A Letter To My Preggo Self

Today I'd like to share some wisdom with my first-time pregnant, anticipating the birth of Agent E, confused, overwhelmed self. Following are just a few things it would have been nice to know in advance.

The birth class at the hospital will be pointless. Still, you attend out of obligation and hang on every word. You even drag your husband with you, with pillows. (Why do they ask you to bring pillows? It's not like they have nap time halfway through.) You come away with a list of things to bring to the birth, including but not limited to a giant ball to sit on, music (with your own boom box), and more pillows. Then you go into labor at 2:00 a.m., three weeks early, before you pack your hospital bag. So, you throw your cell phone and a few pairs of underwear in a backpack and consider yourself ready. When Baby #2 comes along, you plan what you are taking right after you pee on the stick.

Take more pictures of your pregnant shape. Yes, you will go on to do this two more times, but each growing baby deserves its own photographic evidence. Then back them up; your computer will crash when your daughter is a few weeks old and you will lose some beautiful photos forever.

You have already decided you will breastfeed, and that's great! However, you seem to think it will be quite simple since you've read a few chapters of a (lame) pregnancy book. Trust me; you do not have the first clue what breastfeeding is really going to be like. You know those breastfeeding classes you have seen advertised? The ones you have been kind of giggling at and making fun of? Take one. I'm serious. Take. The. Class. Plus, you still have some unresolved negative feelings about nursing from what you've heard from friends and the media. Get over it, and get to a La Leche League meeting. Your future self will be most grateful.
Just under a month before Agent #3 arrived
About that pathetic pre-birth reading list . . . you could really use some new material. Go ahead now and buy a copy of The Baby Book. While you're at it, pick up a copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding as well. Read them both from cover to cover. Now do it again. Stop reading pregnancy magazines, mainstream parenting magazines, and online message boards. You're just making yourself crazy.

Buy some cute newborn clothes and pajamas. Everyone will tell you it's not worth it, they outgrow them too fast, and to buy 3-6 month stuff instead. However, you will birth a tiny baby who will be completely swallowed by every article of clothing you have. Luckily, some nice friend (who's been there, three times) will give you some clothes that actually fit, and it will be much easier to dress her for the first two months.

You will debate the merits of crib style and mattress firmness as if the fate of the universe depended on it. And you will end up co-sleeping. Congratulations: You just purchased the most expensive cat bed and stuffed toy receptacle ever. Actually, that's not 100% true. Eventually you will discover if you remove the front it makes a great sidecar. Agent E will sleep here until she's almost three. And you will kick yourself for taking so long to figure this out.

That Baby Papasan chair you get as a baby shower gift? The one you open and think, "what in the heck will I need this for?" All three babies will spend many, many nights sleeping in there when stuffy noses, earaches, or tummy troubles require them to sleep upright. It will end up being one of your most used baby items.

The CIO sleep book you also receive as a gift? Exchange it for a copy of The No-Cry Sleep Solution. Or take bookstore credit, buy yourself a fancy latte and a muffin at the in-house coffee shop, and get some quiet writing time in while you can.

Do get a good supply of those thin receiving blankets. You will use them for many things . . . to lay the baby on, wrap the baby in, as a towel, as a burp cloth, to put under the baby for diaper changes, to cover the baby while sleeping or nursing . . . everything. Skip pretty, fluffy blankets, and definitely pass on the crib bumper (see above).

Don't buy wicker baskets. Not for putting toys in, not for storing little baby washcloths, not for anything. I know they're in all the catalog pictures, they look cute, and they have those pretty liners with the tie on the front that matches the changing table pad cover. And when you find them on clearance at Target it will be hard to resist. But . . . babies try to eat them, toddlers destroy them, and preschoolers use them as footstools. Someday you'll be pulling shards of wood out of your 15-month-old's mouth. Forget sweet and buy big, ugly, plastic bins from the get-go.

Most importantly, when E arrives, after you get through the blurry post-birth hemorrhaging fiasco, unravel the swaddling and pick her up. Hold her to your body. Do this as many hours a day as you are physically able. Someday you will regret not focusing on this skin-to-skin time until your third baby comes along. Do it for E. And for J, too.


  1. I couldn't seem to comment on it there, so I just had to come here and tell you how beautiful that post was. I loved it.