New baby...what will I do differently?

Robert at home the day after his birth

When I had my son in October 2012, I had done all the general preparations that first-time parents do--picked out a crib, changing table, and stroller, set up the nursery, installed the car seat, and dreamed over every little outfit I'd been given at the adorable duck-themed baby shower a friend hosted.  I prided myself on having done some things differently than the norm, and less expensively.  After all, I'd found the stroller and crib sheets at our local Kids Exchange Consignment Sale, chosen a crib that cost $200 instead of the (ridiculously overpriced) ones that I was seeing everywhere, bought our glider inexpensively off Craigslist, and was very cautious when choosing what to have in the nursery.

Despite all the care I took to prevent going overboard, my preparations for our daughter's birth this March make those for Robert's arrival seem overkill.  Perhaps it's that having been through it once, I have a better idea of what I'll actually need and want in those first months, or that I already have most of the items I'll need and preparations therefore seem much simpler.  But I tend to think that most of the difference is in my approach to this whole "getting ready" process, based on how I want to live with our new baby, especially when that differs from how I assumed our life with Robert would be.

1)  Forget the classic nursery

We're not preparing a nursery, at least not in the traditional sense.  When Robert was born, we lived in a two-bedroom, 1000 square foot townhouse.  We've been extraordinarily fortunate in the past six months with my husband's job change (from Ph.D student to actual job in his field), and were able to buy a house five months ago.  Now we have three bedrooms, but we don't really use them traditionally.  The large bedroom does look like a normal "parents' bedroom," except for the fact that it isn't always used for sleeping.  My husband and I keep our clothes there, and I have my desk and a bookshelf stacked with pretty boxes of magazine clippings.  The full-sized bed (just a mattress and box spring at the moment, as we got rid of the falling-apart frame that we used when we first married) tends to be used equally for folding laundry and private time for us when Robert's asleep. 

The second bedroom is used primarily to store Robert's clothes (current and future) and boxes that need to go to the attic.  It also has a twin bed that was originally intended for Robert when he grew tall enough to have one, but mostly serves as a guest bed when my sister or one of our friends stays the night.  

The third bedroom is where most of the sleeping in our house actually happens.  The third bedroom is relatively small (about ten feet by eleven feet), but it's perfect for a room devoted to sleeping and snuggling.  Other than a king-sized mattress on the floor and its sheets and pillows, there isn't much in the room.  Extra blankets on the shelf in the closet, a couple of Robert's favorite books, and one new addition:  a hanging organizer in the closet that we used for Robert's clothes until he was about a year old, and which I'm using again for this baby.

We're not planning on having a separate nursery because it's easier on all of us if our children are close to us at night.  No wondering if they're doing all right, no running back and forth between rooms, and no standing around or rocking for an hour in order to get a child to sleep for another bit until he or she wakes up and realizes that you're gone.

2)  Forget the crib.

Robert's crib is beautiful.  I say is, because it's currently taking up space in my craft/utility room, albeit in pieces.  We haven't gotten rid of it, just in case we do happen to change our minds on its usefulness (or this child is totally different in sleeping needs than Robert was), but we're not planning on using it.  Robert slept in it regularly for the first three months, at which point he was "sleeping through the night" according to every definition of the phrase.  However, around three and a half months, he decided that sleeping apart from his mom (and source of milk) was not an acceptable option.  Thus began our accidental search for the best way to cosleep in a relatively small bed, because it was the only way he would sleep for more than an hour at a time.  Since both my husband and I are relatively small people, width-wise, it worked, though it was challenging at times.  The bedrooms in our townhouse were far too small and awkwardly planned for a king-sized bed to be a possibility, no matter how we arranged things, so the first thing we did after buying this house was to buy one.  The mattress, that is.

At three, Robert still vastly prefers sleeping near other people, and we're fine with that.  He's sweet and snuggly and sleeps beautifully through the night, even if he does talk in his sleep about trains.  Since he nursed regularly until a month after he turned three, when my milk had mostly dried up because of pregnancy, it made sleep much easier for me, as well.  With the much larger mattress, the bed is perfect for all three of us, or just two of us if my husband is planning on getting up early or coming home late, or if one of us is sick and doesn't want to wake up the rest or get them sick, too.  When our daughter arrives, this won't change much.  I'm planning on getting a Snuggle Nest to go on the mattress for the first few months, and after that, we'll see what kind of sleeping arrangement she prefers.  Our options are open.

3)  Forget the changing table

I know, I know--I'm getting rid of a lot of the things that are at the top of the "Baby Necessities" list handed out by every department store and baby stuff store out there, as well as all the websites about how to prepare for your new baby.  But the changing table was an easy thing for us to decide against.  We had a great one with Robert, and the shelves held all the baby-bottom supplies we could possibly ever need.  But in truth, it's a lot easier for me to use my grandma's method (waterproof pad on the bed) or the one we used for a good portion of Robert's diapered time (changing pad on the floor).  Either of those, plus an easily accessible shelf nearby with diapers and wipes, and a small diaper pail, and we're set.  Since we spend equal amounts of time upstairs and down in our new house (a 60's bi-level), it makes sense for us to have changing supplies all over the house and not concentrated in one location that, no matter how perfect, will seem far too remote when there's a diaper disaster on the other side of the house.

After all of that, you're probably wondering if any of my plans for last time worked well.  Actually, they did.  I still use the Graco stroller we bought for $25 at the Kids Exchange, and I'm so glad to have it when we go to the library or the mall, though most of the time it ends up carrying our purchases or books instead of our child.  It's amazing how many library books you can fit in one of those.  I bought one of those nine-cube shelving units from Target to store Robert's toys in our townhouse, and it works just as well in the playroom here, storing what we call the "non-vehicular" toys:  a small push-the-beads-around toy, a wooden Noah's Ark, and canvas bins of Duplos, dinosaurs, and blocks.  And the glider from Craigslist is still one of my favorite places to sit, especially because Robert is always ready to climb on my lap and cuddle for a while.

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