Pregnancy Week 17: Pregnancy Body Image and My Muffin Bump

Pregnancy Week 17

Week 17 quick stat breakdown:

Baby is the size of a: pomegranate, chipmunk, video game controller? (About 5 inches long and 5 ounces).

The baby’s bones are transforming from cartilage to actual bone, and its body starting to build fat.

Speaking of building fat, I thought I’d devote this week to talking about pregnancy body image. (Mine, more specifically).

It’s the last day of week 17 for this pregnancy, and aside from some still sporadic (thank goodness) heartburn and the occasional flutter kicks I feel low in my pelvis, I’ve mostly just felt fat this week, to be honest.

I am carrying lowwwww this time around, surely because my abdominal muscles are still pretty wrecked (and neglected) from the last time they got stretched to the limit a mere 19 months ago. So I’m at the bump stage where if I’m wearing the right maternity clothes, and I let it all hang out, I look pregnant, but if I’m minding my posture at all, or wearing something with the slightest trace of a waistband, all I see is muffin top.

Mostly, I’m okay with this. I feel grateful to have hit a stage in my life where my self worth doesn’t feel entirely hinged on what I see in the mirror. My pregnancy with my first baby and childbirth gave me a profound respect for my body’s abilities and a strong antidote to the idea that I owe the world a certain degree of beauty to occupy space here. (Sure, when I go too far between haircuts or wake to discover my weird allergies have given me one puffy purple eye in the morning, I feel less like going to the grocery store, but I haven’t crumpled into tears while standing on the scale in a long time.)

That being said, I sorta miss the “just a bump” look I was rocking at 17 weeks the last time around. I’m having more of a spreading-out pregnancy this time around, and I still need to make peace with this different, and still entirely fine and healthy, pregnancy body of mine.

Fortunately I’m still in the phase where it’s very questionable whether I’m actually pregnant, so the only commentary I’m fighting in this battle for self-esteem is my own. But judging by my last pregnancy, that will change soon, and I’m bracing myself.

Last time around, a coworker stopped me in the ladies’ room to reflect on how big I looked compared to another coworker who was pregnant, six weeks ahead of me, and how she was carrying “just in the belly” and I was carrying “all over” with hand motions to drive home the point that I looked like a behemoth. It was a cruel thing to say in such a casual, innocent tone, I would have flipped my shit had this woman not confided in me months before I became pregnant that she had finally given up after 10 years of infertility. I told myself she was coming from a place of deep pain and tried to feel sympathy for her while I internally seethed.

That being said, if you know me and see me in person, please remember this common courtesy that I, if not all pregnant women, appreciate, regarding our bodies: If you wouldn’t say it to a non-pregnant acquaintance, keep it to yourself.

I don’t want to say how big, or small, or pudgy, or like I’m carrying twins, or guppies, or donuts, I look.

As the moms at One Bad Mother have wisely advised, the only appropriate thing to say to a pregnant woman is, “You look great.”

Pregnancy Week 17: Pregnancy Body Image and My Muffin Bump

Wheeling and Dealing: The Wheels on the Bus

I’ve started a weird habit, guys.

This morning, The Toddler and I drove up to the Rocky River Nature Center (highly recommend if you’re in Northeast Ohio!) for a quick hike and playtime at the center itself, which is free and houses a small animal exhibit, an awesome tree-themed playhouse, and a few really big, climbable animal models, plus a bird-and-bee viewing area and a big deck over the river where you can watch wildlife. God love the Cleveland Metroparks.

We had a great time, slowly scaling the 150 or so steps of the Fort Hill Stairs (The Toddler repeating, “Step. Step. Step.” and flatly ignoring several high-five invitations from fellow climbers) before doing a few laps through the nature center to admire the taxidermy and live animals on display.

On our way back to the car afterward to fulfill The Toddler’s three-string-cheese snack quota (Every. Day. I realize this probably isn’t good, but he also eats his weight in fruit and it seems to be the only thing keeping him from exploding from all that fiber. But I digress and overshare.) Anyway, on our walk back through the parking lot, we came across two school buses parked and vacant of children, with their drivers hanging out.

The Toddler is obsessed with school buses (and tractors, and bulldozers, etc.), so I walked him toward the buses for a closer look. I pointed out the wheels, the stop sign, etc., and we were standing close enough that the drivers took notice. One of them asked us if we wanted to climb aboard to see the inside of the bus.

In a voice that I hoped communicated surprise (feigned) and gratitude (sincere), I said, “Really?! Oh, [Toddler], do you want to get on the bus? Thank you!”

So we climbed aboard and The Toddler spent a few delighted minutes walking up and down the aisles, sitting on the seats and pointing at the steering wheel. It made his day.

Which is great.

And which is also the second time this exact scenario has played out in the past week.

Last week, we were at a closer-to-home park where two buses were waiting for a middle school cross country team to finish its practice. A kindly bus driver who was waiting for her infant grandson to come visit with her daughter invited us aboard.

Both times, the drivers were really gracious and seemed genuinely excited to have a toddler on board. The first was emphatic that she encourages young kids to hop on the bus whenever they show interest because it helps alleviate eventual first day of school jitters.

And it makes The Toddler’s day when we get to do this. I’m just going to have to figure out how to keep up this new hobby of ours without becoming the creep who loiters outside of every parked bus I find.

bus
The Toddler’s happy place
Wheeling and Dealing: The Wheels on the Bus

Pregnancy Week 16: Hello, Heartburn

Happy Week 16, me!

Baby stats:

Baby is the size of a… dill pickle, avocado, small gerbil, action figure.

Baby is now covered in lanugo, its heart is pumping 25 quarts of blood a day, and it is kicking with growing frequency.

Speaking of lanugo, it’s seeming likely I’m well on my way to having another baby with a head full of hair, and it’s not just an old wives’ tale.

Because once again, it’s heartburn time.

I’ve been dreading its inevitable arrival this pregnancy, and there’s no denying it: Week 16 has been the official debut of full-fledged heartburn.

Pregnancy Week 16-

When I was pregnant with The Toddler, it started off as a light burning sensation in the back of my throat after some meals that I tamped back down with a handful of Tums, and gradually it evolved into a perpetual feeling my back teeth were dissolving and the shocking wake from a dead sleep a few times a week because I was suddenly choking on acid.

My OB ended up prescribing me some legit heartburn medication (I think it was Prilosec?) that I felt reallllly nervous about taking because it was a Class C drug and I hadn’t so much as used scented laundry detergent up until that point because I was paranoid about causing a loss or birth defect or irredeemable personality flaw in my unborn baby. But after a week or so of not being able to eat, I caved, and never looked back. (So far, any of The Toddler’s personality flaws are still redeemable and connect quite clearly back to his progenitors.)

I don’t know how else to make heartburn sound entertaining, so let’s move along.

I had an appointment with my midwife on Monday this week. I got to hear the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler, which was nice because at the last appointment they weren’t able to find it and ended up doing a “quick ultrasound just to double-check” that sent me into a brief but genuine tailspin of worry.

I discussed with her our decision to forego a doula this time around, which she supported. If you read my first birth story, you’ll know I strongly encourage everyone to bring a doula on board your birth team for a myriad of reasons, but considering the very different environment of a birth center, the speed with which my first birth progressed, the added expense of this birth (plus the fact I’m working EXTREMELY part-time now), we’ve decided to save the money and commit to some serious husband-wife bonding to prepare for this birth.

So far on my list are: Buy paper fan for fanning me, make laminated flashcard deck with supportive phrases other than, “Good job. You are doing a good job,” which became The Husband’s mantra during The Toddler’s birth and eventually made me want to rip his throat out (I love you), and…that’s it. We have plenty of time to figure out the rest.

I ordered some new maternity T-shirts and tanks because my belly really just looks like a gut if I’m in regular clothes, and almost all my maternity shirts from last time around are long-sleeved. Because I wasn’t this big this early last time around. I’ve been trying to keep up with some degree of exercise despite the 85+ heat this week, and every time I try to eat a fudgesicle the Toddler steals it from me, so my plan for sensible weight gain this time around is going great.

So that’s it for Week 16: Heartburn, being sweaty, and having a blessedly uneventful midwife appointment. I’ll take it!

 

Pregnancy Week 16: Hello, Heartburn

Farm Life Interlude: And then there were five

Remember for a chunk of time how this became barely a parenting blog and more a blog about very tame backyard farming? If not, here are a few samplings from that time:

Well, because I generally have the brain power for just one post a week, and because I’m pregnant again and therefore have a pretty easy framework for new material, I have neglected to talk much about our little menagerie for awhile. But I wanted to take a moment to memorialize a sad milestone in our farming adventure.

Last week, on a dark and stormy night, we lost a chicken.

Hera was a good chicken. She was about 17 weeks old, the only Buff Orpington in our little half-dozen flock. She was timid and sweet, she didn’t like to be pet but would eat out of my hand. She was getting big and nearing the time she’d start laying eggs. She had recently lost a bunch of tail feathers, making her look (to me, at least) the most dinosaur-like of all our chickens whenever she broke into a run.

Hera
Rest in peace, chickie.

I promised him I wouldn’t invoke the wrath of the Internet when telling this story, and I hope not to because he doesn’t deserve it: The Husband took a break from working on his laptop last Monday to lock the chickens in their coop for the night. (They free range all day and put themselves to bed at about 8:30.) He went out to check on them before the storm rolled in — even counted them all because they dogpile in their nesting boxes instead of roosting and are sometimes hard to see (need to figure that one out…) and then, unfortunately, went inside without remembering to close and latch the door to the chicken run.

In the night, something (fox? raccoon? coyote?) crept in and snatched up Hera. Whatever it was left behind a trail of bloody feathers and a rattled remaining flock. I think the thrashing, hours-long storm that struck was a stroke of luck because it probably kept away any later predators who would have taken advantage of the situation.

The Husband was beside himself with regret the next morning when I went to let the chickens out and found all but one emerging from under our porch. I felt sadder than I expected to, but not angry. For as absent-minded as I’ve been lately, it could have just as easily been me who forgot to latch the run.

Or, it could have been if I were ever awake late enough for it to be my job. The Husband has picked up so much slack since the pregnancy fatigue sunk in, including night chores for the animals, I feel bad that the responsibility has fallen almost solely on him.

Today, while walking around our pond with The Toddler before bedtime, I heard our dog crunch something (unusual, as she’s not a stick chewer) and found she had unearthed a chicken thigh bone with a few orange feathers stuck to it. Hera’s remains.

I can’t count how many chicken thigh bones I’ve discarded over the years without a second thought, but I picked up this one and brought it back to the porch.

Maybe it’s silly to bury a chicken, but that’s what we’re going to do.

She was a good egg.

 

Farm Life Interlude: And then there were five

Pregnancy Week 15: Surfacing (and popping)

Pregnancy Week 15

I’m going to try to keep this brief, because this post is the only thing standing between me and bedtime. Today wraps up Week 15 of my second pregnancy, and it finally feels like I have my feet back underneath me (though my view of them is beginning to be obstructed.)

I still feel tired from time to time, and I think I eked out a nap once this week, but I have gotten into a groove of cleaning my house again… something I didn’t realize how badly I was neglecting until I picked up the habit again this week. It’s still far from spotless, but the past two months it would have been a rare treat to find my dining room table not littered with splats of yogurt and desiccated peas. The Toddler actual has clean laundry on most days, and I have even run the vacuum a few times this week.

I have a vague memory of this feeling of coming back to life from my first first trimester, having settled into a routine of falling soundly asleep after dinner and waking in the morning feeling like I had been asleep for just a few minutes; feeling almost lonely in my exhaustion because The Husband was up for hours without me and we hardly had time to talk, let alone sit around and watch our favorite shows together or do any of the other things we enjoyed; and then suddenly, I was better. I still couldn’t necessarily swing a late night movie, but I could manage to cook dinner without crying in front of the refrigerator or falling asleep at my plate.

So here I am again: That sweet, sweet second trimester.

I woke up this morning feeling like my belly had finally “popped.” While I’ve already gained about 7-8 pounds by my estimation, I have just felt chubby up to this point, but I put on a maternity skirt to go to the farmer’s market this morning and thought I looked obviously pregnant instead of just lumpy.

New this pregnancy is periodic, agonizing foot pain that feels like a deep, throbbing bruise in one or another part of either of my feet. It seems to be brought on by wearing unsupportive shoes (like flip-flops) for any length of time, so it looks like I’ll be rocking athletic shoes with every outfit for the rest of my pregnancy. I didn’t have this problem the last time around, and I walked four miles a day most days. I guess I can chalk this up to starting off a couple pounds heavier and a couple years older than the last time I did this. *Yay.*

Finally, Week 15 has marked the introduction of extra pillows into my sleep space. Right now I’m fairly comfortable with one pillow between my knees (or folded in half under my feet on those days when the weird bruise-swelling makes it impossible to fall asleep unless I elevate my feet). This begins the slow descent into the inevitable reintroduction of The Snoogle.

I developed a love-hate relationship with this enormous, G-shaped pillow the first time around. Love, because it afforded me a modicum of comfort when I was big and round and achy; hate, because it took up the entire bed and required me to completely strip all my covers every time I wanted to roll over, and took up so much space that my husband seriously considered a permanent move to the guest bed. The Snoogle is currently balled up in a trash bag hanging in The Toddler’s closet… it won’t be long now, old friend.

Well, in true me form I’ve cranked out 600 words for a “short” blog post. Week 15 has been pretty good to me, even if it has included a sad loss of a farm friend (more on that in a separate post) and the inexplicable shortening of naps to an hour and a half, paired with daily wakings between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m for The Toddler. I can’t have it all, but I’ll take what I’ve got.

Bedtime!

Pregnancy Week 15: Surfacing (and popping)

Pregnancy Week 14: The Mystery of Hobby Dobby and the crush of mom guilt

This week, The Husband was off work, which was wonderful in most respects but had some unfortunate…side effects. More on that in a minute.

First things first, The Toddler has been repeating the same phrase over and over again, in every setting and situation. He’s picking up words left and right, and guessing at what he’s saying always feels like a big victory.

We CANNOT figure this one out, though. In the bathtub, in the car, wandering around in the yard, pushing his trains around the track, sitting at the table… there are zero context clues. What he’s been saying is, as close as we can discern, “Hobby dobby.”

“Hobby dobby, hobby dobby, hobby dobby.”

Sometimes it sound a little like, “Hoppy doppy,” and sometimes he starts with “Dobby.”

Anyone who can tell me what this translates to, I will mail you a gently used grocery cart cover for a baby.

Okay, so onto the week we had.

I haven’t been as tired as I was, but it was still a tremendous relief to have The Husband home the past week to help chase The Toddler around. I got to sneak in a nap or two and to finish a big, boring cleaning-the-basement project that’s been looming over my head for awhile.

The problem with The Dad being home is that it threw us all into a little bit of a vicious cycle: I’ve been too tired to consistently engage in fun mom time lately. If this isn’t a contributing factor, it certainly hasn’t helped the fact that The Toddler is OBSESSED with his dad. Which is great. I love watching them play, I love that they got to spend lots of time together, and I loved getting to kick back and put my feet up a little bit.

What I haven’t loved, what has gotten awfully old this week, is that The Toddler straight up loathes me. Every time his dad leaves the room, he says, “Dad? Dad!” Putting him down for a nap or for bed has been like wrestling a wolverine who is holding a serious grudge against me. Today The Dad took a shower and the only way we could keep The Toddler from going nuclear was to let him in the bathroom so he could run back and forth choosing shirts for his dad to wear and throwing them in the shower.

So, yeah, some of it’s hormones, and some of it’s hurt feelings that my son thinks I’m lame, and the rest of it is guilt that I am a lame mom lately. I had myself a good cry today on the floor of my bedroom surrounded by half folded laundry.

Boo, hoo.

We did have a little overnight trip to The Husband’s and my alma mater. It was fun except that, while we packed every conceivable item The Toddler could ever need, we forgot our own clothes and toiletries.

In summary, Week 14 has been primarily dominated by lingering fatigue, heaps of Mom guilt, forgetfulness and occasional naps. Oh, and heartburn. The heartburn has started again.

I also put on my first legit maternity shirt this week. This bump is still mostly ice cream, I think, but it’s definitely there.

week14
Toes watch 2017 has officially commenced. (Yes, I need to sweep my floor. Always.)
Pregnancy Week 14: The Mystery of Hobby Dobby and the crush of mom guilt

Pregnancy To-Do: Get acquainted with this gear before baby arrives

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how preparing for my second baby differs from my first. It’s really nice knowing what to expect (or so I presume) as it relates to how contractions will feel, a semi worst-case-scenario with starting to breastfeed, and the postpartum recovery and getting-to-know-you dance with a new baby. I am thanking my lucky stars I don’t have a bunch of mysterious gear and equipment to wrangle this time around–just about everything that I’ll use to care for, hold and carry my baby are old friends I’m pulling back into commission.

For first-time moms approaching their due dates, do yourself a favor and spend some time getting acquainted with your gear before baby gets here. Yes, you may gasping for breath be leaning over a writhing watermelon to get your carseat installed now, but let me assure you it’s still easier to do now than when that watermelon is transformed into a squalling newborn and you haven’t slept more than 6 hours in the past three days.

Pregnancy To-Do- Get acquainted with this gear before baby arrives.png

First things first: This is a team activity

If there’s a partner in the picture, make him or her participate in this orientation with you. They’ll feel boxed out enough in the early days, especially if you’re on maternity leave and they’re back at work, and especially especially if you’re breastfeeding. You’re going to arrive at a knowledge gap that may make you feel overburdened and them feel out of the loop. (“He doesn’t like to be burped over your shoulder, you have to hold him on his belly,” or “No, I moved the wipes to the shelf over there because it’s too hard to get to them in the drawer.” Or, “How do you not know where we keep his socks?” etc. etc. etc.) Having a shared proficiency with your gear is a nice big step toward equally sharing in the experience of early parenthood.

Your Stroller

The first day it was warm enough to take The Baby out for a neighborhood stroll, I had to watch three Youtube videos to figure out how to unfold my stroller. I had gotten it into the folded position precisely once before, but never took notice of a little clip that kept it folded and nearly dissolved into sleep deprived tears when I couldn’t find the strength to open it back up.

So, make sure you know how to do the following:

  • Collapse the stroller
  • Open the stroller back up
  • If you’re using a “system” with your bucket-style infant carseat, how to attach and detach the carseat without flipping it upside down (the baby would not appreciate that method)
  • If you’re not using a system and your stroller accommodates newborns, figure out how to recline and incline the seat back and adjust the straps. Do yourself a favor and adjust the straps to the lowest/smallest setting. Make sure you know how to clip and unclip the harness.
  • Apply and release the parking brake
  • Flip up and down the canopy
  • Check and make sure you know your particular model’s rules/capacity for holding a diaper bag on the handle. Now that my kid far outweighs the diaper bag, I don’t have a problem slinging the diaper bag over the handle even though the stroller says not to. But if I had done that with a newborn in the seat, it would have become a baby catapult.

Your Carseat

This is obviously a big one, as you won’t be allowed to leave the hospital or birth center without a properly installed infant seat. I won’t be breaking any ground with the advice to follow both your car seat’s manual and your car’s manual (especially for proper use of the LATCH system — some cars, mine included, have LATCH anchors only on the outer two seats and not in the middle. You could probably reach one on each side from the middle seat, but it’s not advisable.) So make sure you reference both before you do the install.

Before you get everything stuck down safe and snug in your car, though, I’d also advise you to do this rundown:

  • Figure out how to adjust the straps in your carseat and set them to the lowest shoulder strap setting so you have less adjustment to do once the baby arrives. **If you discover your infant seat doesn’t allow you to easily adjust the straps from the front, like mine doesn’t, and you can afford to exchange for a seat that does, I say it’s money well spent.** I have a Graco SnugRide that, while cute and affordable, forces me to flip the dang thing over and unthread then rethread the shoulder straps to adjust it, and I wanted to drop kick it off a tall building every time I realized on my way out the door that it was time to size up. A few friends of mine went with a Britax model that I coveted deeply.
  • While I wouldn’t recommend disassembling the whole thing, figure out, via the manual or a basic inspection, how you’d have to remove the cover if, hypothetically, your sweet sweet baby had a physics-defying shit all over it. Review what, if anything, is machine washable, and how you would handle cleaning the straps and clips.
  • Figure out what, if any, of your accessories are safe to use while the carseat is in the car. I used to be a Safe Kids child seat inspector, and while I’m not sure if this is still the rule, we advised parents to never drive around with the handle of an infant seat over the baby’s head because in a crash the seat is designed to raise up a bit and the baby’s head could hit it. This is in direct conflict with all the cute dangly toys designed to hang from those handles. Similarly, there are 1,001 bunting-type products that are supposed to help keep babies warm in their seats, but if they go between the baby and the back of the carseat, they can cause the straps to be too loose. When I was an inspector we even advised against headrest mirrors and retractable sun shades because they could detach and become dangerous missiles in the event of a crash. It’s your call how meticulous you want to be, but it’s good to do a safety review of all your stuff before you commit to using it. If you’re concerned, find a Safe Kids event near you to get some guidance or check with your local fire station.

Baby Carriers

If you don’t have a baby carrier of some sort (stretchy Moby-type, ring sling, Baby K’Tan, mei-tei, soft structured carrier, etc.) do yourself a gigantic favor and go get one. If you aren’t sure what kind you want, try to find your way (together, before baby arrives) to a Babywearing International meeting, where you can, for free, get assistance from certified “educators” in trying on, testing out and safely wearing all sorts of carriers. They also usually have a lending library, and for a nominal annual membership you can “rent” a carrier for a month to try it out. If you’re not into that scene, Youtube has lots and lots of instructional videos.

My personal favorite for wearing my newborn was a stretchy wrap. It seemed really intimidating to figure out how to wear it right, but ended up being easy and way more comfortable than the Baby K’Tan. But everyone is different, so do a little research! Again, do this with your partner, because dads and babies can benefit from babywearing, too (and sharing this tool might just get you a nice extra-long shower every once in awhile.)

Please trust me: Babywearing is not the exclusive domain of diehard attachment parents. IMO, baby carriers are essential for easing a new baby into the world and keeping new parents sane. Think of it this way: When your baby is born, the only thing he or she knows is the warmth and familiarity of constant contact with you. A lot of times, newborns aren’t down with being solitary for very long–they like to snuggle up close to their favorite people. You can worry about encouraging their independence after they’re out of the newborn phase. And if you can make yourself a sandwich and maybe take the dog outside to pee while your baby sleeps soundly on your chest, things feel a little less bleak four weeks in. Baby carriers also making shopping easier in those early days before baby can sit in a shopping cart, and discourage creepy strangers from sticking their grubby hands in your baby’s face.

Portable crib/bassinet

Near the top of my dropkick-this-shit-off-a-tall-building list was the hand-me-down Pack ‘N Play we used for living room naps in The Baby’s earliest days. I was grateful to have something free, but holy hell was it hard to set up and take down. It was exactly too wide to fit through any doors unless fully collapsed, and with every move to a new room, I also almost fully collapsed.

Maybe they’ve gotten easier to use in the proceeding years since the model I had. Either way, if you have a portable crib setup for your bedroom/living room/etc., make sure you know how to use it.

As I alluded to in a recent post, I’ve been coveting a certain portable crib to replace the nightmare Pack ‘N Play, and recently purchased it for an overnight trip we’re taking this week. It rhymes with Schuava Schmotus and I freaking love it.

Baby monitor

Get your baby monitor set up.

  • If you have a wi-fi version that allows you to see baby from anywhere, make sure you’ve got the security under wraps (change the password, etc. I don’t have this kind so I don’t know the full ins and outs, but I have heard stories of monitors getting hacked and Internet creeps talking to people’s babies over the microphone, so please, please, review the security features.)
  • If you have a regular audio or video monitor, test the range and see how far you can go in your before you lose a signal.
  • If your monitor has extra features (a nightlight or why, God, scary nursery-rhyme music you can accidentally activate from the receiver with the slightest nudge of the wrong button in the dark), familiarize yourself with those.

Other baby paraphernalia

Obviously, your mileage will vary depending on where you land on the minimalist to maximalist spectrum, but it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with how to wash, assemble, dissemble, and otherwise use any implements you plan to try out with baby. You’ll already be spending almost every “free” second you have Googling “Why is my baby grunting so much?” You don’t need to also be Googling, “How to put Dr. Bronner’s bottle back together.” Here’s a quick rundown of some stuff I could think of that maybe, possibly, gave me pause when I was really tired and overwhelmed:

  • Breast pump parts: Cleaning, assembling, and operating (Hint: Youtube! Take a breastfeeding class! Ask a mom friend to show you the ropes! If you can meet with a lactation consultant before baby arrives, bring your pump!)
  • Bottle parts (See Dr. Bronner’s note above. Grrr…why so many pieces?!?)
  • Baby clothes: I know this sounds crazy, but I definitely cried at least once trying and failing to line the leg snaps up on baby pajamas. Maybe you’ll come up with a system where you use fabric markers to match up corresponding snaps. Maybe you’ll just be more easygoing than I was. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to take a quick look at what you’ll be facing at 3 a.m.
  • Any other baby holders: This includes swings, bouncers, Rock ‘N Plays, etc. Know how to adjust the straps (again, unless you’re expecting a honker, go ahead and put them on the smallest/lowest settings), and how to remove and wash the covers in the almost certain event of a spit up/blowout situation.
  • Swaddling and sleep accessories: I have a photo from about three days in of The Baby swaddled up to his nose. We got a gentle but urgent text from a concerned relative who saw the photo and wondered whether we might be smothering our kid. Sleep safety is a big deal, and there are a hundred million products out there that promise to safely and effectively give you infinity hours of sleep a night. Your success widely depends on the temperament and preferences of your baby, but make sure you at least have a general sense of how to properly use what you have so you don’t do anything risky/stupid.
  • Your diaper situation: For cloth diaperers, this means figuring out your setup — how do any snaps work to appropriately size your diapers? How do you wash them? For disposable users, did you get one of those odor-locking diaper pails? How the hell does it work? For everybody: Can you easily and safely reach everything you’ll need from your diaper station?

Readers, let me know if I missed any key pieces of gear you should figure out before baby arrives, and be sure to share your gear-fueled new parent nightmares!

Pregnancy To-Do: Get acquainted with this gear before baby arrives