My good friend, Terrie, is soon to have her first baby. She swears she knows nothing, I'm sure her instincts will kick in, but when she swears her husbands knows nothing, this I will believe. However, I told her today I would blog about things a first time mom should know, I have no instructions but I do have stuff to say...
First, during pregnancy, no matter how organized you think you are, you probably aren't. The "mom mush brain" starts during this time, you will forget every day things and it continues until your child is much older. This is fine, you can always blame the "mom mush brain" for phone calls you forgot to make, mismatched socks or the baby picture you forgot to bring to the baby shower. It's a great idea to try to be organized, but after baby gets here, you will rearrange things like 100 times, this is normal.
At the hospital, you "lose" things. Whatever they open for you, you get to take home. If you are only there 48 hours (normal delivery) you will probably not have as much luck at this, as I do, since I am there 72 hours, but by all means try, and the nurses know what you are doing, so they wont' judge you. When they open the pack of diapers, pretend to change the baby's diaper every 15 minutes or so (instead shoving them into a diaper bag) and they will open a new pack of diapers for you, that you get to take home. If they have to give your baby Tylenol for any means and they only use it once they are "supposed" to throw it in the trash, some nurse will wink at you and leave it on the table, others will throw it away just take it, it's totally fine. You will also get these pads that are the biggest, non adult diaper pads you've ever seen, take them home, not only are they free, but they are also very absorbent and comfortable, and if you happen to go through like 25 in a day, they will bring you more. The hospital issued pacifiers are the greatest, lose them, a lot, they will bring you new ones! (Although my kids never took them anyway.) You will also receive a free diaper bag (at least this is the case in most hospitals), it contains free sample, if you tell them you are nursing the formula sample is small, if you tell them you are formula feeding the sample is much bigger, if you want the bigger sample just tell them. ALSO, hide it as soon as you get it, then if the nurse on the second shift notices you don't have one, you may be offered a second one. Do not feel bad about taking it, formula DOES NOT cost $25/can to make this I promise you. The diaper bag is not exactly useful, but you'll feel better by donating it to the local Goodwill or whatever, someone will use it. Or you can use it as the 'back up' diaper bag you leave in the car, for those cicircumstances that you forgot the real diaper bag or the baby poops through two outfits, or you forgot to restock the diapers in the real one, etc.
During delivery, the nurses will teach you and coach you through everything you need to know. There is NOTHING they haven't seen, seriously, nothing, and if you do gross stuff they will not even tell you it happened, they will move on, you will be none the wiser. You will not see your doctor until like the baby is almost out, get to know your nurses, they will DEFINITELY get to know you in ways you never imagined. When your water breaks (either on it's on or if they have to do it), it smells like Chlorine, I have no idea why, but I personally think it's because if gives a woman a sense of clean during a time that's very messy. There are things that may happen that you never read about in books (for me, it was vomiting and shaking) however, again, the nurses have seen it, nothing you do or your body does will scare them or even really panic them. They are the calmest people I've ever met on the planet. By all means, ASK for the pain medicine every 3 hours, you get to push a button and be demanding and someone walks a cup of water and pain medicine to you, this will probably not happen at home, so take advantage. Also, you have to follow your instincts (for example, I was told not to nurse my son until after his circumcision, the doctor was 3 hours late, by the time little man got out of surgery he was so insanely hungry he wouldn't latch again, my mothering instinct told me to feed him, the nurses told me not to, I wish I would have listened to my instincts). The instincts apply to many things, use them they your greatest resource.
After baby gets here you will find out things that came easily before are no longer easy, if not down right impossible. For me, it was mostly getting to places on time. Now, I wasn't always good at that as it was, but now it's so much worse. Even if you're not taking baby with you OR let's say you get totally organized (or so you think) the night before, something will happen. The baby will poop everywhere, or decide to take 2 hours to drink 1 bottle of milk, when it normally takes them 20 minutes. Or, the baby doesn't wake at 6:45 or before, like usual, and you have set your alarm for 6:45, I promise you those extra 15 minutes of sleep or so worth it to show up late. I feel like if my kids don't wake me up, I have no reason to be out of bed yet. If you had a clear car before baby, it will no longer be clean. Maybe not at first, but soon, very soon, she will hold her own bottle, then decide to throw it, or she will need 17 toys at one time, only to watch them slowly fall off her lap onto the floor and you won't pick them up when you go inside because your hands are always full! You will always be carrying at least one bag, if you are a purse carrier, you will be carrying two bags. At first you will thank that you'll just carry your stuff in the diaper bag, this will not be as easy as you think and you will eventually carry two bags. Then there's always a bottle in your hand for baby and maybe a bottle of water in your hand for yourself. Not to mention keys, possibly a cell phone (because we KNOW those maternity pants that you still have to wear briefly after baby DO NOT have pockets that can carry anything other than a tic tac...yes ONE tic tac, not ONE container of tic tacs). The car seat + the baby weighs probably 123982912 pounds, when you put baby in for the first time it's like this "awww, look how little she looks in that big car seat" then you have to carry it in and out of places and you think your child weighs that of an adult elephant. And there is no easy way to carry those things, they are big, heavy and insanely awkward, you will use more wet or dirty carts that you ever thought, AND you will also park closer to cart corrals simply because it's faster and easier to put carts away.
Some hospitals require that you take these "classes", mine were conveniently located on a touch screen video that just came down from over my head, and I could lay in bed and watch them. They might not be required, but I was there 5 days last time, and didn't have many visitors so...I watched them. The nurses DO NOT think it's funny to laugh at the videos, they are apparently very serious, but I promise you it's also very funny. Speaking of funny, the maconium (I totally spelled that wrong) poop is probably the funniest moment you'll ever have in your life. I hope someone who finds poop as equally as funny as I do is there to enjoy this moment with you. For me, with both children my sister was there and when I was changing a regular pee diaper and I pushed baby's legs back to put the new diaper under, that motion somehow squeezed the tiny little belly and the blackest (or purplest, I cannot decide which color it is) poop you've ever seen comes screaming out, luckily both times I've had the new diaper in place, but the whole thing was so funny! IF you had a normal delivery, cross your legs, you may pee (not on purpose, those sort of things just happen now, this should be added to things that you thought were easy that are almost impossible now - holding your pee), if you've had a c-section, you need to brace your stomach with a soft pillow when you laugh, because it will hurt, and then it'll be so funny that it's hurting that you'll laugh even more or that might be the medicine, whatever.
There will also come a moment at the hospital that you realize you are going to have to do this on your own. This may be overwhelming, for me, it was beyond that. I actually walked out to the nurses station in tears, they did not freak out, again, they've seen it all. They helped me through, answered any questions I had but the thought of going home and doing it alone (yes, we have husbands, but we're the mom) was a little more than I could handle for a few moments. These feelings are very normal, but if for some reason they linger longer than you feel is "normal" you should probably tell someone, but you are probably not nearly as neurotic as I am....
And finally, being a mom means, not panicking. If you react, your child will react. Which means if you over-react, so will your kid. If you child wants to use your nasty flip flop as her teething ring, there is no harm in that. If you decide not to make every person sanitize up to their elbows every time they touch your baby, that is fine. If all those neat little contraptions that you bought for baby (or got as a gift) your baby never even touches, it's totally fine, there is nothing wrong with your kid, just blame the product.
And when all else fails call your mom or hand baby to daddy and breathe!!!!