I’ve been getting sweetly reminiscent about those first few months of baby-dom, and with a couple of my friends expecting and my own getting bigger every day, I decided to write down my top takeaways from this last year with Kid Vader.
In no particular order, I give you:
1. Maintaining the Illusion of Hygiene: Dry Shampoo
Seriously, Mom. (Or dad.) Because during those overwhelming moments when you realize that you haven’t had a shower for 3 days and you may never shower again, this stuff is the make it or break it product. Apparently the best way to use it is at night – spray and style, and then sleep – but I find that liberally applying it at any and all times works just fine. Because let’s face it, you’re not going to be sleeping very often. But that’s ok. You’ll look coiffed. And that might at least make school pick up for siblings less terrifying.
There are a number of awesome dry shampoos out there depending on your hair type, but I tend to order mine online…from the shadows. MWAHAHAHAHAHA. Well.ca has a great selection.
(Bonus: baby wipes make for great ‘showers’ in a pinch).
2. Staying Connected: A.K.A Sanity
If you are a new parent and you have no WIFI, you may feel trapped in a glass case of emotion.
During those first days of rhythm-finding and the world being (pleasantly) turned upside down, I leaned heavily on my ability to connect with the rest of the world. The freedom and accessibility of plugging into the outside world, to support, to Neflix and Youtube is incredible— but make sure that you have a good data plan and an internet provider you’re super happy with and that doesn’t have repeated service interruption, etc. because it will feel like the end of days if you have to reset your modem just when peanut has fallen asleep on you after alternately screaming and nursing for 3 hours.
Another good idea is to check out your usage BEFORE the baby arrives. If you’re already maxing out on plan, you might want to upgrade your services before you’re paying bazillions of dollars.
Also, binge watch all the shows.
3. Good Nipples (Yours, Or A Good Stand-In)
Let’s face it— understanding how to care for your breasts and/or having a good bottle if you’re supplementing or going the formula route is the key to EVERYTHING. The first 6 weeks or so of breastfeeding are the most aggravating but most rewarding, so take care of your tools. Fight for a good latch, connect with lactation consultants, use bamboo nursing pads and soothing ointments, and try out different bottles. We used Minbie teets/nipples and— unlike the bottle systems we had years earlier for Ms. Vee— these resulted in no gas whatsoever and were fully interchangeable with my boobs. I know they have won awards for their design but I was still shocked. I think Kid Vader actually latched better after we started supplementing with them. I know that every baby is different, but I was amazed. If you’re just looking at options or about to go back to work and newly pumping, give them a try!
4. Having An Offline Bible
If for some reason my WIFI went down (basic power outage, zombie apocalypse, etc.), I would want a book like Baby Care Basics in my purse/on my nightstand/up my sleeve. For your first kid or fourth, it’s one of the most thorough, on-point, go-to references I’ve seen in a while. I mean, it’s got colour photos of poop. Not even kidding. It’s got photos and step-by-step illustrations of breastfeeding, including how to self-express. It’s got a list of symptoms for every childhood illness you could imagine and pictures of rashes that will simultaneously make your skin crawl and soothe your maternal soul. Every few pages there are clear summaries and even big red boxes with various ‘red flags’ that basically slap you across the face with the stuff you were hunting for in the first place. And they know what you’re looking for, because ‘they’ are The Hospital for Sick Children.
Author Dr. Jeremy Friedman is the Chief of Paedeatric Medicine there, and his co-authors Dr. Natasha Saunders and Dr. Norman Saunders are also on HSC’s paedeatric team. So having this book is like having a team of the top paediatricians whispering in your ear. All the time.
That sounded more comforting and less creepy in my head, by the way. You can buy it online, or from the hospital store on-site, for $19.95.
5. Moving Your Body
There is something about making grizzly armpit sweat stains while sporting a baby belly (and beyond) that brings women closer. Belly Bootcamp is one of my favourite fitness regimens and social ways of connecting with other mamas, and it follows a ‘by-mom-for-mom’ business model that makes it all the more relatable, motivating, and inspirational. I was 23 weeks pregnant when I did my first class. Kid Vader is 12 months now, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. There are bootcamp locations all across Toronto, plus a great resourceful website (recipes, yo!), and an active social media community that I love. If you want to peek inside a class, check out my very first time! Then make sure you sign up for your free class and get ready to feel the buuuuuuuuuuurn. (But first, always talk to your doctor or healthcare provider and to see if a fitness program is right for you.)
There are obviously other things that I had in my tool box this time around that were equally important.
Self love, patience, and self-encouragement.
A slightly deranged sense of humour.
The ninja/zen ability to breathe through children screaming and your basic family pandemonium without being sucked into crisis mode.
So much coffee.
Countless helping hands, family, and friends.
A love for delirious moments where family is forged together— usually during those few hours before sunrise.
If you ever feel a moment of doubt, just remember that your tools are your memories, they are the advice that you took and the words you left behind. They are the way you were raised— and weren’t. They are the moments that moulded you that you will hand down.
You will find your own secrets somewhere between frantic flailing and epic calm. I know it.
To all those enjoying those moments already, let me know in the comments below— what were your secrets and McGyver survival tools during those first few months?
And for those eagerly anticipating them, congratulations— you got this.