So you're about to have a baby. What are my Last Minute Tips for you?
1. Don't worry about getting everything perfect.
I know you want to. I know you're making lists and lists and planning projects down to the last minute before you leave for the hospital. I did it too. The last 6 weeks before Ian's due date arrived, I spent every waking moment and a lot of the moments I should've been sleeping trying to get things perfect. I folded, refolded, organized, reorganized, cleaned, re-cleaned, paid bills ahead, packed my bag, repacked my bag, installed the car seat bases, put up the pack-n-play, assembled the swing, bouncer, exersaucer, laid out the diapers, bought 7 different kinds of creams and lotions, etc. I had it all ready. I was so ready that in the week after my due date I just sat around beached-whale style, twiddling my thumbs.
With Aaron, I had big plans to do all that again, but he came early.
When we brought the baby home each time the exact same thing happened: we were too dang tired to CARE about anything but sleep. It didn't matter whether the windows were washed or not. The laundry piled up faster than it ever did before and in mere days you couldn't tell I'd gotten every last piece washed & put away before the baby came. In fact, Aaron didn't even have a room for his first 7 months (and neither does Lauren for that matter) and in the long run we were much happier the 2nd & 3rd times around because we just didn't pressure ourselves to be perfect.
I also know that it doesn't matter that I'm saying this because people said it to me too. I still wanted everything perfect. But that's my first tip... don't try to be perfect because nothing ever is.
2. Make your wishes known before everyone is already at the hospital.
If you want to be alone (just husband, wife, baby and medical staff) for delivery, you need to express those wishes before you are in labor. It is the only way to save hurt feelers. And it is totally your prerogative to be alone in labor and delivery. I'm not sure if anyone told you yet, but labor and delivery is NOT pretty. It isn't fun. It is actually pretty gross and very exhausting. Just know that, before you invite a whole party into the room. And nobody in that room with you will ever look at you the same way once they've seen you birth a child.
3. Plan on being tired for a year at least. (I don't actually know how long it is before you get real rest because by the time Ian was sleeping well enough to afford us a decent night's sleep, we already had another baby.) You'll do best if you learn to exist in a happy way while you are completely exhausted.
4. Grow a thick skin. Stat.
You can't unhear things. And people say MEAN stuff. There is always someone who will think how you're parenting is awful. There will always be people who don't have any filter at all and will feel no qualms about telling you you're wrong. It's best to start growing your thick skin now... and march to the beat of your own drum. And just do what feels right for you. Brush everything else off your shoulders and move on. You can't please everyone all the time.
5. Let people do things for you.
As soon as someone offers something, accept it. This goes for letting someone vacuum your house, bring you meals, etc. This also goes for the hospital. Let the nurses change the diapers. You're going to change 3000 some diapers (per kid) in your time as parents so you might as well let someone else do it whenever you get the chance!
I'll admit this is a really hard one for me. I don't like letting people do things for me. And with breastfeeding it is really difficult to let someone care for the baby while I do something like...sleep. (Doesn't matter anyway, if any of the kids is awake, I am too. Even if I had soundproof walls in my bedroom it wouldn't matter.) But I'm trying to let more people do more things for me. I'm a work in progress.
I'm going to put the kids down for naps and come back to this hopefully. I think I've hit all the major things...