The best advice that I can give you? Read everything and choose what YOU want to do, and don't let other people try to sway you. I have to say that my mom has been awesome. I spent the first few weeks calling her and freaking out about something. She'd reply "what do you think you should do." Seriously, it was the best advice EVER. I never felt pressured.
So, that being said, I'm going to offer some unsolicited new parent advice. We'll call it Deep Thoughts (my cousins use to say this all the time and it made me laugh.) I have a 6 month old so that qualifies me right? HA. Okay, it doesn't, still I'm 99% sure he's going to wake up any second now so let us kill some time....
1. When people say "You'll never sleep again" they are wrong. You will sleep...eventually...but you will never sleep quite the same way. Sure, Bug is 6 months old, but even when he sleeps through the night, I still get up and check on him. Maybe as he gets older this will stop, but I doubt it and if you know me, I LOVE sleep. The first few weeks SUCKED. I got so sad at night because I was SO tired, and knew that everyone in the world (or at least I thought in the world) was going to bed, but me.
2. You will lose ALL your hair. Books talk about how hair falls out. I don't remember a single book mentioning that I would have to clean my hair out of my brush after using it daily, and the fear of going bald became a reality. Seriously. I have NO CLUE how it is that I am not bald yet. No clue. Even more lucky, my hair fell out in the front of my head, and not in a small spot...I look like I gave a 3 year old scissors and said "have at it." Keep taking your prenatal pills and buy some good hair catchers for EVERY drain. You'll find hair EVERYWHERE. Places it shouldn't be! Also make sure it doesn't get wrapped around any little boy parts or fingers and/or toes. I've seen photos. It ISN'T pretty.
3. Due dates are jokes. Seriously. JOKE. Sure, I know women out there have their kids on time. Mine chose to come out 2 weeks late, and even at that he had to be forced out. Lucky me got to be in labor though for 36 hours before I ended up with an emergency C section. SUPER fun. People will tell you that you will forget labor and delivery. At about 2 weeks post Bug I swore he'd be an only child, but they are right...looking back, "It wasn't that bad."
Suggestion (and feel free to give your spouse/partner this link) is to have your spouse/partner plan something really special on your due date. A special dinner, a movie, something top notch. That way when your due date comes, if there is no baby you have something fun planned. I spent my due date twiddling my thumbs.
4. Breastfeeding is HARD. Books and classes talk about how great it is for the baby, and they are right. IT-IS-HARD! I wish that a class or a book mentioned how hard it would be, or that it might not work. It didn't work for me, and believe me I tried. and tried. and tried. I was super depressed when I had to have a C section, but nothing crushed me like not being able to breastfeed. I ended up pumping for Bug for almost 4 months thanks in part to prescription drugs, lactation consultants, and a variety of other things that produce. After the 7th visit to the lactation consultants, she sat me down and told me to stop trying to kill myself. She was right.
The punching the woman story? I was with Bug shopping in Seattle. He was 2, maybe 3 weeks old. We had just found out that he wasn't able to suck/swallow, and my body wasn't responding to a pump. I pumped every every ten minutes for an hour then every two hours round the clock to try to convince my body that it needed to do SOMETHING. ANYTHING. It didn't believe me. Stupid body. Anyway, we were shopping. I had given Bug a bottle and and old woman came up to me and told me how cute he was (duh!) Then she told me that I should be breastfeeding.....
.....It took EVERY ounce of my body to not punch her square in the face. I know my hands hurt after from squeezing the stroller. Not wanting to end up on Cops, I just walked away. I'm sure I said something to her...but not what I wanted to say...
Funny thing is that the bottle was breast milk. She still sucked.
5. There are a host of "options" now. People feel very strongly about a variety of subjects. Vaccinations vs. No Vaccinations, Swaddling vs Not Saddling, Formula vs. Breast milk, Co Sleeping vs. Not Co-Sleeping, Baby wearing, Baby led weaning, seriously...this list is long and I could go on forever. Don't feel bullied by other moms to go with what THEY thing is right. Do what you think is right for YOUR baby.
If you're pregnant write down what you WANT to do with your child. You'll laugh later with what you actually end up doing. I did. I'm sure when he's 10 I'll laugh at all the things now that I want to do and not do with him.
I wanted a natural birth, breastfeed, co-sleep (in a co-sleeper) baby lead weaning, blah, blah, blah. I got a medicated birth (Seriously. Women who do that without drugs are my heroes. I made it 24 hours and then gave up. Drugs were my friend.) Bug drinks formula, and sleeps in his own room. We co-slept until 4 months, and then I got sick and my coughing woke him up all night. We put him in his room for a few days, but he was so happy and slept so well that we left it. I said no electronics, he Skypes with his grandmas a few times a week.
There is one thing that I think that any mom will agree with. It is the BEST job ever. I walked in tonight after knitting (that's a disaster discussion for another day) and Bug started squealing and jumping up and down. Best feeling ever. Sure it was after 9, and sure his dad let him sleep for 4 hours while I was gone, but I don't need to sleep at night, so it's cool. (See, told you I was going to blog about it! [Side Note: I have the best husband ever.])