Wednesday, July 20, 2011

must-haves: new mom survival guide.

When you register for baby gear, you know to buy the basics -- changing pad or table, crib of some kind, car seat, a few toys and clothes and maybe a swing or bouncy seat. But there are always those things that you don't know you need until you actually have the baby. Now that I've made it through the first 8 weeks as a new mom, these are the things I wish someone had told me to stock up on or have on hand before the baby arrived:

1. A covered cup or bottle with a straw to make staying hydrated easier while nursing. That way, you don't have to tip your head back -- and you can even have someone else (loving husband) hold the cup while you take a few sips.

2. A whole bunch of these cookies and sandwich baggies, so you can always have a snack on hand for middle-of-the-night nursing sessions (the baggies are to keep away bugs, because that would make a total nightmare scene in your nursery -- believe me, I know!). Luckily, I have a great friend who made these for me and sent them in the mail (thanks, Stephanie!) and a great husband who took the morning off of work today to make me another batch.

3. Lansinoh disposable nursing pads. Boxes and boxes of them. If you can find the ultrasoft ones, so much the better.

4. These bras from Bravado in lots of colors. So nice to sleep in and just in general -- I actually have them in two sizes depending on need of comfort.

5. Outfits like the one Lorelei is wearing in her one month photo shoot. Sleepers and onesies are popular baby shower gifts, but they have major pitfalls. Pants separate from top makes for much easy diapering, and a shirt that snaps down the front means not having to shove a wobbly head through a tiny hole (cue angry crying).

6. A sleep mask. I don't actually have one, but there were many days I wished I did because sleeping during the daytime can be really challenging but definitely necessary. I also wish they made them for babies!

7. Gerber prefolds. Even if you're not cloth diapering (or even if you are but are using another method), these things are so useful for all sorts of baby messes, which happen about 30 times a day.

8. Comfy but really cute lounge-y clothes, like these and these. Staying in my pajamas all day makes me totally depressed. But in the first few weeks, wearing something comfortable is also important.

9. A good camera. It helps to take pictures of your baby being irresistibly cute so that you can remember she is that way sometimes on bad nights when you think she's a holy terror. (Lorelei, if you ever read this, I promise it wasn't very often.) Also, you can document your baby being crazy and use it later for guilt trips and graduation photo montages. (I have not yet done this, but it is sometimes appealing.)

10. Lots of frozen dinners. I used my month of maternity leave to prepare 2 entire weeks' worth of food -- I wish I had done even more than that! It really helps in those first weeks when you're too tired to cook, but also when your baby is not on a regular schedule and you don't know exactly when dinner should be ready; you can just pop a casserole in the oven to warm and keep it there until you're ready for it.

I also highly recommend the following: every day, try to shower, change out of your pajamas (even if into something like pajamas -- see #8), and get outside for at least a few minutes. This is admittedly hard to do when your baby wakes up 2 minutes into your shower or when it is blazing hot (or freezing cold!) outside. But my life is infinitely happier when I do those three things. If I don't, I can feel the energy being sucked right out of me.

Also, schedule time to leave the house. It is so easy to get totally wrapped up in baby and feel that you can't leave. And it's true -- for the first several weeks, especially if you are breastfeeding, you really can't go very far for very long. But a quick run to Target or a walk around the block is vitally important. And do not bring your cell phone. Dad will just have to handle things on his own. ;) (For more about a Dad's perspective, this post from the Cup of Jo blog, which I reference frequently, provides some great insight.)

Lastly, I found this little chart from Secrets of the Baby Whisperer to be oh-so-true -- it's intended for dads, but it's good for anyone helping out a new mom!

*take a week or more off of work; if you can't afford to, save money to get someone in to do the housework
*listen without having a solution
*offer support lovingly and without comment
*take no for an answer when she says she doesn't want your help
*shop, clean, do laundry, and vacuum without her having to ask (my note: this seems to counteract the point above, but that's precisely it -- do these things and don't consider it "helping"!)
*recognize that she has a good reason when she says "I don't feel like myself"

*try to "fix" her emotional or physical problems -- ride them out
*be a cheerleader or patronize her -- for example, by patting her behind and saying "good job" as if she's a dog
*walk into your own kitchen and wonder aloud where something is kept
*stand over her and criticize
*call home from the store if they're out of smoked turkey to ask "What should I get instead?" -- figure it out yourself
*(my addition) call her when she's out and the baby is crying to ask "What should I do?" -- figure it out yourself!

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