When I started this entry it was our little boy's three month birthday. I think this will need to be a multi-part entry.
There are a lot of things we've learned about the logistics of being parents, particularly because I hadn't been around babies much. We're still learning all the time, but here's a start... for us to recall and for our many friends who are preparing for parenthood.
Some of these are more obvious than others, but still things we learned.
-Changing and Diapers:
Changing cover...At the hospital they used a white cloth on the changing area. We now use a plain white cloth (labeled as lap burp cloth but they're just a square of absorbent fabric, maybe 8x8 inches) on top of the changing pad cover. We can easily change this without changing the whole cover, and it keeps our changing cover looking nice!
Quantities...Apparently size 1 diapers are significantly over bought by parents. We had multiple people pass along extra diapers in size 1 - parents of Thomas, Evan, Mia. Combined with a pack from our registry and a pack from my aunt... we will have bought no size 1 diapers. Thanks!
Brands...Since we received diapers from several people, we've been able to try different brands. We've heard you get what you pay for, and I agree. Luvs have good absorbency but stay wet like a pillow, are more plastic than soft feeling, and the tabs stick to baby (compared to most brands which only stick to the special area, like velcro). Huggies seem smaller in the same size and don't absorb as much, and the ruffled part is stuck to the outside and has to be separated before changing each time. It is important to make sure the ruffled part is out around the edge of the diaper. Pampers are soft, very absorbent with a core to lock in moisture, a soft baby powder scent, very good all around. They have a drying film that seems to build on my thumbs sometimes, though. I hear good things about Target brand as well but we haven't tried them yet. Target wipes are fine though.
Starting out... It is wonderful, particularly after you get the hang of it - which took us a month or two. We didn't take a breastfeeding class and I think we should have. It is not immediately perfect but expect that with some hard work it will come. For me, I feel like I have to eat as much as when I was pregnant. Newborns can seriously take an hour to feed, and hour to sleep for a full 24 hours until their little stomach gets big enough to hold more food and mouth becomes stronger. There are also other things like improper latching, cracked nipples, clogged milk ducts to work through. These reasons are why it is good to have a pump. Have confidence that after a month or two you and your baby will feed faster and your body will 'establish' milk supply and figure out consistent production.
Pumps... A friend advised renting a breast pump from the hospital for the first month to make sure breastfeeding is going well before buying a pump yourself. The Medela Symphony is what we rented. Hospital grade pumps are also better at pumping than personal use pumps available for purchase. This is helpful starting out to establish milk supply.
Choose your pediatrician early. Somehow this was still on our to-do list after our son was born, so we were in the hospital calling friends for references. Plus, we would have been able to have our pediatrician visit us in the hospital if we had chosen her in advance. Turns out we may lose insurance coverage on our doctor, so we might be in the search again.