August 29, 2006

advice about advice

down_in_the_daisies.jpg
down in the daisies, Canon Digital Rebel

So I felt a bit bad that several of you, after my post detailing some of the advice I've received, apologized for having given me advice in the past. It's not so much that these tips weren't smart or wise or really good ideas... I know that everyone who gave me advice over the years LOVED ME deeply. I know this and never doubted this, AND it wasn't always what I needed.

It got me thinking about advice in general, when it feels good to receive it and when it doesn't, what kind of advice is helpful and what is not. A lot of you also commented that it's so great to know what might not be helpful to say to a friend or family member going through infertility (or any other difficult thing) but it occurs to me that I haven't shared what would be helpful.

One of the most valuable things I've learned in my coaching training is to be careful about giving advice. Going for problem solving, fixing and caretaking is a sure way to kill the energy of a coaching session. So what's the alternative? There are two things that come to mind: One is being in a space of curiosity and the other is simply being with your friend or loved one going through the hard time.

It is one of those classic complaints that women have about men. "He's always trying to fix everything! I just want him to listen to me." Having someone tell you what you should do can be strangely disempowering.

So back to being curious... It could look like this: What is it like to be going through this? What kind of support do you need? What scares you about all this? What helps? How do you need me to be?

Then there is the "being with" part, which by the way, Matt is really good at. We watched a Dr. Phil episode once on managing toddler's tantrums and they were saying that what works is matching the energy of the toddler. "Yes! That is so frustrating! You are so frustrated right now! That toy is not cooperating!" Within moments the toddler would calm down. It was like homeopathic medicine. Giving the child a small dose of their energy had a neutralizing effect and they felt heard. Soon after this, I noticed that Matt was naturally doing this with me when I was in a really low, dark, place. He'd hold me and say, "I know! It's so hard! You've been doing all the right things. It's so frustrating..." And this is all I really needed from him. I'm sure there were times when he wanted to tell me how to be, to relax or trust or have faith. I always appreciated when he simply met me where I actually was. Faithless and all.

What I have also appreciated are other peoples' personal stories. The people that have gone through this (or had other experiences of grief) and reached out to me were a fundamental part of my healing. I think storytelling is one of the greatest ways we humans have of touching each other, connecting and healing one another. Your stories are always welcome here.

As I move toward parenthood, I've been warned that I will get far more unsolicited advice than I have ever gotten in my life. At the moment, I am open to what I like to call "hot tips." If you have hot tips for me, I would love to hear them! All of you moms and aunties and godparents out there have a lot of experience. Hearing stories of what has worked for you and what hasn't is exciting to me.

This is my little instruction book for how to give me advice. What's yours? What helps? What doesn't?

Posted on August 29, 2006 08:37 AM
Comments

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Posted by: ali at September 28, 2006 07:14 AM

I'm a bit late joining in on the conversation about advice being given to new mothers but, if you don't mind, I'd like to add my feelings to the long list of comments.

Parenting for the first time is the best of times and, in a way, is the worse of times all at the same time. Your heart will swell like it never has before and you will be tested in ways you can never truly prepare for. The wisdom passed along from other mother's will prove to be invaluable to you. Mother's today are fortunate to have the Internet available to them. I wish I had it 24 years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter.

I smiled when I came upon your journal today and saw the photo you took of yourself standing on your bed 25 weeks pregnant. The photo is such a sweet celebration of being a woman...of being a new mother. I remember so clearly what it felt like to carry my daughter for 9 months. I am looking forward to the day she is carrying her first child. In a way it will be a continuance of my motherhood and just one more of so many sweet rewards of motherhood.

Posted by: Ann at September 23, 2006 02:04 AM

I have been away from this wonderful online world for over a year now, but every now and then I sneak-in to read your journal and find out how you are doing. Since you asked for it, here are my 2 cents (mostly like 5 dollars):
1) sleep now that you can (if you can)… motherhood is the most wonderful thing that could happen to anyone and so much more, but it is also tiring and frustrating – and then again, the most wonderful experience of your life, you will need a lot of physical and metal energy, so stay fit and eat healthy and enjoy every moment of being pregnant (if you can).
2) Try to enjoy labor (f you can), because it will go fast (even if you don’t think that at the moment), and there is nothing like meeting your child for the first time, it goes so quick, so fast, like the day you get married (a wonderful blur…).
2) Remember always how much you love your child, especially on the days that you are not being as patience as you would like, and on the days when you get really mad (they’ll both come).
3) Find healthy ways to release stress and stay connected to yourself and your husband, because for the longest time it will all be about your child, a lot of people will ask you about how you and the baby feel, remember to ask your husband about how he feels
4) Have a plan to lose weight in case your genes betray you (like mind did, 13 months later I finally joined the gym to get rid of those sturburn 15 extra pounds)
5) Enjoy every minute of motherhood, because it does go fast.
Sincerely,
Bianca

Posted by: Bianca at September 18, 2006 03:21 PM

Excellent post. I felt that same frustration with advice when I was dealing with infertility. So many well meaning people just squashed my heart with their advice. The toddler analogy is so apt.

I am a big promponent of sharing the hard stuff. Knowing I was not alone made the process a bit easier. I hope your willingness to share can do that for others.

Posted by: nonlineargirl at September 7, 2006 10:24 AM

Andrea, you just taught me a great parenting lesson: I always try to fix my 4 year old's problems-- to offer solutions, when I should probably just listen better. So thanks.

Hot tips:

1. write down all the advice you think is silly or outrageous. You'll get a good laugh out of it later. You and Matt will do fine on your own.

2. My kid was unintentionally potty trained totally by 16 months. I don't know if this will work for my # 2 (on the way) or for anyone else's kids, but it's worth a try. She was in cloth diapers at home and disposables when we went out. When we came home I'd change her into cloth not knowing when she had peed last so I would put very gentle pressure on her bladder by pressing her belly and ask her if she wanted to pee, thus potentially saving me a diaper changing in 5 minutes (and a pee clean up as cloth diapers hold nothing in). By the time she was 6 months old, she'd pee on demand. I am not exaggerating, i swear. Not even her dad believed me until he witnessed it (he travelled a lot). So maybe try it if you use cloth. If not, I don't know if its worth the effort. A 16 month old has to pee very frequently and those trips to the bathroom are more hassle than diaper changes.

3. If you plan to birth naturally, read "spiritual midwifery" by Ina May Gaskin (someone already mentioned it) and go with the flow when the time comes. Whatever happens at the birth, if it goes the way you imagined or if you have a quick c-section, you'll be fine and so will baby so don't listen to people who say there's only one way to birth or people who look down at a birth that would make you feel comfortable. One thing that really helped me get through 3 days of labor with no pain meds was just remembering that I was in communion with all women everywhere. Have fun!

Posted by: umber at September 6, 2006 03:19 PM

You know, a friend of mine is buying a condo in my complex, and I've caught myself giving unsolicited advice a couple of times - I guess I ought to start holding my tongue unless she asks questions. Thanks for the post

Posted by: Jennifer at September 5, 2006 02:38 PM

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Esophagitis
Hair loss

Posted by: Pharma2007 at September 4, 2006 09:48 PM

Yeah, you do get tons and tons of unsolicited advice once you start the journey into parenthood. For us, we just read a lot of different things and knew that as long as the two of us were consistent with our kids we'd be headed down the right path.

If you want any advice on birthing let me know. My birth with my daughter, aka Supergirl, was a water birth using hypnotherapy. Never in a million years would I have thought I could have done it but I did and it totally rocked.

Posted by: scout at September 4, 2006 01:16 PM

Ha! Are you glad you asked for advice? Most of the advice here seems pretty gentle and helpful, though some bombastic and dogmatic.
People should just learn not to give advice about sensitive subjects unless they've thought deeply and carefully about how to say things helpfully.
Here's a good one I got after a close friend committed suicide and I was a total wreck with grief, expressing how you just can't appreciate people enough, and only realize it once they're gone. "Yeah, it's too bad it takes losing someone for some people to realize that. That's why I always appreciate everyone so fully - I know how fleeting life is." (This from someone who has never had someone close to her die.)
And right after a traumatic, late miscarriage, someone gave me a "wholistic women's health" book that said that women who have miscarriages do so because they secretly resist and resent the demands and sacrifices that will be required of them as mothers. It basically said that women who have miscarriages are selfish!
Ouch. These attempts at "help" really, really hurt.

Posted by: sirgirl at September 3, 2006 11:18 AM

I though of one more thing. It may have already been said in the reams of wonderful advice you have below....

Go slow. Be in the moment. There are so many moments that I wish I had back. So many more that I am glad I didn't wish away. Yes, there are days when having a newborn or toddler will suck. You'll be tired, sick, underappreciated and drained.

Also I spent so much time trying to figure out what exactly I could do to help my daughters sleep better, eat better, crawl, talk, etc. New accomplishments are so exciting!!

But they come so fast!! Figure out a way to sit quietly with yourself. With your baby. With Matt. With the changes in your life. Just when I figured out what worked for my girls, they changed and went on to something new. As much as you want to be in charge of this new little life, you are only the guide. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy the ride.

Rebecca.

Posted by: Rebecca. at September 3, 2006 10:25 AM

Thank you so much for this, Andrea. I have such a hard time listening to people's troubles because I feel like I'm supposed to say something to fix them, or make it all better, and often I just don't know how to do that. I also see how trying to make another person's problem look small can be really disrespecting of that person's feelings. I've noticed that when my husband has a problem, I try to convince him that it's not really a big deal, or that is perspective isn't even true at all, and I'm aware now that doing that might make it look like I think he's wrong or dumb. Just acknowledging, "yes, that sucks" can, I think, be much more empowering than trying to dissuade the feeler from the feeling. Thank you again.

Posted by: Jessica at September 3, 2006 09:19 AM

erosive esophagitis all about

Posted by: erosive-esophagitis at September 3, 2006 09:12 AM

Wow, look at all the advice you've gotten - and look at how different so much of it is! My advice to you is - when people give you advice, just smile and say 'Thank you' - and then do what feels right to you. There are a million different parenting styles - and a million different ways that work in raising children.

Posted by: Michele at September 3, 2006 06:39 AM

What a heartfelt post. I was moved reading it. Advice is something that I appreciate from those when I ask for it and smile graciousuly at those who offer it when I haven't asked for it.

As someone who is currently in the situation you were once in the thing that helped me the most was, and is, simply hearing the stories of others. Connecting is such a powerful tool. Meeting you at BlogHer and hearing your story helped tremendously as well.

I have no advice but know that your little one will have the most kickass parents ever. What a truly exciting time for you both!

Posted by: Schmoopy at September 2, 2006 11:33 PM

I am sure you and Matt will be the most awesome and loving parents ever, and I'm sure you have read all the books and listened to all the advice of well-meaning, (& some maybe not so well-meaning people) But the only "hot tip" I can offer is to try not to be too over protective.(it's really hard) & I struggle with this one daily. My daughter is my only child, born after years of trying and several miscarriages. Because she is such a gift, and so very precious to me I tend to want to shield her from anything that might pose frustration, or hurt feelings, or harm of any kind. While protecting our kids is our job, and a good thing....over-doing it keeps them from growing and enjoying lifes rich experiences. Other than that....following your instincts is the best advice. Love and Blessings to you and your baby. :)

Posted by: Julia at September 2, 2006 09:38 AM

My parenting mantra...this too shall pass. I think it goes for the bad and the good. Diapers, tantrums, and frequent night-waking don't last forever. Cherish the snuggles, read stories, play together. And, my favorite parenting book..."Letting Go As Children Grow" by Deborah Jackson.

Posted by: christy at September 1, 2006 03:57 PM

The only advice I have ever given to other parent is: Skip the pull-ups, it only confuses them. They are too little to know the difference but yet there is an expectation that suddenly they will be potty trained. End advice. :)

Posted by: Lorie at September 1, 2006 02:39 PM

The best piece of advice I ever got about raising your children and about the only one I pass on unsolicited is this...........Spend lots of time just being with your little ones when they're little. Snuggle with them, read to them, get on the floor and play with them. Let some of the 'things' you think you NEED to do go by the wayside. Those 'things' will still be around when your baby is 21 and facing the prospect of being deployed into a war zone (my oldest son at this point). Those moments will always be in your heart and will help them to know they have a safe place to come home to where they can just........be. I am blessed by your blog!!!!

Posted by: Carrie at September 1, 2006 11:15 AM

I have a 2.5 year old, but I don't feel like I have any hot tips - I feel like what I would offer would fit into one of two categories - either 1) it's specific to my daughter and me, and there's no reason to think it would work for someone else, or 2) it's the kind of thing that just from reading your site, I KNOW you already know (things like: listen and respond to what your child wants and needs; give in when you can; don't force your will on your child unless it's something you can't compromise about (being buckled into the car seat in the car, for instance), delight in everything that you can, and write down what you can).

What you have to say about advice reminds me of what I told my husband early on when I was pregnant. I asked him to please stop suggesting things for me - I told him what would really help is if he would just say, "What do you need? What can I do?" To this day, he still asks me that if I'm upset or sad, and it's wonderful, for all the reasons you mentioned.

Posted by: Jessamyn at September 1, 2006 09:03 AM

Be careful about opening that door too wide with regard to advice from family on raising children. I finally said, (like stuart on mad tv)"let me do it." I told them, "if I hit a snag and need you I'll ask, I promise."

Posted by: Tonya at September 1, 2006 09:00 AM

This is such a wonderful perspective on how to connect with others during a difficult time... the 'being with' part, I think that is so important; sometimes it's just the acknowledgement of the issue that helps the most.

As for a hot tip? Well, I will offer the advice I wish I would have been given, and more importantly that I wish I would have followed: make yourself a priority and take time for yourself regularly. When I first became a mom, I thought it was a sign of bad parenting if I took time away from my baby for myself, to go have a cup of coffee, hang out with a friend, go take a yoga class, enjoy a walk, whatever. But now I realize that having time to recharge, refresh and develop an identity outside of motherhood does indeed make me a better mother.

Congratulations to you and best wishes!!

Posted by: melanie at September 1, 2006 05:07 AM

As with many of your posts, this too made me cry, because it really hit home. One of the reasons I am scared to death of having kids is that we live with my in-laws and the mother-in-law is a constant uhh... “commenter” - for lack of a better word.

She is constantly giving me advice on what to do and how to do things and "Why don’t you do it like this..." comes out of her lips every minute.

Add to that the fact that, my husband is treated like a price and was never taught to do anything around the house (even pick up his socks) nor did she ever teach him to eat properly so all he does eat now is rice, potatoes and French fries, because he was too precious and was given what he wanted all the time (as someone mentioned above, that kids wont eat only French fries forever, but I think its still a parents responsibility to discipline them and teach them to eat other things as well)

My parents on the other hand taught us to do everything around the house and my mother wouldn't let us get up from the table until we had finished everything on our dinner plate, even if we didn’t like it. Turns out that my siblings and I are all good around the house, clean up after ourselves and are willing to try all sorts of foods

Don’t get me wrong, my husband is an amazing human being who loves me to death but it is this grave fear of raising a child with the MIL around (her unnecessary yet constant 'advice'), and the fear of how the child might turn out that prevents me from having one.

I am really REALLY sorry for going off topic but I couldn’t control myself through the tears

Anyways, all this brings me to the hot tip, courtesy of my parents:
- love your child dearly, but give them chores and make them eat their vegetables

Andrea, i know you and Matt will be amazing parents. I wish you and your family a lot of love.


Posted by: simran at September 1, 2006 03:17 AM

I’d go for “sleep when the baby sleeps” and “follow your instincts”. But can I add something else from a father’s and husband’s point of view?
When your head tells you that you can sleep next time the baby sleeps, because this time the laundry really does need doing, that’s when you need to follow the advice to sleep when the baby sleeps. Not just when you’re both tired and everything’s done.
When your head tells you the doctor should know what he’s talking about, because he’s a doctor, get a second opinion. What do your instincts say?
After four children, married to their mother from the beginning, those are the two that mattered. But they mattered most when they were difficult to do.

Posted by: William at September 1, 2006 12:44 AM

One thing I learned is that each parenting experience is totally unique...I learned to take in all the advice and tips, evaluate what would/wouldn't work for me and my kids, then take action. My best friend and I could both do and say the exact same things, and get totally opposite results, because of the individual natures of our children. My poor firstborn and I struggled through some dark days because I was determined to do things "by the book" I was reading at that time.
My other word of wisdom is to do your best to avoid the black hole of comparisons - your kid with theirs, your parenting skills, house, who gets potty trained first, etc. This is SO hard to do! Parenting could be an Olympic sport and when I am faced with parents who must "win" the battle of worst deliveries, most sleepless nights, etc. I have to shut my trap and resist the urge to engage in the competition. For some reason people resist the natural variations and want to compare, compare, compare.
One last thing - just smile and ignore those old ladies who cluck at you about shoes, socks, hats, and tantrums! May God bless you!

Posted by: Heather at August 31, 2006 06:34 PM

Hot tip: For diaper rash, I found the best thing for it was cleaning gently with cotton balls/pads and a weak vinegar/water solution, followed by vitamin E oil (or olive oil!). The vinegar/water solution neutralizes and the oil protects. I got this tip from the nurse at our pediatrician's office and it worked quickly and effectively every single time. Regular diaper rash ointments made my kiddo cry, so I was glad I switched to the other method. That's my tip! ;^)

Posted by: Beth at August 31, 2006 12:29 PM

andrea: i love the curiosity approach! it's so important to try to understand how it feels for someone else in order to really deeply empathize.

i realized from your post that this "being with" approach is exactly what i've been craving from my partner. i understand why this would be a foreign approach to him, so i don't fault him for not having those perfect words to offer. perhaps you have some "advice" on how to ask for an approach without spoon-feeding the words? if this makes any sense.

Posted by: jo at August 31, 2006 10:11 AM

Hi, Andrea.

I read through all the comments and feel really blest to "know" you because through your blog and the response to your stories, I get to learn so much.

I am very close to my sisters so I will pretend that my sister was asking this question... (You are virtually a sister - we all are in one way or another.)...my best hot tip would be PRAYER. Lots and lots of it. When I've read everything I could get my hands on, listened to everyone's advice including the mailman's, meditated, intuited, breathed in and out until I turned blue and still I am left feeling empty, there is always good old fashioned prayer to turn to.

Actually, I would have saved myself a whole lot of heartache getting to this point in my life if only I remembered to make it my FIRST OPTION early on instead of the when-all-else-fails last choice. Oh, well. We learn that which our soul need to learn.

I have a feeling you and Matt are gonna be amazing parents, loving co-captains in this journey called Parenthood. And to practice what I preach, may I say this: I will be PRAYING that all turns out joyfully and favorably for the three of you.

Posted by: chiqui at August 31, 2006 09:09 AM

Without reading through the 50 comments before me...here's a fun one I like to share with new parents:

Never worry about raising your voice to call for your child (in the yard, in their room, etc.). You simply need only to either A: Try to talk on the phone, or B: Use the bathroom, or C: Sneak a snack of your own. Either one of these will bring your child running to find you. It's almost magic ;)

Posted by: Angela Giles Klocke at August 31, 2006 09:01 AM

I have two toddlers.
I am happy now, but after each of their births I felt over whelmed.

Family kept calling sort of expecting me to be blissful and I could just mumble "we are fine". After hearing the tone in my voice they would always say, "Oh it will get easier." I really didn't want to hear that. I wanted someone else to admit to me sometimes Motherhood sucks!

I think it is helpful to allow yourself to feel "bad" if that is how you are feeling. I just discovered blogging a year ago so I didn't really have an outlet to connect with other new Mamma's. But now I do and it has REALLY helped!

I also feel there are so many (mixed) messages coming at parents from the media and our friends and family. There is no "RIGHT" way to parent. There is only YOUR way coming from a loving place. It has taken me a while to believe in myself as a parent. (and I still second guess my self at times) But for the most part when someone says something like "your children really should go to bed earlier" I now have the confidence to say "this is the bedtime that works for our family"

It feels good to believe in yourself.

Posted by: Melba at August 31, 2006 07:12 AM

hot tip -- Mothering magazine rocks and it's filled with more hot tips!

I confess that I don't handle unsolicited advice well. For years it came across to me as a criticism of what I was doing, OK, even now I have insecure moments when advice I'm not expecting can make me feel as though the way I've been doing something is all wrong and that I'm really stupid me for not thinking to do it the way the advice-giver is telling me I should do it. A tad over-sensitive, I know. But I've developed a very empowering habit to combat my issues here. Whenever I hear the phrase "What you need to do is...", after cringing for a second, I only half listen to what follows and instead I imagine the other person telling me in her/his voice: "...listen to your heart and you'll always be guided in the right direction." It works for me and, as the mom of a son with a disability, I get A LOT of advice I'm not asking for.

Listening to my own heart has been the best thing I can do for my kids, that and really paying attention to them -- not going into parenthood with a plan, but tailoring my parenting skills to who they are and what they need.

Andrea, you and Matt are already wonderful parents!

Posted by: Nina at August 31, 2006 03:26 AM

what a lovely and thoughtful post andrea.
tips... do everything you can to be "attached" to your new, wee babe. co-sleep, sling, breast-feed. share the bathtub with baby. express some milk and let matt do some feedings. it'll give you much needed rest and he gets the pleasure of feeding his child. run out and get this teething thing. it has a blue handle with a yellow star on top. it vibrates! it's magic. i swear, you'll need a couple because other new parents will steal it from you. be warned some babies start teething real early, in the first month! this happened to a friend of mine, even her doctor was shocked. it's good to be prepared. i can't wait to here about your adventures. trust in yourself, you'll be amazing parents.

Posted by: cindy at August 30, 2006 09:38 PM

The best new-baby advice I ever received was when my daughter was around 3 months old (she is now 13!) and my dear friend who had a 6 month old took one look at me and said "Oh, you are still crying arent you?" meaning ME, not the baby. She then gave me the kindest, most gentle look and said "it stops around 4 months. Really. I cried all the time for months and then it was just over."

I hung on to that advice like it was delivered from the heavens because man, I was crying ALL THE TIME. I thought I was the only one, and I thought I was totally nuts for not being ecstatic 24/7 over this bundle of joy.

I had such faith in that tiny bit of advice that I really did stop crying at four months. Believe me, I was watching the calendar!

Now, you can tell me it was because my hormones were adjusting, or because Emma was sleeping longer through the night, but Im telling you it was that one dear comment that changed EVERYthing for this tired,weepy momma.

So, my advice: Let the tears flow. It stops at four months!

Posted by: jenandem at August 30, 2006 09:10 PM

Wow. I'm not a parent, but I really liked reading all the advice from those who are. I just want to tell you something somebody shared with me that I thought was really cool and insightful...

A friend of mine said that in many cultures when parents first hold their child they look at it and say, "I can't wait to get to know this person. I'm excited to find out what he/she will like...I'm curious what he/she will choose to do with their life." But in our culture when parents first hold their children they often say, "This is my son--someday he's gonna be the quarterback at Stanford!" or "Isn't my daughter beautiful? And she's also gonna be really smart--she'll be a doctor one day."

I think the idea of holding your child and being filled with a sense of wonder and curiosity about who they will become is the first gift any parent can give their child.

And I'm going to echo the advice of those who said: Read to your kid. Doesn't even matter what you read to them--just hearing language in your and Matt's voice will serve them well.

Posted by: Lisa at August 30, 2006 08:45 PM

that was nice "advice" for all of us.

i have no mom tips but i do love being an auntie, as i can see you do as well. i am just so honored to be able to be in so many little peoples lives and love them for who they are.

i guess my advice for you would be to share your little person with the amazing people in your life so they too can be blessed with the joys of having a child (and then adult) in their life.

and when you are ready make sure to support the adult relationships in your life that make you laugh and smile.

but you don't need my advice.

Posted by: malaika at August 30, 2006 08:11 PM

that was nice "advice" for all of us.

i have no mom tips but i do love being an auntie, as i can see you do as well. i am just so honored to be able to be in so many little peoples lives and love them for who they are.

i guess my advice for you would be to share your little person with the amazing people in your life so they too can be blessed with the joys of having a child (and then adult) in their life.

and when you are ready make sure to support the adult relationships in your life that make you laugh and smile.

but you don't need my advice.

Posted by: malaika at August 30, 2006 08:10 PM

OK, tips...here goes...

Trust your intuition. Yeah, listen and read and do all of that, but when push comes to shove, only you and your husband really know that baby and what to do for him or her. Trust that in yourself.

Here's a little story about that. My daughter, who's now 13, didn't really sleep through the night until she was 4. (Turns out she has ADHD and still has difficulty sleeping.) But around the time she was 9 months old, I was working full time, and I was basically dying a slow & painful death, because she stayed up late, then was up a couple of times through the night and we were now on month 9 of major sleep deprivation. She did quite well on no sleep. I did not.

So, someone I worked with said, "Oh, you've just got to let her cry it out. Just check in on her every 15 minutes, and she'll eventually fall asleep."

Well, I decided to try it, even though it really didn't feel right to me. So, she's crying and crying and crying and crying. I did my 15 minute checks. Then after an hour, I went in and she was crying so hard she was gagging, nearly throwing up, and she was standing, holding the crib rail and shaking her crib. It was at that moment that I realized that there was no way in hell this kid was going to go from standing and shaking her crib to laying down and sleeping. I think she Ferberized ME that night!

The next day I asked the co-worker what her kids were doing while they were crying it out. Hers were lying down, and eventually got pooped out and fell asleep. My kid was planning a jailbreak! (She ended up sleeping in our bed for a couple of years, which worked out just fine.)

And here's another startling tip...

You're not really parents until you've had a screaming argument at 3:37am!

I've told this to all of my friends who've had babies and they ALL just looked at me like I'm disturbed, with a how-sad-that-your-marriage-is-that-bad look of condescending pity. I just smirk and shrug my shoulders and go on my merry way. Then, a couple of months later they tell me that I was right, you do end up having a screaming argument at 3:37am at some point. It's all about the hormones and the sleep deprivation, folks. You just reach the end of your rope, and the more prepared for it you are, the easier it is, because you can just look at one another and say, "Oh, I guess that was the screaming argument at 3:37am." Then you'll laugh or cry or both!

Because of all of the lovely tips that you'll be receiving, another tip would be to have a stock answer for those tips that may not be something you're particularly interested in pursuing, like, "Hmmm, I'll have to mention that to Matt," or "Hmmmm, I never thought of that."

But most of all, take it slowly and enjoy it. It's so true what everyone says...it goes by too quickly. Before you know it they're in junior high taunting you with the fact that they're going to be in high school in a year! Now I even miss those nights of crying babies!

Posted by: Andrea at August 30, 2006 06:53 PM

As an eighth grade teacher, I see what happens when parents really invest time in their children--and when they don't. My hot tips, from a teacher's point of view:

1. Please teach your children how to read, and read to them frequently, as early as you can.

2. Be firm, consistent, and unafraid to be the bad guy. Children raised without limits are monstrous, and you cannot take them anywhere.

3. The vibrating seat thing deserves the Nobel Prize. I wish I could fit my eighth graders into one.

Cheers, Kim

Posted by: kim at August 30, 2006 05:07 PM

know that it will be an incredible and amazing experience, every inch of it, and just let it happen. everyone has their stories, yours will unfold just as it "should", as it has already started.

try as hard as you can to let go of any seed, however small, of fear that ever may get planted- i really feel that this is the biggest obstacle in labor, breastfeeding, baby bonding, etc., as with any other aspect of our lives. no need for any fear....you are a superhero!

hot tips:
SLING!
co-sleeping.
& lots of hugs and kisses and love and smiles.

Posted by: cheryn at August 30, 2006 04:24 PM

Be silly, be happy and sometimes be sad, be genuine, trust your instincts and be yourself. Love them as if you will never run out of love (and you won't) Make mistakes and admit it to yourself and even to them and others. Never judge others and don't worry when people judge you. Know that while you won't always like your child (children) you will always love them and when times are bad, the one thing you can count on is that things will change. Sometimes the days are long but the years are short. Take time to enjoy as much as you can. CONGRATULATIONS!!

Posted by: Patti at August 30, 2006 03:12 PM

Your child will teacher how to be a parent- just go with it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

sam

Posted by: Sam at August 30, 2006 03:09 PM

...one more thing...amy krouse rosenthal is great...here's a link to some of her "advice"

http://www.mommymommy.com/42a.html

Posted by: stef at August 30, 2006 02:53 PM

As the mother of 4, ages ranging from 34 - 13, my advice is to read everything you can get your hands on(knowledge is power) and then do whatever works for you and your baby.

Posted by: aola at August 30, 2006 12:03 PM

be gentle with yourself, matt and the little one
know that things will happen in time (crawling, walking,talking etc..)
i just know i was nervous about weening off the bottle but she did it on her own earlier than i would of expected and i could of just let it all go and stopped worrying!
sleep when they sleep!

xo

Posted by: stef at August 30, 2006 11:23 AM

The "not giving advice" thing is something I have been working on lately. People come to their own conclusions and solutions on their own .. they don't need my help. What they need is a friend to listen and offer support. Thanks for the reminder.

As for hot tips on child rearing ... I can only offer this: Let your child know he or she is deeply loved every chance you get.

Posted by: punky at August 30, 2006 10:33 AM

I love what you have to say, how you manage to capture it so concisely is so refreshing.

I also love the comments here, it's like a book of great advice.

I am following your journey with great love, admiration and taking notes! haha

:)
Vivienne

Posted by: Vivienne at August 30, 2006 09:51 AM

Thank you for including godparents in that list. :) My hot tip is this: LAUGHTER.

Posted by: Swirly at August 30, 2006 09:44 AM

"you get to screw up on the first one" was the advice i got from an older friend whose children were grown, while i was going through the horribles of my teenage daughter and the totally mixed message mother(me).
who gets an exact instruction booklet with this parenting thing?
although books i love....
"Spiritual Midwifery" by Ida May G????
"Models of Love" by the Vissels

We are all wingin it and not one has figured it all out. my daughter(my best friend) is now a 32 year old mother of 3, doing it her way. and my son is 18 and just graduated H.S. and i love the non responsibility. once all the rules and trying to control behavior are over with, i realize the equality of friendship that is here now.

the only thing i think is true is as parents we are raising best friends for life.

Posted by: Vickie at August 30, 2006 07:31 AM

Andrea-

I'd like to share with you something my midwife said to me when I was nearly 3 weeks past my due date and looking at a probable hospital birth. She said 'Having a home-birth is an amazing, beautiful way to bring your child into the world. But you are having a baby to become a mother, not to have a birth experience. Wherever she is born, it will be perfect.' And she was right. My advice: commit to a plan and be willing to completely throw it out the window when it goes to hell. And keep breathing.

Posted by: mandie at August 30, 2006 07:30 AM

I've enjoyed reading your journal--your sensitivity and insight into life is refreshing. I love it when I read something and laugh out loud and say to myself, 'that's EXACTLY what I would have said if I could put it into words!' I have 20 month old and one due in 3 weeks and have been amused by the wide variety of advice I've gotten:) My piece of advice is take what you like and laugh off the rest! And ENJOY the time you have! Each day is different--challenging, fun, exciting in it's own way. So much of the enjoyment is dependent on your perspective of it!

Posted by: Stephanie at August 30, 2006 07:15 AM

My tips mmmm I only have one. Go GENTLY.

ah actually maybe two. "You are your Child's First Teacher" by Rahima Baldwin Darcy. A beautiful gentle book with many hot tips on raising a creative and IMAGINATIVE child (gently) from birth- as these are the best life tools we will ever have.

Oh yeah and if you are interseted in natural/water birth (I actually enjoyed giving birth-positive pain is possible) check out www.sarahjbuckley.com or www.bradleymethod.com

Go Gently Andrea.

Posted by: faery at August 30, 2006 07:06 AM

Hmmmm.....my youngest is 5. Here's what helped me.
Don't buy a lot of diapers until you know how big your baby will be (until he/she gets here). I bought the newborn size and had to throw them all away!
If you are going to have a regular delivery buy plenty of Tucks - they will be your toilet paper for the first two weeks.
Lansinoh (spelling?) cream for sore boobs - also no bra and no soap. With my second, I got SORE nursing but in two days this cream had me in business again.
Yes, the swing (and vibrating bouncer seat) is essential!
Make it up as you go along - it's your child and no one else's.
Last - have fun....as a friend's mom told me, "You can always make money, but you can never buy back time." They're only truly yours for a very very short time. Once they are mobile they belong to the world.

Posted by: Chris at August 30, 2006 06:12 AM

well, seeing as i have all of 45 seconds of an attention span, i could only get through about 4 or 5 (okay, only 4) comments. So, I have no idea if what I'm going to say has already been said.

My hot tip for you is: TRUST YOURSELF!

People come at you from all directions telling you how to do things, how you should do things, how you're doing it wrong (Why don't you trust your parents? Are you saying we were bad parents? BLAH) We may love all of our friends and family that give us advice, and no doubt we trust them as well. BUT! You are your own best source of knowledge. you've lived, you've learned, and YOU ARE A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN! you've got everything you need right there inside of you for that little being who is growing in your cute protruding belly - now, while its growing there, and after those few hours of craze when he/she enters the wonderful world.

You and Matt are going to be terrific parents! Believe and trust in yourselves. And don't forget to love yourselves and each other while you're loving the baby.

My 4 or 5 (okay, five) cents.

Posted by: Katie at August 29, 2006 11:49 PM

Not being a mom myself, but having the most wonderful two parents ever, I would say two things they did really helped me become the uber fantastic, well adjusted person I am today. :)

1. They read to me. CONSTANTLY. My dad read to my mom's belly. Sometimes it was only a few pages, sometimes two or three books a night. I had a college reading level when I was nine, and I really feel a huge part of that was a direct result of them reading to me.

2. They both told me, on separate occasions, that while they may not always like the things I do or accept the choices I make, they will always unconditionally respect me and have faith in my ability to live my life well. I have never been afraid to take a chance or make a seemingly risky choice because I'm concerned my parents wouldn't support me.

Best wishes! I think you both will be very good, very cool parents; a heartening prospect, as many parents today are, perhaps, a bit lacking. In more than a few ways. :)

Posted by: Aimee at August 29, 2006 11:11 PM

Thanks for telling this story :) It helps to read that someone else feels a bit the same about recieving advice. Sometimes all one needs is a hug and silence.

Posted by: Silvia at August 29, 2006 10:59 PM

Mark wrote this: Remember, you still love your husband. Having a child can be a time of incredible stress, and this stress can take its toll on a relationship. Be conscious of this and work to ward off feelings of anger and resentment. Remember why you are together.

Can I say 'ditto' like 1000 times over??? He hit the nail on the head. And coming from a guy, this was wonderful. And I would say the opposite too, for the guy "Remember you still love your wife" and "Remember how viscerally, physically, totally, this has just changed her life"...

Amen.

That said, my best advice is something I need to remind myself over and over, and that is the thing people say alot: they won't be ..... fill in the blanks... when they're 18 (meaning, carrying a blankie, using a pacifier, wearing diapers, only eating french fries, having tantrums, etc etc)...

I, being a control freak, freak over the developmental stuff---worrying that "I'm" doing something wrong... when in fact, it all does fall into place. I was so very unnerved at the beginning of the summer over how/when my son (3) would ever get toilet trained---and preschool starting in Sept was my over-reaching deadline... Everyone said, when they're ready they're ready (sure, there were those who pushed their kids too soon and such, but I wasn't taking that approach)... So I tried to stay calm and, do you know what? It happened! It wasn't magic, there were a few really stressful days, but at some point this month it happened and he now heads for the potty on his own throughout the day! He does it! And I had to sit back and say, my Lord, it really did happen just like that! I was so worried... I never learn.

That is my advice, there. Breathe. Allow it all to happen. As it should. As it will. Don't orchestrate. Don't worry.

It seems you already know this but I just wanted to share that in case you ever do find yourself someday worrying like that.

(Oh, and yes, stock up on whatever your baby will be wearing alot of the time. For us it was onesies. Knowing we had lots and lots of them meant we didn't have to be doing laundry all the time...)

Posted by: Lucille at August 29, 2006 09:44 PM

Mark wrote this: Remember, you still love your husband. Having a child can be a time of incredible stress, and this stress can take its toll on a relationship. Be conscious of this and work to ward off feelings of anger and resentment. Remember why you are together.

Can I say 'ditto' like 1000 times over??? He hit the nail on the head. And coming from a guy, this was wonderful. And I would say the opposite too, for the guy "Remember you still love your wife" and "Remember how viscerally, physically, totally, this has just changed her life"...

Amen.

That said, my best advice is something I need to remind myself over and over, and that is the thing people say alot: they won't be ..... fill in the blanks... when they're 18 (meaning, carrying a blankie, using a pacifier, wearing diapers, only eating french fries, having tantrums, etc etc)...

I, being a control freak, freak over the developmental stuff---worrying that "I'm" doing something wrong... when in fact, it all does fall into place. I was so very unnerved at the beginning of the summer over how/when my son (3) would ever get toilet trained---and preschool starting in Sept was my over-reaching deadline... Everyone said, when they're ready they're ready (sure, there were those who pushed their kids too soon and such, but I wasn't taking that approach)... So I tried to stay calm and, do you know what? It happened! It wasn't magic, there were a few really stressful days, but at some point this month it happened and he now heads for the potty on his own throughout the day! He does it! And I had to sit back and say, my Lord, it really did happen just like that! I was so worried... I never learn.

That is my advice, there. Breathe. Allow it all to happen. As it should. As it will. Don't orchestrate. Don't worry.

It seems you already know this but I just wanted to share that in case you ever do find yourself someday worrying like that.

(Oh, and yes, stock up on whatever your baby will be wearing alot of the time. For us it was onesies. Knowing we had lots and lots of them meant we didn't have to be doing laundry all the time...)

Posted by: Lucille at August 29, 2006 09:43 PM

I'm like a previous poster...you're asking for tips? Ok, you asked for it, lol.

- if breastfeeding becomes difficult or is stressing you to the max don't MAKE yourself do it just because you feel you must. First and foremost in being a good mom, don't overburden or push yourself (or try your best not to, you will automatically so try keep from it when you can). If you don't take care of yourself then how can you take care of everyone else?

- Buy a swing...and USE it. Babies love to swing and it will save your sanity trying to adjust to sleepless nights and sleep deprived days. A swing is my number one new parent suggested buy!

- If you feel like crying or yelling or just locking yourself in the bathroom after the baby comes (and you will) DO IT and DON'T feel guilty. You may, since this pregnancy was a bit more difficult to achieve, feel that any negative feelings you have towards motherhood is just plain awful. It's not, it's normal!!!

- Get an epidural. I know alot of women think going au natural is the best thing. I personally think that pain is a very bad stresser and completely unnecessary in today's modern age. The baby doesn't get a bit of the epi and you do still feel the birth, unlike the myths you often hear. It just makes it more "enjoyable" in terms of you not being in such horrible pain that you wish you weren't even going through it...ya know. I mean, if your pain is tolerable or even non existent you can sit back and take it all in...focus on what is happening instead of what your body is feeling, which isn't what "birth" is all about. Birth is about bringing the child into the world. The pain is just a byproduct of that, not the reason for it. I am very glad I don't look back on either of my births and think "god that was so horrible and painful", even if I know it was worth it. I have no association of pain whatsoever with my birth experiences, and that makes me feel very happy.
Something to think about, seriously, when considering the pain control aspect of labor...but it's a personal choice obviously.

- Take loads of pictures of your children, write about them, brag about them, think about them...enjoy them, dislike them and even try and avoid them. Just be you and know that they don't change you in terms of "who" you are, they add to who you are. You may feel the urge to get rid of any and all bad habits you've ever had in your entire life because you are a mother. That is ridiculous, so don't go there. You are a flawed person like us all. Your child will be too (and no you won't be the sole cause of those flaws, ha,ha). Such is life. Let your child get to know the REAL you, not the you parenting books tell you that you ought to be. It's always good to try and improve yourself, but trying to change yourself to be "perfect" in your child's eyes will only rob her of knowing what being human and loving unconditionally truly means.

- Put the baby on a schedule...seriously. It helps them sleep, which provides you time to be alone or with your mate and claim part of your life that exists beyond your child, which is crucial to keeping you sane.

- Don't live through your children, ie define yourself and your happiness dependent on being their mother. Moms tend to do that...lose themselves to being a mother and find that when it's time to send the kids off to school or to a friends they mourn that separation. It's ok to mourn the transition of course. But if you've spent all your time devoting yourself to your child, then when it's time for them to leave you where will you be? It's a big problem with moms. I always say I want see myself in my children, meaning the subtle traits of mine they've inherited or just picked up. I don't want to ever feel that their need for me defines who I am solely, so I basically define myself through them. I had a friend recently who told me she can't bear to think of her two year old son going to preschool...that it will be hard not to be needed. That sent chills down my spine. I don't feel that way at all about my children. After being a mother for nearly five years, I'm definitely ready to not be needed as much. I'm proud to see my girls growing and needing me less and less...it means I'm doing what I'm supposed to...helping them become their own people. And in all truth, you don't want your child to have a role model such as this...someone who totally wraps themselves up in another therefore having no identity of their own any longer. Think of it in terms of how you live now...how you would want your daughter to live in the future with a mate or as a mom herself...or your son in terms of what he expects of a woman. You can love and nurture someone and still be YOU. It will take work, believe me. The natural state of mothering draws you away from yourself in a very intense way and it can blind you to how you are ignoring yourself and others in your life. It may not be apparent for a good long while, if ever. But if you do realize it depression, resentment and regret can creep in. This helps no one. Again, if you don't take care of yourself, how can you take care of others? Leave the child, be selfish when you can, go for a walk or go to a spa, go on a date...be the YOU that is someone other than a mother. Everyone in your life will be the better for it.

-And I like Luvs diapers the best...and the unscented Target brand baby wipes, lol.

- Oh, and TV can really teach your kids an amazing amount of stuff, so I say USE it to your advantage...it gives you a moment to get something done (you'll see what I mean) and helps reinforce the learning you help your child with already. There are some amazing kids shows out there that teach all sorts of stuff. Sample a few before the baby comes...you'll be amazed.

- They Might Be Giants and Dan Zanes sings kids tunes now! Buy them in bulk and you'll feel like the coolest mom in town, even singing the Hokey Pokey, lol!
Ok, that's about all I got, lol.

Posted by: amy j. at August 29, 2006 09:39 PM

thank you for your thoughtful and thought provoking post. my perspective on the subject comes from a different angle. i was in an accident almost two years ago now that resulted in some physical damage, impacting on my mobility. i've been aware lately that when i'm having a frustrating day with my injury i consciously hold back from sharing those feelings.

in those moments i don't want advice, i want someone to listen, to try to understand how i am feeling and to acknowledge that those feelings have validity. even with love and best intentions, advice can often feel laden with judgement and expectations. i know it's hard for people to know what to say and that optimism and practical solutions would seem to be the right words to offer. i'm very open to learning from other people's experiences and ideas but that desire to help needs to be tempered with patience.

thank you for your wonderful writing and beautiful photography.

Posted by: amy at August 29, 2006 09:16 PM

1. Sleep when baby sleeps.
2. Shower and get yourself dressed every day. ESPECIALLY if you don't feel like it.
3. "...dismiss whatever insults your own soul..." --Walt Whitman

Super post, Superhero. Thank you.


p.s. No baby talk. It bears repeating.

Posted by: misslizzie at August 29, 2006 09:09 PM

Hot tip? Baby Bjorns and Ergo carriers both are awesome and MUCH LIGHTER to carry in a store than the baby bucket/carseat thingie, and do so much less damage to your shoulder! Hmmm.... other hot tips... activity gyms, toys by La Maze or Manhattan Baby, exersaucers... all excellent diversions for little babies. I agree with the post about reading, even from very little. They don't absorb much of it for quite some time but they get in the habit of how storytelling works, and it makes it so much easier for when they are older, to sit and listen.
Everything else, it's all really a function of you and your family. Three little personalities in the same home, and everyone's needs are important. This is going to sound oxymoronic, but both things are true. First, if something isn't working, try something else! And second... when you do finally decide on an approach, whatever it is, be consistent. There are so many camps out there of the "right" way to parent, and I think so many ways can be right if done thoughtfully and lovingly. I have enjoyed reading your posts and your jewelry is beautiful. Maybe someday I can afford a piece! Being a SAHM doesn't afford one a lot of extra spending money! :-)

Posted by: Trasi at August 29, 2006 08:51 PM

This is fabulous. My boyfriend's mom teaches pre-school, and she was explaining how they like to deal with a tough toddler, and her advice matched your's (Dr. Phil's, I guess) exactly. I think that this is such wonderful advice about how to give advice, whether someone is going to be a new parent or when one is just talking with a friend. Thanks for your wisdom.

One hot tip: invest in something that vibrates (a chair or something FOR THE BABY...not like that, although those are pretty amazing, too!). Did you see that episode of Sex and the City? It works.

Posted by: amy at August 29, 2006 08:44 PM

A hot tips list for raising children! Hot shit! All these years and nobody ever asked. Now I have my chance....from a guy's perspective:
-talk to them like an adult. Kids hate baby talk.
-if they're crying at 12am and 3am its because they're hungry. Feed them and they'll go back to sleep.
-if they cry continuously (my kid cried for 6 months straight) put on earplugs. It makes the crying far less dramatic for you to take.
-if its a boy and you are changing his diaper, cover his pee pee with a spare diaper. They love to blast you when you peel that old diaper off.
-if you carry them around in one of those snuggly belly holders, make sure they are facing outward away from you. My kid howled like an insane monkey until I put him in the snuggly the wrong way, facing away from me, and then he was happy as a clam. Who wants to stare at a belly?
-read to them every night, even when they are small. There's nothing better than a colorful, fun, interesting, wacky children's book to make them happy and relaxed and ready to sleep. And the more times you read the same old book the better. It makes you insane but they love it.
-if you own 2 cars buy 2 car seats. Its worth the extra money not having to exchange the seats all the time. Years from now you can sell them in a yard sale.
-sometimes, because of the incredible fatigue you'll have, it will seem like you just can't go on. This will pass. Ride it out.
-Remember, you still love your husband. Having a child can be a time of incredible stress, and this stress can take its toll on a relationship. Be conscious of this and work to ward off feelings of anger and resentment. Remember why you are together.

Thanks for the opportunity to give you my advice. You will be getting tons of advice as to how to deal with your kid (my favorite is when strangers come up and tell you what to do-like I'm doing now!). Feel secure that most people don't ever really get it together in raising children. We trail along behind them being reactive rather than proactive, finaly realizing what we should have done last week instead of knowing what we should do next week. But that's okay. It all seems to work out.
-
-

Posted by: mark at August 29, 2006 08:41 PM

andrea, i love this post so much. it seems to flow from a deep and connected place in your soul, and that leaves me feeling connected, too, and feeling hopeful about my own capacity to "be with" and be curious. i want to grow in that so much!

as a writer, i can't help but notice how sparkly and clear this writing is or how much i wish it would go on for pages.

much, much love for your creative journeys

Posted by: jenlemen at August 29, 2006 06:29 PM

I thought all the above comments about your child being his or her own person and working out what works best for the two of you are so right. Also I would say that pregnancy and birth and child-rearing will be unique to you as well. It can be so easy to compare and worry and wonder. Try to just enjoy what makes you and your little one who you are and not worry that it might run differently for other people.

The other advice I would give is that any behavior you run into that makes you absolutely crazy (everything from colic and sleeplessness to nose-picking and tantrums) will eventually come to an end. Sometimes sooner than you might expect. (and of course it will be replaced with something equally exasperating--but hey, at least it's different) I really lost sight of that in the early days when I was so exhausted with a new baby's needs.
You are going to be great and I love your writing. (oh, and yeah . . crazy advice . . took us seven years to make a baby and my mum took me aside at one point and asked if I was feeding my husband enough meat . . . grrrrrr)

Posted by: Mary at August 29, 2006 05:42 PM

Thank you for this. You articulated so clearly the intentions behind advice giving. While the "giver" may be trying to help, it might be more about a need to be "right" or the one with the answer. It sometimes can be more about the advice giver than anyone else. Thanks for the insight. I feel like I'll be more aware of that in myself now too.

Posted by: maile at August 29, 2006 05:35 PM

I've got no baby "Hot Tips" for you...I DO hope that someday I'll be reading this blog and take away some hot tips from you (in addition to all the other great things I get from reading this) for our baby that is "waiting in the wings" - the husband and I are in theatre, so this is what I've started saying in regards to my infertility.

I pretty much shy away from advice...all the time. I'll sit and listen to it and I might even nod and smile like I'm going to do what the person suggests. It's usually just a big act...and me practicing restraint.

The worst advice my husband and I ever got about my infertility was that it was "possible we weren't doing IT (the baby making) correctly". The second worse came from my mom last week when she scoffed at the IUI we're going to do in a few days and suggested we just try to let things happen naturally. Like we didn't try that for over a year already.

Wow. This was longer than I'd planned. Ha. :) I guess that's what hormone injections do to me. This post hit a nerve, I guess. I hope mama & baby are doing fabulous. I'm so glad I get to read your words...especially as I go through this. It's comforting to feel you know what I'm going through and vice versa. Advice from women who go through this process for a family seems much more valid to me and my situation.

Posted by: Keely at August 29, 2006 05:06 PM

Hot tips: cloth diapers for every kind of spill and wipe in the world.
A sling.
Baby needs to be next to you more than anything else.
Remember above all: You are the perfect mother for your child.

Posted by: Lesley at August 29, 2006 04:48 PM

small thing:
when you first give your baby a bath, get in the tub with him or her and hold them while they experience the new sensation of water.

Posted by: ann at August 29, 2006 04:44 PM

One thing I've learned about advice (both giving and getting) is that generally, it's meant to be helpful and positive. Of course, I've been critical of others, and vice versa. It helps to have a balanced perspective and remember that all babies, and all families have different needs (duh, right?).

But here are a couple of ideas I'd pass on:
Wait to commit to any kind of baby carrier. We have owned so many, and I wish I would have waited for the baby. In the end, I love the Ergo. Same thing with the high chair. In hindsight, I would have spent more money on a fully adjustable, European style seat. In general, buy less gear/stuff than you think you need at the time, if that makes sense. I've tended to make things more complicated than necessary, especially in the diaper bag realm.

Get a well-built, but small, stroller (unless someone has loaned/given you a bigger one). In the end, we've enjoyed our small Maclaren much more than the SUV style we originally purchased.

We loved swaddling and Harvey Karp. His toddler book is great too.

This is so obvious, and also a cliche, but...it goes so fast -- write everything down you can remember and try not to feel guilty about what you miss. Something I work on is not apologizing (whatever that may mean to you).
I had a blissfully easy labor and delivery, but however your baby gets here -- you are powerful and amazing. The details will fade.

Many blessings to you!

P.S. How do you like your Canon? Do you like it more/just as much as the 20D?

Posted by: Sara at August 29, 2006 04:38 PM

always let them be themselves... who cares if they wear a flowery bathing suit with striped shorts and patent leather maryjanes with one strap on and one strap off? If that's what they want to wear...let them!!

Posted by: Sandy at August 29, 2006 04:24 PM

My comment, do whatever it is that YOU want.

No one else has dealt with your baby. Everyone gives advice based on their experiences, their child and their child's personality.

You have your baby. Do whatever you want regardless about how your friends, parents, neighbors feel about it.

Follow your heart and it won't lead you wrong.

Posted by: Rebecca. at August 29, 2006 03:05 PM

a,
for some reason, this made me cry. it just really moved me deeply. you eloquently articulated a lot of what i have learned about advice on this fertility journey of mine.

it gives me a tool to help others know how to help me. i feel like i have fumbled in that area, not quite knowing how to articulate it for them. now i can say..."be curious and then just be with me". i think people will get that...they will.

Carsten has learned, much like Matt, how to react to me. he is so sensitive and i am grateful that he learned this all on his own. it gives me much encouragement as to how he will be sensitive as a father as well.

this post of yours truly resonated with me. so much so that i want to send it to my family and friends! but i will be gentle about that...not pushy.

looking forward to seeing you soon.

love you,
denise

Posted by: Boho at August 29, 2006 02:36 PM

Hot tip: You don't need half the crap people say you do- it was invented to replace a mother's arms (Although Bumbos and slings rock). Do what's natural and right for you.

Posted by: ephelba at August 29, 2006 01:34 PM

I agree with the comment that it's amazing how early these little folks assert their own unique personalities. My daughter started asserting her clothing preferences as a toddler (I liked very tailored things but, wouldn't you know it, she wanted ruffly, feminine stuff). She's 13 now and we still disagree!

The best advice I got was from a pediatrician about food issues. Almost all children will use food as a means of gaining control. And when you think about, it's no wonder. We "big people" decide when they're going to get bathed, what they're going to wear, when they're going down for a nap or for bedtime, etc., etc. So it's really easy for a child to pick food as the point for control. They just clamp that little mouth shut and refuse to eat what's being offered. The pediatrician said, "Don't worry if she only eats fruit for two weeks, or corn for a week. Over the course of a month, children will eat what they need." In other words, don't sweat the small stuff, pick your battles. It's a natural stage of asserting independence. It was such a relief to just say, "Fine, eat all the peach baby food you want. Next week maybe you'll decide to eat a vegetable." And you know, she's fine.

The other thing I learned was that just when you think you've got it figured out (this being after you've had the first child), the second child blows everything out of the water. I call this first child the "sucker child." He (or she) "suckers" you into thinking you've got this parenting thing under control, and then "suckers" you into having a second child. A second child which is totally different from the first and on which none of the things you learned the first time around will work!

It's a humbling, and yet awe-filled, experience!

Posted by: Pamela from Texas at August 29, 2006 12:45 PM

Okay, since you asked ;o)

One of the things that stunned me -- really bowled me over-- was how early I noticed my daughter had a PERSONALITY. I'm not talking about learning the difference in her cries, and so on, I'm talking a real PERSONALITY -- a sense of fun, things she was sensitive to, her way of dealing with her little life. And I noticed this, as God is my witness, within the first week or so. I think I was particularly surprised because she was adopted -- she came home to us at 2 days old -- and so I had no expectations about what she'd be like when she was born. I just learned along with her.

I say this because I'm sure it will be the same for you -- you're going to identify a personality really early on. And when that happens, it's going to dawn on you that this just isn't a baby you're holding, but a real PERSON. And in many ways, you'll deal with him/her as an individual. Learn to respect that individual (while all the while teaching and guiding and disciplining), and it'll all be old hat -- you won't know why people say it's tough.

Well, okay, maybe you will. But it'll still be easier than you think.

Oh, and have I mentioned that you're going to be a great mom?

Posted by: Chookooloonks at August 29, 2006 12:18 PM

This is a wonderful piece, so gentle, so wise. Staying in this place as a parent will serve you well.

I've always treated my son as a person rather than a child, if that makes any sense. I listened to his wants and opinions at a very young age - for instance, inquiring what he felt like eating if we were going out to dinner, when he was only three. I figured the best way to teach him respect was to treat him with it, to show him that I may not always be able to honor his requests but I would at least consider them.

At my son's first pediatric visit, the doctor pulled out a prescription pad, and wrote, "Buy and read the first three chapters of 'How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk.'" It was excellent advice.

Posted by: deezee at August 29, 2006 11:25 AM

You know Andrea, I think your post today is one of the wisest I have read in a long time! As a psychologist, I deal with so many wounded souls who are afraid to open up to me because they have been burned by advice in the past. I love your thoughts around being curious! Really, so on point - fabulous!

As for parenting, you will get all the advice in the world..and the one big thing I'd suggest is trust your gut...trust trust trust!! The only way to be an authentic mother is to try to filter out all the incoming messages and then distill them down to your truth.

That being said...my hot tip (as a mom of two boys) is to get tons of baby wash cloths and baby sleepers and baby blankets so you only have to do laundry once a week instead of every day! That will free up so much time and energy which you'll need for your little one!

Congratulations...I do love your site and am eager to follow along with your progress in the months to come!

Best wishes and many blessings
Lana

Posted by: Lana at August 29, 2006 10:59 AM

You know Andrea, I think your post today is one of the wisest I have read in a long time! As a psychologist, I deal with so many wounded souls who are afraid to open up to me because they have been burned by advice in the past. I love your thoughts around being curious! Really, so on point - fabulous!

As for parenting, you will get all the advice in the world..and the one big thing I'd suggest is trust your gut...trust trust trust!! The only way to be an authentic mother is to try to filter out all the incoming messages and then distill them down to your truth.

That being said...my hot tip (as a mom of two boys) is to get tons of baby wash cloths and baby sleepers and baby blankets so you only have to do laundry once a week instead of every day! That will free up so much time and energy which you'll need for your little one!

Congratulations...I do love your site and am eager to follow along with your progress in the months to come!

Best wishes and many blessings
Lana

Posted by: Lana at August 29, 2006 10:59 AM