New moms (especially first-time moms) in the age of social media and information overload are inundated with pressure to get this birth/postpartum thing right. Not sure about your birth plan? Just read 345 blog posts detailing random strangers’ birth stories and you will figure it out. Car seat choice? Prepare to do more research and comparison charts than you did in four years of college. The culture of comparison is a strong force when you are in nesting mode, and strollers and nursing bras are just the start. How has the fourth trimester become something else in life to make “Pinterest Perfect”? Does all this stuff really matter? For what it’s worth, from a toddler mom with 20/20 hindsight, here are some things that turned out to to be pretty unimportant.
Hospital attire. I’m pretty sure I had a Pinterest board of maternity/nursing robes and pajamas and I used it to actually plan a hospital wardrobe. Just reading that sentence makes me laugh. I ended up wearing a nursing tank from Amazon and old paint-stained sweatpants (hospitals are cold!) for several days straight. What does matter here are drawstrings and elastic, since you will still look and feel about 5 months pregnant post-birth and also, the swelling. Ohhh, the swelling.
And another fun thing to obsess about when pregnant is what the baby will wear home. Don’t get me wrong, I could buy baby clothes all day long, but you will be so nervous strapping her in a car seat for the first time while a nurse checks your work to think twice about how great her PJs look.
Newborn photo sessions. I know this is blasphemy and these have become almost mandatory, but I cancelled ours. We had an unexpected NICU stay and then a baby with jaundice that liked to fall asleep every time she nursed, and thus wasn’t gaining weight “fast enough.” We were sick with terrible colds (hospitals are germy!) and exhausted from spending 6 nights in a hospital with no sleep. When we finally got home, getting our messy house ready for photos and washing our hair was not a priority, and taking our newborn to the doctor every two days (ugh, jaundice) far exceeded our “outings with a newborn” quota. Don’t worry, we have approximately 800 photos from her first week and when I look back at them I feel every captured moment, no props or editing necessary.
Pacifiers and bottles. Oh my gosh. If I could have back the time I spent worrying about nipple confusion, I wouldn’t need Botox. Even in our birthing classes, they stressed the dangers of giving the baby a pacifier or bottle “too soon.” Our little one got both within 24 hours of birth, and you know what? It was fine. Nursing is so hard, and we definitely had our share of struggles, but none of them were related to nipple confusion, trust me. Her only confusion was why she couldn’t have the nipple 24/7, but I digress. Every baby is different, trust your body and your nursling.
Timetable charts. You will spend so much time wondering if your baby is “normal,” it will blow your mind. You will google developmental milestone charts, weight charts, and tooth eruption charts on a daily basis and it will mean nothing because babies go at their own pace. Period. And nobody prepared me for how quickly milestones appear. You will be stressing about your stationary little blob one morning, and they will rollover during tummy time before dinner. You will google “one year old with no teeth” every day for a week, and then when you are fishing something out of her mouth one afternoon you will feel her two bottom teeth. It’s mind-blowing. And as with anything else, a watched pot never boils.
Prepping freezer meals. Uber eats and Door Dash exist for a reason. Instead of planning and cooking freezer meals, stockpile a food delivery fund. Register for food gift cards. Make sure your ready-to-help besties know your home address and favorite restaurants. Yes, having healthy meals in your freezer is great, but use your massive breastfeeding calorie burn to your well-deserved benefit (um, you just MADE A HUMAN) and order some Chuy’s delivery.
Moms, what else turned out to be something that just didn’t matter?