Grandma Gear

We are hashtag blessed/ prayer hands emoji to have family nearby who can help out with our son. There are a few items that we’ve found helpful to have as duplicates at my parents’ house- the only place he’s done overnights so far- instead of always packing up our whole house when we go for a visit. Your needs will vary depending on the length of time you’re away from your prime baby set up, but here’s what we’ve found helpful to have at my parents’ place.

Car Seat Base: if there’s someone other than you and your partner who will be regularly driving with the baby, you don’t have to purchase them a separate car seat. For infant car seats, you can purchase an additional base and install it for them. Convertible car seats used to be an absolute nightmare to move from one vehicle to another, but we have no complaints with ours. If we’re leaving our son overnight at my parents, we unbuckle the car seat from my backseat and put it in my moms, just in case they need to transport him anywhere. A good rule is: where the baby is, the car seat should be also.

Pack & Play: my mom found a great deal on a secondhand pack & play so has one, while we never bothered*. It’s been a lifesaver to throw him in that for naps when we’re there, especially now that he’s mobile and would pitch himself off any bed we try to lay him on. *I’ve had to borrow a friend’s for an overnight trip & now realize we totally should have gotten one, so will also be shopping secondhand for one we can take on out of town trips!

High Chair: definitely not a must have– our son would still eat just fine if sitting on my lap– but it’s super convenient that my parents have a high chair for mealtime so we don’t have to pack ours or keep a booster seat in the car. 

Nose Frida: this is highly specific to our situation, but our kid had terrible reflux which causes congestion. We used the Nose Frida multiple times a day in his first 4-5 months, so it made sense to keep a back up at my parents so we didn’t have to always remember to throw it in the diaper bag. If you have specific medical items that it would throw a wrench in your stay if forgotten, it doesn’t hurt to have back ups you can leave there (i.e. baby Tylenol!)

Formula: if you’re formula feeding, keep a tub of your brand at Grandma’s house. If you use a formula pitcher, transport it empty and then mix it upon arrival. I once tried to transport our full formula pitcher on a 45 minute drive. It spilled, and my car smelled like disgusting wet socks for a few days before I lifted the seats and really scrubbed it all out. 

Diapers & Wipes: we always travel with diapers and wipes in the diaper bag, but it’s nice knowing that my mom has a little changing area set up ready to go when we’re there visiting family. She’s also got plenty of extra bibs and burps rags.

Being Extra: our son is the first grandchild, so things can get a bit extra when it comes to making sure he’s surrounded by infant opulence. Once they saw how much he loves his baby swimming pool and canvas tree swing, his grandparents purchased duplicates to have at their house. His favorite toys include empty boxes and a toothbrush, so I’m confident he would survive without a pool at every residence, but it is nice for them to have many activity options when we leave him there for a needed night off.

On Parenting in a Bubble

At the time of this writing, I’ve been a mother for three months and one day. When I found out the blessed heir was on his way, coronavirus was still something happening half a world away. There was no talk of stateside quarantines, masks or vaccines; I was thinking about baby shower hosts, where the hell a kid would fit in our bungalow-style house, and when my magical bigger boobs would arrive (spoiler alert: NEVER! Turns out you gain pregnancy weight in the usual areas you gain weight. So I just looked like a 14-year-old boy with a round face and ham hocks for upper arms.)

The only upside of living in a red state with very lax COVID restrictions is that my husband could attend all doctor’s appointments with me. I know that’s not the case for most people, and I truly feel sorry for those who had to experience those exciting and sometimes scary appointments and tests alone.

I was able to have a lovely Zoom baby shower, but will never get to have the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” themed baby shower I’ve been secretly planning for at least seven years. I fully recognize there are bigger problems in the world– hundreds of thousands of people are dying, so many couples are waging the war against infertility– but if I learned anything from my mother-in-law’s death two years ago, it’s that grief is not a contest. Truly unthinkable things can be happening to others, and you’re still allowed to be sad for losses in your own life.

You lose so.much.sleep. over “how will I keep my baby safe?” “I want my parents want to meet him, but my mom is getting her hair cut a week before my due date and how do I know her hairstylist wears a mask in the grocery store?!” “WAS THAT A COUGH OHMYGOD I’M CLEARLY PREGNANT PLEASE FALL DOWN A FLIGHT OF STAIRS LADY AT THE OTHER END OF THE PARKING LOT.” Followed by pre-delivery virus tests, not getting to leave your hospital room, and, God forbid– laboring in a mask. (Which I didn’t have to do! But was so real for so many people!)

And then the baby is here. And it’s a Saturday night and he’s been around long enough that you’ve just started thinking, “I’ve… maybe… got this?” And in any other year, you’d be meeting up with friends at a brewery so they could hold the baby, or having your cousins and their kids over for dinner so you could all be like, “lol wasted on half a beer #momlyfe” but you can’t. And that’s what’s been the hardest. All of the texts and Instagram DM’s and FaceTimes from other moms and family have been a lifeline, but you can’t replace the in-person village.