Helping Your Lady During Pregnancy & That First Year: This One’s For The Fellas!

Alright guys, I get it.  Your wife or girlfriend just gave you her phone so you could read this post.  Clearly, you’re hesitant and your knee jerk reaction is to hand the phone back, but you know better and pretend to feign interest.  You’re scared it will be an utter waste of time when really you just want to watch Pardon the Interruption… without interruption.  I get it, I promise.

Here’s the thing.  You’re most likely about to or are currently going through pregnancy or have just become a new father (or your lady probably wouldn’t be showing you this).  And because you care about her and her needs being met, you’ll power on and finish it.  You keep reading and I promise I’ll cut the crap, get to the point, and hopefully give you something worthwhile to take away from it.  (And let’s face it, you need a break from hearing about Donald Sterling).

A quick note about this list: it is a product of an open, honest, and candid conversation with my Momtourage and our collective experiences – not just my own.  While it is by no means comprehensive (I’d surely lose you), I picked some favorites.  And I can happily share that most of the items below are things our husbands did well – not things we wished they had done! We’ve got a bunch of keepers! 

PREGNANCY 

Take the time to learn your wife’s wishes for labor and delivery before baby gets here. While things almost never go exactly as planned once they get underway, know the in’s and out’s of how everything would ideally go for your wife.  What are her wishes on drugs, pacifiers, formula, breastfeeding, sending to the nursery, etc? If she is unable to be an advocate for herself due to exhaustion or several other reasons, you need to step up and be that advocate for her.  Giving birth is often one of the single most memorable experiences in a woman’s life – do whatever you can to help make sure its a positive one.

Don’t comment on how big she’s getting as her body grows.  Even if its meant with the best of intentions as your child is clearly thriving inside her, just… don’t.  (Unless you’re talking about her growing breasts.  If she was smaller chested before pregnancy, sometimes growing breasts is a fun perk of the process).

Get her food. Get it often.  Get it quickly.  Pregnancy does a lot of crazy things to her body.  One of which is needing food often.  Not like your 2:00 p.m. “I can’t wait for dinner” hungry.  It’s like a, “if I don’t get food right now, I’m either going to eat your face off or pass out where I stand”.  Neither or which are good for anybody.  Blood sugar can spike and drop quickly, so when she says she’s hungry, act fast and act now.

Be very open and communicate your needs and concerns about intimacy during pregnancy.  I can’t promise she’ll always meet those needs, as her libido can be on a roller coaster with high highs and low lows, but keep the conversation about it open.  If you have fears or concerns, share them honestly.  Don’t let potential misconceptions get in the way of what could be a continued thriving sexual relationship.  Whatever she feels though, respect it.  And always, ALWAYS tell her she’s beautiful.  All of the above goes for post-pregnancy as well.  It will evolve with a new set of challenges once baby arrives.

Actively take part in decisions leading up the birth.  Could your wife probably make them all on her own? Yep, probably.  But actively participating in the many decisions you’ll have to make together shows her you genuinely care about the process and that while she may be the one carrying your precious bundle, it is a joint effort and your pregnancy too.

ONCE BABY ARRIVES

When things get hard, don’t quit.  Just like your wife has learned what baby needs (mostly through trial and error), you need to have those trials and errors as well.  There might be many things that she could get done quicker than you, but it doesn’t mean you hand things off to her.  Could she get baby to sleep quicker? Probably. Do it anyway.  Could she change the diaper on a fussy baby quicker? Probably.  Do it anyway.  Could she prepare things to leave the house with baby more efficiently? Probably.  Learn what you’ll need anyway.  My point – your wife wasn’t born a pro.  She took the time to learn.  Things will get hard, but I promise everyone will benefit if you take the time (and frustration) to learn too.

Be a problem solver.  This one kind of piggy back’s off the previous one, but is equally important.  Moms are constantly reading books, articles, and asking others for help when problems or unknowns pop up.  Instead of always asking your wife what could be going on (because a lot of times she might not know either!), become a problem solver too.  Read up when things pop up, dad.

Make a conscious effort to take candid (or posed!) pictures of mom and baby.  I know I know, you don’t think like women do and you may not have that eye for an adorable photo opportunity, but try.  It makes me so sad when 10 years down the road a woman looks back and only has a handful of pictures with her kids because she was always the one behind the camera.  Your kids deserve to have pictures with their mother who loves them so ferociously – try your best to make it happen!

Once she feels ready to start getting back in shape (and she might not, which is ok too!), let her health take temporary priority.  Yes, you may have gained a few (or a lot) of pounds during her pregnancy too, but to be blunt, a lot of the changes her body went through weren’t in her control like yours were.  Sorry, dad! If it comes down to a night or two a week where its either you or her who gets a workout or run in – let her.  For many women their post-baby bod feels disconnected from their self-image.  Let them work at getting it back if they want – they deserve it! Not only that, but they most likely need that 45 minutes away for their mental health too!

As much as mom is head over heels in love with your new bundle, she needs time away.  Don’t always make her ask for it.  Offer to take baby out for a long walk on a nice day so she can shower peacefully and paint her nails.  Suggest once in awhile she meets up with a friend for dinner – she needs her girl time.  Or sometimes when you just see that her patience is running thin, something as small as asking her if she wants to go upstairs and read or take a nap for 30 minutes goes a long way.  Better yet, set up one day a week where you and baby go on an outing together.  Not only is it great for building that one on one bond with baby, but it’ll give her that time she needs and knows she can expect each week.

Don’t always make her ask.  Yes, this one gets a spot of its own. Despite common belief, women do not enjoy nagging and continuously asking you to do things.  We really, really don’t.  That fact, compounded with the mom mentality that we can do it all, is sometimes a dangerous recipe.  If she’s clearly running on fumes, offer to take the night shift.  If the dishes need to be done, just do them.  If she keeps swearing about how much of a pain in the ass it is to constantly clean her breast pump parts, do it for her when you can.  She doesn’t expect you to be a mind reader (I mean that’s just not fair), but to keep your home in happy harmony, try your best to be proactive.

Accept that you will be taking on more household responsibilities.  I could give suggestions, but this one is unique to each couple.  Whether its taking on more cooking in the kitchen, cleaning up more after she cooks in the kitchen, or taking over laundry – accept it and find a way to take a little bit off of her plate.

Last one, you made it! Are you sweating yet? 

Remember that mom is not the primary caregiver.  It isn’t just her child. You aren’t a babysitter that steps in occasionally.  You made this beautiful being together, and its your job to raise it together.  You, mom, and baby deserve that.  Be present of where baby is at in his or her day when you’re home. Learn the changing needs and upcoming milestones as baby grows.  Taking a night time feeding isn’t “doing her a favor”, its doing your job as a parent.  While you work hard all week and just want to relax all weekend, baby has needs around the clock every day, which you need to be a part of.  You got this, dad.

If you honestly got down here by reading it all, pat yourself on the back – you’re already a fantastic father.  There’s no perfect how-to guide on how to get through this transition into parenthood without speed bumps.  You’ll have them.  Some couples get over them with ease, and some need constant, committed work at getting over them.  But dad, just so you know – we appreciate you and love you.  While you’re new to this, so are we.  Let’s just promise to work on this together, keep our communication lines open, and love each other as well as our beautiful baby fiercely.

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I’m An Oversharer And I’m OK With It

For the past 22 months I’ve shared my pregnancy and our new life with our daughter with friends and family on Facebook and Instagram.  And for the past 22 months, I’ve questioned myself about it countless times.  I’ve debated writing about the topic since I first started this blog, but was unsure of whether or not it was worth writing about and if it were a topic anyone would even be interested in.  Then, like with all my posts, I reminded myself the blog is for me.

Its easy these days to be put in a certain category within social media.  You know them. The food people, the pet people, the health and fitness people, the selfie people, the inspirational quote people, or the baby people.  And in all honesty, if you don’t share the same passion, following those people can be utterly exhausting and boring.  Despite my fears of being one of those baby people, I’ve gone ahead and risked annoying people by sharing our journey.  I did the weekly pregnancy pictures (and yes, I’m attempting a much more toned down version of them again this time around), and I could easily post a picture a day of our daughter.  Between people’s generalized comments on Facebook about their frustration with their Newsfeed turning into a Gymboree ad, the numerous articles I’ve read about moms wanting to put the camera down to “enjoy the moment”, and that whole privacy issue, I’ve had my share of internal struggles about what is appropriate to share and what isn’t.

And then one day in the not so distant past, I said screw it.  I’m over the guilt.  I’m over the wondering about who I’ve annoyed.  I’m over wondering if I snap pictures too much.

 

By nature I am an open person (hence, the blog).  I always have been, and I think its safe to assume I always will be.  Ask, and I’ll tell.  To keep everything we go through to myself goes against the grain of my being.

Nearly our entire family is on Facebook. My mother, grandmothers, and great grandmother are all on Facebook.  Aunts, uncles, cousins, and numerous other family members that would otherwise never really get to see our daughter grow up, are on Facebook.  They enjoy watching her grow, and I enjoy that they are able to.

After making my daughter’s one year video, I realized I take just the right amount of pictures and videos.  In one short year, there were things I had already forgotten she did, and certain ways she looked when she was oh so small.  THAT is how fast they grow, and I am so grateful I am able to look back and remember them all.

Facebook and Instagram both have tools that allow people to limit what they see from you, or options to not see you at all.  If someone chooses to utilize them, no hard feelings here – I get it! No one is forcing them to suffer through viewing my life.

The time Tayler’s great grandparents that live in another state voiced how much they appreciate being able to watch her grow.  If they can’t see her in person all the time, seeing pictures and videos is the next best thing. Or the time another pair of Tayler’s great grandparents voiced somewhat jokingly that, “they start their day by looking for new pictures of Tayler, and if they can’t find anything, their day is already ruined”.

The women my age in my network are just starting to have children and start families.  Many that are thinking about it for the near future have reached out to tell me how much fun it is to see what they have to look forward to.  How cool is that?

I love the relationships that can build out of connecting with other new parents who are going through the same things we are.  You can never have a big enough support system when it comes to raising your children.

Once people go through it themselves, they get it.  Whether they are as open about their children or their home life as you, they understand the sheer joy and excitement that comes from creating life and doing your best to raise happy and healthy children.

My daughter is thriving, joyful, and oh so loved.  So that whole fear about “not being in the moment enough” left just as quickly as it came.  And most pictures and videos are the fourth time she’s done something – I soak up the wonderment of the first.

The first time I skipped a weekly pregnancy photo, I got multiple threats. To not post sometimes is scarier than posting.

Some things are kept private to enjoy with just us.  But you wouldn’t know, because they’re private.  Right?

The amount of messages I’ve received from expecting moms that thank me for sharing our journey.  Anticipating what parenthood is going to be like can be overwhelming, and being able to take an honest peek into someone else’s life that is going through it can sometimes put a few of those nerves at ease.  If I can give that to someone, what an amazing bonus to sharing!

I’m aware of the privacy settings I use, and who can view things that I share.  If I post, I understand who may see it.

I consciously try and balance showing an honest take on parenting with respecting challenging moments that aren’t intended for everyone.  If you want to see some of the other side (which I assure you there is), ask and I’ll tell.

The unexpected people who share in the joy with you.  There are few better feelings than knowing that there are people who enjoy watching your family grow and genuinely care about your journey.

Finally, like all choices in parenting, to each their own.  Whatever your feelings are on the topic, they are the right ones for you.  If you prefer to keep things private, you are absolutely right.  If you prefer to share your whole story, you are absolutely right.  And if you’ve found a beautifully happy medium of the two, you are absolutely right.

 

To anyone reading this that has enjoyed watching our family adventures, thanks for tagging along 🙂 I’m glad you’re here! 

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An Exaggerated, But Not That Exaggerated Day Inside the Head of Today’s Moms

One of my biggest frustrations as a mom in today’s overloaded information age is the endless stream of hazards, studies, chemicals, toxins, and recalls we are continuously made aware of.  It’s incredibly easy to feel like every single decision you make carries immense weight, and everything you do or give your child during the day has potential hazards involved.  Article after article about children’s products pour through my social media feed each day, and to keep up with it all is utterly exhausting.  Is the study valid? Is it a real concern? What is a safe alternative? How can I make the best choices without breaking our budget? I swear some days I consider going back to work just so I can pay for a research assistant to help me sift through the crap and get down to what  really matters.  While I’m thankful that we as moms today have information available to help keep our children safe, I also sometimes think a little ignorance is bliss.  Generations before us didn’t have access to all of this information – yet somehow, they survived and thrived?

In honor of this daily struggle I wanted to write about what it looks like in the head of today’s moms.  It’s not all to be taken seriously, but some days it sure feels close.  Finding that balance between staying up to date on products and practices and keeping your sanity and focus on what really matters is no easy task. To all you moms that make decisions every day with nothing but your children’s best interest at heart and cross your fingers that it all works out, I applaud you and adore you.

My body naturally rises at 6 a.m. Before I muster the energy to get out of bed I quickly sift through my news and social media feeds, which always contains something about child safety. First up is an article about infant and toddler mattresses emitting toxic chemicals our little ones breathe in all night.

Because who should ever test those to make sure they’re safe? I peek at my daughter on the monitor sleeping peacefully with her bottom in the air. Look at how sweet she is… just soaking up toxins through that cute little nose.  Son of a B. 

I’m ready for the day, and she begins to stir upstairs.  I get her cup ready with some milk.  Having recently read about BPA free cups being just as dangerous due to substituting with unregulated chemicals and carcinogens, I fill it reluctantly.

What the F am I supposed to do? Pour the milk straight into her mouth? Here you go, sweetheart.  Drink up out of your toxic sippy. 

After her milk we head to her playroom to work out some morning wiggles and get an appetite for breakfast working.  As she plays contently with her play food at the kitchen set, I can’t help but look around at what an apparent danger trap the room is.

Hmm. She just climbed up and stood on the back of the chair to play with the blinds and cords. Should probably replace those.  That shelving unit needs mounting.  The outlet covers she now picks off with ease need to be replaced with something heavy duty.  Oh, and those are a choking hazard now. Half of that basket of teething toys have been recalled due to choking hazards… should probably throw those out, too.  There’s her old Bumbo.  The queen bee of fall hazards.  Where were people putting their children while in this seat?!  There’s the jumper she once loved, happily bouncing her way up to projectile spit up.  I just read that those are “amputation and fracture” risks.  YIKES? Clearly this room is not fit for children. Let’s make some breakfast and go play at the park.  

I cut up some toast, wash and chop an apple, and get her some organic fruit smoothie.  I eye the baby food pouch, but get sick thinking about the video I just saw of someone finding live larvae in one of those pouches.

The bread is whole grain, that’s good right? The apple isn’t organic, but I washed it, soooo? Hopefully that’s good enough? Naked brand just came out with the fact that their wholesome smoothies contain other ingredients and chemicals that aren’t listed.  Is this one legit? Here’s to hoping? Eat up, pumpkin.  

I clean her up, get her dressed, and change her diaper.

How can I still use these Kirkland wipes from Costco without letting that article I read about them getting a low safety rating creep into the back of my head?  I love these wipes! 

I grab her bag and go to put her in the car seat.

Chest buckle at armpit height. Check.  Shoulder straps perfectly on top of shoulders and can’t pinch them at all.  Check. Fleece on, but its really thin, so that doesn’t really break the big coat rule, right? Sure.  Check.  Still happy rear-facing. Sweet.  Double check. The fact that we paid for a top of the line car seat and still deal with safety recalls.  Really flipping pisses me off.  

We get to the park filled with children of all ages.

I wonder if anyone else saw that article about people taping small razor blades all over equipment at playgrounds to intentionally hurt children? Hopefully this one is blade free. Of course it is, Erica… chill.  

I do a quick scan of all adults at the playground.  Obviously looking for the creep that the news always tells me will surely be there.

Kinda creepy.  Could be creepy.  Definitely creepy.  Did these people come with children?!

Tayler is happily playing, and being the paparazzi mom that I am, I snap a few cute pictures of her playing.  Our family digs them.

Wait. Shit. Did I turn off the location service for my phone camera? I don’t need any of these creeps knowing where we are all the time. THEY WERE ABLE TO MAKE MAPS OF KIDS’ BEDROOMS WITH THAT STUFF. 

After some fun-filled park adventures, we come back to the house for some lunch and a good nap.  I take her upstairs to her room to lay her down.

Crap. I haven’t washed out that cool-mist humidifier in awhile.  I think the max you’re supposed to let it go is a week.  I’m pretty sure its been like seven.  Noise maker on.  But not too close to her or too loud.  Those are apparently a noise risk now? I’m pretty sure dad’s TV volume level and our dogs’ barking take care of that already for her.  Her breathable mesh bumpers are pushed down a little low.  Oh well, I’ll leave them.  Despite her full body control, I’ve been taught to be terrified of those things. 

She wakes up rested, but a little grumpy from her three teeth trying to push through.

Can’t use baby Orajel.  Can’t use teething tablets.  Our pediatrician said those teething necklaces leak arsenic. Hopefully a low dose of Tylenol is safe.  Here babe, chew on this frozen washcloth. I’m so over this.  

We decide to head back outside for a walk in her new push car.  I opt out of the Bjorn, because I guess those don’t support her hips enough.

I knew I should’ve gotten an Ergo. 

Before I put sunscreen on her, I’m left feeling guilt ridden again. I had just read that most popular sunscreen brands are actually full of harmful chemicals.

Well which is better right now? No sunscreen and turning her fragile baby skin to leather? Or putting it on again before we can get over to Target and buy a “safe” baby brand? Get over here lady.  Let’s lather you up.   

We enjoy our walk and play in our court for awhile, and then devour our string cheese snack.  We head to back yard to kick a ball around.

God our yard looks like hell after this winter.  I’m assuming we can’t use fertilizer? What can we use? Anything? Rely on all the dog poop that needs to be picked up? Shit.  This yard is a minefield of poop.  We can’t be back here.  

So we head back inside for a little bit to play in her danger room.  Followed by what I can only hope was a somewhat safe and nutritious dinner.  We eventually head up for bath time.  We just ran out of our Burt’s Bee’s Soap, so I grab some Johnson and Johnson from our baby shower stash we accumulated.

Is this stuff safe yet? How obnoxious.  Formaldehyde? Really? Maybe just this once? I need to invest in Honest Company stock.  

Pajamas on. Books read.  Lights out.  Milk drank.  Noise maker on.  Rocking into sweet dreams.  She’s sleeping safely and comfortably in my arms.  But I dare not fall asleep with her, because apparently that’s too dangerous.  Pshht.

Whew.  We made it through another day in this battlefield.  I shouldn’t be called Mom.  I should be called Master Crisis Averter.  Or Doctor of Danger Assessment.  I guess Mom will do for now.  

I lay her in her crib, kiss her goodnight, and quietly close the door.

Shit.  I wonder if she’ll be ok with the blanket I left in there? 

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