Hello and welcome back to the blog!
Today I wanted to share some of the more random things I've done to prepare for motherhood and baby. There are TONS of blog posts out there that cover the rudimentary and basic things you can do to prepare for baby (go to your prenatal appointments, eat a well-rounded diet, avoid caffeine, etc, etc,) so instead of doing a post like that on EVERYTHING I've done, I decided to pick some of the more random or niche things I've done on top of all the basic food avoidances, exercise, etc.
I've Prioritized my social network
I want the best for my son, and I know that that means making sacrifices as a parent. For me, that sacrifice has been a bit of this online life, but also the sacrifice of my own comfort. I am naturally quite introverted; happy to be alone, and content to spend my days reading and learning online. But I decided that in order to set a good example for him while also offering him all the benefits of strong community connections, I needed to get outside my comfort zone. Babies and small children only have access to the social network that you give them, and I don't want my son to grow up isolated from others until he can go out and make his own friends! Unsurprisingly, I've benefited from this shift as well. I don't think I realized how isolated I was until I made the change.
I began by backing off on my online priorities and set to work becoming more social in person. I reached out to friends, became consistent in replying to texts, joined a small group, and made more effort to visit the family we DO have near us. I sent out pregnancy announcement cards, Christmas cards, and Christmas cookies. I said yes to invitations to come over for tea, and I didn't try to rush out the door at every social gathering. Instead of hiding in my room when my husband had his friends or people over to the house, I came out and joined them.
I've struggled with this my entire life, so I'm honestly surprised at how quickly the paradigm shifted. Within a few weeks of adopting these new strategies, I began noticing fruit in my life in the form of MORE invitations to spend time with others as well as higher levels of personal satisfaction and happiness. I'm so happy I made this change and am so excited for the day when I can spend time with these people AND my son, offering him all the aunties, uncles, toddler friends, and play dates he could dream of.
Created homes for every single object in my house
This might not sound related to the baby, but it IS. We're all going to be overwhelmed with our first baby, dealing with the change, new experiences, and emotional highs and lows. It's NOT easy (from what I hear LOL!) So, naturally, I believe that if you can help it, we should try not to add the stress of a cluttered and messy household on TOP of all of the stress, changes, and emotions.
I made it my goal to declutter the entire house, top to bottom, and identify not only what we were using, but also the best way to store those items.
If you follow me on IG, you might remember the day when I decluttered and reorganized the kitchen. It was FANTASTIC. This meant throwing out all my cheap plastic food storage containers and buying a few new sets from Home Goods. It meant getting rid of my rice maker, simply because I never make rice!
I then applied this principle and method to every single corner of the house, getting rid of mountains of clothing, toiletries, old sheets, stained towels, and anything that we were not using or did not like. Then, after the major declutter, I spent time carefully curating baskets and systems in which to organize the space. Finally, I made sure I stuck to those systems consistently, putting things exactly back where they came from every time. And now, I'm happy to report that we are five months out and still using our systems.
Sent out a pregnancy announcement card
A lot of people couldn't celebrate with me in person due to COVID restrictions, especially because of the mandatory quarantining and closed border between Canada and the US, so I made it a priority to send out a pregnancy announcement card instead of waiting for a baby announcement card. I included the due date, our registry information, and a little note about how much I wish we could have celebrated in person. I felt that this was extremely helpful in making people feel more invested and involved in our journey, rather than feeling like I was having a forgettable COVID baby.
Conceptualized how each baby item will fit in our home WHILE registering
I did not register for something unless I could visualize exactly where it would "live." If I couldn't think of a space, I would create a space in the house before registering/buying it.
This has been a total lifesaver as we have had baby things infiltrate the house in increasing quantities for the past few months. But truly, it has not been overwhelming thanks to the forethought! Every time something comes in the mail, I'm able to unbox it, see if it works, and then go place it exactly where I envisioned. This has probably been one of my favorite things I've done while preparing because it has helped me continue my decluttering while also helping me purchase/register intentionally.
Figured out the exact $$ amount immediately after getting pregnant
Babies are expensive. Many people have to pay thousands of dollars for their labour/delivery and most of us also have to make a substantial upfront investment when it comes to buying baby equipment, supplies, clothing, and furniture. It's pretty common to think of money and costs when getting pregnant, but the reason I've included this 'budgeting' advice on this list is because of the WAY in which we budgeted.
After finding out we were expecting, I spent a few days registering for everything we would need, and then adding it to my shopping cart. I registered and added as if we would not receive any gifts, as if we had no access to thrift stores, and as if no one would give us any of their leftover furniture/equipment. I made sure the figure was accounted as if we had to purchase absolutely everything out of pocket. I then summarized that dollar amount, added it to our medical deductible, and added an extra five hundred dollars of mystery costs on top just to be safe, and then told Husbear the figure. We immediately squirreled it away as "off-limits" and then were able to rest easy the rest of the pregnancy!
When it came time to actually purchase things, we spread out our large purchases over many months, and it was a lot easier to make it financially feasible than if we would have dropped a few thousand dollars all at once. We were so blessed to receive many gifts, but I am still glad we budgeted because we ended up having to buy a lot of big items like furniture.
Increased whole milk, cheese, eggs, and red meat
This is kind of unconventional prep for a baby because whenever you read about pregnancy or fertility nutrition, you read a lot about whole foods, whole grains, vegetables, and getting your vitamins. I even think that a lot of people only visualize fruits and veg when they hear the term "vitamins!" But I've relied heavily on vitamins and nutrition from animal products throughout my pregnancy.
I actually began doing this one year ago, and I believe it is what helped me get my period and ovulation cycle back after being out of wack for almost ten months. The best part about relying on meat, eggs, and milk is that I feel satiated so easily and have not felt sluggish or gross during this pregnancy. The belly has been growing "perfectly on track" according to my doctor, but my weight gain has not been out of control. I'm really happy I followed this diet, especially as I'm so close to the end because I still feel like me :)
Took people up on their offers to help
I've included this in my "unconventional" list because I know that most people don't actually take others up on their offers to help. I am the opposite. I learned a long time ago that you need to say yes to help because you cannot do this life alone!
I've accepted so much help from friends offering to prepare frozen meals for us, offering to come over and do laundry when baby is here, or help by purchasing us a gift. My husband has even been receiving a ton of support from his friends, with huge boxes of leftover diapers being sent over as well as offers to donate physical labor towards getting our renovation done. It's truly incredible what being in a community can do! So many people feel guilty about accepting help, but I truly feel that accepting someone's help often makes you grow closer with that person. Let people bless you!
Let go of expectations
This piece pertains to the fact that we began our basement renovations back in late August, and they have YET to progress past a few minor accomplishments. The lynchpin in this entire situation was the fact that we did not anticipate not only having to repair our foundation but the fact that those repairs would not be able to take place until December 18.
I kind of didn't expect it to be finished by the time our son arrived, but I definitely didn't anticipate just how NOT done it would be lol! We pretty much have barely progressed in the past couple of months, so I have had to make the hard decision to just LET IT GO.
I've given up on the idea of having a quiet and zen-like space for our newborn and accepted that we will be having a busy few months of construction AND a newborn. And it is what it is.
And that's what you have to do when you're going to welcome a baby. Life will be stressful enough, trying to figure out sleep, feeding, and your own bodily healing that you don't also need to heap on the stress of feeling frustrated about whatever isn't going right in your life at the moment. For me, that's renovations. For you, it might be covid restrictions or not being able to see family or the stress of politics. Whatever it is, identify it, and LET IT GO. This is an intense time in your life and you will only be a first-time mother once. Don't weigh yourself down! All that stuff will still be there to worry about when you're out of the newborn stage.
Set up different zones around the house for each baby activity
We obviously will not know his specific habits or interests or what will work for us, but I've made sure to set up zones around the house rather than isolating everything in his nursery. This meant that way back in September. I spent a lot of time clearing out entire cabinets, drawers, and cupboards to make room for various bathing, feeding, diapering, and toy essentials. I'm so glad I did this because, within a few months, every space I cleared out began filling up with baby things. We have a feeding cupboard, a bathing basket, a health drawer, and of course his nursery. I even went so far as to install a place to hang his bath towel in the laundry room! We are ready for his arrival!
Read a TON of "what I wish I knew" blogs
After you read the basic lists and blogs about specific things to register for, to bring to the hospital, or to do for baby, try to google and spend time reading blogs about things moms WISH they did with their first baby. I often find it best to read blogs from mothers who have experience with multiple different pregnancies, children, and are basically "old hats" at the whole thing. You'll often get a lot of good advice about things that others don't really talk about.
Also, don't listen to anyone who tries to tell you that all you need for baby is a boob and a bed. That might be true for your second or third child after you already own all the basics, but for your first, you're going to want to be prepared beforehand versus desperately trying to amazon prime essential supplies to the house when you are postpartum and stressed.
I get so annoyed when people say things like "for my first I was all nerves and buying baby products like you, but then for my second I realized that all you need is your boobs and a bed." This drives me crazy because it's not logical. Of course you didn't have to repurchase all the baby products! You already have the basic baby equipment at home, so even if all you end up needing is the boobs and the bed, you still have ACCESS to a crib or bottles if you want.
That's what preparation is about: access.
It's not buying things with the sole knowledge that you will for-sure-without-a-doubt-one-hundred-percent be using all of these items so help me! No. It's about having items that you might need AVAILABLE. It's so irritating when people try to shame first-time moms into feeling bad for something as simple as PREPARING FOR THEIR BABY! lol!
Read the book "On Becoming Babywise"
This book is FABULOUS. Many people like to complain that it advocates letting your baby cry in distress just so you can get things done around the house, but that is NOT the case at all. It is packed full of tons of actual studies, recommendations from doctors, and sound information. Read it before you judge it. However, this book does not advocate for attachment parenting, so if that's what you're looking for, this won't be for you.
Got our files in order
We had a decent filing system before, but Husbear took it to the next level six months ago. I felt extremely overwhelmed with the number of papers that would often just be hanging out in file purgatory on our dining room table. I knew that I didn't want to deal with that mental or visual clutter when the baby came along, so I felt like we had to create a SYSTEM.
Systems are the key to running a successful home, and papers/files MUST be put into a system of their own. We purchased an inexpensive filing cabinet from Walmart, and my husband went to work filing all of our bills, documents, and anything related to our lives. He took over the actual filing system because he manages all of our bills, identities, house things, insurance, etc, but once he created the folders he needed, I'm the one who runs new papers over to it and secures them away.
Also, filing systems are not just stationary cabinets. A filing system is a procedure by which you take the paper that comes into your house and deposit it into a place where it will live. This means that you must take time every week to perform the filing system. Don't let clutter build up!
Lists, lists, lists
I have become the queen of Google docs lists. I have lists of what I'm going to bring in my hospital bag, including various categories for myself, baby, and Husbear. I have lists of my favorite parenting blogs I've come across, and I have lists of every single thing I want to do to the house before he arrives. I've made lists about what specific items of clothing I needed for maternity wear, and I made lists documenting each baby item that was purchased or still needed.
I cannot stress enough that if you are anything like me, lists may just be your ticket to some extra sanity during this stressful time. I find intense satisfaction in creating and then crossing things off of my lists, and it is honestly just a very logical and realistic way to keep track of everything you need to be doing or planning for. I use the notes app on my phone or a Google doc and keep everything filed properly so I can refer back to it.
Maybe it's not necessarily unconventional, but I haven't seen advice about making lists, and it's one of the best things I've done.
But that is all for now! I hope you find this list somewhat helpful or at the very least, entertaining. Preparing for a baby is a big task, but it's honestly quite fun if you don't mind a big project and some hard organizing work. Keep in mind that I did all of this on top of regular preparation for labour and delivery (exercise, diet, belly oiling, baby classes, etc.) so I still did those things too, I'm just not talking about it here.
These actions were all taken from my own desire to feel more established in my home and baby plans. These types of activities might stress some pregnant women out, but for me, all of the work has helped me feel totally and utterly prepared, and therefore, completely at peace! Each to her own right? lol!
Sending you love!