BABY! The First Three Years • Baby Shower 101 • New Mom Advice • Local Support Resources
Our cover model is the 2016 Today’s Family Beautiful Baby winner, Olivia Blackwell. She is the 3-year-old daughter of Holly and Brad Blackwell. Holly describes her daughter as a vibrant, happy, imaginative, and sweet child who loves animals — especially horses.
WINNER: Olivia Blackwell
Dr. Korie Acord, owner of Derby City Pediatric Dentistry, met Olivia and presented her with a $1,000 savings bond and basket of goodies. Olivia loved brushing the teeth of her new horse, which was part of her gift.
RUNNERUP: Mya Anderson
Mya Anderson, the winner of our Beautiful Baby RunnerUp contest, couldn’t contain her excitement about being in front of a camera, and she gave out plenty of hugs at the end of her shoot. The 2-year-old loves interacting with people and adores her brothers, Reginald Jr. (14) and Sean (8). She dances whenever she hears her favorite song, Stressed Out, and looks forward to watching Doc McStuffins. Fay, Mya’s mom, and her husband, Dr. Reginald Anderson, say Mya is their special gift.
The winner of the Today’s Family Beautiful Baby contest is determined by votes online at TodaysFamilyNow.com. Derby City Pediatric Dentistry presents the winner with a $1,000 savings bond and prize bucket and the runner-up with a $250 savings bond and prize bucket. Photos Melissa Donald Chair on cover from Contemporary Galleries, 220 N Hurstbourne Parkway, 502.426.9273
Top Nine Bad Shower Ideas By Lorie Leitner
Baby showers are a time of celebration as loved ones gather to honor the mother-to-be and help her prepare for the baby. And yet, why does an audible groan leave our throats when the invitations arrive? I posed the question to “The Village,” an online Mama Community, for their advice. Here is their insight for party planners and guests.
Toilet Paper Belongs in the Bathroom
Never, ever have people guess how many sheets of toilet paper can fit around Mom’s belly. We all know the round belly and swollen feet are because of the baby, but mixing raging hormones with games that emphasize weight gain is a recipe for disaster.
Sniffing Mystery Food
Throw a Great Baby Shower How to plan, what to give, and what not to do By Meredith Ball Illustrations Lauren Dahl
aby showers used to be sweet and simple affairs. A few close friends and family members gathered at the hostess’s home, which was decorated with streamers and pastel colors, to eat hors d’oeuvres and cake and give the mom-to-be onesies and bottles. Of course, that was before Pinterest. Now baby showers are as varied as the moms they are thrown for. And with social media fueling the Martha Stewart prodigies of our day, there is also a perceived pressure to throw the most creative and Instagramworthy soirée of the year. But before you lucky hostesses go into a Pinterest-induced panic, we have a few ideas to help you breathe deeply and get started.
Step 1: Know thy guest of honor
This party is for a very specific person, after all. The measurement for the success of this shower lands solely at her swollen feet. If she walks away feeling cared for and celebrated, you did your job well. The first
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step of planning is to ask yourself, “What does the mom-to-be like?” Is she a cake, punch, and party games kind of girl? Would she prefer a small afternoon tea? Does she want this bash to rival her wedding in grandeur? Or would she just as soon watch a football game and open gifts at halftime? Before you get into the details, you need to remember who this party is for. This is also a good time to figure out the guest list so you can tailor the party accordingly, especially if she wants this to be a couples’ shower.
Step 2: The theme’s the thing
Choosing a theme can actually make planning the other details less complicated. Instead of the world being your oyster, you know your pearls of greatness are going to exist in a much smaller vessel. Here are some theme ideas: • Afternoon tea • Rustic – burlap and lace • Theme of her nursery > P. 6
Passing around unlabeled baby food jars or melted candy bars in baby diapers and then asking guests to identify them topped the list for most disgusting games. No one wants to put her nose or lips near mystery food — especially not something that resembles a dirty diaper.
Serving alcohol leaves your honoree out of the festivities. There’s also a risk for a guest to indulge more than she should. Get creative with fruity, non-alcoholic drinks instead.
Keep the outrageous ideas for the bachelorette parties. Cakes that resemble sleeping babies or games that insinuate how babies are made are not appreciated, especially with Great-Aunt Sheryl sitting in the room.
The Diaper Cake
It’s a cute centerpiece but not a practical gift for Mom. A sleepdeprived parent doesn’t have the energy to unroll a diaper at 2am only to discover it’s the wrong size. Opt for putting a bow on the not-as-pretty, rectangular package of diapers.
Buying Newborn Sizes
Most babies need newborn clothing or diapers for only the first month and some, not at all! And babies often have sudden growth spurts. Most newborn outfits end up hanging in the closet with tags attached. Instead, supply Mom with a variety of sizes and include the receipts. > P. 6
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• Vintage/Heirloom– either from decades past or from her own childhood • Her favorite book or movie • Things she wants the baby to have an interest in (baseball, ballet, Legos, dolls, etc.) • Bath time (rubber duckies and bubbles) • Sugar & Spice (and everything nice) • Favorite team or sport • Lullaby (sweet songs & a bedtime theme) • Children’s books If you know that your guest of honor would prefer to have her mate there with all of his chums, that will largely influence your theme. Most dads-to-be prefer to just come load the car with the goodies at the end and avoid the party part. But some couples like the idea of celebrating together. In that case, I suggest making it more a party that just happens to have gifts than a traditional shower. Think outdoor barbecue with lawn games, more traditional dinner food, tailgating before a game, or go crazy and throw a costume party.
Step 3: Décor
Now that you’ve got your theme, this can be the fun part. The challenge is keeping it budget-friendly. If your location is already decorated, such as a tea house or a garden, then that’s a bonus! If not, the best bet is to find things that do double duty. Decorate with gifts or party favors, use the mother’s nursery décor, see if the grandmas-tobe will let you use baby items from the
mom’s and dad’s childhoods, find items from around your house that would fit the theme. There are also inexpensive items that can go a long way in décor such as mason jars, scrapbook paper (made into banners, flowers, or table runners), twine, lace, burlap, and ribbon.
Step 4: To game or not to game
Believe it or not, this can be a dividing issue. Some people cannot picture a shower without games. Other can’t stomach the thought of playing along. This, again, is where you have to know the preferences of the mom-to-be. And how many times can a mom say “Aww, that’s so sweet” without sounding like a broken record? A game that can help ease the awkwardness of opening gifts is to have each guest write down the perfect gift response. Put those responses in a bowl next to the mom-to-be as she is opening gifts. She can reach in and pull out the “perfect” response each time. It can be funny for everyone and alleviate some awkwardness, especially for introverted moms. Baby shower possibilities are endless, but the purpose is the same. You are celebrating new life and a new chapter of the mom-to-be’s life! And let’s be honest, this new chapter needs a lot of stuff. However you decide to celebrate this occasion, have fun and take plenty of pictures for her. Seeing the excited expectation of family and friends, knowing that she and her little one are loved — those are moments all mothers will treasure.
Top 9 Bad Shower Ideas continued
Blankets are soft, colorful, and hard to resist, which is why Mom will receive an abundance of them. Of the 101 blankets she receives, 100 of them will sit in the closet untouched because the baby will pick a favorite and shun the rest.
Unless you know Mom and her personal style, don’t stress yourself about handcrafting a gift. Think about it: you spend five minutes selecting a sweater off the rack, but you’d spend hours crocheting it. It’s awkward for everyone when you learn the baby only wore it long enough for a picture. While the shower is about Mom and the baby, making guests feel special with delicious refreshments and enjoyable games is a goal, too. When the invitations arrive for the next baby shower you’re planning, your guests won’t be able to mark their calendars fast enough.
Shower Gifts She’ll Actually Love By Carrie Vittitoe
It took me three babies in five years to realize that so many of the items I received as shower gifts were both precious and impractical. For example, newborn baby outfits. I know they are adorable, but if you or someone you love is expecting a baby, please fight the urge to buy them in bulk. If you must buy one, be certain to include a receipt (for those babies who don’t get the memo and arrive much larger than newborn size). Rather than spending $20 on an item that may get little use, consider pooling resources with coworkers or friends to purchase a gift that, while not cute, will be much used and appreciated. Here are some gifts that veteran moms recommend for baby showers: • Frozen meals that can be popped into the oven or Crock-Pot. Like a
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Price range: $ – Inexpensive
$$$$ – Most expensive
month’s worth of ‘em, at least. $-$$ • A gift card for a baby photographer who will come to the house for the photo shoot. $$-$$$ • A soft-structured baby carrier such as an Ergo, Boba, or Tula. They are pricey but comfortable and can be used with a child up to 45 lbs. $$-$$$ • Car seats for all the stages of a child’s development. The rearfacing removable car seats become insanely heavy all too soon, and five-point convertible car seats are quite expensive. Once a child is in preschool (which sounds like a lifetime away, I know), it is handy to have a couple of boosters to transport friends. $$$-$$$$ • A temporary housekeeper (for two or three months). I hired my cousin, who was in college at the time, to clean my kitchen and master bathroom every other
week. That $100 a month was the best money I ever spent. $$-$$$
therapy session with other adults. $$$-$$$$
• Newborns go through a lot of diapers, but so do 6-month-olds and 18-month-olds. Purchase diapers in all sizes or buy the new mom a gift card for a cloth diaper delivery service. $-$$
• An easy-to-fold stroller, such as Mama and Papas Armadillo City or the Britax B-Agile. You will amaze yourself when you can hold a baby, carry a diaper bag, and fold a stroller with one arm. $$-$$$
• A gift card to the expectant mother’s favorite hair salon and a “Free Babysitting” certificate. $$-$$$
• A high-quality breast pump, such as the Medela Pump in Style Advanced, for a mom who will be returning to full-time employment but wants to continue giving her baby breast milk. $$-$$$
• A gift card to any restaurant so the new parents can have an evening away. Include the “Free Babysitting” certificate. $-$$ • Memberships for parent/baby classes such as those at My Gym or Music Together. This is especially appreciated by moms who stay at home full time since it serves as an educational outing and their
• A bottle-making machine for moms who use formula. This didn’t even exist when my kids were infants. I’m blown away. The Baby Brezza Formula Pro One Step Food Maker gets good marks from moms. $$-$$$
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It’s a Big, Bright, Supportive World Louisville-based support options for the new and expecting mom By Keri Foy Photos Melissa Donald & Patti Hartog
y mom often said she wished she could have a baby again after I had my firstborn. Not for the reasons you may think, though — she was impressed with all the advances since she’d been in my shoes. Yes, the swings are better and there are Bumbos and breast pumps, but there
is also better care for moms. Louisville is brimming with an array of support options that go beyond the aisles of Babies R’ Us. Being pregnant or being a new mom can feel isolating. Here’s how you can connect with others to feed your soul, love your body, and transition to your new life.
PRENATAL Group classes
Arming yourself with knowledge is good for any type of change, but that’s especially true for the new experiences moms face during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. There are free birth classes offered by Norton and Baptist hospitals to set your expectations for L-and-D-day. You can also find private classes that are a little more personal offered at Babyology, a retail store and clinic dedicated to breastfeeding, and Mama’s Hip, a Louisville natural parenting community and store. If you plan to breastfeed, you can take prenatal breastfeeding classes. Babyology offers specific breastfeeding classes designed for expectant moms of multiples.
“There’s a myth that women only want a doula if they plan to have a natural birth,” says Deb Bruns, doula for more than 20 years. “We’ve been approached and hired by women who have other desires.” A doula will meet with you typically two or three times prenatally to help you navigate some of the questions you may have about labor and delivery. They often have insight into local area hospitals and medical practices as well. During the birth of your child, a doula will provide support based on those pregame meetings. From massaging your back, getting ice chips, or coaching you through labor pains, a doula will make sure you are taken care of
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during the process and help you remember your goals. Bonus — husbands, boyfriends, and partners benefit, too. A doula is an extra pair of hands. “A doula can be a very special help and comfort to you as well as to your partner and family,” Deb says. “We add a touch of normalcy
At Babyology, there are supportive events happening almost every day.
to what could be a really scary situation.” You can find one of Louisville’s 100 doulas on the Louisville Birth Care Network’s website or on Babyology’s website.
(Far left) Mama’s Hip offers group classes and lactation consultations. (Left) Group baby classes such as this music class at Mama’s Hip help connect parents. (Below) Products such as My Brest Friend and other breastfeeding help are available at Babyology.
POSTPARTUM Breastfeeding support
There are many factors to consider when it comes to breastfeeding, but one thing you should always remember: “It should never hurt,” says Vicki Sanders, lactation consultant, doula, and owner of Babyology. After leaving the support of the hospital lactation consultants and nurses, many moms feel a little lost once they get home with their babies. “Day two and day 10 of breastfeeding are completely different,” Vicki says. Some area hospitals offer free lactation consultations, and some ob/gyn offices also have lactation consultants on staff. You can also visit Babyology and Mama’s Hip. “Babyology has a home-like atmosphere,” Vicki says. By forgoing the medical facility, you’re likely to get more one-on-one time. If leaving your house is too much, there are lactation consultants who make house visits. La Leche League offers breastfeeding support from other mothers (lllofkytn.org).
New moms’ groups
A new moms’ group can connect you with other women at the same stage in life. Some are offered at Mama’s Hip and Babyology. Dr. Kelli Miller, OB-GYN at Women First of Louisville, is helping create a better after-birth experience with Baby Changes Everything, a series of classes for new moms with babies ages 0-3 months. “I felt like it was a time period that was neglected,” says Dr. Miller. “Once patients deliver, we don’t see them for six weeks. These classes provide a nice way for moms to connect with one another.” The eight-week series of classes are free, open to all moms, and meet on Mondays from 12:30-2pm at Baptist Health Louisville.
Like a birth doula, a postpartum doula is there to support the mother. From getting dinner ready to running errands to walking the dog, a postpartum doula will do whatever the mom needs to help. Every mom’s needs are different, says Cindy Lamb, birth and postpartum doula. “We keep the household rolling,” she says. Some postpartum doulas even offer overnight services where they take care of the baby while you sleep and wake you to feed the baby if you’re breastfeeding. “The mom, the child and husband, and the dogs will benefit,” Cindy says. “We keep the stress down.”
According to the American Psychological Association, one in seven women develop postpartum depression. If you start to feel depressed beyond typical baby blues, there are clinicians in Louisville who can help, such as Amy Greenamyer at Green Line Wellness. For less serious baby blues, daily contact with women in the same life stage can be beneficial. A hands-free chat while nursing the baby or even a planned grocery trip together can push back feelings of loneliness. “You’re not alone. There’s help out there for whatever you need,” Vicki Sanders says. “The resources in Louisville are lengthy.”
If you’re interested in cloth diapers, turn to Emily McCay. She teaches a class about cloth diapering. If the upkeep of cloth diapering is too much for you, you can sign up for her diaper service. She picks up the dirty diapers and drops off fresh diapers weekly. You can register for her class on the Diaper Fairy website.
Emily McCay opened Diaper Fairy to help with cloth diapering and other support.
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New Mama Survival Guide Four local new mamas share their best advice Photos Patti Hartog
sleep regression. I did not repeat this choice with Aurelia. Things are easier.” COPING STRATEGIES: In the Jones household, there are lots of ‘picnic dinners’ on the living room floor. Some nights it’s a real dinner, and some nights it’s popcorn. According to Alisa, it’s most important that the family is together and nobody goes to bed hungry. “I find it a blessing to have my parents still in town with a flexible schedule; I know I have someone to call at random hours to come over so I am not alone with the kids when things get overwhelming,” she says. WHAT BABY IS EATING NOW: Avocados, bananas, peas, Cheerios, asparagus, and honeydew melon.
Illustration Lauren Dahl
The Jones Family By Erin Nevitt HOUSEHOLD: Alisa Jones (mom) lives in the Hikes Point area with Bryan Jones (husband/dad) and their daughters, Josephine (3) and Aurelia (8 months). They also reside with two cats: Squint Eastwood and Jellyfish Kapow. Alisa is a stay-athome mom who works parttime outside the home. She uses daycare, Mom’s Day Out programs, and grandparents for her childcare needs. SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS: Aurelia slept in a Rock-N-Play and now sleeps in a crib in her parents’ bedroom. WHAT SHE WISHES SHE HAD KNOWN: Alisa is a second-timearound mom with a great sense of humor who has figured out how to function on two hours of sleep. “If your first baby
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doesn’t sleep well, your second baby may not sleep well either,” she says. “It’s OK to stop doing something if it isn’t working. It is so easy to get caught up in these ‘ways to do things.’ “With sleep regression — such as when your baby is gearing up for a major development like sitting up or crawling — she is more inclined to wake at night, as her little brain practices the new skill. Since she wakes even more at night, you may think, ‘Now I really need to try something new’ to get more sleep for everyone. In reality, you kind of need to just hunker down and weather the storm. I moved Josephine into her room at 6 months, right when she was trying to crawl. I spent even more time awake going back and forth between rooms than if I had just left her in our room till she was over the 6-month
ALISA’S FAVORITE BABY TOOLS: • Rock’N’Play Sleeper by Fisher Price • Twist breast milk storage bags. They have adapter kits so you can pump right in the bag, and they screw on so you can’t knock it off. • A car adapter for the pump. • Snot Sucker by Nosefrieda • Joovy Strollers: “I had to get the most bang for my buck, so I went with the Joovy Zoom360. It is much easier to maneuver than a traditional stroller and has a nice wide canopy.” • Stacking cups • Egg shakers by Latin Percussion Rhythmix. Get at least four, Alisa advises. • Don’t buy a diaper bag. Buy a backpack.
SHARING BABY NEWS ON SOCIAL MEDIA: “I share all the time,” Alisa says. “Facebook is basically a big old baby book. I try to post major milestones and lots of photos. It’s easier than texting four phone numbers just to tell the grandparents she took a step.” ADVICE TO OTHER NEW PARENTS: “Be kind to yourself. Babies are fun to play with; enjoy each other. Just forget about ever having a clean house. No one does.” > P. 12
Alisa Jones relies on her parents’ help in caring for her daughters Josephine and Aurelia.
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The Smith Family By Keri Foy HOUSEHOLD: Tyler and Alaina Smith live in the East End near Oldham County with their twin sons, Anderson and Eli (9 months), and their Corgi dog, Moe. Alaina is a stay-at-home mom. SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS: Anderson and Eli have separate cribs but sleep in the same room. WISHES SHE HAD KNOWN: Alaina wasn’t expecting breastfeeding to be as difficult as it’s been. “The hospital just kind of expected my body to feed two very hungry babies, and I was quite uneducated about the whole process going into it once we got home,” says Alaina, who switched to formula feeding once the babies were 6 weeks old. MOST SURPRISED ABOUT: Alaina is surprised how quickly time passes. “When people tell you to savor the little moments, they mean it,” she says. HARDEST PART OF BECOMING A NEW MOM: “Everything,” Alaina says. “The sudden lack of sleep, living in a ‘baby cave’ for months, and the general lack of freedom to do things.” The couple also moved when Anderson and Eli were 2 months old, which added to the stress. “We didn’t realize just how violently our world would be turned upside down,” Alaina says.
Anderson and Eli Smith are 9 months old and ready for action. HAS OVERREACTED ABOUT: “Breastfeeding and poopy diapers,” Alaina says. “I felt like a failure because I couldn’t breastfeed longer than six weeks, and for some reason, I just blow a gasket when their poop leaks out of the diaper and onto their clothes.” WHAT BABIES ARE EATING NOW: Formula and everything but honey. FAVORITE BABY TOOLS: “The Joovy Twin Roo stroller has been a lifesaver,” Alaina says. “It’s compact, it’s simply designed, and it’s lightweight enough for a
post-C-section mom to handle.” The Philipps Avent bottle sterilizer saves the couple hours sanitizing bottles each night. Graco Swing by Me swings worked wonders for the babies in their earlier months. PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS OF BABY? “Our budget hasn’t allowed for professional pictures,” Alaina says. “Most are taken with our camera phones or my Nikon DSLR.” ADVICE TO OTHER NEW PARENTS: “Snuggle those babies and let the laundry and dishes sit,” Alaina says.
COPING STRATEGIES: Time to recharge is crucial for Alaina and Tyler. “After the boys go to bed, I need a few minutes of silence to retain my sanity and then devote the evening to hanging out with my husband,” Alaina says. “My husband goes to coffee shops to recharge, and we both enjoy watching movies.”
The Kennedy Family By Keri Foy HOUSEHOLD: Patrick and Katie Kennedy live in St. Matthews with their daughters, Lucy (3) and Camille (6 months), and a fish named Ellie, which Lucy earned for her success with potty training. Katie, who works as a claims representative at the Federal Courthouse, works four days a week. On Monday and Tuesday, she takes Lucy and Camille to the home of a friend, who also has two children. Wednesday, Katie stays home with both. Thursday, the girls stay with Katie’s mom and Friday with Patrick’s mom. “Our moms love watching the girls,” Katie says.
Patrick and Katie Kennedy use Amazon Prime for basic items for Lucy and Camille.
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WISHES SHE HAD KNOWN: “People used to tell me it was harder with two,” says Katie. She and Patrick waited until their daughters would be about three years apart. “I was worried about the reality of life with two, but the
grow at a different speed, but some of the differences are so huge, with only a few days between their births.” COPING STRATEGIES: “My husband and I are a team,” Jessica says. “We have each others’ backs for everything. I don’t know what I would do without Erik. When I feel stressed or overwhelmed, he is there to help me through and vice versa.” The couple is also fortunate that their parents can help out, she adds.
Lilly Ainsworth’s mom found that Dr. Brown’s bottles helped Lilly through colic.
The Ainsworth Family HOUSEHOLD: Jessica and Erik Ainsworth live in the Jeffersontown/Fern Creek area with their 10-month-old baby girl, Lilly. Jessica is a full-time working-outside-the-home mom. Lilly usually goes to daycare Monday through Friday, but if Jessica is off work on Friday, Lilly stays home with her. SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS: Lilly has slept in her crib in her own room since she was about a month old. The first month she stayed in a crib in her parents’ room.
age gap is good,” Katie says. MOST SURPRISED ABOUT: “I thought having another girl would be more of the same,” Katie says. “Camille is physically different, and she’s got a completely different demeanor.”
By Erin Nevitt WISHES SHE HAD KNOWN: “Everyone told me how quickly I would fall in love with her and that I wouldn’t remember what life was like before we had her,” Jessica says. “I just didn’t fully understand that until I held her in my arms.” Another point Jessica makes is that babies don’t all grow or meet the same milestones at the same time. “I have several friends who had babies around the same time, and all of our kids have a different number of teeth in, eat different things, and babble more or less than the others. I know we all
ADVICE TO OTHER NEW PARENTS: 1. Don’t pay full price for anything. “Do the momma swap or look for things at local consignment sales and stores. You get things at a fraction of the cost.” 2. Just ask for help. “I used to be one of those people who thought, ‘Just let me do it,’” Katie says. “I’ve had to learn when I need help to ask for help.”
COPING STRATEGIES: The couple uses Amazon Prime subscriptions for baby-care and household items such as diapers (you save 20 percent), wipes, toilet paper and
HARDEST PART OF BECOMING A NEW MOM: “I am a bit OCD and like to have everything organized and planned out,” Jessica says. “Having her has shown me that I need to be more flexible with things. I am learning not to be so hard on myself if things don’t work out the way I had originally planned.” That flexibility especially applies when illness comes up or childcare problems arise, she says. Even though it’s been tough at times, she feels she is growing because of it.
HAS OVERREACTED ABOUT: “I think what I get most worked up about is when Lilly has an illness. In her short life, she has had several ear infections and stomach bugs. I get a little worked up worrying about her in that sense, especially when I think she isn’t eating enough, even though I know she really is.” BIG SCARE WITH NEW BABY: The couple’s biggest scare was when Lilly had her finger smashed in a toy at daycare. They went to the ER because it wouldn’t stop bleeding, and they were relieved that it turned out to just need a little glue.
MOM’S FAVORITE BABY TOOLS: “Lilly had lots of trouble with colic when she was first born, and the Dr. Brown’s bottles were the only ones that really seemed to help her. Our Graco 4Ever all-in-1 car seat is one of my new favorite things.” ADVICE FOR NEW PARENTS: “Take help when offered or ask for some if you are feeling overwhelmed. You don’t have to do everything on your own. Family and friends will be glad to help. Also, try to make a little time for yourself. It could be grabbing coffee with friends, reading a book, or going for a walk. Take care of yourself and recharge.”
paper towels, and Annie’s Organic Fruit Snacks. Katie also prepares for the next day the night before. “I don’t see my kids in the morning,” says Katie, who showers and packs at night. She goes to work at 7am, so she gets up, pumps, and gets out the door. Patrick wakes the girls and takes them to childcare, where Lucy eats breakfast and Camille takes her bottle.
daily responsibilities. Katie uses the example of housecleaners. Yes, she could clean the house, but she says housecleaners can come in and do it faster and better than she can. “What’s my time really worth?” Katie says. “Where will we recognize the biggest gain by dropping something else off our plate?”
Katie identifies herself and her husband as economic geeks. They use the economic principles of comparative and absolute advantage to guide their BABY SUPPLEMENT / 2016
It’s Going to Be By Sally Estes Illustration Lauren Dahl
t’s 2am. My boobs ache. The baby won’t stop crying. And nursing is less like a picturesque bond with my newborn and more like an eel teaching a hippo the electric slide. I am seven stages beyond desperation. But that “supposed to” is on repeat like Cher in my head, and I can’t shake it. This night was every night for the first six months of my son’s life. And not only about nursing, but about sleep training and swaddling and belly time and “Are these disposable diapers really suffocating baby seahorses?” I was so terrified of getting it wrong. This whole motherhood thing was supposed to come naturally. But it didn’t. There were so many more pieces to the puzzle than I could’ve expected. Natural birth, baby-wearing, picky eaters, food allergies, potty training, bed-wetting. The first two years alone were so full of decisions. I was paralyzed. “How can anyone enjoy this?” I wondered. And then my friend had her baby. She sat on my couch sobbing. Just like me, she had studied and studied only to be flooded with more decisions. She felt inadequate, incapable of giving her little darling what she
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needed. “Why is this so hard?” she said achingly. As I wrapped my arms around her, suddenly it was clear. Like a balm for my weary heart, the words I spoke to her were words I so deeply needed to hear myself: It’s going to be OK. All of these decisions, all of this worry had hijacked the joy of motherhood entirely. But no amount of research, planning, or even mom guilt could give our little ones what they needed. My little one needed me. Not the new, high-end baby wrap. Not the 112 Lunches Your Toddler Will Actually Eat cookbook. Not the latest in potty training methodology. But ME. Having lost myself in worry, I had nothing left to give. But this newfound truth flooded me with relief. And with relief came joy. See, worry replaces a loving mama with an exhausted basket case. Kids — babies, toddlers, preschoolers, gradeschoolers, tweens, teens, and adults — need a mama who is present with them. That need never changes.
And let’s fast-forward 20 years to my handsome son’s big-time job interview: “So, tell me, were you breastfed or bottle-fed?” “OK, and at what age did you potty train?” “I’m sorry. We were really looking for an applicant who wasn’t swaddled.” “You’re just not the type we had in mind; we were hoping you’d worn cloth diapers.”
All of these decisions, all of this worry had hijacked the joy of motherhood entirely. But no amount of research, planning, or even mom guilt could give our little ones what they needed. What a relief. In time, all these seemingly big, weighty decisions are put into perspective. It’s going to be OK. He’s going to be OK. And so am I.
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