Friday, February 21, 2014

A New Baby and Handling Relationships- What We Would Have Done Differently

Yesterday I got together with my "mom friends" and we sat around soaking up some warm sun, sipping on drinks, munching on cookies, and watching our babies play (and fight) together. As usual with this awesome group, our conversation turned to labor, birth, breastfeeding, and parenting. We retold some of our birth stories (for the hundredth time!) and shared some lessons we each learned in our first experience of becoming a mother. I figured I would recount some of those here for you now, and hopefully it can give you some tips and insight for the first days and weeks of becoming a mother!

1) If your family is out of town and wants to come visit for the birth, you should consider having them visit shortly AFTER birth. For some women this won't work, because they have the dream of having their mom there for labor and delivery. You will know what you want best, BUT many of the moms I sat around with said they would have preferred their family coming after the baby was born. Since you don't usually know the exact date of arrival, the days leading up can be nerve-wracking, and having people stare at your every contraction wondering if "it's time"can get old. One friend also said that her parents planned in staying for a month, and once the baby came, they had less than a week left. She would have preferred their presence and help once the baby had arrived.

2) REALLY limit who is allowed to visit you in the hospital. Many people only allow family, and have friends visit later at home. Although one of my friend's has a very large Mexican family for her in-laws, so this was nearly impossible for her and she wished it had been different. She struggled with the fact that the entire family wanted to be there for every moment while she learned to breastfeed and comfort, and while she was healing from natural childbirth. She also said she had a relative become offended that she asked her to wait a few minutes to come in while she breastfed. Which leads me to the next point...

3) Don't be afraid of hurting people's feelings. I am not saying to blatantly tell them 'no' or turn them away, I am just saying that this is an extremely new experience in your life and you have no idea how you will feel or act until you're in it. If you need to ask everyone to leave, then do it. If you need to turn people away and just be with your husband and child, do it. You are so fragile and vulnerable during this time and you need peace, quiet, and comfort. You may hurt some feelings (which is absurd in itself, because YOU just had the baby!), but you can't worry about that in the few precious moments of getting to know your baby. THIS is your new job, and THIS is the little one you now need to do right by. Do what you need to do.

4) Ask a friend or family member to set up a Food Tidings webpage for your friends and family to sign up to bring you meals. Share it on Facebook and by email. After we had Piper, we had two weeks straight of meals provided! Some friends even went over and above, bringing one-handed snacks for the days when Daddy was back at work. If you ask Daniel, he will still tell you that this was the best part of having a baby! We felt so loved and taken care of, and we were sure to provide this as a time for our friends to meet the baby (instead of the hospital). Some of my friends only had 1 or 2 meals provided, so I am so thankful for our supportive group!

5) Connect with other mom friends. These are the women who will understand and support you in those first few days. They will drop food off on your porch and text you about it, knowing that you are probably sleeping, but will need to be fed. They are the ones who will visit you for the first time WITHOUT their kids, because they know how hectic kids can be around a new baby- and a new mom! They will have the tips and tricks for colic, explosive diapers, and sleepless nights. HOPEFULLY, these are the ones who will understand when you are forgetful, tired, and drained in these first few weeks, and they will not hold it against you! Sometimes, these moms will be your lifeline.

Just a few little things to get you thinking. Feel free to ask any questions concerning these situations, and the moms and I will be sure to give you the best responses from our own experiences! 

And here's a cute pictures of our babies booties and what they were doing while we chatted. Gardening, of course! 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Why We Don't Do Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is this week.

That means that my Facebook feed is about to be filled with people dressed in pink and red, pictures of heart shaped cookies and chocolate, status updates of "Tommy brought me home balloons!", and everyone sharing how and why they love their partners. That last part I don't mind so much, but yes, I am mocking the rest.

Valentine's Day has become a "Hallmark Holiday"- what I mean by this is that it is a holiday that Hallmark has made big enough to sell more cards, buy more junk, and spend more money. It's origins are from Saint Valentine, but many people have even forgotten that! It has turned into a day to show your love to your special someone, but I think we have taken it too far. Now, there are expectations on this day- mainly from the females. "He better buy me flowers, and I want TWO dozen this year". "I hope he remembers my favorite chocolates and stocks up". "Did he get reservations at that fancy restaurant yet?" "I wonder if he'll get that hotel room I've been hinting at". And sadly if he forgets or doesn't make those reservations, his female is usually very disappointed and it goes down as an unsuccessful holiday.

My husband is an amazing man, but he is not known for being incredibly thoughtful. We're different (Well, Amen). I discovered this when I met him at 17 years old, and the last thing I wanted to do was set him up for failure. It was then that we decided together to not celebrate Valentine's Day (plus, long distance...but that's another post!). I didn't want him to feel pressured to buy me something pretty by a specific date, and I didn't want to feel disappointed if he DIDN'T buy me anything! It was unfair to both of us.

I told him that I would prefer to get flowers on a random day to show his love. I would love a surprise night out, or plan a night at a hotel. But I didn't want him to do it because he HAD to do something fabulous for Valentine's Day. I wanted him to do it because he wanted to show his love for me whenever! This was probably a bigger challenge than Valentine's Day....whoops. But the few times that he has shown up at home with flowers, the payoff is big. And when he was at the laundromat last week and came home with a box of thin mints (and he doesn't like them), it was better than any holiday. And sometimes he'll run to the store and come back with two different kinds of ice cream (both of which he doesn't like) because he didn't know what I felt like that night. And when he asks "want to sit by the fire tonight?", and we sip our wine and talk and laugh while the flames crackle. And when I get home and he has DONE THE DISHES....well, you get the idea!

The point is to challenge ourselves to be romantic and attentive to our partner in everyday life, not just when a holiday comes around. If you are scrambling around for the perfect gift for the next two days, you're doing it all wrong. Let your partner off the hook, and drop the expectations, so when a surprise comes along, you will be thrilled!

There is nothing wrong with Valentine's Day. It's an awesome opportunity to express your love for your partner. I have nothing against it, and I do plan on making heart shaped cookies with my daughter (because it kills some time!) and  helping her make a homemade card for Daddy. I will use Valentine's Day to shower some love on my child, because there is no expectation from her, just joy! And Daniel and I might go out this weekend- not on Friday, and not because we need to celebrate Valentine's Day, but because we have a gift card for pizza and love being together. Because we want to celebrate us being us.