I’m 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant, and the suspense over having to wait even another day to see my son’s little face and hold him in my arms is making me seriously restless. I’ve written my shower thank you notes, packed my hospital bag, and painted his nursery. As I’ve whittled away at the most important things on my to-do list, I’m finding myself with a bit more time now, and I’m filling it by daydreaming about what it will feel like to finally have this new little person in my life.
Some of my mom friends advised me to put the labor and birthing books aside, such as What to Expect When You’re Expecting, in favor of reading up on child development and parenting titles that will prove to be much more useful to me once baby makes his debut. I know next to nothing about infants (I haven’t even changed a diaper since my babysitting days when I was 12 years old), so I stocked up on a few books that I’m hoping will give me some insight into motherhood. Of course, no book can teach me how to parent—I suspect most of the learning will happen naturally as I go—but here are the titles I’ll be flipping through to distract myself as I sit and wait for my little guy to arrive.
1. Your Baby’s First Year Week by Week; by Dr. Glade Curtis, M.D., and Judith Schuler, M.S.
I like that this book is broken down into easily digestible bits of advice so I can just read about what developments I might expect from my newborn in the week ahead rather than having to absorb a lot of information all at once. Filled with health facts and planning advice, there’s even a section to keep track of your baby’s medical records for the first year. The book offers advice on everything from cleaning stuffed animals to new guidelines for car seats to tips on infant massage. I imagine this is the book I’ll turn to when I need practical advice.
2. The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep, by Harvey Karp, M.D.
All my mom friends have been telling me that I can kiss sleep goodbye for the first six to eight weeks. So when I heard that the author of the best-selling The Happiest Baby on the Block book came out with a guide to sleep, I grabbed it in the hopes that I will somehow be able to train my little one to drift off to dreamland. This sleep-deprivation prevention bible offers tips on the best white noise to get babies and parents snoozing; the real deal on swaddling and SIDS; and why parents should always wake a sleeping baby.
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If ignorance is bliss, this may not be the best book to read before I go into labor with chapter titles such as “Breastfeeding Is Really F’n Hard,” “Your Life is Officially Over,” and “You’ll Be Blamed in Therapy Someday.” Yet maybe preparing myself for the worst is the best way to go into what may very well be some of the most challenging weeks (months?) of my life as I learn the rhythms of my baby and try to get us into some sort of a routine. It doesn’t mean that I’m any less excited to get my hands on him or feel any less blessed about him coming into my life, but I have no illusions that—besides the overwhelming love I’ll be feeling—my baby’s first days will also feel something like boot camp. Still, I can’t imagine any job I could take on in my lifetime more important and worthwhile than parenthood. I’m bracing myself for the challenge, and looking forward to all the lessons that having a child will surely teach me.