Are you having a baby? Congratulations! Welcome to the parenting club. There are a ton of family members, friends and people on the internet ready to tell you how to have a perfect pregnancy, especially when you are eating the "wrong" things, giving birth the "wrong" way and making "bad" choices about the products surrounding your newborn.
Want to do it right? Start by making a few choices in advance. Like, as soon as the plus sign shows up on the pee stick, sit down with your partner and starting committing. Here's a small sample:
1. Will you exclusively breastfeed or bottle-feed?
You thought it was as simple as feeding your baby, right? Wrong. Nutrition choice is a hyper-political decision and one that doesn't end until your child is eating full-on ham sandwiches. (Ham? You're OK with that? Whatever.)
So, you need to know if you will breastfeed. Sounds simple enough right? No. We (and I do mean "we") need to know if you will breastfeed until your child is a toddler. We need to now if will you'll breastfeed by pumping or if you will only feed your child directly through your breast. There’s not a lot of wiggle room here to figure out what you want, or how your baby will best adjust.
I hope you're at least telling people you'll breastfeed. Or else you will be told over and over about the benefits of breastfeeding, as if you are totally unfamiliar with the benefits, as if you didn’t try to do it all.
Next-level breastfeeding decision: will you do it openly? Will you take a stand and go viral if you aren’t allowed to do it openly or will you just breastfeed in the bathroom? If you have a hard time breastfeeding, or just don’t like to do it, will you formula-feed? If the answer is yes, decide now what levels of shame you can tolerate. Adjust your answers accordingly. Use time you might have spent discussing nursery themes and stress about this instead.
I warned you, there’s a lot to think about.
You also need to ask the question, 'Which one of us is going to quit our job?'
2. Where will your baby sleep?
With you? Well, are you sure? The internet has so much confusing information about this subject. According to some, your baby must sleep with you or else you risk traumatizing him/her. Still other self-appointed experts want you to know that letting your baby sleep with you just once risks having Tabitha in bed with you until she’s 10—and then you won’t have sex, because everyone knows you can only have sex in your bed at night.
Next decision: Are you going to let your baby CIO (cry it out)? Will you sleep train or will you let them set their own schedule? Depending on who you ask, your answer either makes you a monster or the architect of a too-dependent relationship.
Also, prepare a few answers to the “Is he sleeping through the night?” shamer. Have a default response ready as either way the person is more than likely to disagree with your response.
3. What kind of stroller and carseat are you buying? (A good one right?)
It’s not that simple. Do you have just an infant carseat or a travel system? Are you going to exercise right after the baby? If so, you might need a jogging stroller. How big is your car? Can that stroller fit in your car? Also, how much do you love your baby? Like, enough to fork out over $1,000 for a stroller that will be used to store cracker crumbs and milk stains?
Are you ready to watch endless YouTube videos about the subject? First, you have to choose one. Then, you have to install it in your car. Good luck pulling the baby in and out of the car a few days after giving birth.
This is kind of like picking a sports team. The answer doesn't actually matter.
4. Where will your child go to school?
I know what you are thinking, "Hold on here, we just found out about little Isabella or little Ethan, and you want me to pick a school?" If you live in Los Angeles or New York, you might meet people who are looking at schools when they are pregnant. These folks ask questions about curriculum, teaching methods and whether the snacks are organic before they have even changed a diaper (and you should too!)
The waitlists are long. If you have to pick a daycare, you need to start sooner rather than later and also be prepared to pay hefty fees and deposits. You also need to ask the question, "Which one of us is going to quit our job?"
This is kind of like picking a sports team. The answer doesn't actually matter. What does matter is that you pick a side and then defend your side no matter what. Sometimes that means leaving nasty comments on a stranger's heartfelt cry for help posted on her Facebook page. Here’s a few teams, I mean parenting styles, you can choose from: RIE, Attachment, Montessori, Free-Range Parenting, Conscious Parenting, Evolutionary Parenting, Homeschooling, UnSchooling. You will also find schools that attach to certain philosophies and weird practices you'd never dream of like elimination communication or parenting like a French mom. Google all these at your own risk!