tugboat yarning

My Motherhood Tool Belt

My Motherhood Tool Belt

Apparently, Sears doesn’t sell a Motherhood Tool Belt.  And everyone has heard the joke that children don’t come with instruction manuals.  That’s why I felt inspired to write this little diddy and share a few tools I would put in my Motherhood Tool Belt in hopes that Sears might read this blog and decide to pay me millions of dollars for my amazing idea… or that this is helpful to parents out there that feel unprepared for the first month of parenthood.  I guess we’ll see which comes first…

PACI, PLUG, NUKIE, PIPE…
Call it what you will, but having a pacifier has helped a great deal.  We started using one (which is now up to eight) when Quincy was about three weeks old.  This helped sooth him in between feedings and has helped him stay calm in car rides, drift off to sleep for bed or naps and has, frankly, kept his parents a little more sane.  I was a thumb sucker as a kid, so I worried he would pick-up that habit, but so far just the pacifier has stuck and we can take it away as needed.

Quincy’s Collection of Pacifiers
Proof of the Paci’s Power, mwuhahahahaha…

SNACKS
Did you know that a breast-feeding mother needs to get more calories than she did when she was pregnant?  Yes, it’s true.  My OB told me so.  I found having easy-to-grab-and-stuff-in-your-face snacks were what helped keep me going.  And don’t forget to eat in the middle of the night!  You’d be surprised how having an apple at 3:00am can set you up to be not so starving later in the morning.  Not that you need to wake up in the middle of the night to eat, but if you’re up nursing/feeding the baby, be sure to get a little something healthy to appease your belly.  These are my go-to snacks:

Granny Smith Apples

Crackers, Mandarin Oranges (Canned = No Peeling), & Granola Bars

THERE IS AN APP FOR THAT
Well, there isn’t an app that will change a baby’s diaper or take over those middle of the night feedings, but there is one to help track when you last changed a diaper and which side you left off on for breast-feeding or how many ounces the baby took from a bottle.  Let’s face it – you can’t remember the last time you slept, let alone when the baby did!  I found this app, What to Expect ® Baby Tracker, for my iPhone that has been a great way to track what the baby does so I don’t have to remember anything.  Before I found the app, I had a clipboard, pen and paper where I was writing out times and notes on everything… let’s just say my hand-writing wasn’t that great at four in the morning.  Good news – this app is free!

Options to Track (It can even track for multiple children!)
It also totals sleeping/feeding/number of diapers for you for the day!
KEEP YOURSELF HYDRATED

Take it from me – I fainted during pregnancy due to dehydration – and you still need to keep drinking fluids with a newborn, too.  I found it useful to have a water cup that has a straw.  Silly?  Yes.  Encourages you to drink? Double Yes.   Others like water bottles or just a bunch of glasses of water, but either way, get those fluids in!  To change it up, I also have been downing a lot of decaf tea, orange juice and cranberry juice.

Mint Tea – Soothing & Hydrating


THE BOUNCY SEAT

Brad raved about this miraculous invention on a previous post about his Top Seven Items for a Newborn, but I have to repeat this one.  This is how I shower (buckle Quincy in, flip the vibrations on, and he chills in the bathroom with me), take naps during the day (vibrations, chill, sleep), eat dinner (vibrations, chill, hoover food), and set him down so I can do things even while awake (vibrations, chill, get stuff done).  We also have a Boppy that I use on occasion so he can just hang out.

Bouncy Seat Naptime

Boppy – Chillin’
CONCEALER
Let’s face it, sleeping only two or three (maybe four?) hours at a time for a month or two may make you appear a bit tired.  Funny how those missing hours of sleep just color in dark circles under your eyes.  But do not fear!  Dab on a bit of concealer and it’s as if you have been sleeping like a baby (not a baby’s momma) every night!  I found that if I was going out of the house, I felt more awake and perky if I could hide the evidence and just strut around as if I was a fully rested human being.  Will it give you back those hours of sleep that you crave?  Heck no.  But it will at least keep people from staring at you and saying “boy, do you look tired!” and instead stare and coo at your beautiful baby.
Random Concealer from my Make-Up Stash
(the blue one is probably from early high school, but it gets the job done!)
POOR GIRL NURSING TOPS
For those of you who will breastfeed, you’ll find that nursing tops can be a bit pricey (at least if you plan on having more than one).   I have two I borrowed from a friend, and they are super convenient with little snaps to unhook part of the top for easy access.  But you can’t wear the same two tank tops over and over and over… either you do laundry a lot or you get gross.  And no one wants to get gross.  I supplement my nursing top supply with Poor Girl Nursing Tops.  I purchased a variety of colored tank tops that have the shelf bra on the inside, and just slipped in some disposable nursing pads.  They cost anywhere from über cheap to ten bucks, so you can get a lot instead of shelling out twenty bucks for the fancy nursing tops.  Plus, you can wear them after you’re done nursing because they’re regular tank tops – no big, awkward snaps on the straps to give you away.
Nursing Top or Cute Tank? They’re Both!
SOCIAL MEDIA
As a new mom, especially when you are on your own once your husband/partner/baby-dad/helper is back at work or unavailable to help, you may start to feel isolated.  It’s just you and a little person whose main activities consist of peeing, pooping, sleeping, eating, and crying.  Not much for conversation.  I found that having things like Facebook, email and texting helped me tremendously.  Sorry to those that got sick of seeing baby pictures in their Facebook news feed, but it was cathartic to share my little guy with friends and acquaintances, as well as receive feedback about it, too.  I was also so very fortunate to have emails and messages back and forth between some great friends going through the same thing who were encouraging and supportive.  Writing that makes me tear up a bit, because they honestly made that transition go so well from the first days home from the hospital, to my first days home without Brad, and the subsequent challenges of going out of the house with just me and Quincy and other “firsts”.  Don’t forget to have real friends visit you also instead of just virtual meet-ups.  I had other friends that came out to spend time with me and the baby, and having that time with friends truly was so helpful and encouraging.  So to all those girls (you know who you are) – THANK YOU.
BABY CAR MIRROR
When driving, the first priority is to stay focused on the road without letting the baby distract you.  This car mirror that you install on the seat of where the carseat is located is AWESOME.  Not sure if the baby is sleeping, awake, fussy, lost their pacifier, or making faces behind your back?  Now you can see them with a quick glance into your rear view mirror.  Get one.  You’ll be glad you did.
Photo Taken While Car was Parked
NURSING COVER
Not everyone will breastfeed, but for those of you who will, it’s good to have a nursing cover in case you’re out in public and need to feed the baby.  A friend of mine made this one for me, but you can buy them at stores (Target, BuyBuyBaby, Babies R Us, etc.) or you can always use a receiving blanket.  I’ve loved having this cover because it has a support piece at the top that allows you to look underneath to keep an eye on the baby, but still keeps you covered. 
Nursing Cover

FRONT PACK
Need to get around the house with the baby, but need your hands free?  Or need to go to the store and don’t want to lug around the carseat?  I use this front pack baby carrier for doing the dishes/laundry/things around the house but also for running errands.  Whenever I went to the store, it was unnerving to carry the carseat all the way in, balance it on the shopping cart or set him inside the cart and not have room to put groceries.  Then, if ever I had to step away from the cart to get something, I’d have to keep glancing over at the cart because I was paranoid someone would walk up and grab him.  Yes, I think of those things.  Instead, when I arrive at the store, I jump in the back seat, unbuckle him from his carseat, and buckle him into the front pack.  I have a hands-free shopping experience, he’s always right there so I don’t have to fight off baby snatchers, and I have a full cart to load up without a bulky carseat in the way.  Also, there have been times when Quincy is overly tired but won’t go to sleep.  I pop him into the front pack and with him snuggled in closely, its easier for him to fall asleep and I don’t have to stop working on things around the house.
Beco Baby Gemini® Baby Carrier
Front Pack Nap
I guess I should maybe market a Motherhood Wheelbarrow Full of Useful Stuff instead of the tool belt, but you get the idea.  For those new moms out there or the moms-to-be, the first month is emotional, physically draining, and a lot to process, but remember that you are a fully capable woman and you are doing GREAT.  My wheelbarrow of helpful tools has gotten me a long way, but it came with meltdowns, tears, frustration and a whole lot of people there to support me when things got tough.  This adventure of motherhood is amazing, and the best part is that you have an awesome little baby who is in this world because of YOU.  It’s an incredible feeling, isn’t it?

~M

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