It seems like every new mom with a blog puts up a list of their essentials for life after baby sooner or later. Some of them are gross and a little TMI (no, I do not need five paragraphs on the benefits of Preparation H, thank you), some of them are things like fuzzy blankets and pillows (which, hey, those are life essentials as far as I'm concerned), some of them are toys and food and all kinds of things. I thought I'd put up my own list of what got me through the eight weeks home with Audra. I've been trying to finish this post since something like the third week home, but... it's just never come together.
Still. When I go back to work I will have had eight weeks with my daughter.
Eight weeks I am immensely grateful for, and wouldn't trade for the world.
Although I do kind of wish some sleep had been included in those weeks...
Anyway, here were my home-with-baby essentials:
Oh, what, does the essential HAVE to be something you can buy? Pffft on that.
I've already told you that Jason was indispensable while I was hospital-bed-bound shortly before and just after having her, but his ability to take time off to stay home with us for the majority of my time home with Audra has been incredible. I simply don't think those first couple of weeks would have worked without him.
We were able to take turns with her, which gave each of us a much-needed ability to step away for five minutes if we needed it. I could go get groceries or run to Starbucks or meet a friend at the mall, secure knowing that Audra was with the person I trust most in the entire world, knowing that I had been given the best gift of all; the ability to NOT have to lug twenty pounds of diaper bag everywhere I went.
It seems, based on what I've read online and in some of the various parenting memoirs I picked up during my pregnancy, that often the new dad is either somewhat shoved aside or actively removes himself from participating fully, and that's something I never once worried about. Jason was as involved with every step of Audra's early life as I was, and that's definitely the most important postpartum necessity for me.
He went back to work last week and his first day, after working for 10 hours, he came home and immediately wanted to feed Audra dinner and take over her care. We have a feeling we're going to fight over her a lot once we're both working. So yeah.
This is the space where I brag about my husband (again). Sorry. He's awesome; it's just a fact of life.
I would have lost my mind without it.
The first couple of weeks are basically spent on the couch, feeding a newborn that has no concept of how bored you are and frankly wouldn't much care if they did. You are Mom (or Daddy) and therefore exist to serve them. This means constant couch time, from 6 am to 4 pm to 3 am and back around in a circle until you realize you haven't known what day it is since you left the hospital, and you'd never know again if it weren't for your cell phone's clock.
Jason and I went through show after movie after show on Netflix.
I've watched more documentaries than I ever watched before in my life... combined. I know more about the Tower of London and the English monarchy than I have any right to know. I can tell you all about the definite interbreeding between early modern humans and the Neanderthals we eventually overran.
Granted, I watched a lot of non-educational TV, too.
I watched the entire 8 seasons of That 70's Show. I kind of regret it, the way you regret eating a whole bucket of fried chicken, or ever setting foot in Long John Silver's.
But there wasn't much better when I needed something completely brain-dead to watch at 2:30 in the morning with a wide-awake newborn in my arms.
3. Chinese take-out.
Oh, I see you rolling your eyes, you healthy eaters who craved nothing but kale and coconut oil after your babies came to be, who "indulge" in single pieces of dark chocolate or who eat sweet potatoes for dessert, no sugar no butter no anything-worthwhile. Go ahead and roll those skinny eyes; eat your sauteed kale. Savor that Skinny Postpartum Peanut Butter Shake made with powdered peanut butter. Tell yourself those baby carrots make you happy.
I'll be over here stuffing my face with Singapore Mai Fun and eating my own weight in Hot & Sour Soup. I'll be over here with Szechuan wontons and sweet & sour chicken and just rolling around in duck sauce.
There's a Chinese takeout place near where we live that is basically my dream of chinese takeout places; the food always arrives fresh and piping hot, they seem to keep giving us more and more meat in our dishes the more we order from them, and they've gotten to know us - even before I was on bedrest, when the complications were just starting to rear their ugly heads, one of my stipulations was sticking to a fairly low-sodium diet. This meant no Chinese takeout for like three months.
A few days after we were home from the hospital, while my parents were still visiting us, we decided to order from the takeout place, to celebrate the fact that we could again.
When our usual delivery driver showed up, he knocked on the door and greeted us with "long time no see!"
And now I'm kind of thinking about ordering dinner from them sometime this week now.
So there you go.
On the off chance I ever become famous and am asked to interview about my pregnancy cravings in a magazine, you are not going to hear me do the usual celebrity "Oh, I just indulge reasonably with super crazy stuff like a hamburger once a month! I had a milkshake three weeks ago! I CRAVE KALE!"
Oh no. I'm going to start talking about crab rangoon, and I am never going to stop.
I put a very similar photo up earlier this week, with the caption "if my Pinterest starts blowing up, this is probably what's happening." And it's true. I have the Pinterest app on my phone and it's going constantly when Audra's sleeping but refuses to do so anywhere but on me (IE, most of the time).
Pinterest allows me to stare at recipes and drool over them from the comfort of the couch. I daydream about outfits, make wishlists of items I probably won't buy (but sometimes do, to my bank account's chagrin), giggle over quotes from TV shows I haven't seen.
In short, I can sit down, start feeding the baby, blink and realize it's been thirty minutes, she's done and burped, and somehow fifty-two new pins have appeared on my boards.
It's magical, and also probably not good.
Also I'd like to take this time to apologize to everyone who is my friend on Pinterest. Apologize, but not stop spamming you when I'm bored.
I need Pinterest to live right now.
5. Starbucks (or, well, coffee in general)
Do I even need to elaborate?
I think I've already elaborated enough.
I realize that you'll hear all over the internet that you have to give up coffee during pregnancy and early childhood, but that's just... entirely not true. For one thing, coffee is perfectly safe to drink reasonably during pregnancy and is just as safe to drink after the baby comes, too. I just do half the caffeine (half-decaf with regular coffee, one caffeinated espresso shot and one decaf with lattes and fancy drinks) to make sure I'm only taking in about one cup of coffee's worth per day. Very little actually makes it into Audra.
6. Shout Stain Remover and Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent.
The damage babies do to clothing, you guys.
And how fast you go through said clothing.
Sometimes there are six outfit changes in a day. Sometimes only one. But nonetheless, I'm doing laundry about three times more often than I was, and we've only added one (very gross) little person to our ranks. Shout Stain Remover works like a charm; there's a reason it's a staple product.
And while I like (and do use) Dreft, the detergent especially for babies, I prefer to do all our laundry together and not have to separate baby from adult stuff. Seventh Generation's unscented detergent is more environmentally friendly than most of our options, and it's fine for babies and their sensitive skin.
If you hate laundry, don't have kids.
7. Baby blankets and burp cloths.
On a related note to the last point, you can seriously never have too many of either of these.
When we had our baby showers, I kept thinking we were getting so many blankets, when would we be able to use all of them?
The answer to that question was within the first nine days of her birth.
We cycle through baby blankets incredibly quickly; we swaddle and so she's gotten used to having blankets around her to help her go to sleep. They also work as burp cloths in a pinch when we seem to have dropped or lost whichever one we were using (which is basically all the time). I have found blankets in the weirdest places - in our bathroom, underneath the couch, on one of the cats' scratching pads.
The burp cloths are also used at an alarming rate; she ruins them, or we drop them on the floor, or I find a cat lying on one I forgot to put away in time. So into the laundry they go, and we pull a new, clean one out.
Take my advice and put all the baby blankets and burp cloths you can on your registries, if you get pregnant and have a baby shower. If you add a certain amount and think you've probably added enough, add four more.
YOU WILL USE THEM ALL.
And still find yourself wishing you had asked for like thirty-seven more of them.
8. GROWN-UP blankets and yoga pants.
I know, I know. I am the biggest stereotype in the land.
A new mom in yoga pants? Gasp! Shock!
Well, you know what?
Yoga pants are just pajamas with delusions of grandeur but they are COMFORTABLE and I love them and you can't make me give them up! You can't! I won't do it!
Well, except when I leave the house.
BUT UNTIL THEN.
Until then I will be queen of yoga pants, and I will rule with an iron fist. Of course, by 'rule' I mean 'not leave the house except for coffee, friends, family, or coffee.' And even one of those things I'm still going to wear yoga pants for.
(hint: it's the one that involves a drive-through.)
New moms, be not ashamed; yoga pants for everyone!