Wednesday, May 1, 2013

5 Things Birthing Classes Should Teach But Don't

I get that nominally, at least, birthing classes should be about -- duh -- birth. But in addition to practicing all of those breathing exercises, ours at least did review a few post-birth items. In addition to the (in)famous video of a birth, we did put a diaper on a doll, for example.

But now that it's been more than five months since Edith was born, I can look back with confidence on five things I wish I would have known that would've made the early days, weeks and months much easier.

1. Parenting Books Aren't Always Right.

They can't be, because they contradict each other. And I should know. I've read plenty.

Do this, not that. Do that, not this. And whatever you do, don't even think about whatever you were planning to do until a second ago.

Don't get me wrong -- the books are useful. No matter how well-meaning friends and family are, there are new thoughts and ideas that I would at least like to consider.

On the other hand, there are few things more useful than advice from those who have come before. Just don't get upset if I don't always use your advice. Admit it -- when you were a new parent, you didn't use it all either.

Each parenting book is usually good for a few gold nuggets, or at least something to think over. And while most of my reading came before Edith was born, I'm still borrowing parenting books periodically from the library. In fact, I recently pointed out to Paul the irony in my reading a book called "Simplicity Parenting."

2. Clothing Sizes Can Be Waaaaaaaaaay Off.

Just like with adult clothing, the same size can be vastly different according to the brand. But even sizes within the same brand can vary! Edith got two 6-9 month onesies as gifts -- same brand -- and she had already outgrown one and could just fit into another when I tried them on her at about 4 months old.

And not only that, but the sizes themselves are wonky. Some are labelled with a range: 0-3 months, 3-6 months, etc. Others just say, for example, 3 months or 6 months. Often the tag will give a weight and height range, but they are of little use when you have a daughter who's of average weight but in the 99th percentile in height.

3. Changing a Diaper Isn't Intuitive.

So much so that I wrote a whole blog post about what new parents should know about changing diapers.

Even five months into this whole parenting thing, I'm still not that fast at changing diapers. But at least I can do it now without mentally checking off each step.

4. Stocking Up Is Useless (and Probably a Waste of Money).

Yes, buying diapers in bulk makes them individually cheaper, but it's a waste of time and money when those diapers get too small, cause blowouts that you're constantly washing from onesies and need to be replaced with the next size up stat.

By diaper size 2 I'd finally learned my lesson. Buy in mega-bulk only in the beginning, when baby's not on the border of a new size.

Pre-buying many (if any) baby clothes is also ill-advised. Especially newborn outfits. Edith received some she didn't even wear.

You don't know how fast your baby will grow or what season it will be when he or she reaches any one certain size. Best to buy outfits as you need them, if you need them. With baby shower gifts, postpartum presents and doting grandparents, I've purchased very few clothes.

Besides, in a pinch she can generally wear the next size up if all the best-fitting clothes are dirty before laundry day.

5. There's Rarely One Right Way for Anything.

Every parent seems to swear by something. Something that will surely help baby sleep. Something you should definitely give baby to eat. Something that you absolutely, positively don't want to be without.

I'll swear by something, too. But I'll try to keep it to myself unless you ask.

Because if I've learned anything in five months, it's this: No one's right and everyone's right. And me too.

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