thismummaslife

Motherhood, Art, Creative Play, and Finding Joy in Everyday Life


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Packing for the Hospital

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As of two days ago, I am 35 weeks pregnant. This means that my estimated due date is in just over a month!!! Since I am working right up until the end, am already Mumma to an active 4-year-old, and we are still renovating our bedroom and getting the house in order, I know this last month is going to fly by. So, I am working on being more prepared for when the time comes.

Yesterday, I finished making a list of everything we will pack in our hospital bag. This way, as we get closer to the time, I can start to put some things in the bag, and scratch them off the list. I believe this will also make things so much easier, when labor begins, to have the list to look at for adding the final things, like toiletries, that can’t be packed up in advance.

So, in case it interests you, or helps other expecting parents to make their own list, I decided to share mine along with my comments about what I was glad we had last time, and what I wished we would have had. I might make last-minute tweaks in the weeks to come, but I really think this list will encompass everything we will need to be more comfortable for labor, delivery, and our stay afterward.

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FOR OUR HOSPITAL BAG:

Items for Labor:

~A copy of our birth plan. My midwife will have a copy, but I want to bring one with us just in case she is unavailable when I go into labor, to have for the staff on duty.

~Some soothing CD’s. When I had Simon we listened to Norah Jones and Zero 7. This time, I plan to bring Lisa Hannigan. Our hospital provides a CD player in each birth room.

~A picture of Simon, for motivation and smiles.

~Natural lollipops. The sour ones were comforting to me when I had pregnancy nausea, and if I want something during labor, but don’t feel like eating, these would be helpful.

~Mints or gum.

~A microwavable heating pad. I find mine soothing and relaxing when I am tired or sore. Alternately, if I want something cool on me, I can ask Jeramy or a nurse for a cool, wet cloth.

Clothing: Comfort is my number one concern here. I will be packing clothes to labor in, and clothes for afterward.

For labor:

~A nightgown. When I had Simon I was very glad that I bought my own nightgown for labor, rather than wearing the one the hospital provides. It was important to me to feel like a Mother giving birth, and not a medical patient. I still have that nightgown, and will be bringing it again this time. The nice thing about a gown is that when I was ready for pushing, it could just be pulled up out-of-the-way.

~Sweatpants. I wore sweatpants underneath my nightgown for most of the time, as I took walks in the halls, bounced on my birth ball, and went through most of early labor the first time around. At a certain point, I was able to just take the sweatpants off, to make it easier for my midwife to examine me, and obviously once it was time to push they would have been in the way.

~Cotton tank top. In case it is more comfortable than the nightgown for various labor positions.

~Bathing suit. This time I plan on trying to labor in the birthing tub, and a nightgown on top would just get in the way here. I have a large tankini top that I bought for pregnancy, and it is very comfortable.

For the rest of the time:

~Lounge or yoga pants, t-shirts, a loose, flowy cardigan, a hoodie…basically, pajamas that I do not mind wearing in the company of visitors. When I had Simon, it was May, and it looked beautiful out, but was actually very chilly. I ended up wishing I had packed more layers, and plan to give myself better choices this time.

~For the day we leave to go home, I will be bringing my maternity jeans and a loose top that makes me feel good to wear. We will likely want to take a family photo when we leave, and this will help me feel a bit more “normal”. (Since women still have a pregnancy belly for a while after having a Baby, there is no point trying to pack anything from pre-pregnancy, or that is too constricting.)

~Soft lounge socks to keep my feet warm.

~Flip-flops to slip on and off easily. (If Baby is going to have his or her hearing test, for example, I will want to go along.)

~A package of large underwear. I purchased an 8-pack of undies one size larger than I normally wear, and in a cut that gives more coverage. After you have a Baby you wear large pads for a while, and I want some undies that will accommodate these comfortably.

~Nursing tanks and bras. When I had Simon, the nurses helped me to change into one of my nursing tank tops right away and I attempted to breastfeed him. He was too sleepy, but those nursing tanks came in very handy while in the hospital, and for the rest of the time he was breastfed.

For Hubby: Pajamas, clean socks and underwear, flip-flops, a change of pants, something long-sleeved, and a few t-shirts. (The extra t-shirts are in case of Baby spit-up.)

Toiletries: Some people bring their own shampoos, bar of soap, even toilet paper. For me, some things are more important to have my own of than others. Here I am planning to bring what we need to cover the basics, and just use the hospital provided samples for the rest.

~Our toothbrushes and our own toothpaste. (I am picky about toothpaste.)

~Deodorant.

~Disposable face wash wipes for quick freshen-ups.

Extras for Me:

~A package of very large menstrual pads. The hospital provides some, but after the first day I preferred my own.

~Nursing pads.

~Nipple cream.

~Lip balm. Sometimes all of the deep breathing you do in labor can chap your lips.

~My makeup bag with a few basic items in it. It helped me feel more put-together, when I had Simon, to put on a bit of concealer, mascara, and blush before guests would arrive.

~Hairbrush, blow-dryer, and barrettes. I will be cutting my hair short before having Baby, so barrettes will help me pin back pieces from my face if I want. When I had Simon though, I brought hair elastics, because I had long hair then.

~My glasses case. (I definitely won’t want to be wearing my glasses the whole time.)

Snacks:  Our hospital puts no restriction on eating and drinking during labor, and if things take a while I want to have some snacks on hand, both during early labor, and for the rest of our stay. The hospital keeps crackers and peanut butter, pudding, and bananas available, but there are some things I will be adding to our suitcase to satisfy any likely cravings.

~Dark chocolate.

~Something salty and crunchy, such as roasted salted almonds or russet potato chips.

~Seltzer.

~Lara bars.

~Annies Microwaveable Mac&Cheese bowls. A friend suggested these to me when I was telling her about Simon’s birth and how the only food I had packed were a few granola bars, but I ended up craving savory things. These are a hot meal that can be easily tossed into the suitcase without worry about refrigeration.

We will likely get takeout at some point too, but having some things on hand to fill in the gaps will be a good idea, especially if we are awake at night when the hospital cafeteria and local restaurants are closed.

For Baby:

~A few outfits. When Simon was born we were shocked to have a 5 lb. 13 oz. baby who was so tiny he swam in the newborn sizes that I had packed. The hospital loaned us some slightly smaller outfits, and then my Mother-in-law went to the store for some preemie sized clothes. This time around I will be bringing some clothes in both preemie and newborn to cover the bases. Keeping it as simple as possible, I will bring a few onesies, some sleeper gowns or footie pajamas, little mitts, and a soft cap. For the day we leave I will select an outfit with a little sweater and soft pants to layer over a onesie, so that Baby can be easily buckled into the car seat.

~A snuggly blanket. The hospital has swaddling blankets for while we are there, but it will be good to have a warmer one for tucking over the baby in the car seat for the ride home.

~Nursing pillow for breastfeeding.

Other:

~Camera with charger and memory card.

~Chargers for our cell phones so that we can send a first picture of the baby and announce the big news.

~An empty tote bag. The hospital gives new parents packets of information, board books to start Baby’s library, after care items for Mumma, a small baby tub, some care items for Baby, a few diapers, and a manual breast pump. Visitors also sometimes bring gifts. Having an extra bag to bring everything home in is very helpful.

~A special big-brother gift for Simon.

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This may seem like a lot of stuff, but it will all fit easily into our one suitcase. Every family has different needs and wants, so my list might not work for you. I recommend asking what your hospital or birth center provides, and reading lists online or asking friends what they recommend.

 


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It Is Getting More Real…

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I am 32 weeks pregnant now. Only 8-ish weeks to go. I have been feeling baby kicks for months, and yet, last night, as Jeramy and I sat on the couch together and Baby started up the nightly internal parkour routine, I exclaimed: “There is a Baby in there! We are having a Baby!”

“I know.” he replied, and we both smiled.

As we are now well into the third trimester, and we begin writing our list of things to pack for the hospital, and working out the details of our birth plan, it is all getting to be…real. Despite the insomnia, soreness, and fatigue I have been experiencing, the excitement is really kicking in too. These last two months will be over before we know it, and we will soon get to meet our child. I try to remind myself every day that this is the last child we are planning to have, so this is my last chance to experience how incredible it is to feel those movements and kicks inside. To anticipate the arrival of this new member of our family. To daydream about what our child will be like, and who they will become.

We still have a lot to prepare before Baby’s arrival. We are renovating the downstairs bedroom, and in the meantime we are sleeping on our mattress on the floor, surrounded by boxes that are waiting to be unpacked from when we moved in. We need to purchase our co-sleeper, a breast pump, and a few other items. We have just begun stocking the freezer so that we will not have to cook when we are too sleep deprived. But, day by day we are more prepared for this big change in our lives.

In a recent conversation with a friend who is also pregnant, she mentioned how adorably foldy new babies’ legs are. I actually squealed out loud with excitement remembering this, and remembering other things about what newborns are like. When Simon was born, I marveled at the way his tiny feet still folded against his legs. At how small fingernails can actually be. At the way he would look into my eyes and know me, right from the first time I ever held him.

It is hitting me now, the excitement of it all. The reality. We are going to have a Baby!


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Children Are People Too

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Recently, my little Simon and I met some friends for lunch at a local cafe. We arrived, ordered our food, and then I told Simon he could pick out a drink for himself. He excitedly chose an Izze soda, knowing that this is the only soda I allow him to drink. (If you are not familiar, Izze is basically carbonated fruit juice with no added sugars or preservatives. And it is quite delicious.)

Full of excitement over meeting friends, and being allowed to have a special treat, he practically bounced across the cafe floor with his drink, to place it on the counter. The woman working at the counter began to ring us up. Simon politely said to her: “Excuse me,…”

“Hi!” She said to him. “Is that your drink?”

“Yes, and—” He began to reply.

“Your Mom is having a baby!” She interrupted him. “You must be excited!”

He again tried to speak, pointing to his soda: “This is—”

Are you having a sister or a brother?” She again interrupted.

“No. This is—” Still pointing at the soda bottle.

“A baby sister or a baby brother? Do you know what you are having?” Her tone implied impatience with him, and yet she was not giving him time to reply. By now, I was feeling furious with this woman. My son was attempting to communicate with her, but she had her own agenda. Because he was not responding the same way an adult would, she was not respecting him, and not taking the time to listen.

He tried again: “But this is–” He was tapping the soda bottle frantically now, to show her what he was trying to talk about.

And again she interrupted: “You must be excited about the baby. What is it gonna be, a boy or a girl?”

Finally, Simon could not take it any more, and actually jumped up and down and wailed: “But I am trying to tell you something!”

She didn’t even hear his words, despite the fact that he was shouting them, because she was still grilling him over the gender of our baby. So this time I interrupted her. I reached out my hand, and stroked Simon’s hair. I leaned down to his level and said: “It’s ok honey.” Then, I looked back up at the woman and said: “He has been trying to tell you something that is important to him. He is very excited today.” I leaned back down to Simon and encouraged him: “Go ahead, Sweetie. Tell her what you want to say.”

She finally gave him room to speak. He spoke carefully and slowly now. I think he was afraid she would interrupt him again: “This is special soda that I get to have.”

She didn’t seem to know what to say, so she just replied “Oh yeah?” and finished our transaction.

Unfortunately, I don’t think she believed there was value in anything he had to say. I realize that not all adults know how to interact with children. However, at this point he was a customer in her cafe, and also a fellow human being. She was only interested in my pregnant belly, and thought he should be too. Of course he is, but it is a part of his everyday life. At that moment, getting a soda was much more thrilling and new, and he had a desperate need to express this to the other adult in front of him. Sure, she made an attempt to show interest in him by asking him questions, but it wasn’t genuine because she didn’t actually try to hear what he was saying.

He may have been barely able to see over the counter. He may have been wiggly, and silly, and young. However, that did not mean he was not worthy of being listened to. Children know when they are being talked down to or disregarded. They can sense it and it causes them frustration. (Just as it would for an adult.) This whole interaction may have only lasted a few minutes, but we encounter similar situations day after day. Added up all together they send a message that his opinions are less important because he is a kid, and that only grownups are worthy of being heard.

All adults, parents and non-parents, sometimes need to be reminded: Children are people too.


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In The Kitchen

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We have been cooking up a storm lately. Having a daily meal together is one of our family values, one that we have neglected far too much in recent months, with my pregnancy being rough on me, and us still not being quite fully settled into our new home. Jeramy and I want to eat more healthfully and seasonally, to role model a good relationship with food for our children, and to stick to a budget while sharing the experience of family time spent at the dinner table.

In need of some inspiration, I checked out a new cookbook from the library, and drafted a meal plan from there that was realistic for our tastes. When I create weekly meal plans it is better for our budget, saves us time, and means fewer trips to the store. I spend a little bit of time once a week, looking at recipes, writing the grocery list, and looking at the calendar to see what our evening schedule looks like every day. Once that bit of work is done though, and the grocery trip has been made, I am free from the stress and panic of “What’s for dinner?” each day.

The best part is that not only have I been rediscovering joy in cooking for myself, but Jeramy and Simon have too. Most nights, all three of us are in the kitchen together to prepare dinner. Simon has shown increasing interest in helping, and learning about recipes and ingredients. He has assisted with chopping, stirring, measuring, and scooping. He even helps set the table now. And though he tends to be a picky eater most of the time, being involved in the process has invited him to try new things. It certainly takes longer to prep a meal with a small child, but it is so worth it. He is learning so much, and having a very valuable experience. Cooking together as a family creates memories.

 


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Snuggle Chat

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Simon and I were snuggled up together on the couch this morning, as I read him a pile of picture books. I was wearing a tank top, and he looked up at me and said:

“Mumma, your armpit is dis-gus-ting!”

“What!? Why is it disgusting?” I asked him.

“Because it has hair in it.”

Amused, I explained: “That is because I am a grownup. When you grow up you will have hair growing in your armpits too.”

“Ewwww!” he replied. “Well, then, I am not growing up.”


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Rainy Days Are For Art

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Last week we had several rainy and chilly Spring days in a row. On one of those days, Simon found a box of art supplies and asked to take it out. Never one to turn down art, I of course brought out the box, and we ended up spending hours together being creative and messy.

We found an old plaster mask inside that Simon got at a local kid’s art studio last year, and which he periodically adds to or re-paints. He started out by putting more foam stickers onto the mask, and then a fresh layer of paint. From there he moved on to painting on newspaper, exploring mixing colors on his palette, and then splattering water onto construction paper to see how he could make it change color.

While he did all of this, I used crayons and paint to work on some sketches of my own. I find that when I make art with materials that are less “precious” I tend to feel more free to explore and express. I think this process is good for me as an artist, because I release my tendency of being a perfectionist and just let go and have fun with the process. It is also probably good role modeling for Simon to see that you can be fearless about artistic expression, and not fuss about what it looks like.

Eventually Simon discovered the perler beads, and began working on making a star. I was amazed at how focused he was on this, seeing it through to completion with determination, even when the beads would sometimes tumble off of the shape if he bumped them. Once his star was filled in and ironed, he moved back over to the other side of the table again, and drew with crayons for a while before discovering that he could dip them in the paint and use them instead of a paintbrush.

So much exploration of materials took place, and I was amazed by how much time Simon invested in his artwork. Times like this are my favorite, where there is no right or wrong answer, we just pull stuff out and see what happens.

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