I started to make a list of things that I wish I had done with Elisabeth (taking a signing class for example) but I realized there were also some decisions that I made on more of a personal level that, in hindsight, were a miss. I'd love to hear what you would add, if you feel inclined to comment below. Here it is:
- Accept help offered. It seems like a basic (working on a blog post over at Swoon about this issue) but I had the idea that I should be able to do it all and do it all well. Kind of like "women are equal now, aren't they? They can go to the same colleges that men go to AND run for office!" thinking, right? Yeah, that kind of confused. Help was offered. Things were offered. Should have smiled and said "yes" to both.
- Get a photographer to take pictures at the birth. Not of the birth. That would be way too much. But simple photos of first moments with Elisabeth. I have no pictures of E. and myself until she's about three weeks old. I would so love some of those early days. But I have none. Why? Vanity, I supposed in part. A misguided notion of privacy in some other part, I guess. Mistake. Wish I had some.
- Rest More. Just what it sounds like. I didn't really rest as much as I should. I was making cookies a week after I had E. For this one, I'm crystal clear on the why: I missed both my own cooking and a sense of normal so desperately that it felt more important to have those two things than to take a nap. That hasn't changed. Even now I often avoid sleeping so I can get more done. I still apparently haven't learned the lesson! I'm working on this but it's hard to teach an old dog...
- Hire a lactation consultant. How this seemed like a non-essential when I was so determined to breastfeed, I honestly have no idea. But it did. Part of it was I didn't know any lactation consultants. Not good enough. Things can go downhill fast for new moms in this area. We just don't know enough about what is right and what isn't to prevent it ourselves, most of the time. True for me and so many others.
- Worry Less. Worry wasn't my middle name but it was definitely something that I would answer to, if you shouted loud enough. Worrying about breastfeeding (see #4), not feeling like myself, all the 'things' that could go wrong, baby basics I didn't know, etc. I even tried to do the 12 Step thing about offering it up to a higher power. That worked, sometimes. After all, do I seriously imagine that I am in control of the universe? (Yes. Just kidding! Sort of.) Seth Godin said: "anxiety is experiencing failure in advance." Truth, that. I've come to believe, though, that the way to avoid anxiety is to feel more confident (and rested!) in general. Feeling confident and capable though comes from experience, yes, but also education, support and hands-on help. Funny...that's exactly what a post-partum doula offers.
If you're a parent already, what would you add to this list? What do you wish you had done differently?