my baby sister is having a baby, you guys (also: I need your help!)

Michelle is having a baby! A BOY BABY. So we had a party, with monkeys and blue balloons and all of our family and friends and so much food and it was a lot of fun. Her mother-in-law offered to host it at her house, which was wonderful. I brought some food and decorations and the sweets!

Michelle's Baby Shower

Michelle's Baby Shower

Michelle's Baby Shower

Michelle's Baby Shower

Michelle's Baby Shower

Michelle's Baby Shower

Michelle's Baby Shower

Michelle's Baby Shower

Instead of the usual baby shower games (my sister requested nothing cheesy, so I tried my best!), we had a few fun activities for people to do if they were so inclined. Guess the baby photos, bib decorating, and we also had everyone write some sweet notes for the baby.

Michelle's Baby Shower

Michelle's Baby Shower

Michelle's Baby Shower

Michelle's Baby Shower

Michelle's Baby Shower

Michelle's Baby Shower

Then of course Michelle got a good workout opening all the gifts (did anyone else sweat like CRAZY at their baby shower? I can still remember mine. HOLY SMOKES was I a sweaty mess by the end, and it was in February!)

Michelle's Baby Shower

I’m going to have a NEPHEW, and he’s due to arrive in less than 7 weeks! And my sister is about to become a mother. It makes me think back to when I was pregnant with Maggie, nervous and excited and scared and all those crazy emotions. I want to empty my brain for her and share all the knowledge I’ve gained over the past 5 years of being a mom myself (which… isn’t necessarily much. ha) and then I realized instead of ME just sharing what I’ve learned, I would go to the place I always go for advice and help: THE WISE INTERNET.

A few weeks after Maggie was born, I discovered Twitter and man, I honestly don’t know how I would have survived these early years of motherhood without you guys. I’ve tried convincing my sister to join Twitter but she remains skeptical. So even if she never comes around to the idea of sharing her life online with perfect strangers (ha), I thought it might be fun to have all of you share some bits of Parenting Genius that I can compile for her. Anything- from the practical to the sentimental- whatever you think is good for a first-time mama to know. Please share it in the comments and I’ll love you forever :)


  1. Kate

    July 23, 2012 11:19 pm

    There are a couple of things that helped me in the first few weeks with my newborn. I was getting upset with so much crying and my husband reminded me that crying is the baby’s only way to communicate. It might be something minor but he cries just as loudly as if something were really wrong.

    I also read something online that made me think: “When your baby cries, he’s not giving you a hard time, he’s having a hard time.”

    • Jen

      July 24, 2012 9:30 am

      That is EXCELLENT advice. Sometimes it feels like The Baby hates The Mama, doesn’t it? But that’s not it at all. So hard to remember that!

  2. jesser

    July 23, 2012 11:27 pm

    Time for you makes you a better mom – SERIOUSLY. Even if it’s just a nap or a shower or laundry folding, accept help and take a break. Being a mom is way more fun and your patience level is way higher when you’ve taken care of yourself!

  3. Kate

    July 23, 2012 11:35 pm

    I keep thinking of so many things!

    In the beginning when they sleep with their heads on your shoulder – cherish that. Once they hold their heads up, you’ll really miss that.

    And do research on the right way to buckle a seat belt and the best baby carrier for the baby’s hips – the stuff I learned by doing research I would have never stumbled across if I wasn’t looking for it.

    Something I learned from my husband – he said that a woman always feels that the baby is a part of her but the father sees the baby as a separate person, so don’t force the bonding. It will happen in time.

    • Jen

      July 24, 2012 9:32 am

      The bonding didn’t happen for me immediately- I mean, I was in AWE of the babies but it’s hard for me to connect with them before smiles and coos. When it’s all just feeding and diaper changes and they’re still all blobby and don’t feel like people yet? It’s rough and you can feel like something is wrong with you! Good advice :)

  4. Stefanie

    July 24, 2012 8:01 am

    I would tell her that it is perfectly okay to let the baby cry for a little bit. It will eventually teach him how to self-soothe!
    It’s okay to put him in a bouncer or in his crib, and hop in the shower everyday, even if he cries for the duration!

  5. ris

    July 24, 2012 8:22 am

    Hmm I don’t have any advice for moms-to-be but I just have to say how cute are you guys in that picture?!

  6. HereWeGoAJen

    July 24, 2012 8:27 am

    My advice is that so much of parenting is your baby’s own personality. So people who think “I’ll never…” or “my kid will…” tend to be surprised. The great thing about this is that it isn’t your fault. An easy baby is going to be easy and a hard baby is going to be hard, no matter what you do, so you don’t need to feel guilty.

    And I hope you get an easy one! One that sleeps!

  7. Jane

    July 24, 2012 9:12 am

    My advice is to let people help, especially in those first few weeks. If someone is at your house, don’t feel like you have to visit. Take a nap or a bath or both. If people offer to bring you food, you let them bring it! don’t let your ego get in the way of accepting help.

  8. tehamy

    July 24, 2012 9:20 am

    Sleep when the baby sleeps! Seriously, the laundry and dishes will wait!

    Go with you gut. Sure you are new at this, but if your gut tells you to do (or not do) something, listen.

    Let your husband figure things out on his own too (or gently guide him). You will likely be spending most of the time doing newborn care, but when Daddy steps in, don’t tell him he’s doing something wrong. If he’s struggling, say something like “I’ve found that ______ works when I do it.” Daddy needs to build confidence too and telling him he’s doing it wrong or just taking over won’t help either one of you.

    Take ever piece of advice with a grain of salt. Everyone is well-intentioned, but you know your baby best, it’s ok to pick and choose what advice to follow.

    • Jen

      July 24, 2012 9:33 am

      The husband thing is SUCH GOOD ADVICE. I’ve seen it NOT happen that way and it’s… just never good. Daddy gets frustrated and shuts down and it’s all left for Mommy to do. Not good!

  9. tehamy

    July 24, 2012 9:22 am

    Oooh, I forgot one! Seriously, join twitter. It’s a lifesaver. There are so many awesome people who can give you good advice in a matter of minutes, who will support you when you are having a bad day, and will cheer with you when you are having a good day. It’s an awesome place.

  10. K

    July 24, 2012 9:53 am

    I recognized little Audrey’s baby face on that card. Oh, man, SHE WAS (is) CUTE.

  11. Jennifer

    July 24, 2012 10:57 am

    I sooooo wish I had twitter moms to turn to when I had quick baby questions, the classic “is it normal for xyz”, “should I call a Dr for x”, eyc.

    Happiest Baby on the block is a book we loved and my husband read it an became a master swaddler.

    If the baby is fed and dry and simply won’t stop crying, it is ok put him in a safe place a walk away for a few minutes and calm yourself.

    Don’t let other people dictate your schedule, it’s ok to say know to invitations while you adjust. Some babies are very portable and others are not. Do what works for you.

    Make your husband be involved. You may need to assign something for him to do. He should know what needs to be in the diaper bag to leave the house.

    Above all follow YOUR instincts and enjoy those early days when the baby wants to be your arms constantly.

  12. Tracey (sparkyd)

    July 24, 2012 11:21 am

    First off I need to say how brilliant that baby shower looks. LOVE the baby photo game – especially the design of those cards.

    As far as advice goes, basically just don’t drive yourself crazy. Do what seems right for you, your baby, and your family. Most of all, keep in mind that that other Mom over there that looks like she has it so easy and really has her act together is having a hard time too. Maybe in another way, but still not easy. If anyone tells you they are having a really easy time of it and everything is peachy keen, they are full of sh*t.

    And because I’m a total car seat geek, I’m going to say read this: It is a Canadian presentation, but the physics are the same everywhere. ;)

  13. Michelle

    July 24, 2012 2:09 pm

    Let’ yourself cry if you feel like crying.
    Ask for help. ASK FOR HELP! From your husband, your neighbors, your friends, your family. If someone asks if they can do anything, give them something to do.
    Do what works for you and your family.

    (I love the “dear baby” activity. I just volunteered to host a baby shower for my SIL and I’m looking for ideas!)

  14. Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks

    July 24, 2012 3:13 pm

    No matter what the chatter around you says, all a baby needs is food, a safe place to sleep, love and a parents’ intuition. There are so many different ways to parent, but if you listen to your heart and your brain, then you’ll figure your own approach. And with an awesome and thoughtful sister like Jen, you always know you have at least one amazing resource at your fingertips!

  15. BeckyD

    July 24, 2012 3:27 pm

    I have to agree about Twitter. My first baby was before I was on Twitter, and I tried to find support from places like Baby Center. I found that made me more anxious. I would go on there, looking for simple advice, and found it’s a place for people to dump a lot of crazy.

    My second child, however, was after Twitter. Using that as a support group was 1000 Xs better. Other parents are there to help with questions, give support, and also you see what they are dealing with. Not to mention the non-baby related stuff really passes the time when you’re feeding the baby.

    Also, related: IPHONE or SMART PHONE. OMG, such a difference. I don’t know how I survived 1st child pre-IPhone. There’s nothing better at 2 am than that.

  16. Melissa

    July 24, 2012 3:45 pm

    Ok, your sister is pretty much the poster child for the third trimester… I mean, not a hint of cankles? No back fat, not even a slight double chin?? SO unfair to the other 95% of pregnant women. ;) Seriously though, that’s awesome–you guys both got Cute Pregnancy genes!

    Everyone else has written great stuff up there! As for me… well, I’ve done this three times and I STILL have no magical advice, and most of it still doesn’t come “naturally.” It’s a lot of work, a lot of trial and error, a lot of “OMG I can’t believe I just (said that/did that/wiped that with my shirt/hand).” But there are a lot of awesome parts too… a lot of nights you’ll greet your husband when he returns home from work with a Guess What Our Kid Did Today! story that will make you laugh until your faces hurt.

    Take lots of pictures of the baby, and make sure someone takes pictures of YOU with the baby. Read to him every day–at first it doesn’t even have to be baby books, just books for yourself. Buy a very small vase especially for hand-picked bouquets of dandelions. Thank your husband often. Thank your mom often. Trust yourself. Treat yourself. And enjoy the adventure that is raising a son. :)

  17. Erica

    July 24, 2012 5:17 pm

    Get out of the house by yourself at least once every two weeks. I wish I had. Even for 20 minutes to go to Starbucks or something. You need time alone away from the house and the baby.

  18. Jesabes

    July 24, 2012 7:45 pm

    Those decorations are beautiful (and the house is gorgeous!)

    I’m trying to think of advice, but am totally blanking. I will be stalking this post, though, as MY sister is also having her first baby soon!

  19. Elsha

    July 24, 2012 11:56 pm

    Nobody knows your child better than you!

  20. Tara

    July 25, 2012 4:41 pm

    Twitter! Yes! And follow jonniker and arwenelizabeth, because combined they know EVERYTHING.


    Ignore any statements, especially from smug people or strangers, that begin with “just wait” or “cherish”!

    If you’re snuggling, everything else can wait.

  21. Michelle

    July 25, 2012 10:17 pm

    Thank you everyone for taking the time to leave me some advice! And thanks sis for my very own special post. :)

  22. Tracy

    July 29, 2012 3:30 pm

    Do not blink.

    Take lots of pictures and videos.

    Sleep when you can.

    Freeze lots of dinners.

    Accept help from others when they offer.

    Order something with his name on it to save (a bib, a stuffed animal, an outfit) You will cherish this forever!

    Lots of things can wait (cleaning, laundry) but holding a squishy newborn only lasts for a small amount of time.

    Take time for yourself. Some days just a nice long shower can make everything better.

  23. Andrea

    July 31, 2012 10:06 pm

    Just know that postpardeum hormones are WACK! Weird thoughts will pop in your head. (Sometimes you will scare yourself!) Share your feelings/thoughts with someone you trust and has been through childbirth themselves. (sister/mom/friend) They will help you sort out the Crazy (normal) Hormonal Thoughts/Feelings from the ones that you may need to seek professional help about. There is NOTHING wrong with seeking help if PPD hits you! Just know that it is almost impossible to diagnose PPD on your own, so if others are concerned you should probably listen.

    Also. Let/encourage/make sure Daddy is involved! And just remember, just b/c he does something differently, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s just different.

  24. Janet

    August 15, 2012 6:09 pm

    So, I just read all of this as if it were written FOR me. Thanks, ladies! (Ha, I know it’s not, but still, quite useful!)

    Your sis looks amazing. Super jelly of her lack of anything but a tiny, cute bump!

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