It feels so easy now.  The kids can still surprise me, and each one is different of course.  One, in particular, is especially noisy.  But mostly, I feel like I know what’s coming, and how to handle it when it does.

It’s easy for me to forget now how overwhelming it was to be expecting for the first time, and then to bring our baby home and feel like I had no idea how I could be supposed to know how to take care of this tiny person.

Do I look like I’ve got it together or what?
Update: The husband points out that this is not what our couch at the time looked like.  I do not know where we are or whose couch it is.  But I am asleep on it.

Fortunately I had plenty of help in the first days, but then, eventually, I was faced with that first day when my parents left and Jim was back in classes . . . and there we were, just the two of us.

But, I’ve always been a reader.  And I tried to prepare myself as best I could by reading.  Some books I liked more than others, and some have proven especially helpful over the ten years since the above photo was taken.

People have asked me to share my favorites, as recently as today (Hi, Kirsten!) so here they are, broken down by topic.  Clicking on the link will take you to Amazon*.

Pregnancy:

The Bradley Method is, for me, a really intuitive way to prepare for natural childbirth.  The first book is the theory, the second is the how-to.  A warning . . . the how-to book is chock-full of grainy 70s black and white photos of women in labor in various stages of undress.  I brought it on an airplane to read and got some strange looks from the guy in the seat next to me.

Newborns:

Both of these are pretty serious attachment parenting books.  I really needed to read books like these to get myself into the mindset of devoting myself to motherhood.  They are not for everyone, but they worked for me, and I still practice attachment parenting with my babies.

Babies:

When I get tired of attachment parenting, I turn to this book.  But seriously, I read other sleep books and had zero success with them.  This book is basically a 500 page pep talk to parents on how to manage to let your baby learn to sleep.  Some people do not like this technique, but it has been a huge blessing to our family.  It’s the one book I still re-read with every baby.  If I only had one parenting book, it would be this one.

Discipline:

Raising good, happy kids is counter-cultural these days.  So, I’m careful where I get my advice.  Dr. Ray is especially great at building your confidence in your own “gut” as a parent.

Faith:

The first is a really lovely, practical guide on how to introduce the Catholic faith to children.  The second is more aspirational.  It was first published in 1957 and seemed not all that relevant to me when I first read it eight years ago.  (She has suggestions that include bread dough and chicken manure.)  But I have grown into it (I actually made bread dough for pizza tonight and for the past two years I have had access to chicken manure!)

Self-Improvement:

Neither of these is a parenting book per se, but both have made me a much more effective parent, by helping me become a better person.
 
So, what do you think?  Have you read these, do you like them?  What did I miss?

* Full disclosure on the Amazon links: clicking on a title from any of my posts will take you to Amazon, if you buy that title (or anything else) after clicking through my blog I get a (very small) percentage. So far I have made . . . two cents. Literally two cents! Awesome.