(5) Let your husband have “alone time” with the baby for as long and as soon as possible. This advice comes from Ann Ostrowski, another friend of a friend and the mother of 1 1/2-year-old Max. “Even if it’s just for an hour, it’s the best way for him to learn how to care for the baby in his own way.”
(6) Order baby announcements ahead of time. “Once you have the baby, all you have to do is call in the details (name, weight, etc.),” explains Ann, who would probably be my new best friend if our relationship weren’t limited to e-mail. “This saves you from attempting to decide between thousands of options on two hours’ sleep.” (Many companies will supply the envelopes before the baby is born, so you can address and stamp them while you’re still in nesting mode.) Check out Customcraft at www.cuscraft.com and Naptime Productions at www.naptimecards.com or look under “Stationers” in your Yellow Pages for local resources.
(7) Keep a stocked emergency diaper bag in the trunk of your car. So advises Jan Smith, another former co-worker and a mother of two, who gives these bags as shower gifts. Stock your bag with diapers (one size larger than your baby wears now so the supply will last longer), a change of baby clothes, a top for you (in case of spit-up or overactive letdown), zip-top bags (for soiled clothes or diapers when there’s no trash can in sight), emergency contact list, ready-to-use formula if you’re bottle-feeding, extra pacifiers and toys, paper towels, baby wipes and a disposable camera so you never miss a photo op.
(8) Test drive and assemble baby gear before you need it. My friend Alyson Haynes learned this the hard way. “You should have seen my husband, my mom and me in the parking lot of the hospital. It took us about 30 minutes to get the baby in the seat—incorrectly!” Alyson laughs about it now, but it wasn’t hilarious at the time. “And we didn’t assemble the swing until 11 p.m. our second night home when the baby was screaming his head off. Big mistake.”
(9) Set up more than one diaper-changing station. Whether you deliver vaginally or by Cesarean section, you’ll want to minimize stair climbing while you recover, says Rachel Jones, a longtime friend of my other brother’s wife. “I used the top of the washing machine and padded it with bath towels,” Rachel says. Bathroom countertops work, too. Stock your second changing station with everything you’ve got in the nursery—extra diapers, wipes, burp cloths, diaper-rash ointment and clean clothes.