in order to feel like you get your money’s worth. Tickets are now $100 a pop, even for a 3 year old, and that is not cheap, my friends.
  2. If you are planning a family trip, I do recommend the Disney run hotels. They are fabulous and cater well to families, even if they are on the pricey side. If you can’t afford that (understandably), the Howard Johnson is nearby and also fabulous.

Ok, Disney with a toddler.

  1. I made this trip about her. Because I live close by, I know I will be going back to the park with her and I’ve grown up going to Disney, so this trip was NOT about what I wanted to do. It was all about HER. The rides I chose, the characters we met, all of it was designed to give her the best possible first time experience I could give her. This might not work for everyone, especially if you have more than one child, or if you’re visiting from out of town and don’t know when/if you’ll make it back. In that case, I would pick one thing the child would really love and make sure that is on the agenda.
  2. Stroller. This is a must for a Disney trip with small children. There is a TON of walking and they get tired, fast. Let them ride in the stroller as much as they want to save their energy, hide from all the people, or get some shade. It will help a lot. It is also useful in the carrying of the things. I suggest two bags: one with important things like money and cameras and one with non-essentials, like a change of clothing or baby wipes. The smaller one with the important stuff can come with you on rides, and the other stuff can stay on the stroller and that way if it gets stolen, it’s not a big deal. For the record, nothing was taken out of our stroller, but better safe than sorry.
  3. Don’t skip the nap. Disney is exhausting and a tired child isn’t having any fun and is probably making you miserable. They cry more and whine more and generally bring everything down. Disney is the happiest place on Earth, so keep the peace by allowing the child to nap. I know it’s hard to leave the park, but if you have a hotel nearby, have one parent take the child back for a nap and then meet up with the rest of the family. If you live near the park, take them home. This also allows you to miss the afternoon heat and the toddler is up and ready to go for the evening parade and other fun stuff. Trust me, it will only make things run more smoothly. If you have an annual pass, consider just going home after a few hours. End the day on a high note, not a tantrum. Even with older children who don’t nap, taking a break around lunch for a couple of hours to unwind is not a terrible idea. Swim in the pool, have lunch, watch TV, whatever. Then come back for more fun with a well rested happy family.
  4. Understand that you won’t hit everything you want. Have a list of rides you think they will like, but keep the plan loose.  There is a LOT to see and do and once you add in snacks and meals AND line times, the day goes really really fast. You will not be able to do everything, especially if you have a lot of people who want to do all the stuff THEY want. This is where having at least ONE thing for the toddler that you make time to do really important.
  5. Don’t force a ride. Seriously, it’s not worth it. If the kid really doesn’t want to go on it, don’t make them. It’s mean and Disney is the happiest place on Earth. Don’t make the kid cry.
  6. What to bring. Baby wipes, hand sanitizer, a change of clothes in case of an accident or a water ride, diapers if the toddler isn’t potty trained yet. Anything else is extra. Remember, this is for an older child who is no longer breast/bottle feeding. Younger babies will need more stuff. If you find you need something, they have stores there. Don’t try to haul everything around, it’ll just stress you out.
  7. They have baby centers. They DO! It’s the most amazing place. If you need to breast/bottle feed a younger sibling or just need some quiet time but don’t have a hotel or home to go to, they have baby centers in the Park. Ask at the front gate or any Cast Member. There are all sorts of things a mom could need in one of those places.
  8. Keep up on bathroom breaks. Don’t wait for the toddler to start doing their potty dance. That might be too late. There are bathrooms everywhere but if you don’t know WHERE you might not have time to find one. So, every couple of rides or so, just make a pit stop.
  9. Hydrate. They have bottles of water and if you go into a restaurant, they will give you a cup of water for free. Don’t forget to eat, too. There is so much good food at Disney, you won’t be without choices. There are carts that sell fruit and healthy muchie stuff, if you want to avoid sugar and fat.
  10. Have fun! Try not to stress. Go with the flow and just enjoy the wonder that is Disney. And remember, what works for my family might not work for yours. Do what DOES work for you, so you love Disneyland as much as I do.

The “Think of the Children” agrument

Censorship really angers me, especially when it’s keeping people from reading books.  People all over the country lose their minds and try to keep certain books out of libraries (50 Shades, anyone?) and off school curriculum. Why? Because they feel the content is inappropriate, for whatever reason. “But the CHILDREN! Think of the CHILDREN!” they cry, charging ahead for battle.

Well, I am, actually. I have children and I want them to be able to read what they want, but I also realize that some stuff might not be appropriate for their age. So, should we BAN what I don’t want them to read? Hell, no, because I can simply NOT READ IT TO THEM. That goes for movies, too. Parents can control to a very large degree what their children see and read. Involved parents know what their kids are watching and what they’re reading and if they aren’t sure about something, they should read/watch it first. Take it for a drive.

Granted, my children are very young and it’s relatively easy to keep them protected from the big bad world. As they get older, this will get harder, especially with the internet just hanging there, ready to be explored. Which makes censorship even more ridiculous, really. If a kid wants to read or watch something, there’s not much you can do to prevent it if they have access to the internet. Teenagers LOVE the forbidden with a fiery passion.  You cannot keep them from ideas that you don’t like nor can you keep them wrapped in wool and on their leading strings forever. Like everything in regards to children, you have to teach them how to process tough ideas and emotions.

Kids are not stupid; they’re just young. How can you teach kids empathy if they never see other people suffering or have suffered themselves? How can you teach them to be kind and not judge unless they see/feel what happens if people are mean or judge? How can they develop critical thinking skills if all they ever experience are the ideas YOU believe in? The POINT of reading and education is to create people who can think on their own and don’t just take something at face value. They are supposed to QUESTION. I know, I was a high school English teacher.

Schools don’t assign these books just to make you nervous. The administrators and department heads aren’t sitting there gleefully twirling their mustaches and chuckling evilly.  Those books are assigned for a reason: to TALK about them and to LEARN shit. Aside from that, who is anyone else to tell me what I can’t read? Trying to keep a book out of a PUBLIC LIBRARY is insane. Adults can make their OWN choices, thank you, they don’t need someone telling them it’s not ok to read something.

(Aside: I despise the 50 Shades trilogy, but I’m not going to tell you you CAN’T read it. I’ll advise you not to and give you my reasons why, but you absolutely can read it if you want. Oh, and why I hate it has NOTHING to do with the fact that it includes elements of BDSM and graphic sex scenes, which is apparently what those who wanted it banned were upset about. Our country’s terror toward anything sexual is a whole other blog post).

I once did a long term sub job for an AP English class and we read “The Kite Runner.”  This is a heavy book and deals with heavy stuff, mostly sexual assault and it’s ramifications. Not only is the male protagonist assaulted, he was assaulted by a male character, in the Middle East, during extremely conservative rule. DUDE. Now, this is not a book I would give a freshman to read, probably, but this class was filled with Seniors who were all college bound. An AP course gives you college credit and as such requires that you read college level literature. It also requires the students give college level analysis and exhibit a certain level of maturity when faced with such sensitive content. I can tell you when we discussed that scene in class, you could hear a pin drop. Everyone made excellent points, and NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE, made any jokes. Were they uncomfortable? Well, I certainly HOPE so. It was an uncomfortable topic. But they analysed it, looked at it from both sides, figured out motivations, and left class with a brain full of thoughts. As far as I know, no one was emotionally scarred from it. And yet. Yet parents have tried to ban this book or remove it from a curriculum because of it’s subject matter. Le sigh. I guess their children will never hear of a sexual assault in real life or, you know, WATCH THE NEWS.

When you talk about things like sexual assault in books, inevitably you talk about things like consent and reporting. This is important and I can almost promise you that conservative parents don’t talk about this with their kids. I HOPE they are, but if they aren’t, then having this conversation in the classroom can HELP someone who’s been assaulted. This is a Good Thing. Discussion is ALWAYS better than avoidance. ALWAYS. Not only does this book discuss sexual assault, said assault happens to a BOY. Men get assaulted too, you know, but are often afraid to come forward.  I cannot think why it would be a BAD thing to read this book in schools. To students who might be legal adults no less.

Don’t read the book or watch the movie if you think you won’t like it or it might offend you, but don’t try to tell other people what THEY can and cannot do. Is your kids’ school having them read “The Kite Runner,” but you don’t want your kid to read it? Guess, what: THEY DON’T HAVE TO. They can take the zero. Maybe you can work out an alternate assignment with the teacher. But don’t pull out your picket signs and start protesting. Don’t sign petitions or complain at the PTA meetings. Don’t take away something that can enrich someone’s brain. Don’t force YOUR fears and beliefs on others. Just don’t. All parents want to protect their kids, but it’s just not a realistic idea that a parent CAN protect them from everything. Instead, the goal should be HELPING them process and deal. Period.

(the “think of the children” idea was inspired by @SamSykesSwears. He writes books that I recommend you read, and I also recommend that you check out his website and read the comic found therein)

What do you REALLY need for a newborn?

Ah, all the stuff that a baby brings with it. Stores will try and sell you all of the things, whether you need them or not, and then a lot of that stuff will sit there not being used. You won’t use it, but because you were nesting at month nine, you opened everything, washed everything, and set everything out looking so pretty and cute, so you can’t even return the stuff. Well, let’s see if I can help you narrow it down to stuff you really need for when baby arrives. Anything not listed, you can probably wait to buy for a month, two, or even three. It’s also important to note that ALL of these things are available to buy used on Craigslist and it never hurts to check your local thrift store. Also, ask around and see if a mom is done using her stuff, she might just give you something.

  1. Bassinet. If you’re at all like me, the idea of co-sleeping fills you with terror at the thought you will roll over and crush that precious baby. So, you will look for cribs and bassinets. I will tell you this: that baby is probably not going to sleep in a crib by itself for longer than two hours at a time for at least 3 months, more like 4. A bassinet is great, but they are very very small and your newborn will outgrow it very very quickly. I compromised and bought a co-sleeper. It’s pricey, but also transforms into a playpen, so it’s a two for one. This newfangled contraption allowed my babies to sleep next to me without being in the same bed as me and I could roll over to check on them or breast feed. It was awesome. Both girls slept exclusively in this (or on me because newborns are like that) for at least three months.
  2. Clothes. Well, here’s the thing, your precious bundle of joy will go through so many outfits in a day. They spit up and poop all the time. ALL THE TIME. Diapers work, but they also poop while you’re changing an already poopy diaper and then there’s poop on the new diaper, oozing on the changing table, and oozing all over them. Buy simple outfits that are comfortable without a lot of frills or buttons and that you don’t mind getting dirty. It does not matter what a newborn wears when because you and them will lose all concept of morning, evening, and night. I highly recommend something that DOES NOT go over the head like these from Carters. Just buy a ton of those and let them wear it all the time. Onsies are also a win as are gowns (no buttons!). Sleep sacks are amazing for night time since you can’t put a blanket on them (SIDS). When it was hot I used these (which I don’t see at the Carters website, but check back, they might add it back) and for colder weather, these. For the light weight one, you can use the shirt or not and you don’t have to put anything underneath the fleece one. Sorry, I really like Carters. Their clothes last forever and are easy to wear and clean, but other brands are fine.
  3. Burp cloths. You will need more of these than you think. Buy a bunch and then buy even more. It’s important to realize that not all burp cloths are equal. Some can be really scratchy and some seem absorbent but are really terrible. I really liked these and those come in other colors and patterns. I still have all of mine and use them as rags. They hold up REALLY well.
  4. Receiving blankets. Not to be confused with swaddles, receiving blankets are usually too small to effectively swaddle but are supremely useful in other ways. I used to have on in the bottom of the co-sleeper to protect the sheet from poop and spit-up. I would also use them if I had to put the baby down on the floor or couch for the same reason. They are a light cover for going outdoors in their car seat or stroller and a myriad of other things. I like the flannel ones because they’re super soft.
  5. Swaddles. This will make your newborn sleep a little longer than if they weren’t swaddled. Remember, they’re used to being all scrunched up and squeezed and they just have no idea what to do with all the freedom that comes with being born. They’ll flail and wake themselves up and then you’ll cry because you’re just so tired. So, swaddle. There are a multitude of swaddles out there to choose from. Have the nurse at the hospital show you how to do it with a blanket so you don’t get home and panic. For that type of swaddle, I liked these. The vast majority of the time, though, I used these (even when they’re awake, they like to be swaddled). They were tough for the baby to break out of and easy to use even when I was exhausted.
  6. Noise machine. This is not an absolute must but it’s key to remember that the baby was used to noise before it was born. There was mama’s heartbeat, the rush of her blood through her veins, and her laughing and talking (not to mention everyone else laughing and talking). They are USED to the noise and if you put them in a quiet room, it might be hard for them to sleep.
  7. Feeding supplies. Have this ready before baby comes home. If you’re planning on formula feeding, ask your pediatrician what they recommend and buy some. If you’re breast feeding, you can rent a breast pump or buy one, and have milk storage bags on hand as well as lanolin for your nipples. If you’re breastfeeding, it’s important to remember to try not to give bottles or pacifiers for at 4-6 weeks because your baby might prefer those to latching on the nipple. Still, it’s always nice to have a bottle or two on hand. I really liked these but there are so many to choose from and it’s a pretty personal choice. A feeding pillow like a Boppy is very convenient, but a bed pillow will work if you find the cost prohibitive. If you have a body pillow, try wrapping it around your waist and using that, I did that with my eldest.
  8. Skin care. I include diaper rash ointment and any lotions you wish to use in this category as well as baby powder and baby wipes. Everything should be fragrance free and hypoallergenic because their skin is so new. I really like Pamper’s sensitive baby wipes and still use them. Desitin is a perfectly serviceable diaper rash ointment, but they have super organic stuff you can use if you prefer. As for lotions, I know a lot of people go for Burt’s Bees, but come to find out from a labor and delivery nurse, that brand actually causes a lot of skin irritation and rashes. I also discovered that with my first born after I used a baby balm on her and she broke out in a rash. I switched to Aveeno’s Baby line which I REALLY liked. I use their lotion and body wash with the kids still.
  9. Diapers. I didn’t use cloth diapers, so I won’t be too helpful on that front. If you want to know about them I do know of a really go informational site for you. It’ll tell you everything you need to know about cloth diapering. If you’re using disposable, I will say I had a definite preference. For newborns I loved Pampers Swaddlers.  They will most likely have these in the hospital. They have this nifty yellow line that tells you when the baby has peed and they don’t leak as much as the Huggies equivalent did.  Once they started moving around, I changed to Huggies Little Movers and my 18 month old still uses those.
  10. Car seat/stroller/bucket seat. Ok, there are a TON of choices for these, so I will tell you what I did and then give an alternative or two. I purchased this stroller/car seat system. It work great because I could just remove the seat from the car, set it in the stroller and be on my way. Both the stroller and the bucket seat were easy to use. Honesty compels me to tell you, however, that I didn’t use the stroller on it’s own. Ever. So, you can probably get away with buying this frame instead (but the car seat and base alone still seems really expensive and comparable to the stroller/seat combo).  You will need to buy a base for the car seat and that will also cost you money. Now, I’ve known several moms of the baby wearing variety who just bought a car seat and then wore their baby everywhere. The problem is you won’t know which way (baby wearing or stroller using) works best for you until you have the baby. You will absolutely need a car seat, so that’s the one thing I can tell you you have to buy before baby arrives.  There are many types of convertible car seats available, but I recommend Britax brand. I had a Graco one but ended up having to return it because my 18 month old could open the buckles. The Britax I have has lasted at least 2 years and will be used for at least 1.5 more and shows no signs of wear (both babies moved out of the bucket seat at around a year).
  11. Monitor. So many types of monitor available. I would avoid any of the cheap ones simply because their signal is easily interrupted and you’ll just hear a bunch of static and beeps all night. A good alternative is this one from V-Tech (which I have used and is GREAT). I didn’t have a video one, so I can’t recommend one for you, but I did have one with a sensor that would tell you if the baby stopped breathing. FULL DISCLOSURE:  I am not sure how accurate this monitoring system is. It’s prone to false alarms which makes me doubt if it would actually go off when it needs to.

Helpful Pregnancy Tips

I have SO MANY people I know who are pregnant. People are breeding everywhere and I’m fielding questions and giving tips left and right.  While I know a lot of you aren’t currently hosting a parasite in your belly, I thought I’d give actual helpful advice to some of my pregnant friends. Seriously, it’s not going to be the “sleep while you can’ bullshit people give you (pregnancy insomnia is a thing as is pregnancy rage so don’t tell a pregnant woman to sleep, she might kill you).

Ok, this is going to be long, so settle in. Get your water bottle, put up your feet, and relax. I read blogs on natural births, had a doula, and then ended up with a c-section completely unprepared for that eventuality. I’m here to help you as much as humanly possible BEFORE you have to make a decision.

  1. Tour the hospital. Ask questions while you do it. This will make the whole visit to the hospital less scary and you will be aware of procedures and processes BEFORE you have to worry about them. This includes if you will get to hold the baby immediately or if they bathe, do eye drops, vaccinations and stuff first. If you get baby time, is it for 30 minutes? Educate yourself on what, if anything, needs to be done immediately. Hospitals are beginning to come around on this issue, and do baths and whatnot AFTER mommy/baby bonding time. Decide if you WANT all those procedures on your baby or if you don’t. Some people forgo that stuff, but make sure you talk with your doctor/pediatrician about it too. Before the birth. Unless you’re giving birth at home, in which case, you already know the procedures, but go over it with your midwife in detail.
  2. Find a pediatrician. Yep, have one before you give birth. They are going to want to see the baby almost as soon as you get it home, a week after that, and then at it’s 1 month check up.  It’s a lot, but it’s to make sure the baby is thriving and it’s important. It’s also hard to do that if you don’t have a pediatrician yet. Ask other parents who they like, go interview. I, for example, have one that refuses to see patients who don’t vaccinated and I like it that way. Choose one that works for your philosophy.
  3. Vaccinations. Your doctor will have you all caught up before you deliver. Some give the TDAP after you deliver, some before, (that’s tetanus and whooping cough). Your baby won’t have anything for about 2 months. That’s 2 whole months of no vaccinations, except hepatitis B, I think, which they do at birth. I was hardcore about requiring anyone who wanted to visit my babies to be up to date on their vaccinations, including flu and whooping cough. If they weren’t, they couldn’t come over. Period. No one complained about it, and everyone complied because BABY. You may not feel so hardcore about it, but I wanted to let you know it’s OK to do this. It’s your baby, you get to decide. That will be your mantra for the next…18 years or so.
  4. Visitors.  Decide before you give birth how you will handle visitors.  This is your first baby, people are going to want to see it and will be clamoring for visitation rights. I had a strict rule that if you came to see me, if you stayed longer than an hour, you had to either bring food, make food, or clean my house. If you didn’t you had to leave.  You will be tired and hormonal and in pain, you will NOT want to play hostess. You don’t want to get dressed, brush your hair and smile. You want someone who will bring you food, hold the baby so you can shower, and then get the fuck out. Trust me on this.  If you make your rules (whatever they are) clear before visits, they won’t be outraged when you kick them out.
  5. After you give birth, your body doesn’t just snap back. Whether you do a vaginal birth or a c-section, you are uncomfortable for a while. Buy some heavy duty pads (yes the big diaper-like ones) because you’ll bleed, a lot, and you can’t use tampons.  Look up padcicles online and buy the stuff to make them.  Have it all on hand so you don’t send your partner to the store to buy it for you upon your return from the hospital.
  6. Steal stuff from the hospital. Yep, grab everything you can. The big ugly mesh panties are amazingly comfortable, grab a bunch. Pads, blankets, whatever. Take what you can get.
  7. Mom friends. I cannot stress the importance of these people. Once you return home with your new baby you are: tired, hormonal, in pain, and have no idea what the fuck you are doing and you are required to keep this tiny human alive. If you’re breastfeeding, you are learning how to do that (and I don’t care what they tell you, that shit is hard). If you’re using formula, how much do you make? How much is the baby supposed to sleep? Is it pooping and peeing normally? Bath or no bath? Why won’t it sleep in the bed you bought for it? You feel like you’re the only person on the planet going through everything, but YOU ARE NOT. All mom’s have been there too. Make friends with some. If they have kids the same age, that’s a bonus.  2 months after my first, I called up the women from my birthing class as we all got together once a month with our babies and hung out. It helped immeasurably.
  8. Birth plan. Well, I’m not going to tell you NOT to do it, but in my experience, you have absolutely no control whatsoever when it comes to the birth of your baby.  I had an extensive plan when I went in with my first; it was obsolete as soon as I walked in the doors of the hospital. Have an idea of what you want, try to stick with it, but understand that things can change in an instant. Or they might go exactly as you want. It’s really a crapshoot.
  9. What to bring to the hospital. You can find lists online, but I found that minimal stuff is fine. The hospital provides you with gowns to wear and if my experience echos everyone else’s, you end up pretty naked by the end anyway. Don’t buy a fancy nightgown to wear, seriously. During labor you’re oozing stuff out of your vagina and it just gets worse as time goes on. You’ll stain that nightgown beyond repair and it’s just not worth it. Wear the gown they give you, trust me (and don’t worry about the naked thing, by the time you’re ready to have that baby you will not give one fuck about who’s in the room and how naked you are, trust me). Do bring phone/computer chargers, a camera if you want one, and music you want to listen to. I recommend soothing stuff, but maybe rock/metal is soothing for you. Don’t load up on snacks because they won’t let you eat and as soon as your partner opens that snickers bar he brought, you’re going to want to kill him. If he/she gets hungry, they can find their own food and eat it out of sight in five minutes or less (the time it will take you to start demanding where they are and WHY ARE THEY NOT HERE?!) Bring a change of clothes to take the baby and yourself home in. Stores try to sell you a special going home baby outfit, but bring something practical and easy-ish to put on them. Dressing a newborn is like dressing an octopus and as soon as you put it on they will poop or spit up and and that’s that. Personal care stuff: shampoo, body soap, toothbrush/paste, hairbrush. Really, that’s it. They have pillows, pads, underwear, and even blankets to wrap baby in. You just don’t need a lot of stuff.
  10. Birthing classes: YES. Do this, whether you plan on having an epidural or not. The classes will help you understand the process and the instructors can answer questions you have about…well, anything.  They will help you find ways to deal with the pain (yes, it fucking hurts) and get through the whole process sane.  There are three different types, unless one popped up in the year since I had my last baby.
    1. Lamaze: Yep, still around. Breathing and pain management techniques
    2. Bradley Method:  this is a 12 week course. Yes, 12 weeks. Similar yet different to Lamaze.
    3. Hypnobabies:  Self-hypnosis.  I did this one with my first. It worked ok in that it kept me very calm during a crazy thing, but I’d probably choose Lamaze or Bradley if I could do it over.

Acts of Kindness

I like helping people, but I hate recognition for it. Seriously, if I do something nice to you, the WORST way to repay me is to find me in a crowd and loudly exclaim how wonderful it was and then proceed to tell the gathered crowd what I did. I will want to kill you at that point. The fact is, doing kind things for others makes me happy and is it’s own reward. I like making people happy and that’s just about it.

I’m trying to teach my kids to do this, by being a living example of kindness to others. I say please and thank you, I hold open doors for people, and sometimes I do nice things for people we know or even strangers.

For example, this past weekend I went to a BBQ for the board members of our co-op preschool. While there, I started talking to the main teacher there who has been working there for practically forever. I love this woman. She is hilarious and is so knowledgeable about kids that age. She is amazing. During this conversation, I mentioned that I enjoy baking (I do, it’s kinda of a problem, like I need to go to meetings or something) and SHE said she was looking for a good scone recipe. Well, come Tuesday, I remember that and I happen to have a good scone recipe, so I made some orange cranberry scones from scratch, wrapped them up, bundled the kids into the car, and drove to her house. Elizabeth got to see her teacher and hear her thanks and watch the whole giving and receiving exchange. It was wonderful.

Sometimes at the check out line at the grocery store, I get a gift card and put $15 on it, sometimes $10, and ask the checker to use it for the guest behind me. This is the perfect scenario for me. I make someone’s day and I get to flee the scene before they know what’s happening. The most I have to deal with is the checker telling me how awesome it is. Please, checker, shhhhhhh. Once at Trader Joe’s, one employee found me a week after I had done this and proceeded to tell me that the gift card had paid not only for the person behind me, but the person behind THEM and how WONDERFUL it was. I just kept edging away, smiling, wondering if she would chase me if I ran.

I give away my never to be used again baby stuff to people who will use it. I could sell it, but this stuff is so expensive. I enjoy knowing that someone who needs it can have it, for free, no strings attached. I have given away strollers, car seats, high chairs, clothes and toys. SO MANY clothes and toys. Oh, and a breast pump, the accompanying parts, and a diaper bag.  I have one of those stand and play things in my garage if anyone needs it. 🙂 When I go through the girls toys to determine what goes and what stays, I tell them what’s happening and that other boys and girls who can’t afford this stuff are going to get it.

Kindness is something that you don’t see every day. Not everyone practices it. It does exist. I cannot tell you the number of times someone has held a door for me as I juggle two kids and three drinks on my way out of Starbucks, or picked something up for me after Josie drops it and I don’t realize it. But very very rarely do you see someone just do something because it’s kind. It doesn’t have to be much or expensive. Sometimes it’s just paying attention and then giving someone something they mentioned in passing they wanted. In an age of entitlement (so many kids are raised feeling they deserve everything first and now), I’m trying to teach my kids to see that they are lucky, that making people happy can be it’s own reward. Pay it forward, pass it on, practice good karma. It takes too much energy to be hateful or rude. It never hurts to be polite or kind first. Ever. Be kind, be polite, and practice good karma.