You may only have nine months to officially prepare for a baby’s arrival, but you could spend a lifetime reading up on all the tips and techniques for caring for a newborn. The shelves at Barnes & Noble are lined with how-to books on raising a happy baby, and they all serve a purpose: to help expectant mothers feel like we’re preparing ourselves for the baby’s arrival. But how much do these books really help when push comes to crowning, and the new baby’s arrived? I studied some of these page-turners like they were the Holy Grail, highlighting key passages, earmarking the nuggets, and diligently taking notes. Do you know how many books I referenced after the baby was born and I was in throes of midnight feedings and showerless purgatory? Zero.
Why? Because bringing home a new baby is the equivalent of the world’s most exhilarating, exhausting, ruthless rollercoaster ride in the world. You can study up on the ride all you want, but until you get in your seat and the wheels start rolling, you don’t have a clue what to expect.
Which brings me to the one thing I wish people told me before having a baby—something that could be a mantra for every new mother in delirium at 3 a.m. with a baby who won’t calm down, won’t latch or won’t relent:
It’s OK just to wing it.