Unsolicited Sisterly Advice on Birth and NewbornsCasey Mullins
I have watched my sister’s pregnancy from over a thousand miles away until this week. I talked her through registering, through glucose tests and through buying nursing bras. Now I’m able to be here in person with her, her husband and her ever growing belly and the excitement I feel is overpowering. I want to sing and dance and shout “YOU’RE HAVING A BABY! THEY’RE SO FUN! YAY BABIES!” but I’ve attempted to contain my enthusiasm. I’ve also attempted to contain the advice. OH THE ADVICE. I’m sure my sister has had an absolute earful of it from everyone she works with, all of her friends and her extended family. Cody gave me stern instructions to keep my thoughts to myself because despite my every belief, it’s not my pregnancy, my baby and no, I do not in fact know best.
That Cody, he’s a smart guy.
Yet still I feel all this advice bubbling over, not only for my sister but for any first time mom, so I wrote it down. That way anyone can choose to read it and ignore it and later say “That Casey, she was so right. I wish I would have listened/I’m so glad I listened.”
The only thing I was pushy on was maternity photos. I told her she had to waddle up here and get them done or she’d regret it. So yesterday we wandered around my dad’s yard and I captured a few photos of her belly at 39.5 weeks. She’s a lovely little pregnant lady with the most adorable bump, even if she feels as big as a house and as uncomfortable as a hippo in a girdle.
On Pain 1 of 6Carrying and having babies is wildly uncomfortable and downright painful at times as you've learned, but it is truly the most remarkable thing you can ever do. You body is doing exactly what it supposed to be doing, what it was designed to do and it's amazing to witness. That being said, if I could take away your pain and discomfort, even for 15 minutes so you could nap, I would in a heartbeat.
On Postpartum Depression 2 of 6I hope with every part of my body, from our similar noses to my leg hairs that you don't have to experience postpartum depression or anxiety. It robs you of the absolute joy that is having a new baby, that being said, if darkness does wrap its chilling fingers around your throat, I've been there, I have friends who have been there, there is support and an entire invisible army ready to fight for you and your new baby. You know my phone number, day or night, use it.
On Breastfeeding 3 of 6If your boobs work, hooray! If they don't? It's okay. Your nieces are two stellar examples that babies can be okay without breastfeeding. I hope it's not creepy but I'm saying all sorts of silent prayers for your plumbing and hope that they work for you. The learning curve to breastfeeding is crazy hard and comes with some crazy bumps, scabs and leaks...but it is worth it for a dozen reasons. Promise.
On the Hospital 4 of 6People are going to want to bombard you at the hospital. I've tried not to say anything, mostly because Cody told me to mind my own business, but don't be afraid to tell people to stay away or go away. The time in the hospital is for you to recover and get to know your new baby, not for other people to come see you and rob you of those precious first days. This includes me. If I have to sit outside your hospital room door and send people away? So be it. You take care of you and my nephew.
On the First Few Weeks 5 of 6Someone told me at the end of my pregnancy with Vivi that I should be the one holding her close to me constantly for the first two weeks. I couldn't fathom such a thing but now I'm glad I spent those first few weeks doing nothing but lying and staring at my baby. You can never get those early days back and they blow by in a hazy blur. You don't need help holding your baby, you need help scrubbing the floor, don't be shy about bossing visitors around and making them work hard for baby snuggles.
On Becoming Parents 6 of 6That husband of yours, your heart is about to grow three sizes for that man when you see him with your tiny baby. You think he's cute with my kids? Just you wait. The two of you will have the craziest most irrational sleep deprived arguments with tears and objects thrown in hormonal fury, but that guy is there for you. Lean on him, rely on him and make him get up to change the baby while you get comfy for marathon nursing sessions. The two of you are going to be great at this and I'm so happy for all three of you.