15 things that saved my sanity during the first month of motherhood
It has been 5 WEEKS since Rory James was born. Frick on a stick! Doesn't that just blow your mind? Is it even possible that I've had this little buddy of mine for almost five whole weeks? It kind of makes me sick to my stomach seeing how fast time is flying.
Thinking back to the day Rory was born, I've realized how badly I've depended on certain things to get me through each day. Some of these things are absolutely mandatory, and I thought I'd share them with the world.
1. My Brest Friend Pillow
Number one on the list because it is my number one lifesaver. Holy. Crap. This is easily my favorite purchase that I made, once I got past that ridiculous name of course. I'm embarrassed for the manufacturers on that one. Unlike the popular Boppy pillows, this one clips behind your back and really hangs onto you so that the baby doesn't slip between you and the pillow. The back support is fantastic, and there is a pocket that hangs off the front in which I keep a few useful things like burp cloths and nipple cream. I take this pillow with me all over the house and I use it almost every time I feed Rory. Haven't washed the cover yet though and it's developing a lovely crust from dripped milk... Taking that cover on and off does not sound fun so I'm procrastinating.
2. Hospital water jug
Because I'm exclusively breastfeeding I'm friggin thirsty. I'm constantly guzzling water and I'm not about to go refilling a million glasses every few hours. The jug that they give to you at the hospital is perfectly huge and I always have it with me. I basically fill it to the brim with ice and let it melt so I always have some cold water with me. My most common request of Andy is to please go refill my water please oh please!
3. Free hospital junk
Aside from the big ugly water jug, there are a lot of other magical things the hospital hands you. Before we left the nurse said we could take anything that was disposable. Booyah. We stole a whole pack of diapers and a bunch of wipes, all of which lasted us two weeks at home. That's a lot. I also took a can of healing spray, some mesh panties, giant pads, and the spray bottle that is oh so important for your delicate lady parts. Fill that spray bottle with warm water and it is the most wonderful experience you'll ever have on the toilet. No kidding.
4. Avent Manual Breast Pump
Hey new moms, do you feel chained down? Ever want to leave your house for more than 2 hours at a time? Then a breast pump is mandatory. Expensive, but it's the only way you can rejoin society. I haven't quite figured out how to manage pumping on a regular basis - I'm still just trying to keep a constant supply up - but having a pump allowed me to leave Rory with my in-laws on thanksgiving to go see a movie. Andy and I can go out to eat when we want to or go out shopping because we have a bottle with a bit of breastmilk in it. I love it. I get frazzled easily if we go out and my only option is to breastfeed because I'm not nearly coordinated enough to do it in public, and it really takes some guts to pop your boob out when everyone can see you. I got a manual Avent pump because it's small, quiet, easy to wash, and it pumps straight into the bottle. Awesome.
5. Nipple Shield
Rory and I had BIG ISSUES trying to breastfeed. My lactation consultant gave me a nipple shield which I've been using on a regular basis and has completely saved us. I'm trying to wean him off of it right now, but it's a life saver during those 3am feedings when I can hardly keep my eyes open and don't want to spend 5 frustrating minutes trying to get him to latch correctly.
6. Skip Hop Diaper Bag
There were a few things that I spent way too many hours researching on Amazon. Like really, waaaaaay too many hours. I blame those hours on the fact that I spent like 6 pregnant weeks just hanging out with no agenda and so much time to kill on the internet. The Skip Hop Diaper Bag that we went with is highly rated on amazon for good reason. Perfect size, lots of space, the pockets close easily with magnets and it has clips so it can hang off the back of a stroller. It also doesn't look too feminine for my manly-man husband to hold for a while.
7. Britax Travel System
Thank you oh thank you kind mother for this gift. Every time we pull out this stroller Andy always raves about how much he loves it. The carseat pops in and out of its base like it's nothing, and the stroller is so easy to maneuver. We bought this insert to keep Rory snuggly and warm, and dude he will just konk out whenever we buckle him in. He sleeps most soundly in his carseat, even compared to being swaddled in his crib. So far the only thing I can complain about is the size of the basket underneath the stroller. No question, it's too small. But overall I'm totally happy with this system. Plus it looks snazzy and expensive.
8. Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets
SWADDLE BLANKETS. I think we've ended up with 6 of these and I would not trade them for anything. We use them every single day. My mom showed us a magical swaddle that is different from the one the nurses show you in the hospital - maybe sometime I'll try to describe it for you all - and we wrap him up tightly every night. He loves it. We bring these all over the house. They are perfectly lightweight but still keep in some warmth. I know they're expensive. Being on a college student's budget, more blankets were not something we wanted to spend a bunch of cash on. But they are so so so worth it!
In order to stay sane I know I need something to occupy my brain while I breastfeed for hours and hours and hours every day. My routine: turn on my selected tv show on Netflix (I've watched episodes of Scrubs, Freaks & Geeks, Breaking Bad, and 30 Rock in the last 5 weeks), grab my water jug and my brest-friend pillow (gagging at that name still. seriously!?), squat down on my bed and let Rory go to town while I watch funny shows and play Candy Crush on my iphone. Netflix is a true life saver during those early morning feedings where it takes all my effort to get out of bed.
10. A Giant Sweater to Hide the Lumps
Guys, I still have over 20 pounds to lose before I get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I feel gross and I look gross. I'm still wearing my maternity pants and it's been a whole month. So what can I do to help my poor self esteem? Hide it all! I got a giant sweater on a black friday sale at Old Navy and I wear it all. the. time.
11. Nipple Butter & Breast Pads
Managing my lumpy awkward mess of a post-partum body has been it's own adventure. Add on some raw nipples that feel like they've been attacked by a cheese grater? Not great. I'm not particular to this nipple butter... it's organic and it smells a bit like chocolate which is nice, but the important idea was to have something to protect those poor nippies from the world. Disposable breast pads are essential unless you think it's okay to walk around with milk dripping off your t-shirt. I layered up those breast pads with some soothing nipple cream and my aching boobs thanked me.
I have a confession. Rory slept in our bed with us until he was a week old. I know. How awful and careless must we be?? To be honest I loved it. I loved waking up and having him right there. I loved falling asleep with a protective arm wrapped around him. I'm a super light sleeper and I was confident he would be fine. Others were not so confident, and insisted that we find a different solution. My in-laws ended up buying us this co-sleeper that fits in right next to our bed. It's works great for us because he's not so far away that I freak out when I can't see him, but he's not too close that others freak out that we might squish him. Win win.
13. Belly wrap
I really really wanted a fancy post-partum wrap. Like really really bad. I'm dying to get back to a comfortable shape and I just about went out and spent $90 on some snazzy post-partum gear. But I didn't. Instead I found a more reasonably priced $25 option at walgreens. Just a run-of-the-mill Ace support brace that worked just fine for the 2 weeks I could stand it. At first it felt amazing to have everything held together, but after a while the brace felt uncomfortable and now I only wear it occasionally. I do still wish that I had the money to go get a real post-partum brace, but I guess the real moral of the story is that I was glad to have something to hold my insides together when I felt like I was drooping every single direction.
14. Wubbanub Pacifier
I kind of hate that we use pacifiers as much as we do, but they're an amazing invention. They calm Rory down instantly and sometimes are the difference between minutes of crying and seconds of crying. I'll take that. A friend gave us this super cute dinosaur pacifier toy that Rory can grab ahold of with his hands and keep the pacifier end in his mouth. That way we don't always have to be reaching over to pop it back in his mouth when accidentally spits it out. Brilliant!
15. A Spectacular Support Group
I am one lucky lady when it comes to family support. Not only do I have a fantastic husband who is willing to refill my water jug 8 times a day and who comes home from work with a hot chocolate for me and a diaper change for Rory, but I also have some loving in-laws who offer to take Rory in the early mornings while I catch up on some much needed sleep. My mom flew across the country for an entire week, leaving four kids at home, in order to teach us her tips and tricks and then cry with me when I really needed to just vent. I'm so blessed to be related to all these great people.
There are still some problems I have no solution for and am still struggling with. Baby acne is plaguing little Rory's handsome face. Cradle cap is giving him dandruff. My word, I need a real good nursing bra. Rory's socks will not stay on, and our bathtub situation could probably be better, but hey. We're figuring this crap out as we go. I'm just happy we've found some things that work so well for us.