To people who have never had a baby, maternity leave sounds like this glorious vacation. You don’t work for 6-12 weeks. You “just” take care of your baby. You stay at home on “your own” schedule. I cannot count how many times someone asked me, “So, what do you do all day?” I would stare at them, hair disheveled, covered in spit-up, wearing a diaper myself, and I would imagine smushing their face. Because while I truly did love maternity leave, it was not a vacation. It was work.
For my first maternity leave with JR, I had no idea what to expect. I heard the stories about moms who were so frazzled that they weren’t able to take a shower for days. That brushing your teeth would be a luxury. And I was not ok with that being my new reality. I was not ready to lose myself. Wearing diapers was one thing. I was not on board with the reality that my well-being would be last on the to-do list.
And before I had three children, was back to work, and gave up caring what other people think (well kinda of–I still care–I just don’t let it eat me up as much as I use to), the thought of people coming over to a messy house completely embarrassed me. But everything I heard about having a baby, I would have no time to clean. That terrified me. I didn’t want people to think I was this lazy mom on leave who just sat around all day binging tv.
So Matt and I made a pact. Matt and I each wrote down one personal care item that was most important for ourselves to do. The thing that made us feel human.
We then wrote down the one chore that was most important to us to be done in the house. The thing that made us feel like our house wasn’t falling apart. Even if it kinda was.
For personal care, I wrote down “put on makeup.” Matt wrote “brush teeth.” (yeah, I am not ashamed that my choice is far less hygienic). Every day, it was each other’s job to make sure we did met our item. Matt would ensure that I would put on makeup sometime during the day. I would make sure he brushed his teeth. It didn’t have to be first thing in the morning or even by noon. It just had to happen at some point during the day.
Once I had on my makeup, I felt a little more like myself. Sure, I now was full of spit up, milk always was leaking through my shirt, and my clothes weren’t fitting the way I hoped, but I had gosh damn makeup on.
For chores, Matt needed the dishes done each day. I wanted the bathroom sink wiped down. Every day, I would make sure that dishes were done at some point during the day (and no, that didn’t mean I did them. I just made sure they got done, which largely meant it was a duty delegated to someone else). Matt would make sure the sink got wiped down every day. The rest of the house could be in complete shambles. Diapers would need to be washed. Laundry piled up. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was that we got those two chores done. The rest could be forgotten.
It made such a difference. The idea of having a million things to do on top of keeping this tiny baby alive can be overwhelming. There simply was no way I could nurse JR all day (I mean ALL DAY), keep up with laundry, take a shower, take a sitz bath, do my makeup, style my hair, dress myself, dress JR, change JR’s diapers 10 times a day, change my own diaper 3 plus times a day, make food for myself (that is super healthy and keeps my milk supply up), sweep the kitchen floor, wash the dishes, buy groceries, put away groceries, keep the house de-cluttered, and every other little thing that needs to be done. But I also couldn’t pretend like I didn’t need to be taken care of. And that the house needed tending to. So we just picked one each. And the rest got done when we had extra energy and time.
Moms, please take this unsolicited advice. Don’t set yourself up for failure and expect that you need to do it all in order to have a successful day. Keeping a baby alive while being utterly sleep deprived is an accomplishment in itself. But sometimes only taking care of your baby isn’t enough to feel ok on leave. And sometimes it hurts to feel yourself melting away. So set your list of one personal care item and one housework item and let the rest go.
I was about 7 months pregnant with my first baby when I started to seriously think about the fact that I had to get this baby out of me. Of course, this baby had to come out at some point. But the idea of going into labor was terrifying. No one could tell me how my labor would be. No idea how long it would be. When it would start. How much would it hurt. Would there be back labor? The realization that so many things were out of my control was too much. So instead of dwelling on this things I couldn’t control, I decided to focus on the things I could.
1. Take a Birth Class // I signed Matt and me up for a 6 week natural childbirth class early on in my pregnancy. I had been reading random blogs about labor, but I am certain Matt had done zero research on childbirth. So by going to a weekly class together, we both were on the same page. We had an arsenal of copping mechanisms to try. We got to practice the labor management moves out (which felt sort of dumb but in hindsight, it was nice to have the practice). The hardest part of the class was watching the video of a woman giving birth. I had never seen someone give birth before. I don’t think I could ever be emotionally prepared to see an actual birth either. It shook me. As Matt and I drove home that night, I cried. It was probably the closest feeling I’ve had to a panic attack. But since Matt had seen the video too, he understood why I was so shook up. Anyway, after seeing that video, it was a big part of why I became so focused on controlling the remaining pieces of my upcoming labor that I could.
2. Get your nails done // I had no idea how disheveled I’d look after having a baby. But I knew that my nails would look good holding my brand new baby. Plus, getting a manicure and pedicure is wonderfully relaxing. After carrying a baby in your belly for 9 months, there’s no question you deserve a mani and pedi.
3. Buy labor clothes // Guys, I took such care in figuring out what I was going to wear while I was in labor, you’d like I was picking out an outfit for the Oscars. I spent an embarrassing amount of time online shopping for labor clothes. After hours and hours of window shopping, I ended up buying a floral robe off Etsy. I bought a bunch of new underwear so when I finally did go into labor, I had a fresh pair of undies (even though I knew the joys of labor would destroy them). It was nice to have brand new clothes to wear and to not have the whole “what should I wear” debate in your own head.
4. Get waxed // This may not be for everyone but…there is no question that there are going to be a lot of eyes down there when you have a baby. I am 100% certain that the midwives/doctors and nurses have seen it all so if you did nothing, it’s fine. But I didn’t get waxed for anyone but me. I wanted it to be all neat down there. I knew that the weeks following the baby would include quite a bit of care of my lower parts–using a peri bottle, spitz baths, witch hazel sprays. You have to take care of your vagina on top of your baby. Being waxed before the baby arrived made me feel like I was already take a step towards my own personal care.
5. Get a new haircut and dye // What is it about a fresh haircut and dye that makes you feel like a brand new woman? Ok, this is not a recommendation to get the quintessential mom haircut (at what age does everyone cut their hair short?) But having a new haircut and dye makes you feel lighter. I swear for the first couple of weeks post-hair cut, I am able to style my hair better. Plus your hair will pop in photos with your new baby. So it’s a win win.
And after all of this, I did feel a bit better about feeling out of control. If you are pregnancy or know someone who is, I highly recommend you knock at least a couple of these things off your to-do list before the baby arrives. Because when you really think about it, the to-do list before the baby arrives is just too baby-focused. Sure, the baby in your belly needs a lot of attention, but that momma building the baby is equally as important. And I know this list is basically just a pamper/spa day. But there should be no shame in wanting to take care of yourself and feeling your best when the baby does arrive. You are about to go through a challenge. Even the “easiest” labor is still tough and can leave you wiped. So grab yourself a pedicure as you prepare for the big day.
It was Monday morning, and I woke up at 3:30 a.m. with a contraction. It was strong. I twisted around in bed and tried not to wake Matt up. One, two, three. I imagined myself walking up a hill. When the contraction felt at its height, I made it to the top of the hill. As the contraction waned, I walked down the hill. It took about 40 seconds. Ok, not a minute but certainly not nothing. I drifted off back to sleep. Ugh, it’s back. I grabbed my phone and pushed the side button. 3:36 a.m. glowed back at me. Seriously? Only five minutes had passed. Ok, walk up that hill. Then again at 4:48. And 5:00. By the time it was 6:30, I was exhausted and confused. My water hadn’t broken. I had never had any contractions until my water broke so what was this? I was already two days past my due date so chalking these contractions up to Braxton Hicks seemed patently wrong. But this couldn’t be it, could it? I texted our doula to give her an update and made my way to the bathroom. The side of pants were a little damp. Not enough to consider my water broke. Or was it? I immediately started questioning myself. I mean, three hours of contractions, which had now mostly dissipated, maybe this was my water breaking. No matter what, I decided that I should work from home today. If those contractions worked themselves back up again, there was no way I could drive home. I got ready for the day of working in the basement so I just tossed on a fresh pair of yoga pants and made my way downstairs. Arg, maybe I should call the birth center just to be safe. I dialed the midwife on call line and asked to be seen in the mid-morning. The contractions. The damp pants. Two days overdue. Probably a good idea to go in.
Matt woke up and immediately said, “we are having a baby today!”
“I don’t know. I feel ok now.” I said. I didn’t want him to be disappointed. Still, I wanted him to be right. I wanted to have the baby today.
We grabbed breakfast at Panera and then made our way to the birth center for our 9:45 appointment. From my initial call to the appointment, I had no more than two contractions. They were minor. Yes, they were not comfortable. But since they were spaced out, having 20-40 seconds of pain was more annoying than anything else. It’s just a cruel joke to have this pain when I am two days overdue and it’s false labor.
The appointment was brief. The midwife confirmed that my water had not broke and instead broke some rather disappointing news: it is very common for third babies to be “tricky.” Having labor start and stop is common. Don’t get discouraged. You are near the finish line. But your labor may start up and stop again so get prepared for this. I left crabby and discouraged.
Beyond telling work that I had some contractions, which was why I was working from home, for most of the day, I didn’t tell anyone until late afternoon. Mostly, I didn’t want to give our family false hope that the baby would be born soon. Like me, they too were getting anxious for Toastie Three to arrive. With the sting of three hours of wasted contractions hanging over me, I couldn’t stomach fielding questions and comments about the entire situation. So I told everyone I was at work and fine. Neither were true.
I noticed that if I stayed sitting, I had no contractions. But when I stood up, my stomach would twist a bit. “Maybe that’s the secret. You have to start moving around to get the baby to get out,” Matt said to me. Maybe he was right. I put on my workout clothes and pulled out my pregnancy workout guide to week 40, day two and fit in a workout. No contractions, but it was nice to a solid workout in. At least I accomplished something with my body today.
My work day ended, and we ate dinner together like we always do. The boys were well-behaved and earned TV time, which meant Matt and I could watch the new episode of Shark Tank with no interruptions. It is a 40 minute show, and I had three contractions while we watched it. Ok, so these contractions are coming back. But is this another start stop false labor marathon? We started the bedtime routine and the contractions continued. Just like in the early morning, each contraction was 20-40 seconds long, coming every 5-10 minutes. They were strong enough to make me stop doing whatever I was doing and focus on walking up the hill. “Relax, your body knows what it is doing. This pain isn’t because something is wrong. It is a good sensation” I would tell myself as I walked up the hill.
I couldn’t help Matt get the boys to brush their teeth and into pajamas. Instead I paced from the living room to the dining room and back. Once they were ready for bed, I grabbed Max and took him to his crib. As I nursed him, a contraction came. I held him tight and waited for it to subside. My water still had not broken. This had to be this false start stop labor that the midwife had talked about, and I am not a fan. I laid Max down to bed, went to JR’s room to tell him “The Little Boy Story,” and then headed out to the TV room to relax. The contractions had started to die down again. I was frustrated and needed to unwind. I tossed on a mindless TV show.
It was 9:27, and I had only watched about 15 minutes of the show when I felt a gush of water. Holy hell, my water broke. For real. I immediately texted Matt, who was still in JR’s room waiting for him to fall completely asleep, “Water broke.” “Just like Max” he wrote back.
I texted our nanny and asked her to come right away. Then our doula. Just then, my mom sent a text saying, “Any stirrings?” Funny she should ask. Normally, I wouldn’t have told her until we were on our way to the birth center or if the baby was born. But her timing was impeccable. “My water just broke. I need to get stuff figured out. Talk later” I wrote back.
Matt came into the TV room and started to get bags packed for the drive over to the birth center. I paced back and forth, waiting for the midwife on call at the birth center to confirm that we could come in. It took 7 minutes for her to confirm that we could come in right away.
At 10:00 p.m., our nanny Zee showed up. Matt had already tossed all our bags into the car. I had barely left the TV room where my water had broke. I was too nervous. As I made my way to the kitchen to leave the house, I got a contraction. It was strong enough that I stopped moving and talking until it passed. We said goodbye to our boys and headed to the birth center.
The drive was quiet. With my boys, the drive was stressful. But now, I wasn’t freaking out that I was going to have a baby in the car (Max) or that the contractions were too strong and I was confined to a seat (JR). I felt fine. Almost foolish that we were leaving so early to get to the birth center. I had 4 contractions during the 20 minute drive but there weren’t that strong. I just squeezed Matt’s hand as he drove down the highway.
We pulled into the parking lot and to a dark building. We were the first ones to arrive. I texted the midwife, who said she was 5 minutes away. I started to get anxious. The birth center is in a neighborhood, and the neighbors had their lights on. I could see them staring at me from the window as I paced. I felt like I was on display, and it irked me. I had one contraction as we waited. It was stronger. More present. I leaned against the car, upset that we had beat everyone and that these random guys got to witness me labor from their window.
Finally, the midwife arrived and by 10:20, we were walking into the building. I had never been fully present when I walked into the birth center in labor before. With JR and Max, I was so focused on the labor itself that I truly have no memory of walking in. But this time, everything was so clear. Watching Matt hurry to bring in our bags. The tub starting to fill. The bed nicely made with clean, white sheets. I leaned up against the counter and stared at the clock right in front of me. It glowed 10:25. I pushed my shoes off and a contraction started to come. MOTHER OF GOD THIS IS TOO MUCH. Matt was on my left, petting my back while he unwound the scarf so he could rebozo my belly. He wrapped the scarf around my lower belly and began to rock it back and forth. Nope, it didn’t help. OMG TWISTING AND TIGHTNESS. The contraction wrapped around my lower belly. Firmly grabbing hold of stomach and twisting and turning it. The pain was unbearable. I told Matt to stop trying to rebozo. No use for him to waste his energy. It wasn’t doing anything. He tossed the scarf aside and told me that he was proud of me. That I was going a great job. I tried to get off my socks. To bend over was excruciating. I barely managed to toss them both off. I couldn’t imagine myself moving from this counter. But I wanted to get into that tub. I could hear the water running, and the midwife said it needed at least another 10 minutes. A second contraction came as the midwife rushed to pull out heating pads and pads to soak up blood. She placed a cuff around my arm so she could take my blood pressure. I twisted and curled as the contraction continued. Nope. There is no way I can survive another contraction like that. This baby is coming out now. I started to push as the contraction waned. A wave of relief washed over me. Pushing felt so good. As if I could control the rising pressure I felt.
I told the midwife to help me take off my pants and take me to the bed. Matt and the midwife complied, and I shuffled to the bed as fast as I could. The contraction was over, but another one would be coming. I did not want to be on the move when that happened. Plus, the pressure in my butt kept rising. I had to get on the bed so I could push this baby out. There was no way I was going to wait another 10 minutes so I could deliver in the tub.
Once on the bed, I felt misplaced. With Max’s birth, the midwife ran the show. She gave me a birthing ball and calmly coached me how to give birth on the bed. But now, the midwife was scrambling. She was still placing pads on the bed, getting things ready. We’d only been in the birth center for 5 minutes at this point, and she still had quite a bit to get out.
“I need a birthing ball,” I said. The midwife handled me a large, silver ball. It was too big.
“Does this work?” She asked.
“No, smaller.” I managed to get out. The pressure was building. I was in between contractions but I knew one would be coming soon. She ran out of the room and came back with a smaller ball. I placed my forearms on the ball. Not perfect but it would do.
“I need a hot towel.” I said. I knew I was being demanding but I didn’t care. For Max’s birth, I had the birthing ball and the hot towel that the midwife pressed against my crotch for perineal support. Those two tools were the things I needed for a birth on a bed.
The midwife grabbed a warm towel and found a place behind me. Matt was at my head with his hand on my shoulder. He rubbed my shoulder, whispering that I was doing a good job and he was so proud of me.
A contraction came, and I pushed. It felt so good to push. As the contraction waned, I continued to push. “If you push a little longer, it’ll be worth it” I told myself. I let out a sigh as a pushed longer and felt a wave of pressure release from me. My baby was out.
The next thing I knew, I was moving myself from my knees to my butt, craning my neck to see if I had a girl or a boy. I swear I could see a vagina, but I didn’t want to be wrong. The midwife eased me to a seated position and handed the baby to me. I took a second look.
“Oh my God, it’s a girl!” I cried.
I kissed my baby girl, still in disbelief. Matt came beside me to get a closer look at our baby girl. She was perfect. 10 fingers. 10 toes. A full head of hair. Everything we had prayed for. I pulled out a boob to feed her and she immediately latched. As we nursed, the midwife tended to my lower parts. She gave me a shot of Pitocin to help bring the uterus down. Then a second dose. I was still bleeding a lot. More than usual. I needed more medicine. Unfortunately, that meant that the midwife shoving four pills up my butt. That was not great. It wasn’t even the application of the pills that was the worst. It the fact that those four pills do not dissolve immediately. Instead, it feels like you have a finger up your butt for about a half hour. It’s not great.
Still, I was losing blood so there was no room to complain. I felt so cold. Colder than I ever felt. As if I was completely naked in ice cube. My bones felt like ice. An entire liter of blood left my body, and it felt as if the blood was replaced with ice water.
So much preparing for a baby focuses on the baby. Diapers, wipes, swings, baby clothes, bottles, baby blankets, strollers, car seats. There are so many list dedicated to the “must haves” when you are having a baby (I am not immune from this: I wrote one back in 2016). But preparing yourself for post-delivery seems to get forgotten. Sure, you literally grow a baby in your belly for 9 months, go through intense labor, and push that baby through your vagina or get a serious surgery to remove that baby (not to mention that after all of that, you then feed the baby you just made). Your body does all of that. Yet, we put all the focus on the baby.
So much so that when I got pregnant, I knew basically nothing about post-partum care for myself. You guys, I didn’t even realize that you had to birth the placenta after you birth the baby! Sure, now it seems so obvious. But when my natural birthing class brought it up, my eyes widened, I sat straight up, and was speechless. Then I learned that I would become very familiar with a peri bottle and that tearing was very common. I quickly realized how clueless I really was and got upset about how much of my future care was a completely mystery to me. Seriously, I knew next to nothing. When I came home from the birth center with JR, the first thing I did was ask my mom to go to the store to buy me Depends. Because I didn’t realize that I’d be bleeding for weeks after giving birth. No one had really talked about the raw details with me. I took a birth class. I saw a midwife my entire pregnancy. But the post-partum care of me was just never really a focal point of the conversation.
After I gave birth to JR, I made a list of “must have” things for mom. I shared the list with pregnant friends. Bought them items off the list. Spilled the gory details of what happens to your body after you push a baby out of it. Because why tiptoe around this part of motherhood? Your body just accomplished something unbelievably remarkable. It needs some extra attention. And that’s ok. There is no reason why we should hide this part of motherhood.
Now with baby number three on the way, I feel incredibly more prepared than I ever have been to take care of my healing self. So here’s my list. After having JR and Max, these are the items that made such a difference in my post-partum care.
After having a baby, you are going to be taking A LOT of baths. A lot. At least once a day to soothe your swollen self. My husband was great about making sure I got at least one, if not two, baths a day and wanted to make sure I was as comfortable as possible so he got me a bath pillow. Having a bath pillow was wonderful. I have never been a bath person so I wasn’t really into the idea of sitting in a bath each day. The pillow allowed me to relax and spend more time in soaking than I otherwise would have, which helped speed along my recovery. I have the Airia Luxury Quick Dry Bath Pillow. I took off the cover so its just mesh. This way the pillow dries faster, as the soft cover is akin to a towel that holds moisture.
2. Extra Soft Bath Towels
There’s no way to sugar coat this: when you first start nursing, your nipples are raw. I will never forget the first time I got out of the shower after having JR and wrapping my towel around my body. Holy hell, my nipples were pissed. The towel was far too rough for my super sensitive nipples. After that eye-opening experience, I got myself the softest towel I could get my nipples on 😉 It was a game changer. I no longer cringed when I got out of the bath to towel off. Do yourself a favor and pick up the softest, nicest towel you can find.
After pushing a baby out of your vagina, it is swollen. You may have teared and have stitches. Witch hazel can provide some relief down there to smooth your sore muscles. These Tucks pads are incredibly thin pads soaked in witch hazel that help alleviate your swollen self. The fact that the pads are so thin made them less irritating since they really didn’t move once you placed them on. Something to note, the witch hazel has a cooling sensation that either makes you feel better or bothers you, depending on where your stitches are. On certain days, I couldn’t handle Tucks. Other days, they were a life saver. Which is a great metaphor for motherhood. Sometimes what you do works, and sometimes it doesn’t. And Lord knows I haven’t cracked the secret of why. It just is the way it works.
Another surprise for me was that you should not use toilet paper after peeing for a couple weeks after giving birth. Of course, after I had JR, I got it. No way would I let toilet paper near me. The birth center gave me a pedi bottle to use after I peed, but I wanted just a little bit more to feel extra clean. So after using the pedi bottle, I sprayed this Sitz Bath Spray from Motherlove. It has witch hazel in it, which helps soothe and heal your sore perineal muscles. Since the spray is just a light mist, the cooling sensation is considerably less than the Tucks pads. For me, the spray made me feeling like I was “extra clean” verse providing me relief from soreness. Plus, on days when the Tucks pads were too much, I was still providing relief to taper the swollenness.
5. Stool Softener
I am not sure about anyone else, but I swear to God, JR came out of my butt. The pain and pressure associated with pushing him out was so intense that the only sensation I could relate it to was pushing a bowling ball out your butt. So the last thing you want to do is push anything else out “down there.” With this in mind, most birth centers and hospitals recommend that new moms take a stool softener to help with your first double potty (ok, poop. There, I said it. Ugh, I hate that word). Because, you know, softer potty, less pushing. And after pushing a bowling ball out of your butt, I think that buys you a free pass from pushing anything else out for a looong time.
You got to experience 9 months period free. It was lovely and glorious. To make up for that, you now will bleed for several weeks. Maybe just a couple days. Everyone is different. When my babies and I came home from the birth center, we were both wearing a diaper. And I decided to roll with it. Instead of wearing my underwear and pairing it with a bulky pad, I wore Depends. Honestly, I cannot recommend Depends over pads enough. Pads are huge, awkward, and move around as you move. Depends are disposable underwear that don’t have moveable parts so when you move, you don’t have a wad of cotton jabbing your already sore vagina. Depends are so easy to change, and I didn’t have to worry about leaking and ruining a pair of underwear. Plus, then you and the baby get to match since you’re both in diapers #mommyandme 😉
If you plan to nurse, nipple cream is your friend. No matter how much positive thinking and vibes you put out in the world, the first week or so of breastfeeding is generally uncomfortable. Your nipples are not use to a baby sucking on them 12 plus hours a day. Some babies aren’t pros at latching right off the bat. If you are like me, your nipples will chap and bleed until your body gets accustomed to breastfeeding (which will happen! Within a week or so, you will not grit your teeth as your baby latches!). You will play through the pain, but you’ll make it to the other side so much more gracefully if you use nipple cream after you nurse. I lathered it on like chap stick between nursing, applying it no less than 10 plus times a day. Within a week or so, my nipples had adjusted, and the cream no longer had a prominent role in our nursing routine. But without it, nursing my babies the first week would have been so much harder.
Particularly for first time moms, it can take awhile for your milk supply to match your baby’s demand. While your body is learning to regulate how much milk it truly needs to make, you may make a bit too much milk and leak. Or after your body has the supply/demand down, anytime you hear a baby cry, your boobs may leak milk on cue, even if it isn’t your baby. Or if you are me, you leak milk when you get embarrassed or scared. Placing washable nursing pads in your bra helps mitigate milk soaking through your shirt. They do make disposable nursing pads, but I found them to be itchy. Washable ones were far more comfortable, as long as you arrange them right, and since we are doing almost a load of laundry every other day anyway, tossing nursing pads into the wash wasn’t a big deal for me. I got the Bamboobies Overnight ones, which are extra thick, for every day use. They have thinner ones as well, but I found the thick ones were more comfortable, and I worried less about leaking throughout the day.
Yes, more boobie stuff. I was very lucky when it came to breastfeeding. My mother had instilled in me from early on that my body just made a baby–of course it could make enough milk. Her constant reminders to me that making milk was the “easy” part became my mantra–I can do this. Having that mindset made me more relaxed about nursing because I unabashedly decided that no matter what, my body would make enough milk so no need to worry about that. Still, I didn’t go into nursing without setting myself up for success. I drank Mother’s Milk Tea religiously. Every morning, my husband would make me a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of Mother’s Milk Tea. By early afternoon, I’d usually be on my third cup of tea. If I ever got worried that maybe my milk supply was down, I’d gulp down some tea. I can’t honestly say if this tea truly affected my milk supply, but it surely affected my mental confidence that my body was properly fueled to make enough milk. That is good enough for me.
Also, I totally get that making milk is not easy for everyone. It can be a huge challenge and struggle for many. I was lucky to not have that struggle. Instead, my struggle is that my babies don’t sleep 😐
I lived in nursing bras for the first year of JR’s and Maxie’s lives. My entire wardrobe focused on whether I could “get a boob out,” which trickled down to my bra. When you are nursing an infant, you’ll be pulling your boob out every couple of hours, if not more. Wearing a traditional bra can be clumsy, and yanking the cup down time and time again could stretch out the bra. A nursing bra just streamlines the process of getting your boob free without ruining the bra. There are tons of beautiful and fancy nursing bras on the market. If that is your jam, get them. I grabbed a handful from Target that came in a pack of two, and they work just fine and are a good price point for me at $10.00 a bra. I’m on baby number three and still plan to use the same nursing bras since baby number one. I’d say I got my money’s worth on these bras.
Depending on the size of your boobs and/or your comfort, nursing camis in lieu of nursing bras are great. You could wear them together but I wear either the cami or the bra. Nursing camis have a little clip on each side of the top of the cami that pops down so you can easily free your boob and feed your baby. Similar to nursing bras, there are so many varieties and styles of nursing camis. I’ve only worn nursing camis from Target, and they have lasted me through two babies and are still in great shape for baby number three.
And that is how I survived my own post-partum care the first two times around. We’ll see if my body falls in line with baby number three or if some new items will be game changers. If you have any post-partum tips or tricks, please send them my way!
I am a working mother. It is something that I am deeply proud of. But it is also something that is deeply painful. Every weekday morning, I wake up earlier than I’d like so I have enough time to put my makeup on, curl my hair, and get dressed–all while making the boys breakfast, convincing the boys to use the potty, and breaking up fights on who gets to sit on the side of the sink that’s closer to mom. Most days, I am not as put together as I’d like. But that doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is that I leave behind two boys screaming for me to stay with them for just a couple more minutes. To hold them forever. It breaks my heart.
The boys spend their weekdays with our nanny. A wonderful woman who gets to shape and mold my boys. She gets to take them to story times. To the zoo. Museums. The three of them get to have inside jokes that I will never understand. There are entire story lines that I am not a part of. It creates a feeling of emptiness that is unquantifiable.
But I love working. I love being a lawyer. When I was in elementary school, I made the decision that I would be a lawyer someday. Actually, I wanted to be the first female United States President. The fact that a woman has never been elected as president has bothered me since as early as I can remember. So I figured, why not be the person to change it? And modern day presidents go to law school (present president excluded) so that’s what I did.
I get to spend my day working as a lawyer challenging myself–working through litigation strategy, finding pragmatic solutions, and providing advice to those who rely on my expertise. Sure, my days of dreaming for the presidency is behind me, but I still find myself in a male-dominated field where my gender has played a defining role in my career in ways my male colleagues will never understand. So I still get to work on defying gender stereotypes in a small way. And as a mother of two boys, it makes it easier to leave them every day knowing that my work may make a small difference in the future of how women are seen in the workforce, at least in their eyes. Certainly, someday in the future, if a female says she works at a law firm to one of my sons, the first question out of my boy’s mouth won’t be, “oh, are you a paralegal/secretary?”
In a similar vein, I want my boys to have life skills that traditionally wouldn’t be pressed upon little boys. My boys will know how to cook.
I’m not a great cook. I’m not even a good cook. But that really doesn’t matter. Teaching the boys to cook while I learn to cook means we get to spend quality time together. It is our thing. On Saturday or Sunday afternoons, I’ll look up a various recipe for us to experiment with. We’ll go to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients. JR will want to buy everything in the store. Max will want all the food to be touching him in the cart. We’ll head home and unpack the groceries. The boys will eat the entire carton of berries before they make it to the fridge. Then, the boys will pull up a stool to the counter, and we’ll start to cook.
Since the boys are still young, I cut and measure. They pour and stir.
Through our cooking adventures, the boys have s l o w l y learned to be better listeners. That we cannot rush through steps. That even though we want to toss in an extra cup of sugar, we probably shouldn’t. That they can make a meal for their loved ones, not in spite of the fact that they are boys, but because they love to cook.
I may not be there during the weekday to take the boys to story time. But I will be the person who will teach JR and Maxie how to make sugar cookies, pasta sauce, dice veggies, and delegate the duty of making rice to someone else (because I refuse to make rice). And hopefully, I’ll play a small part in teaching the boys that there is no such thing as a boy job or a girl job. There are just jobs. A mom can be a lawyer, and a dad can be in charge of cooking. And both are ok.
The post could be summed up by saying, “Everyone has their own preferences. All babies are different. This whole child rearing thing is just a whole trial and error game. And this is what worked for us.”
Aden + Anais Blankets: It is no secret that I am am a blanket addict. We own no less than 20 blankets (mostly the silky soft muslin variety), which sounds ridiculous given these blankets can be quite pricey. But I was able to find them at TJ Maxx/HomeGoods/Marshalls for around half the price and we got several sets as gifts, so I didn’t end up spending a small fortune on blankets (but God knows I would).
But regardless of the price, these blankets are worth it–they are easily our most used item. We use them for everything–cuddles, burp rag, cleaning up spit up, swaddling (well, we didn’t swaddle but we “mermaid-ed” him with them). And JR is definitely a blanket baby. He walks around with a blanket constantly and he uses it to comfort himself whenever he is upset (new use: bunching it up and biting it as a way to relieve teething pain). Cannot imagine having a baby without these blankets.
Boppy Lounger: The essential ingredient for a table baby. Matt and I would place the boppy on the table and drop JR in it while we ate dinner. Gosh, dinner time was so much simpler back then (now JR tries to escape from his high chair and tosses his food on the floor to Pancake). That boppy followed us to room to room. It was the perfect place to stash a baby when you have to pee and you don’t want to put him on the bathroom floor. Or when you are cooking a meal. And it is far easier to move a boppy than an entire swing.
Gummy Bear Red NightLight: JR was not the best sleeper for the first 10 months of his life, and he was a total piglet when it came to breastfeeding. I cannot remember one night over my maternity leave where we didn’t spend the majority of the night nursing. In the beginning, we relied on the hall light so I could see in the middle of the night. But it was too bright, and it was hard to fall back asleep (and when you only have 20-30 minutes to get some sleep before the baby wants to nurse again, you wanna fall asleep as fast as possible). This light was the perfect solution. It stays on for an hour, is red light (which apparently is the light you want in the middle of the night) and doubles as a toy for the baby. Plus, no need to buy the charger (which comes separately) because your charger from your breast pump works with it.
mamaRoo Swing: This swing is certainly in vogue. It seems like everyone has one. And apparently we also drank the Kool-Aid because we loved ours. The swing has 5 different swing settings, which is great because if JR wasn’t going for one type of swing, we could switch it up and try another. It also has four different white noise sounds which helped encourage JR to nap somewhere that wasn’t on me.
Bassinet: Ok, I did design our bassinet myself (as in, I found a picture on Pinterest that I loved and told Matt, make this) but I cannot imagine how we would have survived the first couple of months without a bassinet. Having JR sleeping next to me was a huge comfort. I would weave my hand through the bars, rest it on JR’s chest, know that he was breathing, and be able to get some decent sleep.
So yeah, these items made navigating the first couple months of parenthood so much easier. Sure, our changing table, diapers, and wipes were pretty important but hey, those aren’t as glamorous and fun 😉
Hopefully, this baby registry must have is helpful. Of course, this is just what worked for us. We aren’t baby experts (yet) so this list certainly isn’t gospel. And feel free to let me know what baby must haves I missed 🙂
In late 2014, we got a huge surprise–I was pregnant. We weren’t exactly trying to get pregnant, but we also weren’t trying not to, just playing our own version of Russian roulette which turned out to be successful a bit faster than we anticipated. Of course, Matt was over the moon. He had wanted to be a baby daddy since forever and the news that it finally was a reality was the perfect news. I was a little scared of the unknown but excited to have a baby to kiss and cuddle with.
Lucky for me, I had a generally easy pregnancy. I slowly got fatter and fatter around my belly, but no morning sickness, no food aversion, no cravings. Instead, my feet swelled. By 7 months, my shoes no longer could fit and when I wore high-heels for work, I looked like Miss Piggie. Nothing like fat feet to make your whole body look unbelievably more large and prego. Even though my swollen feet looked painful, typically they weren’t too uncomfortable, beyond feeling tight. Plus, Matt massaged them every night 😉
We decided not to find out the sex of the baby until Toastie (our womb name for JR) was born. For us, it was a no brainer. The sex of your baby is one of the most genuine surprises in your life, and we didn’t want to ruin the surprise until Toastie was ready to fall out. The anticipation of finding out what Toastie was wasn’t too difficult….until Toastie decided to be late. 12 days late (with labor starting at 11 days late). Those days were easily the hardest part of my pregnancy.
The due date was July 12th. Sure, it is common knowledge that calculating due dates is not an exact science. And I am certain I said that catch phrase over and over again once the calendar said July 1st (mostly to my boss, who was starting to come to terms with the reality that I would be out of the office for two months). Still, when July 12th came and went, we were disappointed. Every day after July 12th, I would wake up a bit disheartened that I was getting ready for work instead of getting ready for labor. (for some reason, I was convinced that I would go into labor in the middle of the night–I didn’t).
We tried everything to induce labor. Sex, walking, running, spicy food, acupuncture (three times). Nothing worked (we didn’t try the castor oil–I just couldn’t bring myself to risk it). Every day I would run 2 miles. But this baby was stubborn. He had his own agenda. But then it was Thursday, July 23rd.
I woke up on Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 6:00 a.m. and it felt like I had peed myself. I was quite certain it was my water breaking, but the entire area wasn’t saturated, so I started to doubt myself and wondered if maybe I just sweated an ungodly amount over the night (pregnancy can be gross).
Sure, this baby was already 11 days past the due date. But after 11 days, and thinking everything was “a sign that labor was around the corner” and then feeling disappointed when I was still pregnant, I was starting to feel like I was going to die pregnant. Plus, weren’t contractions suppose to come with my water breaking? I felt just like I had every other day of pregnancy—completely fine. I needed a second opinion.
I woke Matt up and told him what happened. He smiled, “we are going to have a baby today!” And he was right (ok, well he was born on the 24th but close enough). After only 5 and half hours of labor, I caught my baby as he floated up from the water towards me like a torpedo. We are so blessed. I had the birthing experience I wanted–a non-medicated, water birth–and a beautiful, healthy baby boy.
Since we gave birth at a birth center, we were discharged 5 hours after JR was born. I know, this sounds shocking to most people (and even I was hesitant about it) but it was natural and organic.
Matthew Anthony Jr. (who we lovingly call JR) was born July 24, 2015 at 2:43 a.m. at 7 lbs 6 oz and 20 inches. And our life has become better for it.
Wow, its been over two years since I last posted. To be honest, my sabbatical from blogging was unintentional. It started with my laptop breaking. Not sure what happened, but it no longer turned on. Matt said it would cost too much to fix it so it sat in the tv stand for the past couple of years, collecting dust while I was essentially computer-less. And then I forgot the password to sign into my blog account. So my attempts to sign into my blog on Matt’s desktop was unsuccessful. But then on December, 2015 (two years from my last post!), my work gave me a glorious, gold MacBook. It took way too many guesses, but I finally cracked my password (but to be honest, I have once again forgotten it-thank God it is saved to my new computer). Remembering how to navigate wordpress…still not up to par yet. Ugh, technology is hard.
Gosh, my life has completely transformed. Most notably, I became a mom.
And I would post more, but for some reason, pictures won’t upload into wordpress. Seriously, wordpress is anything but user-friendly. After fighting with it for over an hour, I’m throwing my hands up. You win, wordpress. I’ll be back to struggle with you tomorrow.