Parenting · Pregnancy

How to Raise a Baby

Merry Christmas Everyone!

This year was our first year celebrating Christmas as a married couple. On Christmas Eve, we had brunch with Peter’s side, and then headed to Iowa to visit my side. We got home, ate supper, went to evening Mass, and have spent the rest of our trip in bliss (aka eating delicious food and being vegetables).

It was great receiving gifts from my family (gifts is one of my love languages), especially some more clothes that fit. My closet has been running thin. I got some prego shirts that are super adorable, and some Star Wars shirts as well. We also received two really soft stuffed animals, an adorable pig and a big elephant. The stuffed animals will be great for taking monthly photos with the baby! I also received a super awesome book. It’s called The Sh!t No One Tells You, A Guide to Surviving Your Baby’s First Year, by Dawn Dais. The book was so good and I want to tell you about it. I got it yesterday and I finished it today. I don’t think I’ve read a whole book for personal enjoyment since high school.

So in about 4-5 months, Peter’s and my life will turn upside down, and boy am I pumped. Obviously it won’t be all great, and in fact a lot of it is going to suck, but Peter and I know that being parents is something that we are supposed to do with our lives. I can’t tell you how much he and I have prayed about this. We feel very called, and I am honored that the Lord has asked us to start right away.

The book as a whole was awesome, but there were a few things in particular that made me not want to put it down. (This is saying something because I have a terrible attention span.)

1. The author is hilarious and very honest.

I have a couple pregnancy/parenting books on my shelf now, but they all make everything sound like rainbows and butterflies. I’m going to be honest, reading them is pretty boring, although very informative. It feels like studying, which is kind of what it is, but it should be so different than school. Parenting is a part of life, whether you are the parent or you have the parents. This author really tells you how being a parent of a baby is. I’ve been told that I have the same writing style as her, blunt and hilarious (obviously).

2. A variety of moms have contributed to this book

At the end of each chapter, she has multiple moms share their experiences with said topic (breastfeeding, poop, vaccinations, sleep, etc.). The author instead of a husband has a partner, and she has a lot of great insight with that experience, but the other contributions include straight couples, single moms, stay at home moms, moms of one, moms of many, moms of twins, and so many other types, and it’s really helpful to hear from all of them.

3. At the end of the day, there is no one right way to do anything when it comes to parenting. Every mom is different, every kid is different, and the decisions you make are what’s right for you.

The author tells you of multiple different ways of approaching different parenting tactics, the pros and cons of each, and says what she chose and why. I don’t think there is one true way of raising a child, and I feel very strongly about this. Everyone is so different and has different needs and priorities.

So I know a lot of my readers are young women in school, and I know I’m obviously not taking care of a baby quite yet (although I am growing a baby), these are some things to think about and pray about when it comes to at least the first year of a child’s life.

Baby things to keep in mind

Birth. It’s different for everyone, and no matter what, there will be at least one thing that is gross. You can create what’s called a birth plan, but it can completely change because baby might say “it’s actually time like right now,” or “I’m stuck.” There are c-sections, and there is the pushing. There are lots of drugs, some drugs, back up drugs, and no drugs. I’m not going to go into detail for those who don’t need to know, but trust me, there are plenty of details when it comes to birth that you have never heard about, BUT, it’s different every single time. There will be a problem in some way, shape, or form, but you really can’t predict it until it’s happening.

Baby things. I don’t really have much experience with babies. My experience with kids is ages 5-18, so this will be an adventure. The nose sucky thing for boogers sounds very helpful. I plan on getting one of those. A diaper bag (or large purse) is important to hold diapers, wipes, spare clothes, toys, possibly formula if you aren’t breastfeeding, and as the baby gets older snacks, books, and other fun stuff. There are also diapers, obviously. I don’t have much to say on that yet. There are baby changing pads, which I think is a must. I’d like to avoid poop on the carpet, just a preference. There are pacifiers. Some do pacifiers, some don’t. I don’t really know what we will do yet. I think we’re going to have some just in case, but try to not use them too much. I am a believer in figuring out why a baby is crying before just putting a sock in it.

Breastfeeding. It sounds so good for the baby and it seems beautiful and it’s obviously natural. I really really want to breastfeed all my babies but I know there are times when it just doesn’t and can’t work and you have to do formula, and that is okay! I’ve learned when it comes to breastfeeding and other parenting decisions that “you are a bad mom” no matter what decision you make. And it’s one of those things that you have to get over. You do you. Also, like all the birth details that I’m not talking about. There are also lots of fun breastfeeding details too! Some people have no problems, but others have plenty.

The first day home. Your first couple hours, days, and weeks will be weird. There is this baby and I don’t know what I’m doing but there is a baby and it’s drooling and what do I do because there is suddenly a baby here. This thought process is normal and also hilarious to me.

Baby blues and postpartum depression. This are very real and like Hyperemesis, not talked about enough. Some don’t experience it, but most do in some way, shape, or form. Having experience with depression already, I won’t be surprised if this will be a thing for me. Basically there is a lot of unexplained crying, but my dear, there IS an explanation. You are stressed, really tired, and have had a lot going on.

Love at first sight. This was new to me. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but there can be a struggle with feeling in love with the baby at first. Yes there is a natural instinct to take care and protect the baby, but don’t assume it’ll be like the movies with music in the background and everything is magical. You might need to get to know the baby. I mean, you do get to know the baby while pregnant, but it’s different. I don’t know how this will go for me. I have a feeling it might actually be magical for me, but I’m prepared if it won’t be.

Facebook. It is okay that you are not taking 400 photos and posting all these great milestones and adorable pictures. You baby won’t always be adorable, and they won’t always have the milestones on time. It’s not a competition, and yes your friends and family care, but it’s different. Almost think the less posts the better.

The body of a mama. Growing a baby does a lot to your body. Getting the baby out of your body also does a lot to your body. This is another section where I leave out fun details. For every mom, (guess what!) it’s different for everyone. There are different problems, and everyone gets back to their “normal” body at different times. For some, they will never get back, and that is okay! My mentality is that I plan on having more than one kid, and hopefully many kids, so I think (hope) I’ll be okay with looking five months pregnant post-baby.

Mess. This will be fun. Think of all the fun poop/pee/puke stories I will have by next year. I think I will have to be okay that things will be dirty, and that I should be ready to experience the gross, and that I should clean a lot. I want things to be clean, I really do! But I have to admit, Peter is cleaner than I am about most things, but I also prefer clean vs. messy. Since I’ve been sick I’ve been letting more go, but being clean is a habit I want to master. I think it is possible to have a clean place at the end of the day, if you don’t sleep, but it’s possible. Some days you will be able to go to bed with the place clean, and other days you just can’t, and that’s okay!

Vaccines. There are lots and lots of opinions on this. I’m going to say this. Talk to people you trust. Google is NOT a person you trust. After hearing pros and cons from all sides, make your own call. I’m afraid that no matter what decision you make, you will be “a horrible mother.” It’s a fact of life. Don’t worry, I’m a horrible mother too.

Sleep. I admit, I’m nervous about this. Peter and I both need a lot of sleep. I’m also nervous because babies need to eat about every 3 hours. There’s that, and all the five million reasons the baby will cry in the middle of the night. I don’t have much to say except that I believe in grace. Peter and I received grace doing Totus Tuus Ministries when it came to lack of sleep, and I when I was working at camp, I was usually in charge of nightmares, bathroom breaks, nighttime homesickness, and anything taking place at night, and I definitely received grace for it. I’m not excited about this part of parenting, but hey, at least I know I’m actually really good with nightmares for when our kids are older.

Small space. Basically, no matter how big your home is, like goldfish, you will fill that space. This is a fact of life. I can’t wait to move to a bigger place, but our place will do for now, and sometimes, you have to tell yourself that.

Money. Yikes. My favorite topic. You can buys things brand new. You can go to Once Upon a Child. You can go to Goodwill and Savers. You can go to garage sales. You can borrow. Besides diapers and formula (which isn’t a problem if you breastfeed), you can do this.

Teething. It sucks. There is stuff you can do to help it, but the main thing is the baby wants to be comforted. This actually reminds me when I had hyperemesis. There isn’t much we could do, and I mainly wanted to be comforted.

You will never be the perfect parent. I’m really sorry. None of us will be, there never has been a perfect parent (except Mary of course). You will be a great parent. You won’t be perfect, and there will be things that your kids (who love you) might need to go to therapy about later, and that’s okay! Trust me, everyone has something from their childhood. It’s what makes us human, it gives us character, and it makes us into who we are.

Juggling. There is a lot that you’re juggling already right now. If you’re in college, things that come to mind are school, work, exercise, food, health, prayer, romance, clubs, friends, money, and we all know that the list does not stop there. You CAN live a happy life with children. There is definitely balance and sacrifice needed.

Marriage. Lack of sleep and screaming children might put a damper on your romantic life. With the grace of God and with the both of you working hard at being charitable, it’ll be okay. I know it’ll be hard. Here is a quote I heard from an older women “My husband and I have never considered a divorce. Murder? Sometimes, but never divorce.” Please don’t murder your spouse, but I thought this was funny. Until death do us part?

Memory. Apparently this disappears somewhere between pregnancy and newborn. It has something to do with being tired and having a lot of new things to think about all at once. For some, your struggle never goes away. For others, your memory does come back, but maybe not fully back to “normal.”

Moral of the story

So there are a lot of super fun things to anticipate! Peter’s and my world will turn upside down and it will be messy! I’m really excited. Everyone is called to have a cross, and I think our cross fits Peter and I well.

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