Now that Jude & Sloane are 5.5 months old, I am the baby expert. Ask me anything, I know the answer.
Obviously I'm kidding. However, there are a few items I wanted to share that either helped us or would've helped us in the first few months.
As always, there is no one way to raise a baby (babies) and a few of the items below could be considered slightly controversial, so please understand this is merely my opinion. I'm only trying to help others by sharing what helped us.
1. If you haven't already, open up a Health Savings Account and start setting aside money each month. The babies were on my insurance when they were born but we all moved to Michael's insurance at the beginning of this year. We started contributing to his HSA last Spring when we found out we were expecting. Remember Sloane's ER visit that happened less than three months after her birth? Thanks to planning ahead a bit, the $1000 bill (gulp) was already paid for and wasn't a huge burden immediately after multiple expensive hospital bills. See also: Don't take your child to the ER unless they are missing a limb. A 100.4 degree temperature is not an emergency. (I'm slightly bitter.)
2. Make a playlist for the hospital. We didn't listen to it during the births but we did listen to it the entire time we were in our hospital room. It was nice to have music during that time and I still love listening to the playlist now because it brings back such sweet memories of those first few days.
3. If you plan to breastfeed, start working on your attitude now. I don't have to tell you that breastfeeding is rough in the beginning. There were several times I thought, "It would be so easy to quit" but I'd already told myself it was going to work and I would make it work. Now I know sometimes it just doesn't work. But when I hear women say, "I'm going to give it a try and we'll see what happens," I get a little nervous for them because the first few weeks are an uphill battle. If you are determined to breastfeed go in with the attitude, "This will work." It also helps to do the math on how much formula costs (especially when there are two)! Remembering that amount was enough to push me through the tough times! :)
AT THE HOSPITAL
1. Michael and I went back and forth on whether or not the babies would remain in our room or go to the nursery the four nights we stayed in the hospital. In the end we opted for the nursery and LOVED it. We were able to get much needed sleep (they brought the babes in every three hours to eat). HOWEVER. It made our first night home pure hell. I'm not kidding, that may have been the worst night of my life. We were absolutely terrified, didn't know what we were doing, and thought we were going to kill the babies approximately 18 different ways. I cried for six hours straight. Michael was a mess too. We discussed it the other day and decided if we could do it all over again we would've had the babies stay with us the last night in the hospital. A trial run with professional support/help standing by. I think that would've made the transition much smoother and would've given us the confidence to get through that first night without tears.
2. When it's time to leave, TAKE EVERYTHING in your room. Our friends told us to do this and we did. I found out later that some of the breastfeeding items I took cost $10-15 each. And there were dozens of them. You paid for them (look at your hospital bill) so take them.
1. One of my friends asked if she could be in charge of a meal train for us. I resisted several times and finally accepted her sweet offer. I am so grateful she did this--it was a lifesaver. If someone volunteers to do this for you, let them. I'm not sure we would've eaten if it were up to us to fix our own meals.
2. If you're going to spend money on clothes for your newborns, invest in nice pajamas. We had a closet full of adorable outfits for our newborn babies and most were worn for a quick picture. Let me tell you, a denim jacket in size 0-3 months is the cutest thing I've ever seen. It is also severely impractical and the only attention it will receive is wistful glances from mom. Pajamas, however, will be worn and worn... and worn. And washed and washed... and washed. Save your money on the outfits, spend your money on the pajamas.
3. Take them out when they're little. Now don't be stupid about this. If it's -4 degrees, please don't take them out. But when they're little and sleeping 95% of the day, enjoy that time and have lunch with your husband and/or friends. I was (am) one who goes stir crazy fairly quickly so I got out of the house early and often. They slept through all of it and I didn't go crazy. Everyone wins.
4. Let them nap on you. Jude & Sloane would sleep anywhere when they were tiny, including our arms. There were many times I felt guilty letting them sleep on me because I was afraid I would spoil them and I had so many other things I "needed" to do. However, I remember thinking, "Pretty soon they'll be too big for this" so I continued to hold them and let them sleep on me. I am so grateful. At 5.5 months, they already prefer the crib. It breaks my heart but I can smile at the early days when they were just as happy in my arms. The housework can wait. Dinner can wait. Your arms will never hold anything more precious so soak up every single moment and spend that time memorizing their sweet sleepy face.
(Now pardon me while I go bawl my eyes out and completely regret selling all of my maternity clothes. Just kidding. I think.) :)