This is a guest post by Jamilyn. Please see her bio at the bottom!
Mind rushing, heart pumping, and emotions running rampant. If you’re anything like me, your feelings are almost uncontrollable when you think about EVERYTHING you need to do before the baby comes. The stress meter is MAXED OUT. The astronomical task of preparing for the arrival of your sweet new baby is overwhelming, to say the least. My experience was no exception.
We rushed out the door to get to the hospital. My water broke right in the middle of an episode of Parks and Recreation. I mean, he could have at least given us 5 more minutes. How rude.
The time had FINALLY come! Just days before, at my 39-week appointment, my doctor had said our baby boy was a stubborn little guy; he wasn’t on his way out just yet. But now he was coming! I started feeling totally unprepared and terrified. Thoughts started racing through my mind, “We didn’t finish decorating the nursery! What are we going to name him? I’m not ready! I can’t push a baby out! I’m not prepared!”
Let’s PAUSE there for now! Your mind might wander down the same stressful road, but if I could go back in time and tell myself ONE THING to help me feel better about EVERYTHING, it would be,
“It’s okay if you don’t have it all together!”
I’ve thought long and hard about the ABSOLUTE ESSENTIALS that you and every expecting mother should put on the ‘to-do list’ before your baby comes. There’s always time for the extraneous details, but these are BARE NECESSITIES.
Keep it Clean
Most expectant mothers go through a nesting period at some point during their pregnancy. “Nesting” is a mother’s internal instinct or drive to prepare the home, or “nest,” for the baby’s imminent arrival. This includes things like gathering all the needed/wanted baby supplies, decorating and assembling the nursery, and cleaning until your arms fall off. While you may not have the power to buy ALL the cute baby items on your list, you do have the power to CLEAN!
I promise, coming home to a clean home WILL make a bigger difference than you can imagine!
“Women who described their living spaces as ‘cluttered’ or full of ‘unfinished projects’ were more likely to be depressed and fatigued than women who described their homes as “restful” and “restorative.” The researchers also found that women with cluttered homes expressed higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Clutter stresses me out. I took advantage of every moment I could BEFORE the baby came to unpack (We moved when I was 8 months pregnant! I don’t recommend it!) and make sure the house was as tidy and neat as possible. Coming home to a messy and disheveled home after the anxiety and trauma of CHILDBIRTH would have made me crumble. So, I made a conscious effort to stow away items to their rightful place, organize areas that would be frequently visited, and de-clutter and clean everywhere I could.
Actually, the hospital personnel WILL NOT let you leave the hospital without proving to them that you have a car seat. Just like purchasing anything, you will find car seats range from very expensive to more affordable. While I am all about buying things used, I would caution you to be very careful buying car seats used. Car seats can only be used for a certain number of years before they “expire.”
There’s a cool Picture from https://www.verywellfamily.com/the-facts-about-car-seat-expiration-284382
“Each seat or booster will have a date of manufacture printed on a sticker that’s somewhere on the seat or stamped into the seat itself; as well as on the registration card that came with the seat. The car seat’s usable lifespan is often listed in the manual as well. Some seats have the expiration stamped into the plastic of the shell saying, ‘DO NOT USE AFTER’ and then a date. Some seats require you to calculate the expiration date by counting forward from the manufacture date. If the seat is missing the stamp, it’s unreadable, or the sticker/manual is missing, consider the seat to be a seat with an unknown history, and therefore unsafe to use.” You can read more, here.
The hospital will not check the expiration date, they just want to make sure you have one in your car. Don’t worry about buying a super fancy car seat. Any reasonably-priced car seat will work just fine at first.
You’re gonna use a lot of these, so you should definitely stock up. Baby showers, anonymous givers, and neighbors and friends will give you a PILE of diapers. You may think to yourself, “I have so many diapers, I don’t think I’ll need to buy any more diapers until he’s 3!” But you would be WRONG. This little squirt will squirt in their pants so many times in one day, you’ll go CRAZY.
To prepare a little better, we bought a pack of diapers every time we went grocery shopping while I was still pregnant. That way, it wouldn’t be such a steep cost after our baby had arrived. Slowly and inevitably, that pile of diapers will start to disappear, and it’ll happen WAY faster than you expect. So be ready for the diaper plunge…you’re gonna need A LOT of ’em.
You don’t need to have a perfectly- decorated or fancy room for him to stay in RIGHT when you bring them home, or even at all if it doesn’t fit the budget. As long as there is a comfy, warm, and quiet place for baby to sleep, that is all that matters. We used our Graco Pack ‘n Play, for the first couple of months; soft, protected and close by, and it served its purpose perfectly. Just remember, if you have to choose between making your baby’s room look AMAZING, or tidying up and doing a deep clean before baby comes, CHOOSE cleaning. Your body and mind will thank you!
This one is pretty simple. Your precious bundle will need blankets to snuggle up in. Our little man loved being swaddled tightly until he was almost 7 months old. Now, he has a fuzzy soft blanket that he holds close and snuggles. I got the most use out of our muslin blankets. They are great for swaddling and lightweight. We tried a few Velcro swaddles and sleep sacs, but every baby will have different preferences. What works for one baby may not work for another but give them all a try.
Here are some suggestions:
Babies are dirty little creatures. It’s almost MAGICAL how fast they can dirty up a perfectly clean onesie. They will spit on, drool on, and poop on just about EVERYTHING they wear…all before they even start eating solid food! Once that happens, the messes only get worse. So, having enough clothing for them will help get you through laundry day more comfortably.
Also, don’t feel like you need to buy everything brand new. My wonderful cousin gave us 2 HUGE boxes of clothes! We hardly bought any clothes for the first 9 months of his life. Last week, my parents found a jackpot of cute clothes at our local thrift store, so keep your eyes open. Buying NEW is enticing, but because babies grow so fast, it’s almost not worth the investment.
You WILL lose this battle once or twice…or maybe more! But you will get better at managing your reactions. Parenting is an emotional testing ground. Every parent is pushed to the very limit of their tolerance level. A screaming baby, lack of sleep, and dishes and laundry piling are just a few things that will drive you NUTS at first. But I promise, as time goes on, you will surprise yourself how strong you are internally.
Put on some good music, wear your most comfortable clothes, and love that baby with everything you’ve got. At this crucial part of their lives, they’ll need someone strong to care for them.
Sleep is great, and you WILL need it to be able to cope with numerous stresses and challenges that are on the way. Sleep deprivation is REAL! There were a few weeks that I literally thought I was going crazy. Your baby won’t know the difference from night and day at first. You will be up with your baby at night just as much as you are during the day for the first little while. The biggest and most effective rule I can tell you about sleep is…
SLEEP WHEN THE BABY SLEEPS!
At least for the first few weeks! Don’t try to rush back into your normal routine just yet. There will be plenty of time for that. For now, you can let some of the dishes and dirty clothes pile up. You need to focus on YOU and getting to know your little one. I promise there will be an end to these sleepless nights. Patrick was always willing to wake up and help in the middle of the night, but he had to get up and work the next day. So, I woke up alone most nights. You may struggle at first, but IT GETS EASIER. You are not the only one.
Life DOES NOT suck once the baby arrives. It is all a matter of perspective. Sure, you have an insatiable little screamer that demands attention at every turn, but that DOES NOT mean that you can’t be happy and healthy. Babies require a lot of attention, time, energy, and mental endurance, but YOU decide how you feel when the waves start to beat upon you. Do I let this stress build up and drown me? Or DO I SWIM? Here are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t SINK:
Whether you are exploring this new world with your spouse, or you are doing this alone, seek out the best people and places for support. Family is the obvious choice, but there are a number of other places you can look to find like-minded people dealing with similar challenges.
Hopefully, your mind is at ease knowing that you don’t need to do EVERYTHING on your to-do list by the time your baby comes. Don’t be like me and let your emotions take control. Start with the essentials and you’re bound to feel less stressed as your due date approaches.
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Sidekick Mama, otherwise known as Jamilyn Lambert, is a mother of one, an elementary school teacher of 7 years, and wife to her supportive and caring husband, Patrick. She loves sharing what she has learned about motherhood and family life, and she is dedicated to helping other moms CRUSH motherhood too.
You can find her here!