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8 Things I Didn't Do As a New Mom

Photograph by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez

During my pregnancy, I read so many books on parenting. My mom would laugh at me for "reading too much." My mother is as old-school Puerto Rican as they get. She didn't believe I could learn how to be a mom from a book. I read because I knew I wanted to do things differently from my mother. (OK, I wanted to know what I was really in for.) But for as many books as I read, I still took my mom's advice and an old-school, laid back approach to parenting.

And here it is... my mom confession of things I didn't do during my pregnancy and those first few months of motherhood. And you know what? I might do a few things differently if I could get a do-over, but overall I have no major regrets.

Take Lamaze classes or any other childbirth class.
I knew from the moment I was pregnant, I wasn't going to try to be a hero and have natural childbirth. I knew I wanted the drugs. I also knew myself — it didn't matter how many classes I took to prepare for childbirth, I was going to forget everything.

Tour the hospital.
The baby books are big on this one and I didn't get it. I mean, why did I need the tour? A hospital is a hospital, right? I gave birth a week before my due date. This was the conversation during my last my last OB-GYN appointment:

Doctor: We're going to have to induce your labor.
Me: OK...When?
Doctor: Immediately. Go across the street to the hospital.

I had no idea where I was going. No clue what floor maternity was on. I was alone. I couldn't get in contact with my mom. My husband was at work and scrambling to get to me. I didn't have anything with me, least of all a well-packed hospital stay bag. I can't really remember how I found my way, but I did. And it all worked out.

Have a birth plan.
Women kept asking me about my birth plan (and it was another thing that came up in the pregnancy books). I didn't have anything written out. My plan was simple: Have this baby and yes, I'll take that epidural.

Pack a maternity bag.
I didn't have anything ready when my labor was induced. I think I had a bag with maybe just a change of clothes for myself, some underwear and an outfit for the baby. But on the day my labor was induced, my husband rushed to meet me at the hospital. Joseph's best friend had the keys to the apartment and his job was to bring me my bag. Which meant he had to pack up the things I needed. That's a good friend.

I had no plans to breastfeed. But five minutes after giving birth, the nurse asked if I wanted to try. I figured I'm here, she's here, my kid's here — why not? My mom was also in the room and immediately interrupted.

Mom: Oh no, my daughter is very busy; she doesn't have time for that. Just give her the shot so her milk will dry up. My grandson will have formula. (When my mom gave birth in the 1970s, this was something they did without judgment.)
Nurse (to my mom) : We don't do that anymore.
Nurse (to me): Would you like me to show you how to breastfeed your baby?
Mom: Lisa, you don't have to do all that. Just ask for the formula.

My mother and the nurse continued to discuss whether or not I should breastfeed for a few more minutes with me still lying there. I eventually had to tell my mom to stop talking and asked the nurse to help me try. I did try in the hospital. And I tried the first few days at home. It just wasn't for me.

Interview pediatricians.
In hindsight, this is the only thing I have any real sense of regret about. I didn't bother to interview pediatricians. Growing up, I don't recall having one specific pediatrician. I went to a local clinic where I saw whatever doctor was available. Because I didn't know any moms in the neighborhood, I picked one that seemed the closest. Our first appointment was a disaster. We waited for more than an hour. And when the doctor saw my baby, all he could say was how "clean" he was, as if he were surprised. I never returned and started to see another doctor at a similar clinic. He was nice but just not as available as I needed him to be. He completely dismissed my early concerns regarding Norrin's development. When my son was later diagnosed with autism, he said, "I'm not surprised." Now I have a great pediatrician and I realize how much of a difference a really good one makes.

Take extended maternity leave.
I gave birth on January 20 and returned to work the first Monday in May. But I wasn't one of those moms who agonized about returning to work. I actually looked forward to it. Not only did I need to work, I wanted to — maybe that was the difference. On my first day back to work, I didn't cry and I didn't question what I needed to do. I knew I was making the best decision for my family.

Call a million times a day when I returned to work.
I wanted a clean break when I returned to work. Maybe that sounds cruel. While I didn't cry going back to work, I still had some ambivalence. One of my rules for the babysitter was I didn't want to know about any firsts. As a new mom and WOHM mom, I wanted to feel like the firsts were my own. I knew that if I spoke to the sitter during the day, something might slip. I also wanted my babysitter to know that I trusted her; I felt comfortable knowing that if something came up, she would call me. FYI: my babysitter totally didn't listen. She told me every single first she witnessed.

I would love to know what you didn't do during your pregnancy or those first few months of motherhood. Do you have regrets?

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