Having a baby? What I wish I had known the first time.

Some of this info I did know; some of it I heard but didn’t really understand, and some of it I didn’t even know was a thing until after it happened. Anyway, if you aren’t about to have a baby or interested in some real talk about it, you might want to leave while you still can. Otherwise, please read on! I know some mamas who are due with their first soon, and my head was spinning with all of these suggestions today so I figured I’d write them down to help a sister or two out.

1. If you can, get a doula

I am not a crunchy, birthing center kind of mom. I am a hospital, give me an epidural ASAP kind of mom. But after a really rough recovery from my first baby, I knew the second time that I wanted to have someone (besides my husband) there to advocate for me, aware of my medical history, and to help this one go as smoothly as it could. It was so helpful to have someone I could text random questions to, get comfort and advice the night my labor started, and literally have someone to hold my hand and coach me through my contractions; reminding me to breathe and not freak out. First-time-mom me would have probably thought my husband could do those things if I asked him to. But it’s really different to have a professional in charge when the rubber meets the road, and I don’t have to worry about his potentially who-knows-what emotional state to be my rock. It was so helpful. Doulas get booked out pretty far in advance, so the earlier you can find one, the better. If you aren’t sure where to look, ask your OB if they have any recommendations of people they have liked working with. That way you can be sure to find one that meshes well with their philosophies and won’t be butting heads.

2. Drink water. Take your stool softeners.

Ok. You’re still reading? Now we’re getting real. Hooray! You pushed out a baby! You think the hard work is done? Well, hopefully it is. But if you don’t continue drinking water, and taking stool softeners, you could find yourself in a very uncomfortable situation in a few… or five… days later. I am not a thirsty person, so this one was super hard for me. Drink. Drink drink. Make yourself drink even if you aren’t thirsty. Thankfully, the second time around I got my first BM out of the way while I was still at the hospital. First time around, I nearly had to get an enema, and it tore my stitches out. Sooo…. just saying. Not messing around with this one. I would have put it first on this list, but I wanted to weed out the audience a bit before jumping out with the stool softener tips. Also, now this one is #2. #poojoke

3. Clots can be huge

You’re in for the long haul if you’re still reading at this point. Luckily I didn’t have to deal with any mega clots; after both of my deliveries I basically had a normal-to-heavy period for 3-4 weeks. Getting all of that extra tissue out is why the nurses give you the oh-so-unpleasant belly squashing massages while you’re in the hospital. But I heard that these clots could be giant, like baseball-sized. I expect you’d want to call your OB to be safe if you see anything like that, but just even knowing that it’s in the realm of possibility was a good thing to know ahead of time.

4. You will probably need a physical therapist

After having a baby, there is so much with your body that can be thrown out of whack. With my first, I realized 6 months later that I couldn’t run at all; my pelvis was all jacked up. With my second, I had diastasis recti while I was pregnant (that thankfully recovered on its own postpartum), but I do still need some lower ab work to get back to normal. Even the typical “mommy bladder” symptoms, like stress incontinence (peeing when you cough or sneeze), or even urgency incontinence (having to go all of a sudden) can be caused from pregnancy, and may not go away on their own. But you don’t have to just live with it!! Just because they’re common doesn’t mean it is “normal”. I started seeing a maternal specialist chiropractor around halfway through my pregnancy because I was having major pubic bone symphysis pain. She helped keep me in line, and I definitely think helped contribute to my smooth labor this time around. So maybe a chiropractor should be it’s own bullet point here, but I’ll lump it together with the PT. Seeing a pelvic floor specialist, especially after your “fourth trimester” to get everything back where it should be is super helpful. Again, I should not have waited until something was a painful/debilitating problem. Get the help early, don’t suffer/grumble/complain. It’s worth it to feel normal again! It could even be just muscle tension that you don’t even realize you have that needs to be loosened up – you’ll feel so much better after.

5. Nursing shouldn’t hurt

With my first, I nursed her for 3 weeks before being at my breaking point with painful, sore nipples, and finally getting a lactation consultant for a second opinion. The one that I saw in the hospital didn’t catch my daughter’s tongue and lip ties, which made it impossible for her to get a deep enough latch, and so she was hungry all time, nursing all the time, and hurting me ALL the time. I waited way, way too long. If you find yourself clenching your teeth when they latch, see someone. Nursing isn’t intuitive; I had literally never seen a baby nurse before I was nursing my own baby. So, there’s no shame in getting some help. I think my biggest problem the first time was not knowing what the threshold of “hurting too much” was; I thought maybe that’s just what nursing feels like. Wrong!

6. There’s no shame in supplementing

I don’t want to get into a moral “fed is best” campaign here. I just know with this world of Pinterest-worthy social media lives, there’s a lot of pressure on moms to breastfeed. Some moms are blessed with a healthy milk supply and can feed their babies for years. Some moms have an oversupply, and are able to donate and feed OTHER people’s babies. Unfortunately, especially as a working mom, sometimes you just can’t pump as much as they need to eat. Sometimes you have to pump from the beginning due to an unexpected situation in the hospital and never get a chance to get nursing established. I stressed again, way too long with my first trying to make pumping work. Finally I was frustrated with pumping an ounce at a time, and started supplementing with formula. I could finally sleep again without worrying if my baby was hungry. I could stop worrying about the empty freezer stash. My husband could wake up and feed the baby and I didn’t have to feel guilty or need to wake up and pump to make up for it. One of the frustrating truths of motherhood is you will always feel like you’re doing it wrong. Grass is always greener, etc. If your baby is fed, they’ll be ok. You’ll be ok. You may even be better off. So, be sure to balance your own human needs with the reality of how your body responds. Also, did I already say to drink water? Drink water.

7. “Colic” can be improved

I had heard and seen several babies who cried every minute they were awake. For months. It’s awful; again, demoralizing because as a parent you feel like you’re useless, and it’s just draining. My son started off happy as a clam; possibly even too chill; but around about 3 weeks old, he started showing classic signs of colic; painful crying “for no reason”. It got worse in the evenings, but really would happen all day. Gas drops helped some. And he was having tons of dirty/poopy diapers, like 5 a day. Saw his doctor several times; nothing was wrong with him. My friend suggested I should try eliminating dairy that I was eating. Babies aren’t lactose intolerant; there’s actually more lactose in breast milk than in cow’s milk (that’s why it’s so sweet, if you are brave enough to try some of yours), but they can be intolerant to the protein in cow’s milk, and the proteins you eat end up in your breast milk. In my case, I also had to eliminate soy from my diet, and find a dairy- and soy-free formula to supplement with. Once I got my diet straightened out, he was like a new baby and finally started smiling and laughing basically the same day. All I know is there’s not a ton of research and your pediatrician, unless they’re a nutrition/lactation specialist, may not even know the latest research on this. So, if your baby is unreasonably fussy, trust your mom gut and see what you can try to make them more comfortable. I can’t say that this works for all cases of colic, but it was so clearly the cause of my son’s that it’s worth your time to keep a food journal and look into it if you’re concerned.

8. Sleep is really important

This one seems obvious. Currently my second is 5 months old, and I haven’t slept more than 3-4 hours at a time since he was born. I’m not dead. Haha. I’m even a mostly functioning human. So in that respect, your body will adjust to a very, very different pattern of sleep than you’re accustomed to. My real point here is about the first few weeks, when you’re adjusting to this new reality. If you have family or a close friend you can get to cover night duty for a night, and let you even get ONE nap or stretch of sleep that you wouldn’t otherwise have, do it do it do it. You can certainly also pay for a night nanny to do this if you’re in a pinch. I’m not the type to want to impose, so it’s really hard to ask for favors until I’m already crying and desperate because I waited too long to ask. So, if you can picture what being hangry feels like, imagine that but also being delirious from being too tired for weeks. We’re talking put your keys in the fridge levels. It makes you angry at your baby, angry at yourself, angry at your partner; it’s just really a defeating feeling. But it’s seriously nothing that a nap and a hot shower won’t significantly improve. Be sure to find the time to take care of yourself.

9. Help is out there

I was lucky enough to not suffer from PPD, but I did have some amount of postpartum anxiety (something I didn’t even know was a thing the first time). I thought that I was fine because I wasn’t having bad thoughts about hurting myself or my baby; I was crying, but not an unreasonable amount; I thought if I’m not depressed, everything’s fine, right? I finally saw a therapist after having a panic attack after watching a particularly triggering episode of House involving baby death. My friend’s website: https://everyoneshouldgototherapy.com/ has it right. Again, (noticing a theme here?) there’s no shame in getting some help. This shit is hard; not only mentally and physically, but your hormones are also whack. Find someone to talk to about it. I’ve heard really good things about this book, Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts, and I’d recommend it to anyone about to have their first.

Hmm… I’m tired now so I’ll call it a night. But I may add some more to this when I wake up in a couple hours to feed my son.

Oh lastly; some shout-outs to my favorite parenting Instagram accounts to follow: @pregnantchicken for some funnies (they have a great email newsletter, too); @betterpostpartum to remind you what’s real; @the.n3rd.dad for more funnies; @busytoddler once your little one gets old enough to need activities.

Bringing Home Baby – What You Need and What You Don’t

Well, as with many other blogs I’ve read, I’ve been a mom for 3 months now so clearly I know what I’m talking about (eye roll). I do, however, have a good idea of what helped us survive those first 3 months since it’s fresh on my brain, and what things you can probably pass on for your registry. I have not received any compensation for the products mentioned below; these just happen to be the ones we have and like.

Must Haves

  1. Rock-n-Play (Fisher Price) – When people ask us what is the one baby item we couldn’t live without, this is it. She has slept in this every night so far. We are starting to transition her to her crib for naps, but at night, she still sleeps for a good long stretch in this thing. It isn’t only for sleeping, either. Any time you need your hands free to do anything, you can pop her in this. It’s light and small enough you can haul it around the house with you, and it collapses for easy travel. On hard floors, you can tap your foot on the bottom rail to rock a newborn to sleep hands-free. Killer. Get one. We didn’t get the auto-rocking one; the vibrate function is enough to use every now and then to soothe her, and rocking her with our foot when needed was sufficient. You can rock it on carpet, but you have to work a bit harder at it. It won’t rock itself back like it does on hard floors, but you can prop something under it like a stuffed animal leg and it will rock a bit easier.
  2. SwaddleMe Swaddles – This probably ties for most important item. You will learn with practice how to wrap a baby in a flat swaddle blanket, but they will eventually fight their way out of them and leave you worried about them covering their face in their sleep. These velcro sleep pods are magic. Strap her arms down straight against her sides, and poof, baby cocoon/burrito. Ours still sleeps in one every night, and for many naps if she’s too fussy to fall asleep on her own. I wish we had one of these starting in the hospital! Get several of the small size; by the time they are big enough for the large, they will probably be rolling over and you won’t get to use them.
  3. Car Seat (Chicco KeyFit 30) – Ok, this one probably makes the list of the ONLY thing you need for your baby, since you can’t leave the hospital without one. This model has been great for us; you can get an additional base to have one in both cars so you can just snap the bucket in and out instantly. There are so many options for car seats that I won’t pretend to be an expert; I just know this one is the one I see around the most, and for the price, it has been perfect. I also have a pretty small compact car, and this fits behind the passenger seat. I do basically leave my passenger seat all the way forward, to make it easier to take the bucket in and out. If you need to have front seat passengers frequently and have a very small car, do some research on what will work for you.
  4. Stroller with rugged wheels (Baby Jogger Citi Mini GT) – We walk Amy a lot. Either because it’s good exercise during my recovery, or because she stops crying when we go outside (usually for both reasons), this one has been essential. This one doesn’t collapse very easily, so we don’t really take it away from home (but you could if you needed to.) The rugged wheels on this one are completely necessary for all the sidewalk and road bumps for the miles we’ve put on ours. There is an adapter to allow our infant bucket to clip on. Baby Jogger is just the brand, this model isn’t intended for jogging. If you do want a jogger, I’ve heard BOB is a good one. Also, if you want to walk a baby in the summer (especially in the evenings) I recommend this stroller fan.
  5. Diaper Genie Essentials – I did pretty exhaustive research on which diaper pail I wanted to get. There are a ton of different options, but if you plan to use disposable diapers, this stripped down pail is a winner. From reviews I read, this one rated highest on “odor control,” which to me seems like the only important thing.
  6. Baby Swing (Fisher Price) – We use ours every day still. The music on this one is actually not obnoxious, and the mobile/mirror on it keep her soothed as she falls asleep for a nap.
  7. Baby Monitor (Summer Infant Baby Zoom Wi-Fi) – You could use any baby monitor, or even something like a drop cam, but we really like this one. It has colored lights that indicate sound if you have the screen and volume off, good battery life, and it’s really convenient. I admittedly haven’t really used the Wi-fi part. The monitor itself has buttons that let you control the pan and zoom of the camera, and it has the option for two-way audio.
  8. Car Mirror (Brica Magical Firefly) – We have one of these in both of our cars. It’s really nice to be able to see her in the rear-view mirror while she’s rear-facing, and it has a remote that turns on lights and music, which (sometimes) helps her stop fussing, especially at night.
  9. Sound Machine (Sharper Image Sound Soother) – This exact model may be hard to track down, since we got it several years ago. I like that the sound quality is actually decent. We tried the Skip Hop Owl (because it was cute) but it sounded terrible so we returned it. White noise or ocean sounds are soothing to babies and also block other noises in the house. For on-the-go white noise, this travel size (Homedics) one is good.
  10. Wubbanub pacifier – Ours loves this giraffe; she can chew on the horns or legs to help self-soothe even if she can’t get the pacifier end in her mouth on her own.
  11. Burp Cloths – Any kind, but you want a ton of them. In arm’s reach. At all times.
  12. Happiest Baby on the Block DVD – If you’re new to babies, this DVD shows you some really helpful tricks to soothe a crying baby, once you’ve exhausted the short list of diaper, food, and sleep. Babies cry. This helps explain why, and what to do about it. Watch it before you go to the hospital!


For this section, I’ve added some things that have really helped us out, but don’t qualify as must-haves.

  1. Collapsible Stroller (Chicco Liteway Plus) – Since our main stroller is listed in the section above, this one falls as a nice-to-have. This one collapses really quickly and easily, and is fairly light. It’s still larger than “umbrella” strollers, but this one allows for our infant bucket to clip on (without an adapter), which makes it necessary for now. When I go to the grocery store I usually put her whole bucket in the cart, rather than dealing with pushing a stroller and a cart. But, for shopping somewhere without a cart, or for restaurants that don’t have car seat slings, this one is great.
  2. Mamaroo – This one falls down here, because if you already have a swing, this one is just an alternative. Also, some babies love them, and some can’t stand them. Since it’s on the pricier side, I’d wait to buy one until I could try her in one and see how she takes to it. I know people that swear by these, and we have found it useful when she doesn’t want to be in the other swing.
  3. Activity Gym (Infantino) – After your baby is about 1 month old, they will really enjoy batting at these toys. We have acquired lots of toys with rings that can clip on, so we have ones that jingle or vibrate in addition to the ones it comes with. This has been part of our daily routine, until she has started rolling over.
  4. Owlet – This one is really neat; it’s like a hospital pulse/oxygen monitor that straps onto her foot, and a base station with an alarm if her vitals drop. The risk of SIDS is scary at any time, but especially for a new mom. During her first couple weeks, this gave me the peace of mind to go sleep in my bed with her in the other room, knowing I would hear the alarm over the monitor if something happened. Even when I did sleep in the same room as her, I could look up and see that the monitor was green and not get out of bed to check that she is actually breathing (new moms… you know it’s true.) This is a new product, so it isn’t perfect; and I had a false vitals alarm once when it wasn’t strapped on her foot tightly enough (there is a different alarm that happens if it just falls off, but it’s very secure unless she’s kicking like crazy). It doesn’t work when she’s in a swing, and it isn’t intended for co-sleeping. And it isn’t cheap. Mark doesn’t think it was worth it, but I stand by it. I plan to start using it again when she starts sleeping in her crib and can roll over. If you want to splurge and are a worrier, this may be a good option for you.
  5. Bath Tub (Fisher Price) – This one is nice because it has an infant sling that you can remove once they’re old enough to sit up. Speaking of bath time…
  6. Bath Kneeler (BackJoy) – I actually tried every bath kneeler on the floor of Buy Buy Baby when I was 9 months pregnant (needed help getting up haha) and this one was hands-down the best.

Don’t Need

I’m sure I’ll offend someone in this section, if their favorite thing appears down here. Well, these are the things we have been perfectly happy without. If you want to get them anyway, go for it.

Changing Table – We ended up getting a dresser at IKEA (be sure you anchor it to the wall!) and put a changing pad on the top. No need for a single purpose changing table. She’ll be able to continue using this dresser once she’s dressing herself.

Bassinet – This also falls into the category of single-use furniture that’s unnecessary, if you use a Rock-n-Play for sleeping. You also don’t need the bassinet attachment for a Pack-n-Play, since the Rock-n-Play travels so easily.

Bottle Warmer – We got one of these, and haven’t used it once. You want to avoid over-heating the milk to keep all the good stuff in there; that’s why you don’t warm up bottles in the microwave, they warm unevenly and could cook it. What we always do is just warm it up under luke-warm water in the sink. Reviews for bottle warmers say they can potentially heat unevenly, so since we’ve been fine without it, we haven’t risked it.

Baby Laundry Detergent – The Free & Clear version of standard laundry detergent works fine for baby clothes. Only babies with severe skin sensitivities would have an issue with Free & Clear detergent. Fabric softener is not recommended for baby clothes, though.

Car Seat Accessories – We got a couple of the car seat upholstery protectors (that go under the car seat), and ended up returning them. Most car seat manufacturers say putting anything in the seat not made by the manufacturer, or between the seat and the car voids the warranty, and are unsafe (can cause the seat to not get a tight enough grip). While I’m sure 99.99% of the time it would be completely fine, we ended up deciding being safe is more important than not scuffing our car’s upholstery. Once she starts eating, there will be far worse damage anyway, I fear.

So that concludes my recommendations for 0 – 3 months! What newborn items could you not live without?

eknightmusic 3.0

Sorry everybody. It’s been a long time.

Unfortunate that it takes a website makeover to get me to write a blog post. Hopefully with this snazzy new site, I’ll be more inspired to write some. Not only that, I have lots of life updates to talk about!

bebeHard to believe it’s been a year and a half since my last update. Since that last post, we, oh, bought a new house. I’m the president of the Austin Symphonic Band this year, so putting a lot of time toward that.

I started a new job at Headspring in August, doing front-end development. Shortly thereafter, I found out that I’m pregnant! Just found out last week that it’s a baby girl. She’s due in May.

Funny how such big events can be summarized so briefly. But, alas, I am tired. Good night!