Ah, the eternal question friends and strangers alike ask first-time moms: Are you ready for the baby? While I truly don’t think you can ever be fully “ready” to understand the many ways life will change once your first child arrives, my husband and I are doing a variety of things to prepare ourselves and our home to be a baby-ready environment.
While I am often a planner by nature, I also understand that much of this “stuff” is truly just humans trying to control the uncontrollable. In Finland, babies sleep in cardboard boxes! (The boxes come filled with goodies supplied by the government and are meant to provide a safe sleeping environment.) So if babies are surviving and thriving, even in cardboard boxes, whatever we bring our daughter home to she’ll be able to live in healthfully, right? Easier said than done.
This was really overwhelming to me when I was first pregnant — babies require SO MUCH stuff. Now, I know much of it isn’t “necessity” and there are a lot of gimmicky things out there for parents to research and buy, but right now I’m of the philosophy of having “all the things.” On the off chance my kid is screaming her eyes out and it calms her down at 2 a.m., I want to be armed with an arsenal of items at my disposal at all times!
Babies, as I’m learning, are so different from one another. Some prefer swings while others hate them. Some sleep in loud rooms and others require total silence. It’s hard to prepare for anything when you aren’t quite sure what your kid will be like. So, I polled several friends who had had babies in the last year or so to get their “must haves,” which was a huge help. I also did my own research to see what I might find the most useful for our specific life situation, home layout, etc.
While there are a million different ways to register, we chose Babylist.com – a website that allows you to add items from different stores all in one place. Those wishing to buy a gift can enter your name, reserve the gift and purchase it all on one site. It’ll even show prices at several different stores if the item is carried in multiple retailers so gift-givers can find the best deal. It’s been an easy process to create and manage, and I would recommend it to other moms-to-be as well.
Pregnancy and Childbirth Classes and Maternity Tours
I was talking to my aunt recently, who began having kids about 50 years ago, and she explained to me that they didn’t offer classes like these when she was pregnant and she wishes they did. Man, am I thankful for whoever created these because while I often prescribe to the philosophy that “ignorance is bliss,” I feel like this is one of the situations where the more you know the better.
We enrolled in a childbirth class, infant safety and CPR class, newborn baby care class and breastfeeding class at Medical City Plano and recently completed the childbirth class. I think it’s going to be very important for my husband to understand the childbirth process when the time comes and I’m glad we’re doing the classes together. Spoiler alert: Men don’t think about childbirth nearly as often as women do.
We also took a tour of the hospital we’re planning to deliver at (Medical City Dallas), which was a great way to see exactly where you should go while in labor, see the rooms you will deliver your baby in and spend time postpartum and learn about hospital policies. We were able to ask questions and seeing the step-by-step process was very helpful for me to visualize how things might go when we deliver. It is also very reassuring to know that the hospital has a Level IV NICU just in case. In fact, it’s the only hospital in Dallas-Fort Worth with a children’s hospital and adult hospital on the same campus.
Getting Pets Ready for a New Baby
We have an adorable puppy named Lucy (she’s 5 and, yes, I still call her a puppy) who is truly a part of our family. She is my shadow and follows me around the house and is always near me. I knew that when we were ready to expand our family, Lucy would be going through just as much of an adjustment period as the humans in our house, so I wanted to try to make that as easy as possible.
Recently, my husband and I met with a pet trainer to try to prepare Lucy the best we could for the baby. There were some bad behaviors we wanted to work on in advance and hopefully nip in the bud prior to our due date. I’m happy to say she is doing quite well with the new guidelines we’ve set for her, which include sleeping in the living room on a dog bed rather than in our room and staying off of the furniture while we’re home. I’m not sure she realizes the transition that’s about to take place, but our hope is that it’ll be a little less of a shock if we modify the behaviors before baby is here.
How Babies Change Relationships
I never quite realized how much being pregnant would change nearly every relationship in my life. I thought all the changes would happen after baby arrived. But no, almost immediately after we found out we were pregnant, we had to make plans and some of those plans involved setting boundaries with family members, friends, colleagues, you name it.
As you and your partner work to create the healthiest life possible for your child, change is inevitable. In my experience so far, it’s much easier to manage those expectations and set those boundaries now — before baby is here — than to surprise everyone when you’re in the hospital.
Now for each family, I’m sure this will look and feel differently, but remember that you have your own family now and get to make your own rules and no one gets to decide that except you! So if you want to raise your child to be vegan or change a long-standing holiday tradition, just be confident in your decision and know that you believe you’re doing the best possible thing for your child no matter what someone else says.
You might think that by this time I know everything about prepping for baby — and you’d be sorely mistaken! But I hope this helps others who are trying to navigate the uncharted waters of first-time mommyhood. And I suppose we will see in a few months if any of this preparation pays off!
Susan is a first-time mom-to-be, communicator and frequent Google-er. She resides in Plano with her husband and fur-baby, Lucy. Follow her as she navigates the uncharted waters of pregnancy, motherhood and all that comes with it.