I can’t believe Emmett is one month old tomorrow. I haven’t been a rockstar about recording every diaper or the duration of every nap, but one month into motherhood, I’ve learned to recognize my boy’s different modes: There’s a sweet turtle mode, a hungry pug mode, a wild/upset gremlin mode and a sleep mode. Sweet turtle is definitely my favorite, but now that I recognize them all, I can really appreciate the spectrum.
I got in on the #babymugging meme Joe’s first day at back at the office.
In this first bewildering month, new parents are toggling between the physical tasks of caring for a child – we were looking up video instructions for how to use our velcro swaddle at 3 a.m. the first night we were home – and the huge task of introducing a new little human to the enormous world. Look up: That’s a tree! Those are clouds! That’s the moon!
And sometimes I forget I have a child. Funny story: We were at my best friend’s new house, getting the grand tour over 4th of July weekend and I was like, “Hey! Do you guys have a cat?!” because I heard a mewling sound. Everyone looked at me like I was a huge idiot, because, no, that was my SON, waking up in his carrier downstairs.
Needless to say, I’m going to put a sign on my steering wheel reminding me to check for and remove my child from the car. Another parent gave me a tip to keep my bag back next to the carseat, because even if I forget I’m a mom for a minute, I probably won’t forget to bring my purse in with me.
If you’re expecting a baby, you’ve probably got the basics covered (clothes, crib, etc.) but there are some things I’ve found especially helpful over the first 30 days. My first month essentials are after the jump…
As was probably obvious from my previous posts, breastfeeding has been one of the most challenging elements of new motherhood. I’m committed to making it work, but starting out in the NICU threw us a few curveballs in this department. First, one of the nurses gave me a breast shield to help the baby latch (even though I didn’t really need one) and now Emmett won’t nurse without it. I haven’t been as dedicated about weaning him from it as I should be, adding an extra step/annoying thing to wash and fiddle with at each feeding. Also, I started supplementing breastfeeding with formula so Emmett’s blood sugar levels would consistently meet NICU standards, so each feeding has been a combo of nursing and bottle feeding. I had a low milk supply, so that was followed by a pumping session. The first couple of weeks, I was trying to do this all about 10 times a day, and factoring the time it took to wash equipment and sometimes wake Emmett up to feed him, I was going crrrrazzzzy. My supply has increased, so I’ve stopped pumping so much, and we’re opting for the “don’t wake a sleeping baby” approach, which has definitely brought back some semblance of sanity for me. Also, Felicity episodes! Now breastfeeding is mostly happy-snuggly-time, at least on occasions when the babe is not pretending to be a pug or a gremlin.
Medela hands free pumping bra. My sister gave me her pump, and I made Joe run out to Target and get this contraption for me during our first week home and it is, as my grandpa would say, The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread. Yes, you look like a farm animal being milked, but pumping while being able to use your hands (to swipe around on the iPad, of course!) is liberating. Joe was slightly concerned by how deliriously happy it made me.
A glider. I wasn’t sure we would need this, but it’s the best $25 Craigslist purchase, evah. Ours was recovered by a friend, and I’m glad I like this chair because in the first few weeks I was worried my skin would permanently stick to it, I was in it constantly.
Fenugreek & granola. I’m not sure if it was a coincidence or what, but a my sisters-in-law suggested I look into taking fenugreek, a supplement that’s supposed to boost milk production. (I found it at Campbell’s in Des Moines, but my Walgreens didn’t carry it.) My supply increased the day I started taking it, but that was also the day that I ate an entire jar of granola that a friend gave me. (Insert sheepish face here.) Oatmeal is supposed to help boost milk production, too, and another friend shipped some Marge Granola to me, and I highly recommend it as a sweet gift for a new, breastfeeding mom. My friend Cara also linked me to this “lactation cookies” recipe that I’m going to try this weekend.
Boon grass drying rack. If you’re going to have bottles all over the place, this rack cutes the whole situation up, don’t you think?
I was so excited to unpack my summer non-maternity wardrobe until I realized I still can’t wear many of the items that don’t allow for easy nursing access. This did justify an outlet mall pit-stop on our way to Chicago, though.
Nursing cami with built-in bra. I’m small-busted, so this offers enough support and provides easy access at the same time. A new mama friend gave it to me as a shower gift, so she clearly knew what was up. I’m actually a bigger fan of regular bras with a front closure than nursing bras, too.
Old Navy Roll-top Jersey skirt. Remind me to never have a baby in winter because I hate pants. I have four of these skirts (there’s a maternity version, too, but I don’t think it’s very different) and while I still can’t fit into my jeans, these are extremely forgiving as I work on my fitness. It’s too muggy out for jeans now, anyway, right?
Robe. I was glad I brought my robe from home to the hospital with me to throw over my gown for treks down to the NICU, and it’s nice to put on over pajamas in the morning and at night around the house. I ordered Joe a big terrycloth robe for Father’s Day and he loves it.
A cute new accessory/shoes/haircut. Put something on that makes you feel pretty. I’ve been wearing more makeup than my usual none, and even a swipe of mascara and lipgloss and scarf makes me feel like I’m not a hot mess express.
Out & About
Chicco Keyfit Travel System. Stroller/carseat/bam! The baby carrier is insanely heavy (ask me which way to the gun show in about three months), but it’s super easy to clip together and unfold. I’m worried he’s going to grow out of this a little too quickly, though! The 30-pounder version instead of the 22 is probably a good bet if you have a big guy like me.
Ergobaby with infant insert. I’m not going to lie, I knew from the minute I was pregnant this would be on my wishlist. It’s a little hot for the summer months, especially with the insert, but Emmett snuggles up and sleeps through cannon fire in it, and I enjoy wearing him around, so win-win. Now I just have to figure out how to clip it on without someone helping me.
Joe has been awesome as a parenting co-pilot, but it’s not like he knows what he’s doing any more than I do, so it’s been great to feel connected to a community.
Thank you cards. As I mentioned in my post about gratitude, this is the happiest month of mail I have ever had. New moms would do well to stock up on stationery and stamps. If you really have yourself together, think about getting a bunch of cards printed with a birth-announcement type photo of your adorable infant on them. (I didn’t think of this until I’d stocked up on regular notes.)
Someone to call. I’m not going to lie, I definitely had a few sob sessions in the first couple of weeks while on the phone with my mom. I’m also super grateful to my mom friends who have a little more experience than me, and who knew just what I needed in the form of texts, e-mails and reassurance. This week, I attended my first postpartum new mom group at Bearth in Beaverdale at the urging of some friends. Especially if you’re new to the city or the first in your circle to have a baby, a group like that is an incredible resource. Your hospital might offer a support group, too. We also went to baby rhyme time at the library, which was cute.
A fitness plan. I just signed up for an eight week semi-private fitness class aimed at new moms, and am beginning to set goals to get back in shape. I gained more weight than I wanted to with this pregnancy, and I’m itching to work out now that my big old belly isn’t in the way and my feet aren’t so swollen!
We already had daycare figured out, thanks to Joe’s sister, but there were a few longterm things we took care of the first month. After all, everyone says the days are long but the years are short, and I didn’t want to forget to do these things.
Open a 529 Savings Account. My friend Jake works for the state treasurer and promotes this college savings program, and Emmett’s first month seemed like the right time to begin automatic contributions. He’ll likely graduate from high school in the year 2031 – how crazy is that?
Send in preschool pre-applications. I felt like a little bit of a crazy lady doing this when Emmett was 6 days old, but I’ve heard great things about the Science Center of Iowa preschool and Cowles Montessori, so I thought I’d fill out and send in the applications to get on a waiting list before I forgot. I’m thankful we don’t have to navigate a super competitive school system, and know if those two don’t work out there are lots of good options around.
Also: We plan on cloth diapering or switching to the Honest Company delivery service, but are working through a couple of big boxes of Pampers we were gifted first. Anyone have recommendations or advice in this area?