For some reason, I have all these regrets about her little newborn hands and feet. They were so tiny and precious. I wish I'd made prints of them in ink, gradually getting bigger over the weeks and months. And I wish I'd taken some film footage showing the way she used to move her little hands about when she was a newborn... they were always fluttering and opening and closing and spreading like little starfish in the sea, as if they were marveling at the freedom of the open air. In fact, I wish I'd filmed all sorts of things when she was tiny... like the way she used to make suckling movements with her lips when she slept, and how floppy her head was. I didn't even discover our new camera had a film button until she was two months old (yeah, I know). Now all those little newborn movements are long gone and I only have my memories.
Like all parents, I wasted a fair bit of money on things she didn't like. I spent a fortune on a beautiful Mio baby hammock. She hated it, and I was too nervous to use it what with the earthquake aftershocks and all (I gave birth on 12 March in Tokyo, about 16 hours after the earthquake). Oh well, at least I got a couple of beautiful pictures of her in it. She didn't like the mesh feeder or the swaddle blanket either.
I wish I had actually packed my hospital bag well in advance. The morning my waters broke I still had half my stuff scattered all over the living room. "No need to finish packing it just yet. Everyone knows first babies are always late," I had thought. Ha.
Oh, and I wish I'd depilated my legs beforehand--or rather, got a proper all-over waxing job at a salon. God knows what my obstetrician thought of me.
I wish I'd given Little Seal Vitamin D drops. She has never had any signs of Vitamin D deficiency, but still it might have been a good idea.
I wish I'd bought a proper camera as soon as I got pregnant and taken lots more bump shots. I don't regret not getting a belly mould though... that's just weird.
I wish I hadn't flipped out so badly when she had colic between 5 and 10 weeks. I did and said some very silly things which I am extremely embarrassed about now (so embarrassed that I'm not even going to say what they are). Turns out Mum was right. They do grow out of it.
I think my choice of pram (a Maclaren XT) was basically a very good one in almost all respects, but I wish I'd chosen something with a rear-facing option. I remember Little Seal being quite frightened of the pram sometimes when she was little and was being wheeled about in busy, crowded city streets, unable to see my face, and I'm sure it's contributed to her dislike of the buggy even now. It would be lovely to be able to go for a walk together and communicate face-to-face while I also get a bit of much-needed exercise. I actually use the sling a lot, even these days, but it would be nice to change it up and use the pram too. (And anyone who wants to snark on mothers who want to put their toddlers in a rear-facing buggy can go jump in a lake. Seriously. Some of us have jobs, and face-to-face time with our toddlers is a precious commodity).
I wish I'd bought more slings while Little Seal was tiny. I had no idea just how much I was going to be using carriers... a lot, as it turned out. While I think my chosen carriers (Beco Gemini and Beco Butterfly) were really, really good ones, I think it would have been fun to have a couple of mei tais in there as well. And a ring sling! Buckle carriers like the Beco aren't really ideal for a newborn, in my opinion. And it might have been fun to get into wrapping. Yes, I know wraps are really granola-looking, but they are also really pretty and interesting.
Oh, and I wish I'd bought a babywearing coat too. Turns out it would have been a good investment. I hate having to walk around inside an overheated shop in winter with my coat on because Little Seal is strapped on on top.
Knowing what I did now, I wish I'd been just a little more conscientious about getting a tad more solid food inside her. I was pretty good about choosing iron/zinc-rich foods for her for the most part (even then I was highly suspicious of the breastmilk-is-all-they-ever-need mentality prevalent online), but I do also remember lots of lazy days when I just plugged her into the boob and surfed the web, and at mealtimes just chucked bananas and rice cakes (which she didn't always eat) in her general direction. Hmmm. Oh, and I wish I'd been a bit more careful about oral hygiene and not passing on dental-caries-causing bacteria--I cringe now to think that I actually prechewed some meat for her once or twice. I know they all get colonized by these unpleasant bacteria eventually, but it surely makes sense to keep it away from their mouths as long as possible.
I wish I'd had Little Seal's cord clamping delayed. At the time, the benefits were in doubt and there was some concern about an increased risk of jaundice (which now appears to be unfounded).
I wish I'd tried Baby Sign. Not because of any of the (dubious) benefits that are sometimes claimed for it, but because it would have been so cute. And cool. And interesting. I've heard of babies as young as four months signing "milk" in their sleep... magical.
I wish I hadn't driven both of us crazy with trying to get her to accept a bottle, when in retrospect it really wasn't necessary at all (note: this was for me in my situation. For most breastfeeding mothers, life will be a lot easier and pleasanter if the baby will drink from a bottle). If I had another baby in similar circumstances--i.e, working from home and using at-home childcare for the first nine months at least--I would probably not even bother with the bottles, and just go straight to cup-feeding and start solids at 4-5 months.
I wish I'd kept a more detailed account of the pregnancy and birth and the first year.
And just briefly... a few things I'm glad I did:
I'm glad I didn't spend money on little clothes and toys, because people give them to you anyway, and I needed my money for other things (like the hospital).
I'm glad I read baby books during my pregnancy rather than pregnancy books (pregnancy takes care of itself, mostly; if it doesn't, you need to see a doctor, not read a book about it. But babies.... well, you don't have so much time for reading once you've got a newborn, let's face it).
I'm glad I prioritized sleep from the start, and that I got tough and nightweaned at 8 months.
I'm glad I started the potty early, since this is now really starting to pay off.
I'm glad I chose a really good hospital, with nice food and nice nurses and great breastfeeding support. Even though it was damned expensive.
And I'm really glad that I breastfed, even though I was slightly ambivalent about the idea when I was pregnant. I know that the pros and cons of different feeding methods work out differently for us all, but for me, breastfeeding has turned out to be one of the best mothering decisions I ever made--largely problem-free, healthy, convenient and cheap, not to mention emotionally fulfilling, empowering and just plain cool (my body producing life-sustaining food for an infant... how amazing is that?) And it's that feeling, ultimately, that keeps me passionate about the subject and blogging about it here.