Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Shoulda, woulda, coulda...or, what I'll do different next time.

Now that Mateo is almost 7 months old, more independent and happy, healthy and a big goof, I often think back on my pregnancy and his first few months of life and how I would have done things differently. Here is my list (need to memorialize it in case we do have another baby and I forgot how wise I was at one time):

  1. I would have eaten way healthier during my pregnancy. I'm now suffering the task of trying to lose all the weight I gained and, well, I'm just not succeeding. Not being able to go to the condo gym when I'm feeling up to it certainly doesn't help because the mood to exercise hits me at weird times and that's usually when I'm taking care of Mateo. Hmmm...maybe that's just my excuse.
  2. I would have slept when Mateo was sleeping. I was so wound up and tired and stressed out about having a new little life to take care of that I couldn't just breath and....relax! I've never been known for my relaxation abilities, but I'll tell you, when you have a bit of piece of mind, sleeping is much easier to do. A nap here and there throughout the day would have been the key to keeping my sanity until I figured out....number 3.
  3. BABIES NEED TO SLEEP IN THE CRIB! I spent probably the first month of his life with him attached to me like glue at night. This is not good. Not good at all for anyone involved. So he's crying. Big deal. Babies cry. Not that I would have left him to cry and cry and cry that young, but if I had just started the crib sleeping a little more early....
  4. Babies spit up, babies have green poo, babies fuss, babies have a witching hour where they turn into red-headed crying bundles of nerves. These are the things you don't have to worry about so much.
  5. It's okay to give them formula when times are tough. There is no need to feel guilty. Just give them formula. How many times did my husband say, "let's just give him a bottle....you're tired....," and how many times did I say, "NO!!!" That's just silly. Silly!
  6. Give them a routine! Not only is it good for them, but it's good for the parents. This is something we still haven't done. I'm not starting to realize how confused Mateo must be.
  7. Teach them how to soothe themselves to sleep. I just realized last night how we haven't done Mateo any favors by constantly holding him and picking him up and soothing him when he wakes and cries. I finally just let him cry last night, even though he was having a rough time of it. Usually when he cries as much as he was last night, one of us would hold him until he went to sleep. I figured this is the best week to let him cry as long as it takes since I have the week off. It took about an hour, but he finally fell asleep. The biggest problem I see with not teaching your baby to self-soothe is that if you wait until Mateo's age, then he/she can move. And move a lot. So not only was Mateo crying and crying and crying, he was traveling around the crib, bumping into the side rails and making himself cry even more. Oh, and he woke up and still loved me. Go figure.
  8. Don't be afraid to take them out into the world after a certain point. So what if they start crying. Have you noticed a newborn's cry while shopping? Next time you go out, listen. It's hardly recognizable.
  9. Advice is just that - advice. Take what you need, throw the rest away. Sometimes it's easier to learn things the hard way.
  10. You don't need to hold them 24 hours a day. We're still trying to figure this one out. Especially now that Mateo's more mobile and active, but it's a lot easier to lug him around instead of just letting him sit there and possibly get upset. Or falling over and conking his head on our super fake hardwood floors. I'd say I'm a bit better at this than his dad, but we're getting there. I certainly don't want a 5-year-old who needs his mommy and daddy every waking moment of the day.
  11. Babies need socialization. I learned this by taking Mateo to daycare. He loves it. He loves the other babies, the interaction, the fun. I now feel bad when I'm home with him all day because he's just with me. But then, I'm selfish, and I want all his attention and love, so it's okay.
  12. During the first few months of your baby's life, don't feel like you have to do all the things your normally did before. Like cooking and cleaning and shopping and all that fun stuff. If you can't get it done, don't do it. Life will not end. I look back on the first couple of weeks when I was home alone with Mateo, and how I thought I could still clean and cook and be relatively normal, and when I couldn't, how frustrated I got...if I could do that over again, I would have considered it a vacation and just sat on the couch, loving up my boy. While watching Lost, of course, the show I didn't discover until about April or May.

So that's pretty much it. I'm sure I'll have more as Mateo gets older, but right now that will suffice.

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