I know there are a couple of knocked up ladies who read this blog. (My dad hates it when I say knocked up. He told me to stop calling it that... married ladies don't get knocked up.) So for the benefit of all the preggos, as well as to pretend like I actually know something about being a mom (the only thing the last 6 months has taught me is how much I have yet to learn about being a mom), here's a couple of the things that were lifesavers during the first 6 months of mommyhood.
Not quite the same as your standard receiving blankets, because most receiving blankets are too darn small to get a good tight swaddle on your baby. The Ultimate Receiving Blanket is an extremely popular swaddle blanket because it's soft flannel, reversible, it comes in a bunch of cute designs, no rough seems, and it's the perfect swaddle size, 42X42 inches. Later, my mom made us a thin cotton blanket for swaddling in the summer. The key is the size. Now that babies are Back to Sleep, swaddling is the only way most people can get their babies to sleep for any length of time. Seriously, get/make yourself some swaddle blankets.
-The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD
You don't necessarily need to watch the whole thing, but it is worth watching the guy swaddle a baby at least once. Until you see for yourself how tight the guy swaddles the babies, you will (like us) be too wimpy on your swaddle, baby will break out of the swaddle in 3.2 seconds, and you will never get any sleep. Getting a good tight swaddle is the best way we found to calm our Bean and get her to sleep. Many libraries actually carry this DVD so you can check it out for free.
-The Ikea Poang chair
Our birthing class instructor told us that bouncing on your birthing ball (AKA your standard 64 inch excercise ball) was a great way to soothe a crying baby. Indeed it is. The quick bouncy motion could calm the Bean in seconds. But crying would often resume as soon as the bouncing stopped, and I challenge any of you to spend more than 10 minutes bouncing on one of those balls with a 10 pound sack of sugar in your arms. Your back will give out pretty darn quick and you may end up permanently crippled. However, visiting a friend when Bean was just a few weeks old, we found that the Ikea Poang chair gives the same bouncing motion without destroying your back. You can rock that baby till kingdom come. Better motion than any of the gliders they sell. A much better (and cheaper!) investment. (Incidentally, there are like 10 million of these chairs on Craigs List super cheap, and you can always buy a replacement cushion for $30 if the used cushion is gross.)
-A support group for new mothers
I was particularly blessed that in my area there's a fantastic group for new moms run by a pediatric nurse. It was a great way to meet other moms on maternity leave, to get feedback and support, and info on my newborn from the nurse. Even if you aren't quite as blessed to have an expert running your group, look for something similar in your area. It kept me from going absolutely stir crazy while I was on maternity leave and I was able to meet other women to go walking with, etc, so I wasn't quite so lonely while Husband was at work.
After about 6 weeks or so, baby starts consilidating her BMs into one to two massive poops per day. This is the beginning of what moms affectionately call the Blow Out. Some babies are worse than others. With Bean, she usually has about 3 Blow Outs per week. The poop can stain clothing... Unless you invest in the miracle of Shout. It actually really and truly works. Even when I think "Oh, this white onesie is done for," it usually isn't. Thanks to the miracle of Shout.
Bean is just finally (at 6 months) starting to move past the phase of life wherein half of everything she ate ended up as cheesy spit up all over the front of my shirt (or down my arm, or in my hair, or across my lap, or on the dog...). We were given a few fancy looking "burp cloths" (or as I prefer to call them "Yak-catchers"), and we've tried the cloth diaper route, but Bean's spit up volumes could not be contained by such things. Instead, we found a few absorbant and soft hand towels at Target, and they are by far the best option.
-A Hooter Hider
In the first months of Bean's life, she was nursing every 1-2 hours. There was no "leaving the house between feedings" because by the time you can actually get yourself out the door, it's almost time to feed her again. If you're a nursing mother, invest in a nursing cover up. It was the only way I could get out of the house in those first months because I was still a little uncomfortable at the idea of just whipping my boob out to nurse. I got myself an over-priced, but well designed Hooter Hider, but you can easily sew yourself one if you have the time (which you won't after the baby is born). I had tried a couple of the less expensive options, but most of them just weren't big enough to work as an effective cover-up. The Hooter Hider was key to my sanity, as I go STIR CRAZY if I'm stuck at home for an entire day.
What items did other moms find essential for their babies and their sanity in the first few months after baby made 3?