My friend, Kate, wrote this post while I was pregnant and I really valued the information she gave and thought it eased my nerves a little too. So, I thought I would add a few things myself. :) She is a much more eloquent writer so bear with me.
Things don't always go as planned. This isn't to say that your birth plan won't be just as you hoped, I just know that sometimes it's doesn't work out like that. Take my story, for instance. But at the end of the day , you have to look at the end result--your gift. The sweet little person who made it out safely.
The first few weeks are hard. I mean HARD. I wrote a little more about it here. To recap: your body is on an emotional roller coaster. I cried and cried and cried. Out of joy. Out of exhaustion. Out of sadness because I hurt my baby. Twice! (#1. Grabbed his freshly circumsized wee wee when I was taking off his diaper---you know how you grab the front of it to wipe their poopie butt?--yeah---It bled. He cried. I cried. #2. I clipped his skin along with his fingernails when they were starting to get claw-like. It bled. He cried. I cried.) Your hormones are all out of whack and you just put your body through labor and your life has just been changed forever. It gets better. It gets way better.
You will feel like your baby's own personal pillow. He will fall asleep on you all the time. Then, he will hate it if you try to move him. You are warm. Your smell is comforting. Your arms are just the right fit for his little body. I want to say, "Cherish it!" because you should, BUT things that I found that worked were sliding his little body along with the boppy onto the couch so that he doesn't move that much or stick a paci in and sometimes he will be lulled back to sleep. Sometimes I had to just go for it. I was TERRIFIED of waking him up, but I just couldn't sit on that couch any longer.
YOU are that baby's mother. That means your maternal instincts will kick in and you will know what's best for your baby. Everybody mothers differently so take advice from others with a grain of salt. Some say 'keep them awake so they sleep at night,' others say 'let him nap. he's just a baby.' Some will say 'bedtime at 7!' while others say 'keep him up until you go to bed so he sleeps in come morning.' 'he's too hot.' 'he's too cold.' See where I am going with this? After a month or two, you know his cries and you know what he needs. Listen to your gut.
This is a little less philosophical. I wish sooooo bad that we had gotten a monitor that lets me see him in his crib. I thought that there was no point to it and they were too expensive. Now....I have thought to myself at least 100 times, 'I wish I had a video monitor!' It let's me check on him when he's sleeping and when he's crying. Because guess what? Sometimes babies cry in their sleep! Brodster would be conked out, eyes shut, head lying down and body still and just wailing. This would last maybe 2 minutes, but sometimes I disturb him more by going in there.
Also, TAKE HEED!!! Discuss with your significant other your plans for going back to work/staying at home. DECIDE THIS BEFORE THE BABY COMES. Set it in stone! Don't say, 'We'll see how it goes.' Because you will FALL. IN. LOVE! And if you and your hubby have differing views on your future (ahem) it will save you a lot of heartache to know flat out--this is how it's going to be. IF you are going back to work--go back at 6 weeks. Don't wait much longer. At 6 weeks, I would have been okay going back (I needed a break). At 3 months, I never wanted to go back again (I couldn't get enough).
If you are going to breastfeed, give it 6 weeks. A full 6 weeks. At 2-4 weeks, I was ready to quit. It hurt. All he did was eat and I was the only one who could feed him so there was no reprieve when 2 a.m. rang. It was awkward when we were out and about. Finally, really at the 6 week mark, it clicked. He was sleeping a little longer, it stopped hurting, and I finally felt that bond. And now...at 9 months, it is perfect and awesome and I never want to stop.
And lastly, accept help! Ain't no shame! Let someone cook you dinner! Let someone wash your clothes! Let someone take care of your baby for 2 hours while you get a much needed nap! It's hard to say yes. You think you are super mom and can do it all. You are super mom, but even super heroes sleep....i think...Don't be shy to ask either. During Brody's first weeks, Brian would text and ask if I wanted his mom to come hang out while I took a nap. I always started my reply with, "But I feel bad..." DON'T DO THIS! I have to remind myself all the time. People love babies. They want to hold and kiss and squeeze them as much as you do. They. don't. mind.
Hope this helps ladies!! Hang in there!