I’ve prepared for a baby three times now and each time has been so very different.
For my first ever baby which was a foster baby, we received a phone call that she would be ready to go in just a couple days. We already had the bare essentials like a crib, car seat, bedding, and changing table. My mom friends were in a panic at how chill I was. I didn’t even have any bottles yet. I was only mildly concerned.
The day before we got her I made sure to have diapers and clothes. Then the day that we were supposed to get her, the hospital said she wasn’t ready yet. I went out and got bottles and other basics. Despite my disappointment, I definitely needed the extra time. When my husband and I finally went to pick her up, the hospital tried cramming everything a parent should know in an hour and then they let us walk out with her. I didn’t know what I was in for. We ran out of formula on the first night. Awesome parents, right? I gave her a bottle from another brand. Formula was formula, right? Nope! Some babies are very specific and I don’t advise switching between two major brands. She blasted right through it and proclaimed her hunger. My husband ran out to the store right away to get more of the right kind. We were such new parents that just had no clue.
The next baby, a girl, was biological. Man, did she ever have her own agenda! She came three whole whopping weeks early. I had already banked on her being a week late. I was so not ready. Didn’t even have my hospital bag packed or her crib ready for her. All I had semi-ready was her dresser of clothes. Then I saw my village in action. A friend showed up to take my other daughter for the day. Another friend came to take me to the hospital since my husband was three hours away. A friend volunteered to get my mother from the airport who had scrambled to get on a plane from across the country. And my husband’s sisters and mother–what a Godsend. They came while I was in labor and cleaned my house, set up the crib, set up a bed for my mother to sleep in, folded my laundry, and a million other things for me.
Looking back now, it’s all funny to me how far I have come. I have learned so much about what it really means to prepare for a new baby.
First, cover the essentials. Make sure you have diapers, wipes, clothes, a car seat, and a safe place for the baby to sleep. Swaddle sacks can be lifesavers, as well as a pacifier (if you believe in them). If you plan on breastfeeding, it’s not a bad idea to have backup formula and a bottle or two on hand in case of an emergency. Check with your insurance company to see if they will pay for your breast pump. Sometimes you get a pump while at the hospital, and sometimes you order them in advance. In my case, the hospital gave me a manual hand pump and I also received an electric pump through insurance.
Second, get that hospital bag packed by 36 weeks. Does that sound too early? It might sit there for 3-4 weeks, but you will be happy you had it ready if you go early. Pack comfy pants, slippers or slip on shoes, sports bra or nursing bras, chapstick, and other essential toiletries for showering, including shower shoes. Also, I recommend bringing snacks to munch on after giving birth and a good water bottle, as they usually just give you a cup. Don’t forget to pack two homecoming outfits for baby (just in case of an unexpected blowout!) and also a pacifier and a cute blanket. My hospital did in room newborn pictures and I was thankful we happened to have a cute blanket to wrap her in.
Third, I recommend having a few freezer meals on hand. Hopefully, you have a village of friends that will bring you meals during that first month as well. I also recommend having easy things to grab for breakfast, lunch, and snacks as there won’t always be time to prepare food to eat.
Finally, the last thing I recommend is having a couple friends or family members that you feel comfortable leaving the baby with while you catch up on sleep or have them do laundry or clean up the house. May sound hard to ask for now, but you will be thankful for it in the end.