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2016, March: Survival tips from the first year

Declan is now one year and a bit. He's a ton of fun most of the time (some of the time he's whiny and annoying and picky about food, but the fun times make up for all of that). He still only sleeps through the night occasionally and we're definitely dealing with a nighttime-pacifier-addiction, but whatever. It's handle-able (see #3 below).

I received a lot of advice while pregnant and during Declan's first few months. Some advice was annoying, some might have been helpful but I wouldn't know since I wasn't in a place that I could hear it. However, a few tidbits were very valuable and will stick with me if I ever decide to be brave and have another baby, so I wanted to put them down on (virtual) paper and share them with you. So listen up (or don't, see #6 below) - especially if you have not yet had a kid and think that you might in the future. Nothing will ever prepare you adequately for the chaos, but these tips might help. And thank you to the wonderful friends who shared these nuggets with me along with your reassuring stories.
  1. (While pregnant): spend your time napping, resting, watching Netflix, drinking tea, and generally sitting down and being lazy. Seriously, do it. I now have around 45 minutes to myself in the morning to get ready, pack lunch, tidy the kitchen from the previous night, and have a cup of tea. If I can manage to do it all and finish my tea before Declan wakes up, it is worthy of a small celebration. And that's pretty much the only time I get to myself all day. Appreciate the opportunity to do nothing quietly while you have it.
  2. (While pregnant): Do not worry one tiny bit about labor. Worry about the weeks/months that come after labor and try not to worry about those too much, either, since there will be plenty of worry while they are happening. I cannot believe how much I stressed about the labor, and that was a mere blip in the roller coaster that was the first three months of Declan's life. Labor will happen, it will hurt, you will bleed a lot, but then it will be over and you'll have to deal with the nonstop seemingly-nonsensical whims of the tiny human that you just produced. Labor is nothing in comparison.
  3. Don't expect that you will ever be well-rested again. Rather, expect that you will get used to functioning on much less sleep than before. It's quite amazing how much I can now do on 2-3 hours of broken sleep. In my pre-kid days I thought that the baby would start sleeping through the night after a few months and everything would go back to normal. Not so. Nope. Apparently it's a well-kept secret of parents everywhere that once you have kids you never sleep again. You just get used to it and increase your use of concealer and consumption of caffeine and wine accordingly.
  4. Teeth can play peek-a-boo for WEEKS before they finally emerge for good. Who knew that was a thing? I thought that once you saw swollen gums and felt the beginnings of a tooth that it would soon pop through and that would be that. Nope. Apparently teeth move forwards AND backwards. Declan's top four teeth took seven weeks to fully commit to coming out. Seven. Some days we could feel them, some days we couldn't. It was absurd. Now his molars are threatening to do the same thing. Teething sucks.
  5. If your baby goes to daycare, then get used to spending time at the doctor's office. Colds, coughs, wheezing, ear infections, strange rashes, excessive screaming, vomiting, diarrhea, the works. Oh, and get used to catching half of the bugs, too. I've never had so many colds in one winter. But it's all going to result in a strong immune system for the wee one, riiiiight?
  6. Don't listen to the horror stories, don't read the books if they are stressing you out, and most definitely do not Google things. Every experience is different. Your baby and your story are unique. Trust your instincts. Nothing I read in a book or online helped with Declan's sleeping and the internet has never helped me determine whether or not a symptom needed a doctor visit. I trust a very small circle of people to give me advice when I ask for it (including the doctors, daycare ladies, and my sister), but mostly we muddle through by ourselves and I've somewhat learned to freak out less over every little thing.
  7. If you are kid-free and think you have a messy house - you don't.
  8. If you plan to use disposable diapers - buy a diaper genie. They are brilliant.
  9. Don't ever get comfortable. Just as you have one thing finally figured out, the next thing will jump up and hit you on the head. In the last six months we went from dealing with a helmet to nonstop ear infections to a terrible stomach bug to the beginnings of tantrums. There's always something new.
  10. And finally, this one is just from me: Keep a stockpile of saltine crackers, Gatorade, Pedialyte, and soup in the house. You will thank me when the stomach bug hits the entire family and no one is capable of driving.
What advice stuck with you from the early days of parenthood?

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