Just a few weeks ago, I weaned Kiwi. Although I had a goal to wean her by her second birthday, I thought it’d never happen: She asked for milk all day, every day. Yet bit by bit, we decreased the amount she breastfed. Finally, there came a day when she didn’t nurse at all. And then there was another no-milk day. And just like that, weaning was complete.
Pretty much. (More on that below!)
It’s no secret around here that I’ve both struggled with breastfeeding and loved it. I nursed Peeper until she was 15 months old, and Kiwi until she was almost 2. But even though we’d semi-accidentally become an extended breastfeeding family, I was ready to wean.
Yes, I was ready to wean, but I wish someone had clued me in to some details about weaning I’d never heard—or read—about.
When each of my girls was born, the steady delivery of meals was an enormous help. I couldn’t figure out how to breastfeed, much less feed myself, so the food friends brought nourished me in a way I deeply needed. In addition, their visits proved to be a much-appreciated and reliable contact with the regular adult world whose primary concern was not how many wet diapers the baby has had today. So if you’re considering making meals for new moms, I say to you: DO IT.
Since my big girls are no longer babies, I’ve had the opportunity to pay everyone’s kindness forward. I’ve brought quite a few meals for new moms and their families, and in the process I’ve learned a lot about what to do—and what not to do—when delivering meals to new moms.
So if you’ve signed up for a meal train, YOU ARE AWESOME. Know that by making a meal (or bringing takeout—that’s totally not cheating!), you are showing this new mama that she is loved, supported, cared for—and that her village will help lift her up as she undertakes the most monumental change of her life.
She is a new mom, and you are helping her become the best mother she can be.
(And that’s a big deal.)
If you’re not quite sure what to bring or what to do, though, you’ve come to the right place. When it comes to making meals for new moms, I share these 12 tips to help you make life easier for the family more focused on umbilical cord scabs than dinnertime. Read more
When I was pregnant with Peeper, and then with Kiwi, I did my best to record my thoughts, feelings and hopes for them. My journaling success was hit or miss with them—some nights I wrote long entries about the fluttery feeling of a tiny baby moving inside me; some nights I was too exhausted to do anything beyond flopping into bed. This year, I wanted to make a DIY Mother’s Day gift for some friends who are expecting so they, too, could remember this incredible time.
After some thought, I made a DIY pregnancy journal for two friends who are expecting their second babies. I know from experience that when you’re pregnant with Baby #2, you’re just not as focused on the pregnancy—after all, you’re too busy memorizing Daniel Tiger songs and ensuring your little daredevil doesn’t dart into the street. So I came up with these 30+ journal prompts—questions that will encourage a mom-to-be to reflect on her hopes and thoughts during pregnancy.
A dear friend of mine (whom I’ll not name so I don’t embarrass her) recently texted me. She was at work on a short break and was pumping milk for her baby at home. Not only that—she was catching up on emails, sending me pics of her munchkin and blow drying her hair (which she’d left in a wet bun until now). I couldn’t believe all her multitasking while pumping at work. Wow, she is a supermom! I thought.
As her need to do so much during such a short time shows, pumping at work is not easy. Plus, many moms feel a lot of pressure to make enough milk for their babies while they are at work. So it’s no surprise that nearly every pumping mom I know has, at some point, wanted to pump more milk.
When Peeper was born, I visited lactation specialists several times a week to try to get breastfeeding to work for us. She was my first baby, so I didn’t really know what breastfeeding should feel like—but I was pretty sure it shouldn’t feel stabby/excrutiating/make-me-cry painful.
When I asked one of the lactation nurses what breastfeeding should feel like, she gently pulled on my thumb. “Like that,” she said. I was bewildered; when Peeper latched, breastfeeding was definitely not that gentle.
Fast forward past many lactation appointments, a belated tongue tie correction, the use of a nipple shield and a lot of persistence, and breastfeeding finally did feel good—I finally got to the point where breastfeeding didn’t hurt.
But that’s not the only part of how breastfeeding actually feels. In short, it can hit a whole bunch of emotions, too. So if you’re wondering what you’re in for when you breastfeed your baby, read on.
Last year my sister and I threw my younger sister a baby shower, and while it was a lovely afternoon, it also sent me tripping down memory lane to my own showers (like this one and this pirate-themed sprinkle). It also made me think about how to write a baby shower card—and whether I wanted it to be super sweet, slightly snarky, or a combination of both.
At my sister’s baby shower, I couldn’t help but smile at the simultaneously awkward and sweet present-opening tradition, where she sifted through tissue paper-filled gift bags and tried not to cry.
I also remembered reading the touching sentiments people had written me—and the inane platitudes printed on baby shower cards. It’s pretty much guaranteed that if there’s a picture of a stork on the card, the inside message will mention “sweet bundle of joy” or “miracle of birth”—cliches that make me puke a little mimosa in my mouth.
If you’re trying to figure out how to write a baby shower card for the special expecting mama in your life, don’t fall back on some general comment or call it good at “congratulations.” Write out one of these parenting truths—with, of course, the humor and understanding of one mom to another.
Parenting truths for a baby shower card
Many parenting truths are not Hallmark material. Here are a few realizations I had to make the hard way.
Feel free to co-opt them when you’re figuring out how to write a baby shower card of your own!
- You will be so tired that you will literally hallucinate. In the depths of newborn sleep deprivation, you and your partner will pass a phantom baby back and forth. When you wake up-ish, you will freak out because oh my god what happened to the baby? and of course she will be sound asleep in her bed.
- One does not simply put shoes on a baby. Trying to get those adorable Nikes and tiny Toms onto your baby’s itty bitty, squashy, totally uncooperative feet will make you feel like the most incapable person ever to have kids.
- Raffi is not all bad. Some of his songs you can actually get behind. And some of it is drivel that makes you want to puncture your eardrums with a teething wafer.
- Your wardrobe is no longer your own. Gone are the days you buy clothes because they’re cute and they make you feel good. Now the most important criteria are easy access to the boobs and ability to camouflage avocado puree.
- You’ll do everything you said you wouldn’t. You’ll breastfeed your baby to sleep, use all the sleep crutches and hand your phone to a fussy toddler when you’re in the checkout line. And you’ll still be a good mother.
- You’ll try to do everything you said you would—then give up. It turns out that cloth diapers actually do require more effort than disposable, pureeing your own baby food is a giant pain in the ass and making all those Pinterest sensory activities doesn’t feel worth it when your baby loses interest after 10 seconds. That’s ok—you probably grew up eating cold hot dogs and wearing clothes washed in regular laundry detergent, and look how great you turned out!
- Your baby will pee the second you change him into a dry diaper. Or the second you take off the wet one. (Where’s that peepee teepee?!)
- You will do whatever it takes to make your child feel better. Even if that involves sucking the snot out of her nose. With your mouth. Ew.
- You will become boring. Other people don’t care that much about how your three-month-old can roll over, or what her third solid food will be, but they will smile and nod. Which is a good thing, since you’ll be so sleep deprived that you’ll cut anyone who doesn’t indulge your mommy ramblings.
- You will be hopelessly, mind-bendingly, overwhelmingly in love. Seriously. There is no way to prepare for the monumental changes your heart will undergo. This one just has to be learned firsthand.
Do you have any tips on how to write a baby shower card?
It’s a small mercy that I barely remember my first day on my own with both kids: Predictably, it was a disaster. The day involved a lot of tears, boiling over macaroni, leaking boobs and at least one text informing my husband in no uncertain terms that we were done having kids. But we survived—and you can, too, when it comes time for your first day on your own with kids.
After all, as hard as that first day was, it wasn’t all bad. I managed to put Peeper down for a nap (success!). And as I was rocking both kids in the rocking chair, Peeper kept reaching over and petting her newborn sister’s fuzzy head. It was beautiful. It was tender. It was a moment that kept me from completely giving up.
To get through your first day on your own with kids, New Mom, I’m offering a few tips. Some of these helped me during the early and hard months of having two kids, and some I’ve heard from others.
Until it gets easier—and it will get easier!—here’s how to make it through your first day on your own with kids.