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8 More Things I Wish Id Known About Having a Baby

Baby girl

All babies are not created equal. Remember that when people give you advice.

I recently wrote about the 8 things I wish I’d known about having a baby — the first time I had one.

I’m now three months into my second (and final!) baby and a few more things I knew this time that I wish I’d known last time recently occurred to me (with some help from readers’ comments, too).

Check out the list. I hope it gives you some relief (emotional or physical) as you navigate the newness of your baby:

1. The Breastfeeding
I can’t believe I left this off my first list! Breastfeeding is hard! And it can hurt! And it can make you feel like a failure! After all, if no one tells you otherwise, you might just think that it’s supposed to be all natural and easy. But for many women, it’s simply not. With my first baby I didn’t give it much thought. I took a breastfeeding class while I was pregnant (which I now think was a waste of time, because until I had a real, live baby at my breast, I think there’s no way to understand what I was up against) and thought it would be fine. It wasn’t. I gave up nursing after two weeks and pumped for four months, while also supplementing with formula. Pumping is a pain. Formula is expensive. Bottle maintenance is time-consuming. I wish I had known ahead of time how tough breastfeeding can be, and that if you stick it out (like I’ve done so far this time), it gets much easier and becomes old hat. Ask for help, especially in the hospital when the lactation consultants are ready and available. It might take several weeks, but chances are, you’ll get it and be glad that you did.

2. The Baby Spitting Up Blood
When I brought my first baby home from the hospital, I leaned over in the middle of the night to check on her in the bassinet. Which is when I noticed she had spit up blood. I freaked. Freaked. I called my pediatrician at 3 am in hysterics. Turns out the blood was from my nipple, which had cracked due to a bad latch. This time, when my baby spit up blood in the hospital, I knew what it was from and worked to improve the latch asap.

3. The Mastitis
Who knew a single-digit weight baby on your nipple could feel like you’re housing broken glass? I got mastitis a few days after my first baby was born and I thought I was literally dying. Thankfully a (baby-safe) antibiotic cleared it up. But the emotional trauma endured. This time, when I felt the broken glass sensation, I didn’t even need to see the doctor. A quick phone call and a trip to the pharmacy was all it took.

4. The Hair (Yours)
About three months postpartum with my first baby, I noticed my hair starting to come out in the bucket-fuls. I was convinced I was suffering from some tragic disease. Turns out, it’s what happens after you have a baby. This time it started happening at around the same time (I thought it wouldn’t start until after I stopped nursing, but I’m still nursing and it started falling out, so clearly I was wrong). You know when you’re pregnant and realized your hair is all full and lustrous? Well, it all comes out eventually. But not over time. Like, all at once (over a few week period). And in the shower. It’s like a scene from a horror movie. Don’t be surprised. It happens. Get the snake ready for your drain.

5. The Hair (Your Baby’s)
When I had my first baby, I started noticing a bald patch on the back of her head. I was worried she had the same disease I had (see list item No. 4). Turns out, she lost some of her hair because she spends so much time lying down. It might be avoidable to a certain extent, but it’s pretty normal for most babies to have a little hairless patch in the back of their heads. Don’t worry. It’ll grow back.

6. The Crying
Babies cry. And sometimes it’s OK to let them do it. I’ve always heard — and believe — that you can’t spoil a little baby. They’re not being manipulative when they’re crying. It’s because they need sometime. But sometimes it’s necessary to let them cry (like, if you have to, say, go to the bathroom, eat using two hands or run down to the car to get something perishable out of it). They won’t break if you leave them to cry for a few minutes. It might break your heart, but they’ll survive. And they won’t even remember it. You might. But they won’t. I promise.

7. The Size
Babies come in all different sizes. And like the people who commented on your size when you were pregnant (“Twins?” or “You’re so tiny!”), people will comment on your baby’s size. Too big or too small, everyone has an opinion. Just remember, there is no “normal.” If you’re not supplementing feedings with chocolate milkshakes, and you’re not starving your baby in hopes that she’ll be anorexic, and your pediatrician is fine with your baby’s weight and length, ignore what other people say. There simply is no “normal.” And all babies are different.

8. The Advice
Everyone’s got some. Some will be helpful. Some will drive you crazy. Some will be downright bizarre. Pick and choose. Or ignore it all. But most of all, listen to your instincts.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were pregnant?

Image: Meredith Carroll

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