A new mama friend of mine recently asked me what things saved me when Baby A was brand new. I really had to think about it because even though it’s only been two years, the mind apparently has a way of burying/blocking out those first few months when you’re light on sleep and experience but heavy on emotion and physical trauma. (Probably better that we don’t tend to remember every tiny detail, no?) Anyway, after a little reminiscing, things came flooding back to me and I thought that some of these might actually be worth sharing here, mainly so that next time I have a kid I can pop back in and remind myself. ;-)
1. Coffee Ice Cubes
Yes, even though I was pumping and nursing I definitely sipped the sweet nectar of life that is coffee on a regular basis. And since the vast majority of my time was spent with a tiny, squishy, helpless little bundle of human baby in my arms I had to wait until my coffee was completely cool to enjoy it as holding a hot beverage over your tiny new offspring is frowned upon SUPER DANGEROUS. Dropping ice cubes in my coffee didn’t really do the trick because then I just ended up with sad, watery, tepid coffee. “If only I had something coffee flavored to make my coffee cold without making it all watery,” I thought forlornly, probably more than once. I was, after all, pretty sleep deprived and pretty heavily medicated in those first few days. But then! I remembered that ice is a thing not because water is magical but because science says we can freeze just about any liquid if we put our minds to it! I had the technology! Coffee, ice trays, a freezer, by golly this was gonna happen! And it did. And it was wonderful. And I survived without having to install a damn Starbucks in my house.
I like my coffee like I like my jokes: dark and slightly bitter, so I just used plain black coffee in my ice trays but if you are a fancy person you could freeze milk or even flavored creamer to achieve the same result.
2. Refrigerated Pump Parts
In the beginning, there was pumping. Lots and lots of pumping. And I was suuuuuper careful to clean every little thing that went near Baby A. Seriously, if the nipple part of his pacifier touched the countertop then a thorough cleaning was in order. (Let’s not talk about what it would take for me to have to thoroughly clean anything these days.) I went through more of those “sanitizing wipes” in six months than most people would in a lifetime. Seriously. There was so. Much. Cleaning. At my house. And in the days where I was pumping every three hours around the clock that made for a LOT of tiny plastic parts to clean several times a day. Even with two full sets of parts that was a lot of cleaning and added an extra ten or fifteen minutes to my pumping routine every three hours (which REALLY SUCKED in the middle of the night).
I don’t know where the idea came from, I don’t even know if it’s something you should do (so you should def consult a doctor or lactation consultant before to do this yourself) BUT at some point I started storing the pieces of my pump in the refrigerator rather than cleaning them in between each use. I would use the clean parts once, then give them a small rinse and put them in the fridge for three hours until it was time to pump again, then take them out, use them, and wash them. Since they were in the refrigerator any milk left in them was kept from spoiling and since it took only a minute or two to rinse, pat dry, and put in the fridge it helped to save about an hour of washing time each day. Freaking. Awesome.
3. Lunch Boxes
When they told me in the hospital that I needed to eat about 500 extra calories per day to help keep my milk supply up I was like “HELL YEAH, FOOD!” The first three days were AMAZING because I literally had hospital room service so I could call and ask for a turkey sandwich (which I did at least three times a day) and BOOM: Turkey sandwich, Doritos, and chocolate milk, at my door less than half an hour later. When I got home, though? Not so much. Although D and my parents and in-laws and others were super good about bringing me just about anything I asked for, there were times (3 AM feedings!) when I found myself starving but way too tired to cook a full meal. Solution: Prepacked lunch boxes. Super easy, and definitely an idea stolen straight from Starbucks.
I packed a bunch of easy-to-eat finger foods into Sistema containers and tossed them in the fridge (with my breast pump accessories) and voila. A full meal that I could grab whenever I needed to and eat while I was doing just about anything else (feeding the baby, rocking the baby, feeding the baby, trying to sleep, taking a shower, feeding the baby, you get the idea). Some of my favorite ingredients: Peanut butter (just a scoop), cheese cubes, hard boiled egg, turkey pepperoni, pretzels, almonds, trail mix, grapes, apple slices, baby carrots (with ranch, obvs), Reese’s Pieces (HELL YES!), the list goes on. What’s great is that your husband can also just grab one of these if you ever forget to make his lunch. Not that I ever forgot that. Nope, not me!
4. Side-Snap Baby Shirts
When Baby A was born, I had a lot of onesies. The seemed perfect for a newborn, and in a lot of ways they definitely were. I bought (and registered for) a lot of onesies and little knit pants to go over them because I was worried that A would get cold in the house with the air conditioner on. Totally reasonable. But we ended up keeping him wrapped up in blankets so much that what he was wearing underneath was rarely a concern. I discovered the little kimono-snap baby shirts on one of our first trips out of the house (Ah blessed, blessed freedom!) and I was hooked. Substantial enough to keep baby warm while still allowing super quick and easy diaper changes, plus if you end up with a diaper leak (Total possibility with newborns!) baby’s clothes are way less likely to get messy. Plus once we switched to cloth around 10 weeks I looooved putting him in just a shirt and cloth diaper because OMG how cute are cloth diapers? So cute.
So those are my four best…Mommy Hacks? Is that what these are? Unsolicited advice nuggets? Whatever, I don’t really know. If you’re the commenting type, tell me below: What saved you during your first few months of parenthood?