New Mommy Survival Gift Guide

You might remember a last month I hosted a coffee themed baby shower for my friend Ginny. Well, allow me to introduce…

{drumroll please}

Charlotte “Lottie” Anne Gum.

I saw this picture last night and I almost stopped breathing. Not only do I get to brag on my friend’s gorgeous kid, but allow me to take this moment to feature the photo genius of my dear friend Emily Chidester. She’s brilliant and inspiring and almost as much of a Harry Potter nerd as I am. Be sure to check out her blog for her latest work.

I have so many friends getting pregnant and having babies that I’m beginning to think there really is something in the water. All of these babies got me thinking about creative gift ideas. What does every new mother need but can’t afford? The correct answer is: time and sanity. Unfortunately, you can’t exactly register for either at Babies R Us. So, I did a little brainstorming on my morning run, and this is my best attempt at what I like to call a New Mommy Survival Gift Guide.

Survival gift idea #1: Meal coordination. New mothers are oftentimes less concerned with cooking than they are with eating. After I had Mia, all I cared about was if she was getting enough to eat. If someone didn’t remind me to grab some grub, I would have opted for a long nap instead. I have world-class friends who arranged for home cooked meals to arrive every two days with left overs to spare. True story. I don’t think we bought groceries for a month. Takethemameal.com allows you to coordinate meals online and it does most of the work for you. This is priceless. Literally.

Survival gift idea #2: A housekeeper. I’m not pregnant nor do I have any desire to be in the near future, but I still fantasize at least once a week about a fairy housekeeper gracing my front doorstep. I never wanted one more than right after I had my babies. I knew it was bad when I noticed that Clark’s bare feet were sticking to the wood floor. Seriously, I thought he was going to strap on a biohazard suit before entering the shower– that’s how long it had been since I gave it a good scrub. If you’ve got the money, do your friend a favor and pay for a couple of visits from the housekeeper. She may just name her unborn child after you. Oh, and don’t forget laundry. Do a little research to find a local wash & fold service that delivers, or for major friend points, opt to provide laundry service yourself.

Survival gift idea #3: Counseling. Don’t furrow your brows at me. Baby blues don’t lift after 2 weeks for every mama. Take me for example. I wound up on the shrink’s couch 3 months after Salem was born after I woke up from a nightmare where I had confused him with the oven pot roast. I wish I was making this up. Postpartum depression is a terrifying thing for mommy, daddy, and baby, and sadly most women don’t seek help when they should because they are either embarrassed or they simply can’t afford it. I’d say, if you are a family member or a close enough friend, perhaps include a voucher in her baby shower card that says, “Redeemable for post-delivery counseling and/or margarita therapy”.

Survival gift idea #4: Child care. Babysitters are not cheap, and most likely after a few weeks, mom will be ready for a little break to go out shopping or to have tea or to have a good cry {refer to survival gift idea #3}. Again, slip a couple of coupons for “free babysitting” into her shower gift. Follow up a few weeks after delivery to remind her that you still intend to make good on your gift. Then again, if you’re my friend, you won’t have to remind me.

Survival gift idea #5: Stamped and addressed thank you cards. Speaking of shower gifts, this is a thoughtful and inexpensive one. Showers are wonderful. Mommies and babies are loaded up with diapers and burp cloths and onesies and nipple shields. {Okay, perhaps the nipple shields are not that wonderful.} But, how many of you post-shower mommies took months to tend to the seemingly insurmountable task of sending gift thank you’s? I know I did. And who has time to go buy stamps when you’re too busy with nipple shields? {I just want to see how many times I can say ‘nipple shield’ in a blog post and get away with it. There ought to be a limit, right?} You can make the task less daunting by putting together a little basket complete with cards, envelopes, stamps and a pen. You can even go the extra mile by having some return address labels printed with baby’s name included. Again, friend-points will be awarded.

Survival gift idea #6: Professional newborn photo session. {Such as… Ahem… Emily Chidester Photography}. Just think, a little piece of your thoughtfulness frozen in time on their living room wall or above the fireplace. I believe there’s a few things in life that you shouldn’t get for a basement bargain such as Lasik or plastic surgery. Photography is one of them. Don’t skimp. If you have the money to get a quality gift, opt for a family photo session with a professional, not your cousin Ralph who promises to give you a “sweet deal”.

Survival gift idea #7: Moms on Call. I’ve said it before, these ladies are God’s gift to mothers everywhere. If you live in or around the Atlanta area, they will come to your home and give you a personal consultation on everything from feeding, to bathing, to getting your newborn to sleep. If you have to choose between the fairy housekeeper and Moms on Call, take it from me. Give the gift of Moms on Call. If you’re not fortunate to live within driving distance, they offer online seminars that are just as helpful. You mama-friend will thank you.

If you want to treat your loved one to a housekeeper or a photographer, but you don’t want to break the bank, perhaps you can invite a few friends or relatives to go in on the gift with you. The best gift is one that you’ve always wanted, but you’d never splurge to get it for yourself.

Let’s add to this list. What are some of your favorite new mommy survival gifts?

Advertisements

Mom’s Shining Moment

Several weeks after Salem was born, I was still in the throws of postpartum depression. I looked like something out of The Shining. Clark insisted that I start taking a few hours a week to go out and do whatever I wanted to do so long as it didn’t involve any bridges or the operation of heavy machinery. (Looking back, I’m not so sure if that was more for me or for him. Day after day of watching your wife walk around like a zombie covered in spit up can start to mess with a guy’s head.) At first, I would park my car somewhere and cry because crying was my new thing. Then I graduated to have “tea dates” with myself. Soon thereafter, I figured that talking to myself in coffee shops was getting a little creepy, so I started to have tea dates with a few friends.  At first, I felt guilty for taking the time away from my son and leaving him home for Daddy to care for, but then I remembered “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, and I thought that getting out for some fresh air might not be a bad idea. It was tempting to try to squeeze a Wal Mart run or a trip to the cleaners in there without having to haul a child in and out of a car seat. But, I made the conscious effort to do only things that I actually enjoyed– exploring new fabric shops, cafes and book stores, or going for a long run along the river (ok that’s being a little ambitious– I don’t run and I don’t live near a river, but it sounds like something nice to do on a morning out– for some women). I couldn’t believe what a difference it made to get out and rejoin the human race for just a few short hours. It was fulfilling in a way that it fueled me to be what I needed to be at home for my family. Two kids later, it has become sort of a tradition in our house, and I look so forward to my time out every week. And of course, Clark has his own reasons for looking forward to my weekly outings.



Just add water

Hello, my name is Salina Beasley and I am a chronic over-achiever. I always have been. It’s obnoxious really. I was the Hermine Grainger type in school– finishing papers 2 weeks early and doing the extra credit even if I was already acing the course. What can I say? I’m a doer. All right, that’s putting it mildly. As I write this, I am looking at a row of titles I so diligently studied before I had my first child, and I have to laugh at myself. I’m embarrassed to admit that I actually thought I could ace the “mommy” test if I read all of the right books and followed all of the right advice.  My “just add water” approach to parenting would have been very effective for raising puppies or chia pets perhaps, but not children. Nevertheless, when my son, Salem was born, I was so overly confident that whatever this little pooper could dish out, I would be ready for it. [Insert disclaimer here: Moms, please do not hear me making light of post partum depression. It is a very real thing (even if Tom Cruise doesn’t think so).] Anyone that has gone through it can attest to the hormonal free-fall, the mind-numbing exhaustion, or the fact that every 2 hours it feels as though there is a piranha attached to your breast sucking your very will to live. “Nipple soreness”…. Talk about putting it mildly. Who thought that was an accurate description? Clearly someone who never breastfed before… probably a man…. probably Tom Cruise. Anyway, the point is that I began to suspect that perhaps someone had tossed out my “A” score with the placenta. No parenting book could have prepared me for how difficult it would actually be. My husband, Clark, and I kept asking each other, “Why didn’t anyone tell us it would be this hard?” He thought that all parents were part of a secret society sworn to downplay the reality of life after birth. Our friends with kids would see us all disheveled, looking like poster children for the world’s worst hangover and in a very inaugural way put their hand on our shoulder as if to say, “you are now a parental conspirator avowed to disguise the truth from childless unsuspecting. You are hereby entitled to use mild phrases like ‘baby blues’, ‘low energy’, and ‘nipple soreness’. Welcome to the fellowship.”  I can look back on it now and laugh at my own ignorance, but in real time, I feared that life, my body, my marriage, and my nipples would never be the same

One afternoon, my friend Lindsey came over to see Salem and I. She brought fresh bread and a list of daily activities I should do as an alternative to jumping off the nearest bridge. The list went something like this:

1.    Take a shower

2.    Put some makeup on even if you don’t plan to leave the house

3.    Pray and journal

4.    Get some fresh air

5.    Do something for yourself

6.    Spend time with friends

Here suggestions were so simple, but little by little, over time, the fog lifted and I began to feel sane again.

What are some of the things you did to rediscover life after birth?