Every week, Preen tackles motherhood sans the rose-tinted glasses. Our columnists L. Juliano, Marla Darwin, Monica Eleazar-Manzano, and Rossana Unson tell their personal experiences like it is—at times frustrating, oftentimes confusing, but always enlightening.
I just got my period back. As I opened up my tracking app on my phone, it was surreal realizing that it’s been two years since my last menstrual cycle. This means that my hormones have been in turbulence for two years and they’re finally deciding to settle down some. I’m remembering the surge of hormones that flooded my system after giving birth. These new mom hormones were forces of nature.
It’s different for every mother but the same hormones that make me cry at the drop of a hat when my infant daughter looked at me were the same ones that created voices that told me I wasn’t doing enough to be a good mom. Sometimes I feel like nature designed us this way so that we’re always wired to answer each and every one of our baby’s needs. It’s the voice that makes sure little infants are getting enough milk, are sleeping in safe positions, and dare I say it, are prancing around in the best gear we can afford.
Now that my daughter is one and that I’m feeling more like myself again, holy sh*t, I really went crazy during that first year. The proof is in our utility room and every spare storage space we have in the apartment. It’s piled up with a ton of baby junk I regret getting a hold of.
I’d like to think I did a good job surrounding myself with the essentials but I’m still haunted by that booster seat we barely used, fancy Adidas Superstar shoes my daughter has only worn thrice, and a ton of cloth bibs that never saw the light of day once we discovered the washable plastic ones.
The baby industry knows this about moms. It knows we go nuts. It knows we have the tendency to ignore common sense and perspective. In case it still needs to be spelled out, there are a ton of baby things your family can do without. My daughter outgrew so many items in the one year we’ve had her and it can be disheartening taking note of the resources we end up wasting (i.e., our hard-earned money, landfills all over the world filling up with all of the outgrown/unused gear).
Here’s my take on how to figure out what you’ll need:
The hospital will have them and so will the baby registries. You will not need all of them. I wish I could tell you what you can scrap from these lists (ha, sorry!), but consider navigating through these lists as one of your first exercises as a discerning parent. Interview parent friends who have the same child-rearing philosophies as you and take notes.
If you’re environmentally conscious, you might want to consider cloth diapering. If you live in a small space, talk to your friends who ditched changing tables (you can change on the bed on or on the floor) and figured out how to maintain their kitchen counters with all their feeding gear. See if you can source hand-me-downs.
Know as early as now that every baby will have unique quirks and you’ll have your own too. My daughter never wore caps because she was born with a head full of thick hair. She also kept chewing her mittens and I was not okay with her hands coated in drool-soaked fabric—goodbye, mittens! Or you can do what my friend did who got those rubber mittens that were designed for gnawing. If it’s not a matter of life or death, learn to trust your instincts.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to moms you barely know. In my experience, every person I approached (even if we’re not close) was more than happy to give me advice and reassurance.
The same goes for your sources on the Internet. Decide early on which bloggers and which parenting sites you will listen to because there is an ocean of information out there and if you don’t navigate well, you will drown. Your hand will be glued to your phone for the first few months of motherhood (as if it’s not already), that is a guarantee. If you haven’t discovered the joy/agony of being part of a Facebook Group, there are many out there right now. This is how mothers are cultivating their communities in the digital age.
Please accept this as the next big lesson you’ll be learning about parenthood. Do not invest in that pretty Pottery Barn crib just yet because you will have no idea what kind of sleeping situation you’ll find your family in. A lot of my friends’ cribs ended up becoming display pieces when they discovered co-sleeping was best for them. You may actually end up with a crib, but wait and see first.
This also applies to breast pumps, diaper brands, bottles, and baby carriers—items that depend on anatomies and dispositions. Places like Babymama.ph and The Parenting Emporium will let you test different pumps so you can decide what will suit you best. Breast pump flanges come in different sizes and you’ll have to measure the diameter of your nipple to figure it out. With other items, it’s usually your baby who’ll do the choosing for you. Babies get rashes from certain diaper brands and they’re known to reject bottles they don’t like.
There will be a lot of trial and error and there will be a lot of frantic trips to buy/borrow baby stuff. It’s all part of it.
Remember those Facebook Groups I mentioned? Remember the fancy Adidas Superstars I mentioned? I’m not lamenting so much because I bought them second-hand from a buy-and-sell group. I got them way cheaper. I also use the group to unload items I don’t need anymore. Get into the habit of editing your stuff. It clears out your head and it takes some of the guilt out of your buyer’s remorse.
This is more for the anxious parents who are worried they won’t be able to afford the latest must-have gadget (I’m looking at you, Ecomom). A lot of these decked out swings and equipment are just designed to make things easier (that isn’t even a guarantee), but if you don’t have it, I promise you will survive. Babies don’t care what they’re wearing. Shoes in the first year are ridiculous expenses (my kid would just kick them off or eat them). Your baby will not suffer if you don’t get all his or her food from Healthy Options or ensure only organic produce touch their chubby lips.
Your job is to make sure they get enough to eat, enough to sleep, and enough of you to love. I think you know this already. Stick to your guts.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
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