Well this almost concludes your 2 week-long series on “Mommy Must Haves”. By now you’ve heard of all the things you might need when having a baby. Things for the babes, boobs, and brain. It’s all so much isn’t it? My idea of a fun evening on this topic would involve a lot of wine and a group of moms sitting around debating which products we really need. In the end it’s all a matter of preference, as I’m sure you know.
With some of the free time I have, I volunteer with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program. I am a family friend to a refugee family from Bhutan. As a family friend I am exactly what you think of when you hear the word “friend” …I visit with them, listen to them, help them practice their English. They have a 2 year old daughter. And when they came here to Burlington, about a year ago, they had practically nothing. And when that little baby was born in the refugee camp, they probably didn’t have boppies, swings, nor breast pads.
Before you close the tab to your browser, this isn’t some post about me being on a soap box about how we should all be so lucky to have “things.” It’s not. It’s just a post about perspective and how I’ve gained a little over the last year. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few items I strongly believed I needed to have when the baby was born, including having a rocker in the nursery that matched the color of the walls. At one point, I was obsessed with it, to an embarrassing point. I will list my preferences at the bottom of this post in case it might help you when culling your list for your registry.
Anyway, I met this refugee family last year when I was about 5 months pregnant with my second child. During our first visit I sat with them, and their extended family in a small cramped living room. The mother and father (and little girl) had arrived in the US a little less than a week before our meeting. Full of smiles we all greeted each other and began our friendship. Months later and right before Ruby was born, my family had them to our house for breakfast. Sitting outside in the warm late summer sun we talked about birth. I was excited about my upcoming birth, and how I was going to have a doula and only stay in the hospital for a short time. And then I asked my Bhutanese friend about the birth of her daughter. She didn’t share many of the details with me except that she gave birth and left the hospital within hours of her daughter being born. Yes, it occurred to me how lucky we are here in VT to have access to amazing healthcare services, but what really happened was that she changed my perspective on how I viewed childbirth.
Having some perspective is really what has been the most important “must-have” for me over the last 5 years of motherhood. When you wake up in the morning, and you’re so exhausted that you’re unable to appreciate how cute your baby is bouncing in her exersaucer because you just need a cup of coffee… you need perspective. When you are absolutely convinced that your 4 year old’s brain is turning to mush because you let him watch too much television on any given day…you need perspective. You see, when you’re mired deep in the middle of all things mother, woman, wife, partner…sometimes it’s hard to think clearly and think rationally. And gaining a little perspective, stepping outside the box, taking a deep breath can be the most important thing for you, your little ones, your partner, and your soul. And let’s be honest, I’m not sitting here in my kitchen typing this like some sort of divine Buddha. I need to take my own advice on a daily basis. But if I didn’t have a little perspective, I would never have been able to trust that my son would eventually learn to sleep thru the night, even if it was at age 4. And I’m trying to get a little perspective around the fact that Henry won’t eat certain things: LIKE PIZZA!! What?! There are days where I’m bonking my head against the wall wondering where I went wrong. But then there are good days where I think, he won’t have such silly indiosyncrasies. Just that ever so slight change of the lens makes me think a little differently about the present situation.
So there you have it. Thinking openly and being flexible with how you view things: your perspective, is what you really need when you have a baby. If you must know…I do have a few opinions about items that are really helpful to have along with that fresh-upbeat attitude:
Breast Pad Shields—They’re like panty liners for your boobies. You need them if you’re nursing and you’re out in public. Nothing like hearing your baby cry, any baby cry, or even a cat meow that sounds like a baby cry to start those ta-tas weeping milk. And I would suggest you invest in the good brands, like Medela, rather than the Toys R Us brand. Medela knows breasts and breast feeding. Toys r us knows…toys…and ladies (and gentlemen) your breasts are not toys…at least not to you.
Burp Cloths—both of my children were serial “urpers.” Burped and spit up constantly. Get some burp clothes…actually don’t get some…get a lot.
Video Monitor—so I’ve just blabbered on about not needing “things” and how a good attitude is all you need, so I feel a little hypocritical with this one…but life is full of contradictions. We sprung for a video monitor for baby #2 and it’s amazing. Nothing like creeping on your 6 month old while she sleeps. We chose a cheap model but it still works wonders. With Henry, in order to check on him, I would army crawl in and out of his bedroom so I didn’t wake him up. Now with the baby monitor, every time Ruby, peeps, poops or toots, all I have to do is look at the screen and know she’s doing just fine.