While we were on our trip home we were able to see a lot of our friends. Many of them have just had their first or second baby (I guess we're overachievers) and in talking to these new moms, one thing I heard over and over again was how unprepared that had felt for how difficult the first month with a newborn would be. As I thought about this I realized how many times I have heard this over the last few years from other friends, reality TV shows, etc.
Before I had Emi I read a lot of different magazines and books on "Taking Care of Your New Baby!". Almost every one went on and on about how wonderful and magical those days would be when you brought your new baby home from the hospital. They especially went on about breastfeeding and how it was the most important thing you could do to bond with your baby. Then after I had Emi I have to say that those first few weeks were not exactly how I imagined they would be. Fortunately I was able to get good advice from Maria and my mom which helped things go smoother but I was disappointed with myself that I hadn't done better on my own.
Now that we are on our fourth baby I have realized one truth. Raising a baby takes work. They never really tell you this in baby magazines or TV and as a mom once you get past those first months you totally forget. Raising a baby is either depicted as sunshine and rainbows or hell. Although both of these will seem true at times, the reality is somewhere in the middle. I wish it was spelled out better so that so many of us would not doubt our skills as parents or fear for the future of our child (I've ruined her already!).
So if you're having your first baby anytime soon I will give you some advice I've learned along the way. Before you have your baby take a look around you at other moms. If you see someone who you think is doing a good job and you like the disposition of their baby then go and talk with them and glean some wisdom. Ask about their tricks (everyone has tricks!). Once your baby is born, be prepared to do some work getting your infant to nurse and sleep consistently and don't be disappointed if it's not working. With a baby everyday is a new chance to try again. Last, never go about childraising by yourself. There will always be people around you who will be more than happy to help you out and you should take advantage of their generosity.
I've found with a little patience with myself and my baby that the whole experience can be a lot more fun.