Christmas Survival as a New Mom

Congratulations on your new winter arrival! The streets are glowing with festive lights, big baggy jumpers are in fashion for the next few months (phew!), and the radio keeps telling you ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year!’ Looking down at that squidgy newborn face, you find it hard not to agree. It truly is wonderful.

But, if you’ve just had a new baby, you might also feel like it’s going to be the most stressful time of the year. Yeah sure, your house is loaded with adorable ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ paraphernalia, but it’s also running on very little sleep….and if it’s anything like ours was in the early weeks, it’s also quite likely a train wreck.

And maybe any other time of the year you might be ok with that….but this is Christmas y’all. The time of year where family descends from all directions. Or perhaps worse when you have a newborn, the time of year where you are expected to travel to family!

Yes, you absolutely are bursting with pride and want to show off your baby, but perhaps not just yet. I mean, how are you supposed to host or uphold family traditions if you can barely hold yourself up? There’s a good chance you might fall asleep in your dinner listening to another one of Aunt Cheryl’s stories. Or you might even miss dinner altogether if your new tiny boss is demanding a feed of his / her own.

The truth is, with Christmas comes a whole bunch of expectations……most of which are self-inflicted.  It’s easy to feel like a hot mess when you scroll through social media this time of year – it’s just perfect shot after perfect shot of family holiday pictures. Many women might feel the pressure to ‘get it all together’ and be the yummy mommy type that earns praise daily in the media, but in our experience, this whole ‘let’s go on with the show’ mentality earns no medals in the long run!

If you can get it all together for Christmas, feel good, and want to host, then by all means go for it! You’re awesome. But please don’t feel forced in to faking it if you don’t feel ready. The holidays are just as much about taking time off to recharge your batteries – and you certainly won’t do this by being a crowd pleaser with a newborn. Do what works for you!

You might feel like a Grinch saying no to family events at this time of year, but you know what, people might surprise you.  ‘No’ might not be half as scary or as guilt-inducing as you thought. Remember, many of these people will be parents too. They know.

You might feel terrible for not decorating the house the way you wanted to for ‘Baby’s First Christmas’, but hey, guess what, baby’s not judging, baby’s snoring!

And you might feel terrible for not putting on a traditional dinner spread, but that’s not what you will remember in years to come. You’ll remember how perfectly tiny they were, not how perfectly tired you were.

Our advice, for what it’s worth: Stop worrying about getting Christmas perfect this year….you’ve already done perfect. You’re cuddling perfect right now!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

The Second Trimester

The second trimester is just the BEST! And for a number of reasons:

  • That daily dose of nausea that plagued you throughout the first trimester starts to fade (though sadly, not for everyone)
  • Your energy levels should start to rise – hello, old you, welcome back!
  • You can finally let the cat out of the bag (if you haven’t already) and share your happy news in some ridiculously adorable or creative way
  • You get a legit cute bump now – you no longer have to feel and look a little extra chubby.
  • OMG! You can find out the sex of your little bean! (if you want to know that is…)
  • AND you will start to feel little flutters or ‘quickening’ and then full on kicks in T2, – perhaps any day now – AKA, the best and weirdest feeling in the world!

See, there’s a LOT to love in Weeks 13-27 of your pregnancy. It’s no wonder they call it the ‘Honeymoon Period.’

BUT, with the cute comes the new… and by new we mean, even MORE body changes and a whole new batch of symptoms:

Belly & Back Aches – a result of your growing uterus and the extra weight you are carrying around, many women experience abdominal ‘stretching’ aches and back pains in the second trimester. You can help ease the pressure by sleeping with a pillow tucked between your legs, wearing low-heeled and all-too sensible shoes with good arch support, and our favorite – a MASSAGE! Ask your partner to gently rub the sore spots, or better still, treat yourself to a pregnancy massage.

Skin Changes – With your stretching aches can come stretch marks. Though not always, we’ve seen plenty of full term bellies without them. While you definitely start to see and feel that pregnant glow in T2, an increase in melanin can also cause brown marks on the face, known as the ‘mask of pregnancy’ as well as a ‘linea nigra’ – a dark line down the middle of the abdomen. If you do get any of these, then don’t worry, wear them with pride (your body is INCREDIBLE!). Most markings will fade after birth. In the meantime, just remember to use a good sunscreen – your skin is more sensitive to the sun while pregnant!

Breathlessness – at this stage of pregnancy, it is not uncommon to feel out of breath when doing everyday tasks. Relax, it is perfectly normal  – it’s just getting a little crowded for your lungs inside! Take it as another reminder to start slowing down!

Strange Dreams – Just as your body is physically processing a lot right now, so is your mind! There is a lot to wrap your head around pre-birth – and more than likely, you have advice and opinions coming at you from all directions. This can lead to a few odd or anxious dreams.

Sex drive – Feeling a little friskier than usual now that your energy levels have returned? Well that’s because your body is in estrogen overdrive! Did you know that ovaries produce as much in a single day as a non-pregnant woman’s ovaries do in three years? WOW! There’s more than a few reports of multiple orgasm ‘firsts’ during this phase too, so ladies and gents, ENJOY!

Shrinking Bladder – or at least that’s how it feels. The more space your little one takes up, the less room and the more pee breaks we’re afraid. Basic math!

Appetite – You will most likely see a growth in your appetite during these weeks, but BORING KILLJOY ALERT, you’ll get reminded by most professionals that ‘eating for two’ is a myth. You only need about an extra 300-500 calories a day during the second trimester. Ironically, now your sickness has faded and you can stomach food again, you may find yourself experiencing heartburn. TYPICAL! This is because your digestion has slowed down and food is staying in your stomach for longer, triggering more acid. Baby then puts pressure on said stomach, increasing the chance of acid being pushed up in to the esophagus. Boooo! If it gets too unbearable, check in with your health care advisor to see what they recommend.

By the end of your second trimester, you’ll have around a 2lb little human in that ever expanding belly of yours. You’ll probably wonder at just how much bigger you are going to get. Well, just wait and see. The next 12 weeks are all completely different again, with new rules, symptoms and changes. But that’s children in a nutshell really, just when you think you are have mastered something, it all changes, there’s a new phase and something completely different to learn. Welcome to the never ending school of parenthood!

The Babysitter Checklist

Not everyone is lucky enough to have trusted close friends and willing family nearby to babysit. And for those who don’t, finding the right person to trust can be HARD.

Sure, you’ve had people generously offer. You’ve had locals moms tell you that their teenager is always available. You’ve heard from a friend about a great professional sitter that she uses. But when you don’t know someone all that well, or at ALL, the thought of leaving your little one with them can be daunting. In fact, the thought alone can put you off the idea of even having a night out in the first place…

But you need that time mama. You need some time off. And more than that, you deserve it!

At Babies in Bloom, we know exactly what you should be looking for in a babysitter – because we have a dedicated program that trains them right under our roof. The Child & Babysitting Safety Class is a hands-on community education program designed to teach youths, age 11 and older, basic care techniques and child safety – everything from home safety and diapers, to choking and CPR.

For those currently in search of Ms. (or Mr.) Right, here are some of our top tips:

  • Maturity Level: While The American Red Cross says parents shouldn’t choose someone younger than 11 to look after their baby, some say 15. Others even older. It all depends on the context, as well as your personal comfort level, the age of your child, their needs (diapers? Feeding? Lifting in to high cribs?), the length of time you will be gone, and of course, the sitter’s own maturity level. Take ALL of these factors in to consideration if you are contemplating using a local teen. Why not have them assist you at home for a few afternoons or evenings first? It’s a great chance for you to see them in action.
  • Knowledge Check: Whatever their age, you’ll want to know how a sitter would think on their feet. Ask them if they know basic First Aid? CPR? The Heimlich maneuver? If they are a local teen and it’s a no, ask them if they would be willing to learn. Also run ‘what if’ scenarios by them, e.g. ‘what would you do if the baby had a fever?’ etc. This will not only reassure you, but could also highlight significant knowledge gaps for potential eager young sitters to work on.
  • References: If you are using a professional service, check their references. At least two. Yes, they might have been pre-screened by the agency, but this doesn’t always mean satisfied families. Reassurance from other parents is gold!
  • Routines: Once you have found your sitter, make sure you go through your child’s routine together – when they go to bed, food allowances, VIP toys to aid sleep etc. And don’t forget to clarify communication routines. Leave both your numbers. Do you want a text message every hour for reassurance? Would you want the sitter to call you to let you know when they are asleep? Would you prefer the sitter to not call at all and ONLY call in an emergency? Let them know your expectations.
  • The Just In Case Details: While it’s unlikely you will need it, tell your sitter where your first aid kit is, the flash lights, the fire extinguisher etc. Also leave behind the number for your child’s doctor and a neighbor who can be contacted for help. Covering all these worst case scenario bases will leave you feeling surprisingly more confident when you walk out the door.

Finally, remember to share your good fortune! If you strike gold and uncover a dream sitter, tell your friends! Not only will the sitter appreciate the additional business, you’ll be an absolute HERO to all those other moms out there dreaming of a well-earned night off!

We See You. We Are You. #infantloss

Every year for infant loss awareness month, the world unites for a moving global ‘wave of light.’ A night where we are encouraged to light a candle to remember the little ones whose parents never had a chance to hold them, those who were born sleeping, and those who arrived but could not stay.

Remember.

At first glance, remember feels like the wrong word for parents to use, doesn’t it? To remember almost suggests you’ve forgotten. You’ve survived, but you’ve never forgot. You might put on an old top one day and remember that time where it was once a little snug as you desperately tried to keep your bump a secret.  You might see or hear your baby’s name when out in public.  You might sit there and wonder what he or she would have looked like at one year…five…ten, etc. However long your baby was with you for, he or she was part of you, and always will be. So yeah, remember doesn’t always feel like the right word for parents. But then again, what IS the right word?

People can be so afraid of using or finding the right words that they choose not to talk about loss at all.

Some parents can’t understand why or feel they failed, or did something wrong. So they stay silent.

Some simply can’t find the right words to express how they feel, so they stay silent.

Some worry months or years later that people will think they should be ‘over it by now,’ so they stay silent.

Friends are scared of ‘bringing it up’ or upsetting parents, so they stay silent.

And so all too often, it stays silent.

And that’s exactly why this awareness month, and nights like the wave of light, are so important. It’s a reminder to break the silence. A reminder of how powerful sharing stories can be. Sharing is solidarity. It’s strength.

And it’s not just about sharing. It’s also about asking. It’s about opening up a two way dialogue. It’s reminding wider family and friends to simply ASK. Reminding them to say your baby’s name. To talk about your child. Because they existed. Losing a child doesn’t ever stop you being a mother or father.

So this week, the Babies in Bloom family took time to remember all those little ones who didn’t make it. We shared. We asked. And we supported.

Parents, we see you. We are you. And we’re here for you. Always.

For those who believe in the healing power of sharing, we thought we would share this website that we stumbled across with you: Stillbirth Stories. It’s a powerful collection of honest interviews about loss from the side of parents and clinicians.