The How-to-Prepare-for-Baby books have been read and thoroughly highlighted. The baby showers are over. The diapers have been organized by size. The panic attacks over whether or not you’re at all fit to raise another human being have subsided (for the time being).
You’re confident there is only one thing left to do: actually give birth. No big deal right? Hahaha! (Just kidding. But you don’t have to focus on that part yet.)
I’m here to tell you that there is in fact one more checklist out there to consult, and it will probably make you feel more way prepared for motherhood than any of the other stuff you did. Because let’s be real: You need to know exactly what to do once that child has left the flesh building. You need to know that you have permission from moms everywhere not to kill yourself trying to be a hero at this gig. And perhaps most of all, you need to remember to take moments whenever you can to do the little things that keep you sane — even while a new baby turns your world upside-down.
So here you go:
- Relish every single nurse-accompanied pampering moment in that hospital that you can, from them feeding you in bed to bathing your screeching sack of responsibility (aka your new baby) while you nap.
- Clench your grumbling baby hatch as tightly as possible en route to the bathroom. (Or else line the path with thick paper towel stepping stones, to catch the scarlet blobs that will no doubt come. It’ll save you some clean-up time).
- Take all the mesh undies, saddle-sized pads, and gargantuan crotch frost ice packs you can get the nurses to sneak into your bag home.
- Now thank your body for what it has done.
- Thank your partner.
- Thank everyone and anyone who helps you, whether they’ve offered or you have to ask them to.
- Set up a supply basket next to your comfy spot on the couch at home with diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, snacks, water, TV remotes, phone charger, house phone, and items to throw at people who come to visit without warning, but still expect you to play good hostess to their inconsiderate asses.
- Feed your baby however you can without feeling bad about it for even one bajillionth of a second.
- Ignore anyone who tries to make you feel bad about that decision. (After you tell them to go screw themselves sideways with a steamy Hot Pocket, of course.)
- Treat your nipples with tender loving kindness: SPARE NO EXPENSE when it comes to nipple care.
- Ask for help with everything from cleaning (your home, yourself) to pooping.
- Cry a lot without apology when your hormones demand you get it out.
- Remember not to punch people who say, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” They really do mean well.
- Order groceries online to be delivered to your house and arrange for someone who has slept at all in the past month to put them away for you.
- DVR everything that brings you joy, for you will never watch live TV again.
- Immediately get your shiny new family member used to other people feeding, holding, changing, and carrying him or her by throwing that very demanding wrinkly bean at anyone who comes near you. Then run directly into the shower.
- Read things that make you happy.
- Read things that help you parent.
- Read things that make you laugh.
- Don’t be embarrassed to add things like “put pants on” or “brush teeth” on your To Do list.
- When you go shopping, buy in bulk. Especially when shopping for something to treat yourself with.
- Try and be near other grown-ups for at least a couple hours every week so you remember how to talk to people who aren’t likely to spit up on you.
- Lower your expectations for everything you thought you and the people around you would be good at.
- Figure out which white noise is your baby’s favorite and cling to that sound like the lifeline that it is, making it available on every device in your home and car.
- Get fresh air regularly.
- Check yourself for rogue poop before leaving the house.
- Book a haircut. Tell the girl who massages your head when she washes your hair exactly how much you love her.
- Book a massage. Know that during it you will probably cry or fall asleep or both, which is perfectly acceptable. Just don’t hold on too long when hugging your massage therapist afterwards. (That could get weird.)
- Paint your toes with quick-dry polish in a color that makes you smile when you see it.
- Show mercy to yourself, physically and mentally.
- Drink in the smell of sweet new baby head and feel the love swim through you every chance you can, reminding yourself that you can do this.
Because you can.