Like most moms-to-be, I spent hours (days…weeks…months) poring over lists of must-have baby items. I created and modified baby registries like I used to exercise. I was going to get this right. No way would I be panicked in the middle of the night without the supplies to soothe my baby!
Our children are an opportunity for us to grow. I’ve been challenged left and right, more by the process of caring for Xander than by him as a person. He’s an incredible baby. NOTHING can prepare you for the terror of sitting in the pediatrician’s waiting room for the third time, fearing that your baby’s weight has decreased even more. Or the heartbreak of having both hands tied to a breast pump while your baby cries for your attention in the bassinette beside you. I can’t say that I’ve mastered these things, but I’ve learned to not let these challenges completely undo me.
And there are a few products that helped.
Here, I’ll share my list of 5 things no one ever told me I’d need. Hopefully, they’ll help make those 3 AM sessions a little less panicky for you, too.
1. Infant Formula–Just in Case
The hospital I delivered at is considered baby-friendly. They encourage immediate bonding with your baby and have nurses check in around the clock to assist with breastfeeding. Unfortunately, not one of these nurses explained how to unlatch my baby. When he tested positive for low blood sugar, they created a huge scene, grabbing my baby off of my chest and asking me if I preferred donated breast milk or formula. After some thought, I opted for formula, because the thought of someone else nourishing my child upset me. These same nurses insisted that I get as much milk as possible into my baby, so I tried until I was blistered, bruised, and bleeding.
After a week of trying to fight through the pain of breastfeeding, and round-the-clock attempts to satiate my child, he was hospitalized for weight loss. Here, finally, the doctor recommended that I fill my child up with sustenance. In a matter of hours, he transformed from an unhappy, cold, lethargic bundle to the babbling, smiling baby I’ve adored for the past 4 months.
Breastfeeding is fantastic. Don’t get me wrong. But lately, it’s been presented as the only option, with people going so far as to recommend not buying formula as it can tempt you to stop breastfeeding. I was 100% committed to breastfeeding, too. And Xander almost lost his life because of it.
Have a can of formula on hand or a few free samples. Your child’s life is more important than your opinion of what’s right.
2. Mixie Baby Bottles
After weeks of trying to use a breast pump, breastfeed, and formula-feed my son, I finally threw in the towel. Hearing my baby cry or coo in the next room during the day (or beside me at night) and having both hands tied up broke my heart. I also had the impending worry of returning to work after six weeks, and every missed second with my son hurt deeply. After seeing my milk production decrease steadily, I let go of my own desires and plans and did what was best for Xander.
No longer was I spending entire nights awake, rinsing the various pieces of my breast pump. Instead, I had a basket of bottles ready for quick assembly and a can of formula at the ready.
It took me two months before I realized that there was a better way. Mixie Baby Bottles changed my life. No more measuring in the dark. No more spilled water or sandy formula in my sheets. With the Mixie bottle, you measure your formula and pop a lid on it, then add water. The formula stays unmixed until you press the button on the bottom. Xander and I have been sleeping much better ever since.
3. Huggies Little Movers Diaper Pants
My husband is incredibly tall. I’m average, with a short torso and long legs. Xander inherited my husband’s long torso and my legs. He’s going to tower over us both. This has made diapering more complicated, as many diapers just don’t seem to fit properly. We’ve experimented with every brand out there, from the most extravagant organic diapers to fancy cloth diapers, to the cheap emergency diapers from the convenience store down the street. Huggies Little Movers Diaper Pants are the best out there. They can be slipped on in a rush, or fastened at the sides, which are stretchy. In the past, Xander has been cut by ill-fitting diapers. These are soft, absorbent, and have never sprung a leak.
Formula-fed babies often have different bowel movements than breastfed babies, and I think that most diapers are tailored to the breastfed population. The Little Movers manage to hold it all in, leg kicks and all.
4. MAM Pacifiers
Much like formula and bottles, pacifiers were highly discouraged. The first pediatrician I saw chastised me for giving my baby the ability to soothe himself, despite studies that prove that pacifiers may help reduce the risk of SIDS. Why was he so adamant? Again, breastfeeding comes into play. Let me assure you, Xander’s latch was never affected by a bottle or pacifiers! Like breastfeeding, I had a concrete plan. My son was not going to use a pacifier. Until that first night at our apartment, when screaming at 2 AM after several days with no sleep forced us to crawl out of bed and sterilize the lauded Phillips Avent Pacifiers. If we were going to “break the rules”, this was the one that was “acceptable”. But even the smallest size was unwieldy in our baby’s tiny mouth. I set another pot of water to boiling, trying out the tiny MAM pacifier that was thrown into a box of freebies for one of my registries. After letting it cool, I plopped it into Xander’s mouth…and he happily sucked away. Even better, MAM has a line of nighttime pacifiers that glow in the dark, so you can easily spot it (or baby’s mouth) in the middle of the night.
5. Earth Mama Angel Baby…Everything
A throwback to my pre-pregnancy days, Earth Mama Angel Baby is an organic, herb-based line of products that are great for sensitive skin. Xander inherited my inability to tolerate most soaps, detergents, and scents, but has never had a reaction to an Earth Mama product. I had to ditch my reliance on my herbal regimen for hormone regulation once morning sickness transformed lemon balm into cat urine, but for some reason, the Earth Mama herbs were always comforting. I cannot recommend their postpartum care package highly enough. It is the gift I will give to every mom-to-be.
Bonus: Forgiveness and Acceptance
I’ve mentioned several times how I had a definite plan going into pregnancy/motherhood. Let me be the first to say that your baby will crap all over your plans…sometimes literally. Parenthood is about letting go of what YOU want, for the greater good of your child. Does it hurt to be judged for not breastfeeding? Every day. Do I regret it? Absolutely not. I’ve learned we are allowed to change our minds. Don’t limit yourself and your child to what you think you want. Do what you know your child needs. All the doctors, nurses, and pediatricians in the world could approve of my methods, but it wouldn’t have mattered if I had ignored my instincts for another day. Xander wouldn’t be with me now. This is a lesson I have taken to heart and one I hope to pass on to all new parents so that you don’t have to experience the pain firsthand. Forgive yourself for the little mistakes. Be willing to change. And accept that your child is going to transform you more and more each day.
I’ll also remind you that each child is different. What worked for me may be the opposite for you! And that is absolutely okay! Be willing to try different things. Do your own research, check in with trusted doctors, and most of all, listen to your heart.