The Return Home

Here’s a post-vacation tip after learning the hard way myself on Monday. My parents graciously watched our toddler for three nights so my husband and I could enjoy the long weekend a few hours away.

What we did: woke up at the hotel, made the 3.5 hour trek back to pick him up, then returned home to go about the rest of our day which included those post-trip things like grocery shopping and lawn mowing.

What we should have done: woke up at the hotel, made the 3 hour trek back home, gone grocery shopping and mowed the lawn in peace, traveled the rest of the way to my parents’ to pick him up.

While you still have childcare, complete those re-entry items that wrap up time away so you don’t feel like an absolute stress ball of fire trying to unload groceries. Of course we missed him and our reunion was adorable, but it would have made no difference to my parents to get a few more hours of grandson time in while we got our affairs in order back at the ranch.

First Birthday Parties

Disclaimer: this post, like all the others on this blog, is about what worked best for us. I am not dragging anyone who chooses differently!

My son’s first birthday party theme was chosen before he was born. It was genius. People who didn’t even have kids said so! A pun on his name + a very popular cultural event = maybe the best party theme ever. This soon-to-be event was spoken of many times throughout his first year of life, and my husband and I were delighted that our favorite college football team had a bye week the Saturday nearest his birthday. About two months prior to the event, I sat down to make the guest list…

…and I said, “Nope.” No part of me wanted to do it. I didn’t want to figure out who made the cut of invitees, I didn’t want to scrub my house to host people and I definitely didn’t want to clean up after them, I didn’t want to guess at an ideal start time to hopefully coincide with his naps that day, I didn’t want to fake smile my way through entertaining guests whose biggest common denominator was our son, a variable who was in no way guaranteed to like having that much family in his face (or who might show great preference to one or two of them and scream when made to take photos with others.) I wasn’t having any of it, so we didn’t have it. 

On his birthday, he celebrated with his friends at daycare, then his dad and I posed with him and his cake for a family selfie and filmed him half-heartedly poking into the frosting. We had my husband’s side of the family over for a birthday dinner before the date, and we took the baby to my family’s that weekend to celebrate with them. Done. He won’t remember any of it, we’ll remember it as being lowkey and meaningful, and I have 17 more years to use the theme, if I feel compelled to override whatever his preferred requests are in the future (if he got to choose right now, he’d have a Cocomelon birthday party and absolutely no thank you.)

I’m not here to convince you to not have a birthday party for your kid. This, like everything else in parenting, falls firmly into the You Do You category. If, however, you have an inkling that you might want to eschew tradition, I’m here to tell you that’s also very ok, and you’re not irreparably damaging your child by denying them a pivotal rite of passage. I’ve worked at bakeries and event venues in the past, and I’ve said this for years: first birthday parties are for the parents. There’s nothing wrong with that; keeping a kid alive for a full year is deserving of celebration– and a break! Squeeze that little nugget half to death, feel all the feelings about how much has changed in a year, then send them to Grandma’s house, if you’re able, to celebrate your big accomplishment in peace, complete with as much cake as you want.

Not having a party doesn’t mean people won’t still send gifts, but it does cut down on the (already massive amount of) clutter. I’m saying this from a high throne of privilege, from which I can see the sea of toys, books, clothes, and other gifts that truly generous people in his life have bestowed upon my son. Even if we’d put “no gifts” on the invite or asked people to bring toys for the local children’s hospital instead, you know we’d be left with more light-em-ups and whirly-gigs than we already have, even though his favorite activity is putting on and taking off the lid to a can of cooking spray.

If, when he’s older, my son asks, “What did we do for my first birthday?” I’ll tell him I got very emotional the night before remembering my nervousness and excitement at that time last year checking in to the hospital. I’ll show him the pictures of the simple cake I made him and remind him that I ate way more of it than he or his father did. I’ll tell him that we fawned over him and took pictures of him and he was the center of attention– oh wait, that’s been every day of his first year and well beyond because pretty much every day is your birthday when you’re a baby.

Book Recommendation

If you are in a traditional mother/father partnership, I urge you to seek out All The Rage by Darcy Lockman.

The subtitle is “Mothers, Fathers, and the Myth of Equal Partnership” and oh, baby. If mine hadn’t been a copy from the library, I’d have been highlighting, circling, folding down corners, and ripping out pages to throw at my husband. Moms, you will feel seen. Dads, don’t shy away from this.

The message isn’t “-eyeroll- husbands suck,” despite my husband’s defensiveness when, in the first 10 pages, I found about 18 different passages I felt compelled to share on Instagram stories. It explains, using science and data and interviews and real couples, how we so easily fall back into traditional 1950s-esque roles after babies are born, even though we all generally believe in gender equality and enter into partnership thinking things will more or less be equal. As most of us have now figured out, those traditional roles put the brunt of childrearing and household management onto the mother, even though she now likely works outside of the home. This causes a whole rage and resentment cycle, yet “but he helps” (lol changing a diaper does not a hero parent make) or “he’s a better dad than my friend’s husband.” Don’t get me started on the praise of fathers in public alone with their kid. I guarantee no one will ever glowingly fawn over me, “You’re such a good mom!” because I tackled a park trip alone with my toddler.

Get the book. It’s meaty, but it felt so darn good to read my experience- written much better than I could- and know that I’m not alone and there are ways to improve the situation. I’ll figure out how to write delicately around the ways the situation has improved at my house and do a follow up post because the good news is, things really have gotten more equal around here cue angels singing.

Things I Wish I Knew: Holiday Edition

I have beef with all the veteran moms in my life. No one warned me in advance about these two holiday takeaways that I feel obliged to pass on to all the pregnant Natalies who’ve yet to be responsible for a whole other human life on Christmas (or Hanukkah, but my extremely WASP-y brain feels like an idiot not knowing if one travels for Hanukkah. Surely I would go insane being around family for eight days??)

Technically this was my son’s second Christmas, but it felt like his first since last year was just a lowkey immediate family celebration due to COVID, plus he was still in the blobby, not-at-all sleeping newborn phase so everything’s a little cloudy in the ol’ brain bank.

  1. Pack early, and do it while baby is sleeping. HAHAHA to me who thought I could just throw my clothes in a duffel like normal, leave some extra space for the baby’s, and make packing a daytime activity to also keep him busy. The child was pulling things out of the bag faster than I could put them in & putting in extraneous items of his own (a pink hippo bath toy managed to stowaway on our travels.) This was all, of course, in addition to his current favorite games, “Ooh, are these cords?” and “I hope she forgot to close the bathroom door so I can go play with the bad end of a plunger.” While packing a place for him to sleep, a stroller for the forecasted nice weather, and an armload of diapers because his molars are breaking through and his butt is a faucet, I neglected to think of where he would eat. Big thanks to my grandma’s neighbors who lent us a high chair from their attic; the few meals we attempted with him on my lap were messy mini-disasters.
  2. It is exhausting. I realize the media has been trying to tell me this for years, but I wrongly assumed stress around the holidays is what you make it. I figured as long as I managed expectations, committed to only one Secret Santa exchange, and never started any super creepy Elf on the Shelf traditions (yes, I am judging you), Christmas would be enjoyable. Reader? I am tired. And I kept the bar really, really low. Having family Christmas in my grandma’s least-child-friendly-house-ever was not an assist. Constantly redirecting him, making sure he wasn’t going to grab any handblown glass or insulin pens (why bother to childproof when he has a mother who can follow him everywhere?!), keeping him out of presents, feeding him, cleaning up, doing that again, putting him to sleep in a weird place, wielding boundaries around family members, attempting to help out and participate in established holiday traditions– I could go on, but my privilege is whining. On paper, there are more people around to help out, but if your baby/toddler is like mine, that will only make them cling to Mom even more. Next year, I will absolutely be taking a day or two off after Christmas to sleep.

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.

Don’t Send Flowers

To the friends and family members of people who have just given birth: do not send flowers to the hospital.

This isn’t a commentary on “flowers die, pizza gift cards live forever” (but seriously, food > flowers.) Send whatever dying soon flowers you want, or a potted plant, or a beautiful orchid– it’s none of my business! Just send it to the house and not the hospital.

Hospital rooms might not be the prettiest place one could ever sleep, but hopefully parents will only be spending up to three nights there. The patient will be too sleep-deprived and in love with their newborn(s) to care if a floral bouquet is brightening the bedside table. When they leave, they will have an absolute armload of things to carry out. Duffel bags of clothes, the Boppy they thought they’d use but probably didn’t, packets of newborn info with copies of hospital consents, plus a car seat holding a very fresh baby. They don’t have the arm space to also load up the car with your well-intentioned detritus.

Social Media Parameters for BB

I’m not a very private person (said the woman with a blog about childbirth…) though I had grand plans while pregnant to keep my baby’s stupidly adorable face off the Internet. I aspire to be one of the parents who rarely posts about their kids. One of my high school classmates has had three kids and never once posted a pregnancy announcement– they just kinda show up in her family pics like, “oh, we had another one.” I envy that kind of non-sharing! I’ve loved going through my parents’ collection of old photos to find pictures of me as a kid I’ve never seen before. Will our kids have that?! Or will they just expect that all kids have had their picture taken thousands of times before they’ve even started kindergarten?

My husband calls me a luddite in that I think it’s SO F*CKED how much we rely on technology and how kids’ (and our) brains are warped by social media. For someone who spends a lot of her time and work hours on Instagram, I’m fully terrified of what it’s doing to our society. I cringe when I see birth announcements featuring the baby’s full name, birthdate, weight, etc. Might as well tell everyone their social security number, too! I’m friends with a lot of peripherally work-related acquaintances who don’t need (or probably want) to see my son jammin’ up their Facebook feed. On one hand, I can see him growing up like, “So there’s hundreds of pictures of me online that strangers have had access to?” and on the other, he’ll be like, “Um, duh– it happened to every one of my classmates; that’s totally normal that you wanted to share about me.” Dilemma!!

There are non-Facebook apps that you can have family members download and share photos with that are allegedly more secure (because remember, you don’t actually own any of your own content on your social media feeds! How are we so cavalier about this?!) but my older family members have trouble enough sending a coherent text, let alone downloading a completely separate app with a password they have to remember to log in to occasionally. We decided to have a private Facebook album for family & close friends who are invested in this kid’s life where we do a photo dump of his most adorable moments every couple of weeks. I’ll post a timeline pic of him occasionally so all other parties know he’s still alive (aka my god, Brittney had the cutest kid in the world???) but to my average Facebook friend, there’s not too much baby out there.

Instagram has become another story because apparently I’m the stereotypical Millenial white bitch who loves coffee and her overweight five-month-old. (He’s not fat; he’s sturdy!) The kid is in my stories probably at least once a day, and I feel… fine about that. Turns out, your social media habits pre-kid are probably going to be your habits after they’re here, too. It is absolutely braggadocious for myself and my peers to be putting up pics of our kids on Instagram, but isn’t that why we’re on the platform? I do wrestle with sharing about our joy when I know we have couples in our circle who are experiencing infertility. A person in our community due about a month after me experienced a stillbirth just before 30 weeks and I think of her ALL THE TIME when I’m posting about my baby. I know you shouldn’t edit yourself to accommodate others, but a little sensitivity and self-awareness doesn’t hurt anyone.

The pandemic is one reason I’m more lax about putting my baby online. This parenthood thing can be lonely! Our family members are thrilled any time they get an update about the baby, and it’s much easier to throw it in a Facebook caption to 30 of ’em than send out individual texts (because ohmygod if you’re still replying to group texts in the year of our Lord twenty twenty-one, your phone privileges are revoked forever, GRANDMOTHER.) Including my baby when sharing my mom joys and struggles on Instagram stories has been a true lifeline to a community of support I can’t currently access in person. I’m surprised I didn’t lose hundreds of followers in the first four months when all I did was complain about our lack of sleep. (Apologies, loyal fans. I am a more interesting person than that, I swear.)

If you’re still expecting, make sure you and your partner are on the same page about this stuff. You AB-SO-LUTE-LY will need to have a conversation with your parents and family members about what’s ok to share and what’s not. It is not uncommon to threaten people’s lives if they put information about the birth online before you do. Shut that shit down right now, and if you’re more stringent than me about your baby’s face not going online, you might have to really get tough with those you love. If you’re already a mom and living part of your life online, please join in me not including just the cute milestone moments. Occasionally throw in a selfie after you’ve gotten spit up on. We all know you think you have the cutest kid in the world. I wanna see those postpartum bald spots!!

Postpartum Hormones + In-Laws

I was going to text Natalie about this instead of making it a public post, but this blog is about things I wish I knew, and this topic is definitely something I wish I knew. After talking to other new parents, turns out I’m not the absolute bitch monster I assumed I was, and many people have experienced the same. I know many pregnant people right now who don’t have the great relationship with their in-laws that I do, yet this still happened to me, so they may need a double heads up. If you are one of my in-laws reading this, hopefully you’ll realize the point is that you never did anything wrong! My brain just decided you were scary thanks to the insane amount of who-even-knows-what pumping through my new mom self.

I have a great relationship with my in-laws: they’re lovely people, I want my son to love and have fruitful relationships with them as he grows, and hopefully in a post-COVID world they’ll be a reliable source of occasional childcare… basically zero reason to expect anything would be different I gave birth. And yet! While I was comfortable with some of my own family being around the baby, something inside of me became very anti-my partner’s family. They never did anything wrong– if anything, they were far more respectful of our new parent boundaries than my own family. But thanks to postpartum hormones, it felt like the baby was mine, and they couldn’t get it on it.

What was I afraid of? Nothing that could be well articulated. That they were going to steal my baby? Push me out? Overstay their welcome? None of the above, and yet all of the above. Like most things postpartum, it’s hard to describe– it was just a strong motherly urge; another feeling that made me feel absolutely crazy on top of the sleep I wasn’t getting.

I read a theory that this happens because your primal parent instincts come rushing in, and even though your in-laws might be the warmest, most respectful people on the planet, they’re not your tribe. When the cavewoman hormones flood your brain, your family is safe while the clan you partnered into is unknown. They’re not your blood; they might eat or steal your baby. Is there any science to this? I have no idea! But it makes a little bit of sense to me, and I hope you read this in time to know it might very well happen to you.

So what do you do. If you have truly overbearing in-laws– the kind that are wildly inappropriate or don’t respect your boundaries for COVID protocols or anything else– you are completely justified in drawing a hard line and not budging. I’m not saying you have to keep your baby away forever, but this is a fragile time for your new family, and if trying to force time with them is going to put you over the edge, please prioritize your baby and your mental health. If it’s too much for you to be around but you value your in-laws getting to meet baby, consider having your partner take the kid for a visit, or you going out for an errand while the in-laws come over. If the in-laws are over and it becomes overwhelming, you can either exit the room solo for some downtime, or you can excuse yourself with baby to go nurse, put them down for a nap, or just get your mom hormones back down from “internal rage” by taking the baby to snuggle yourself. Does this sound selfish as I type it out? Yeah, kinda. But you’re already giving 145% of yourself to someone else; your mother-in-law can deal with not getting to hold the baby for her entire visit.

This is a great time to lean on your friends who are already parents. They will 100% understand if you send a text “sister-in-law is here plz help.” You both know your sister-in-law is only excited for you and over the moon to meet your kid, but a great friend will respond, “SHE’S THE WORST” even though they’ve probably never met. You can do a lot of loving kindness meditation towards your in-laws later once the hormones clear and you realize they’re actually extremely helpful to have around (hopefully.)

Your Hospital Stay

I might be a big birth nerd in that what happens inside a hospital, most especially in the maternity unit, fascinates me. I chose the medical route of doctors & a hospital birth for my first baby, and while I would definitely give birth in a hospital again, I will likely seek out midwifery care if there’s a baby 2.0 sometime in the future. But that’s a post for another time! This is all about the hospital stay, and I’m coming at it from my recent stint in labor + my PRN status as a hospital employee who gives maternity center tours on two area medical campuses. Obviously all hospitals are different, and I highly encourage you to seek out a virtual tour from your hospital or birth center if in-person tours aren’t currently an option.

BRING SNACKS. You’ll need to keep your energy up during labor, you’ll need to replenish your energy stores after giving birth, and your birthing partner will need to eat during their stay, too. Yes, hospitals have cafeterias and food delivery options and some have nourishment rooms with basic food supplies for birthing patients, but you will not regret bringing some of your own favorites. We also packed Powerade Zero because many doctors won’t let you consume anything besides clear liquids once you’re admitted. Ask if your hospital has a mini fridge in the room or a communal fridge so you can bring cold stuff, too!

Get vocal! I’m not talking about labor sounds– though some truly… interesting? primal sounds will escape your throat before that kid comes out– I’m saying use your voice to advocate for yourself and your baby about your hospital stay. ASK QUESTIONS! If you don’t get admitted knowing every single pain management option available to you like I did because I’m a nightmare know-it-all, ask. If you know there’s certain things you definitely want– delayed cord clamping, a certain person to cut the umbilical cord, no one in the room to speak because you want your voice to be the first thing baby hears– you gotta speak up. The hospital staff won’t judge you, they should let you know what’s allowed and what’s not (and why! Not just because they don’t feel like it.) They see hundreds of birthing patients a year; it’s their job to make this experience as safe and positive for you as possible.

Don’t be a hero. You’ll have the option of having baby sleep in the nursery at night (or have them hang out in the nursery any time you need a break.) A lot of first time moms think they’re a monster person if they take the nurses up on this offer, but don’t be a hero, Natalie. Maternity center nurses have chosen their profession because they really like babies– caring for babies in the nursery is kind of their thing. You’ll be leaving baby with the most highly qualified people available, so take them up on it, especially at night when you need sleep. They’ll still bring baby in when it’s time to eat, they should ask you in advance if it’s ok to give baby a pacifier in the nursery, they’ll bring your baby back the second you want them with you. You will be laying in bed, not sleeping, on your first night home with baby thinking, “Where are my angel nurses with their magical nursery and how can I get them to move in with me??”

Visitors? Ha. This is one area in which COVID has a silver lining. Many of our patients were upset at the beginning of the pandemic that no outside visitors were allowed, but have since said, “Best thing ever!” Grieving the moment your parents get to come meet their new grandchild in the hospital is completely valid, and a doctor I talked to said the only thing he misses is seeing a very proud big brother or sister holding their new baby sibling for the first time. But! Once that passes, not having visitors is something I would choose for any subsequent births, even after hospital visitor restrictions are lifted. Physically, so many things are still gushing out of your body even after the baby has exited. You might be trying to get the hang of breastfeeding, and the easiest option is to just kind of have your boobs out 24/7. You likely haven’t gotten a lot of sleep so your face looks like it got ran over with a truck. Hormonally, so much is happening– am I on Cloud 9? Am I not bonding with my baby yet like everyone said I would? How is my partner doing? Add in the amount of interruptions– nurses taking your vitals, pediatricians coming in to check on baby, hospital techs coming in to give them their first bath, lactation consultants popping in, food service employees dropping off and picking up trays– it’s a lot. As sad as my mother was that she had to wait until we were home to come meet her grandson, I can’t imagine when she would have ever dropped by the hospital that wouldn’t have added on a ton more stress to an already completely foreign situation.

Practice the car seat in advance. Legally, you can’t leave our hospital without a car seat, and the nurses aren’t allowed to make adjustments to it or baby. Not only does the base need to be properly installed in your vehicle, I highly recommend taking the time to figure out how the car seat operates before you have a very alive newborn to put in it. We did not do this, and watching my husband and I try to figure out how to get the poor kid strapped in had to be like watching a sad clown car on fire. We were stressed, baby got stressed, we couldn’t figure out the damn straps, and the nurse had to just stand nearby like a cheerleader and lightly suggest, “I think if you push that button, you can get more slack on the straps…” Practice with a teddy bear, borrow a neighbor kid, whatever you need to do to figure out what buckle goes where and which buttons make which handles move.

Take everything not nailed down. Giant pads? Peri bottle? Diapers? Wipes? Formula samples? Water bottles? TAKE ‘EM HOME. They’re yours now.

To bring: phone charger with an extra long cord, Chapstick because it’s dry AF in a hospital, whatever will make you feel slightly more human (fave shampoo? mascara? floss?) baby book if you want a set of baby’s footprints put right on the page, hair ties, a going home outfit that will make you feel a little bit less garbage-y before you go home and spend many weeks or months barely getting dressed, something for baby to wear home. There’s only about a thousand lists + YouTube videos on what to pack, but err on the side of keeping it light. Hopefully you and baby will be healthy, and you’ll only be spending 2-3 nights there.

Freezer Meals + Gifting Food

Natalie is due next month (!!!) which means she’s in prime freezer meal time. Prepping food to eat in the weeks after birth was top priority since I’m the only cook in our house, and I’m cheap as hell when it comes to spending too much on takeout. I’ll outline how I tackled it below, but know that how you eat food now is how you’re gonna eat food after baby comes. This is the time to be realistic, not aspirational (maybe that sentence should just be sewn onto pillows and sold as the catch-all phrase for life postpartum?) If you’ve never used a Crock Pot, now is not the time to research Pinterest’s top 100 slow cooker recipes and assume you’re going to start using it once you become a parent.

  1. People will give you food. This is very nice of them! Many will ask in advance what you like, and honey, this is not the time to be coy. “Oh, we’ll eat anything!” is not helpful to you, a person who does indeed have food preferences, but especially not helpful to the person offering. Outline a few things you don’t like– no mushrooms or coconut in this house, thank you!– and point them towards a region or a few dishes you know you’ll appreciate having around (“we love any kind of Mexican food” or “breakfast items I can eat with one hand!”)
  2. If you want vegetables around, you’re gonna have to get ’em yourself. There are always exceptions, but people tend to gift comfort foods in times of life upheaval. Be prepared to get a lot of cream-based casseroles, pastas, and beige-colored foods. Refer back to the above advice and get direct with your mother, “Before you come over on Thursday, can you pick up some dip-able veggies? A bag of apples? Anything resembling a nutrient?” You’re so out of it hormonally the first week or two that you likely won’t care or really taste what food is around, but your body will thank you.
  3. If you’re the one gifting new parents a meal, make sure it’s a complete one. Don’t make a pan of meatballs and sauce just assuming they have a box of pasta in the cupboard. I’m not saying it needs to be four courses plus tableware, but logically think through how you can make this meal + leftovers as easy as possible. This includes using reusable or recyclable containers– the absolute last thing a new parent wants to do is put “return Pyrex to friend across town” on their to-do list.
  4. You can gift food well after the baby arrives. We are so in love with every single person who poured their generous hearts into nourishing us that first week or two, but the most memorable food gift came about six weeks after we were home from the hospital. My former boss brought over a pan of STILL WARM apple crisp and a GALLON OF ICE CREAM. Was it indulgent as hell? Absolutely. But it was unexpected in that society assumes you’ve got some sort of grip on the grocery game again after the first month. I’m three months postpartum now and would fall to my knees weeping if someone brought by a sandwich tray and said “lunch is taken care of for the week.”
  5. Alrighty, how I did it. I’m not a huge recipe person, rather I usually prep some protein early in week, then have veggies on hand and various items to mix and match with pantry staples to create decent meals. Basically I took my weekly strategy and bulked it up thanks to a trip to Costco (aka hell. Why do I hate going to Costco so much.) I prepped like 10 pounds of chicken breasts, then shredded the meat and froze in containers that held enough for a couple meals. I cooked up 5 pounds of ground turkey and did the same. (If you do this, just season the meat with salt, pepper & garlic powder so it can go with anything.) I got bags of frozen veggies and made sure we had multiple bags of rice, cans of beans and salsa, jars of pasta sauce and Indian simmer sauces, burrito shells, pasta, tortilla chips, etc. We’d then take one thing of meat out of the freezer and build from there out the pantry– did we want tacos, stir fry, pasta, salad?
  6. Don’t forget breakfast. I blended green smoothies ahead of time and froze them individually in plastic cups, as well as baked oatmeal squares and eggs with veggies you make in muffin tins (the Internet is your friend for any of these recipes.) You will be holding a baby and most of your eating will be done with one hand, so plan accordingly!