Dear 100 Hour Board, especially those with children,
Since so many of you are gathered and answering (yay!), and many of you have children these days, I crave your advice. I'm 5.5 months pregnant with my first child. What do you think is the most important thing for my husband and I to remember as we transition to being parents? What do we most need to know?
- Sandwich Vixen
Sleep now. Pretend you're hibernating bears. Just go to bed early and wake up late and revel in the glory that is being unconscious.
Dear Sandwich Vixen,
Go do stuff. Go see movies on a whim. Go on lots and lots of dates. Go to the temple. Travel (it doesn't have to be far). Go down your mental list of stuff you've always wanted to do, then go do it because I promise you won't get a chance to do them for, well, decades.
That being said, it's totally worth it.
- Beemer Boy
Dear bacon, turkey, and swiss,
Whistler just asked us a similar question: Board Question #77141. I recommend that you take a look at that one (especially my answer, of course). But fear not! I will still think of a new answer for you, because I love you so much.
How about this: trust yourself. A new baby is a magnet for advice (and then there are self-help books*). But the people giving you advice don't know everything about you and your baby. They don't know what you've already tried, what has failed, what has surprised you by working. They (well, most of them, anyway) don't come anywhere near loving that baby as much as you do. They don't know how you feel, what frustrates you, what seems impossible to you, what makes you want to break down crying.
But...they also are trying to help. They (usually) do not want to make you cry. Or scream in exasperation. Most people giving you advice are not evil. They are generally very sincere. So it's probably best not to punch all of them.
You are a smarty-pants, and you think carefully about your choices. You can do it!
- The Defenestrator
PS- I realize this is a very ironic answer. I just advised you not to feel like you need to take everyone's advice. Ha.
*These exist primarily to make you aware of all the ways you can mess up your baby's ENTIRE EXISTENCE.
A lot of the advice here is about how to enjoy or prepare in the time you have before your baby comes. So that's the direction I'm taking as well.
You want to know something you could do before the baby comes? Revel in the simple pleasure of opening the car door, getting out of your car, closing the door, and . . . walking away. I'm sure there are lots of simple things that you give up when you have kids, but whenever we go anywhere without the kids, getting out of the car and moving off to the next thing always seems lightning fast. It's the little things . . .
I also second trying to do as many things as possible. And contrary to the advice of "get all the sleep you can" I would suggest you spend as much of your time doing what you want. Stay up and go to late night showings of things. Go on a walk at night. Binge watch a TV series. And then sleep in if you want. It's not like humans can magically store up hours of sleep, to be distributed out later when needed. You are going to be tired and cranky from lack of sleep when you have an infant. But it seems to me that getting into the habit of 8-9 hours of sleep a night before the baby comes would actually make you less able to handle the lack of sleep afterward.
One last piece of advice about child-rearing. One of the biggest things that helped me not be afraid of having kids (or, be less afraid) is the fact that I never really felt like I was going to really mess them up. I knew there would be a learning curve, and that I would need to listen to advice and try and fail at different parenting strategies. But did I think I would cause lasting emotional or psychological damage because of bad parenting? I don't think it's hubris to say that I think I can avoid the worst of that. So if you can just capture and hold on to the conviction that you're probably going to do a good, better-than-average job, I think that will help you.
- Rating Pending (who, truth be told, hates that he has to sleep. He loves it when he's doing it, but it's frustrating that it's required and not just recreation.)
Dear Sandwich ~
This seems to be a popular question this week. Have I mentioned that there is no Right Police?
Other than that, trust your gut, ignore what everyone else says or does, and chill out. And make sure your husband is okay with you crying on his shoulder when you simply have had a bad day and just need to cry. And that afterwards he'll take the baby and give you a break.
~ Dragon Lady
The first 10 days (or so) post partum are worse than anybody can prepare you for (well, they were for me). IT WILL PASS.
Don't let anyone make you feel guilty for your parenting/childbirth choices. Trust your instincts about what your baby needs. Sometimes you will just know.
You probably wanted mommy advice. You got a lot of it above. Ready for some advice from a decidedly non-mommy source?
You might be madly in love with your baby the instant you see her. You might form an instant connection that will never be broken that will transcend time and space. Your baby might enter your heart at first sight, never to come out.
She might not, though.
That's fine. I didn't feel any particular connection to my daughter when she was born. I was excited to finally meet her, of course, but when I first saw her, screaming, purple, eyes screwed shut, and covered with chunks and slime, my initial thought was, "Huh." There was a disconnect there. I liked her just fine, and I had a strong sense of a duty to protect and watch over her, but I don't know that I felt any real bond for a while.
Sometimes, it takes time. My wife was the same way. (Both her relationship with our child and my relationship with her, come to think of it.) It's been seven months now, and we're both crazy about her. Part of that is the fact that for the first couple of months, babies simply aren't that interesting. They eat, sleep, poop, and cry. That's really about it. They can't interact with you much. They won't express any emotions other than, say, hunger or exhaustion. As time goes on, they learn how to do more and more, and they get much more interesting, which helps you develop an attachment.
But more importantly, simply spending time with your child will help create and strengthen that bond. You'll get to know everything about her. You'll learn her quirks, what makes her laugh, and what doesn't. Just like you did with your husband, you'll love your baby more and more every day, even on those days that you just want to throw her out the window so she'll stop screaming. So don't stress out because you don't love your baby as much as other women seem to right from the get go and what kind of horrible mother are you. A strong relationship takes time. With luck, you'll have an awful lot of it to get to know your baby.