The period from birth to the end of the 3rd month is often called the fourth trimester, but I call it “baby bootcamp”. You know that feeling you get when you’ve partied all weekend in Vegas, checked out early from your hotel to beat the traffic home, and then sit 5 hours driving through what seems like an endless desert with a gnarly hangover? That’s pretty much how I felt during most of baby bootcamp. Just like Vegas casinos, you might as well not have any clocks in the house because there’s no time like baby time.
In retrospect, there were some things that did make life a little easier – besides staring at my baby sleep, which despite it all makes it all worth it.
- My Brest Friend
Before I had Kara, I had heard of the “Boppy,” but when a friend of mine suggested the “Brest Friend” instead, I went with it (partly because I got a kick out of the name). This breastfeeding pillow was probably attached to me even more than Kara was during those first few months. Unlike the Boppy, it buckles around your waist, which takes some getting used to – but once it’s on – it takes very little adjustment. It has a removable cover with a pocket. Trust me when I say how amazing this pocket is – when you are new to breastfeeding,you’re kind of stuck once a nursing session starts so it’s nice to have essentials always close by. I kept chapstick, my phone, and nipple cream in my pillow.
- Hands Free Pumping Bra
I started pumping around month 2 to start building a “go back to work” stash. I thought I didn’t need a hands free pumping bra at first. At one point, my husband McGuyvered one together for me by taking an old bikini top and cutting holes into them, but after adjusting and readjusting these every time in addition to the 30 minutes I had to pump, I gave in. My cheapass finally bought the Simple Wishes Lansinoh Hands Free Bra, which made a dreadful task a little less dreadful and made my life feel a little more productive. I could pump milk AND surf facebook. Life was good. And yes – for all those times I actually “found time” to be on facebook – yup- secret’s out. I was pumping. When I went back to work – I even bought another one just to keep at work.
Baby nails grow fast and when Kara woke up with little freddy kruger marks all over her face, we knew we had to suck it up and start cutting those wee lil nails. But for new parents, it’s scary as f%$!. A few friends of ours recommended we get the Zoli. It’s a little nail filer that sands the baby’s fingernails down gently. At about $35 a pop, it IS a little ridiculous especially when compared to the price of nail clippers, but I was already so stressed about a thousand other things and I was glad “clipping my baby’s nails” was not one of those things. We stopped using it around the 8 month mark though because by that point, Kara’s nails were harder and it took forever to file. Plus – by that point, her fingers weren’t scary small.
Yes – you’re supposed to be sleeping when baby sleeps, but that’s not always going to be the case. Netflix was sometimes the only outlet during a never-ending day. Since baby bootcamp was a bit stressfull and my hormones were all out of whack – I couldn’t stand to watch anything dark. I found the family drama “Parenthood” extremely addicting, and at times it was motivating to see the different stages of parenthood the characters went through and how beautiful it can really be.
- Reading Pillow
With newborns nursing anywhere from 6 to12 times in a 24-hour period day, don’t be fooled in thinking you’re going to always be nursing in a rocking chair. For nighttime nursing during the first few months, you might be – as I did – nurse baby in your bedroom since that’ s where baby will be. Our bed’s headboard isn’t very comfortable to lean against and stacking regular pillows up just didn’t quite cut it. Hubby bought me a high-backed reading pillow and it was a game changer. In fact – I’m using it right now as I’m writing this post.
- Nursing Tanks with Built in Support
Nursing bras are definitely essential, but if you’re at home most of the time – just like other bras, it’s not super comfortable. You could just wear no bra – but we used to get visitors during the day and I’m sure they appreciated me wearing these nursing tanks!
- Himalayan Salt Crystal
I loved this random, but thoughtful gift. When we prepped for Kara’s arrival, we went out and bought nightlights. I’m used to sleeping in pitch black – so I thought I wanted to get used to sleeping with the nightlights before she came. The nightlights sucked. I couldn’t sleep with the blueish – whitish light on. A friend of ours bought us a himalayan salt crystal lamp – and it was magical. Though I’m not sure about the how theory on ionic cleansing, the amber light emitted was definitely easier to sleep in than other night lights.
- Hot Water Dispenser
The beautiful thing about having a village is the collective experience and foresight. One of our “off registry” items we received, we still use our hot water dispenser til this day. We used it to warm up pumped breastmilk (though you could use a bottle warmer – we had one, but it never made it out of the box since we have limited counter space in our kitchen), make tea, make coffee.
- Nursing App
So it’s a little neurotic, but a nursing app made tracking metrics on Kara easier than the paper chart the hospital sent us home with. It is easy to get a bit obsessive compulsive with an app, but the biggest utility I found was being able to quickly pull up information to report during Kara’s doctor’s visits. They always ask you a dozen questions at the beginning (i.e. how oftern does the baby nurse, how many BM diapers a day, etc.) and I’d be lucky enough to remember I had an appointment let alone how many diapers she had.
- Boba Wrap (or any other fabric baby carrier)
They’re tiny and sleep all the time and sometimes – you just need to step outside. A fabric wrap carrier not makes cuddling with baby wonderful, but it lets you get stuff done and maybe even see some sunlight. At this age, some babies are too small for the structured carriers so fabric wraps are great.
- Nose Frida
I remembered thinking how disgusting this concept was – it’s a plastic tube that you use to suck the snot out of your baby’s nose. There is a filter to catch anything so you won’t actually be exposed to tasting baby boogies. And then I saw internet pics on the inside of those rubber bulb syringes they use in the hospitals. Google that and you’ll be a believer in the Nose Frida.
Last, but definitely not least: Good Company
Baby bootcamp is tough. It was perhaps the toughest thing I’ve had to do – up to that point. I was constantly on the internet, searching for answers and was always unsure I was doing the right thing. I was sleep deprived, couldn’t really remember the last time I showered, and worst of all – eating became solely for sustenance. Good company kept my spirits high and although many people say it’s best to leave new parents alone for the first few months – I personally was in a much better place because of all the visits I had. Being a new parent can sometimes feel very lonely – especially when your spouse goes back to work and you’re stuck in the “baby time machine” at home by yourself. It was nice to talk to someone who wasn’t asleep through most of the conversation and to connect to the outside world.