Only 8 weeks and counting! 8 weeks until my baby girl becomes a mother herself for the first time (and I join the grandmother sorority). I have dreamt of this day for years and it is about to arrive . . . finally.
As I was planning my daughter’s virtual baby shower this week, I looked at her registry list and realized she was missing major baby care items. I thought initially, “Maybe she hasn’t finished her list yet?” But that would be odd since the invitations have already been sent. I browsed the list looking for the basics, like burping cloths, diapers . . . crib or bassinette. None were on the list. Yet, she had enough baby clothes for triplets (and the Ferrari of strollers) but that was about it.
I called her and ask if she’d forgotten to add those items, and her response surprised me.
“What do you mean mom? I added everything I wanted onto the list”.
“Yes, but did you add everything you need!?”
We had some laughs as I guided her through the things that she really needed. For one, a swing. It’s a life saver—no exaggeration. It was more important than a crib because it saved my sanity. Non-parents cannot imagine the calming effect a simple swinging motion has on a child (and how that allows mothers to grab much-needed peace of mind breaks).
During our bantering it occurred to me that she may not even know what she’ll need at the hospital or for the first few days after coming home . . . other than her mother of course. She had already added a “hospital essentials” bag to her list, but the bag was missing some important key items. For one, a heating pad. Another must need item when in labor, and one that most women forget. Also, essential oils. When I was in labor, smells bothered me. Having some essential oils would have been great and made labor a little less uncomfortable.
Below I have listed some other key items I think would be helpful in guiding your child to becoming a parent. I also share some practical advice for daughters (and sons). Although my two sons aren’t about to become fathers, at least in the next 9 months, I thought I would start the list for them.
- Be ready to text/call – Start a whatapps or text group from your phone that can send an auto text when your labor starts. It should include information such as who to keep in touch with. There are some apps that offer this, but it’s best to keep it on the phone so recipients don’t have to download an app to stay informed.
- Tummy Tuck – Understand your tummy will not immediately shrink back to its previous six-pack. I was traumatized (at 16) after my son was born 30 years ago. No one told me that my stomach would look like I was half pregnant with a bowl of jelly for a month or two after.
- Physical preparation – Yes, it hurts. And there is no minimizing it. After the birth you will probably hurt down there, and, yes, you will bleed for a few days. (FYI: Although the hospital provides pads, bring your own comfy ones because the hospital ones feel like diapers. You are going to need more than the thin light day pads, trust me).
- Support system – Define your support system before your baby is born. Post-partem can happen. It may not, but if it does you’ll want a list of family, friends (and even a therapist or two) who are readily available. If you don’t have that support system in place, this is a great resource- https://www.maternalmentalhealthnow.org/
- Have the basics – Diapers, swing, burpie cloths, thermometer, aspirator, bassinette, car seat, baby bath items. You can google these lists to discover what you feel is best for your baby . . . and for you.
- Have the conversation – What do you need from me to support you fully while in labor? You assume you already know this, but further the discussion by asking yourself what best helped you when you were in pain or sick?
- Have a gift ready to go – A matching bracelet for her and the baby is a sweet offering. Even a beautiful bouquet of flowers will do the trick. Just be thoughtful and show her you care about what she went through to have your child. A kiss on the forehead and holding your baby together is sweet, but going the extra mile will show how much you care.
- Create a Visit list – Create a list with her of whom you will allow to visit the first few days, weeks etc . . . (Although we are currently in pandemic mode, grandmas like me will want to break the door down). I would communicate the visitation plan (with a kind text or email) prior to your baby being born. An understanding note explaining how you are limiting visitors can avoid hurt feelings.
- Don’t eat stinky foods – Although for the most part you will never know when the baby is coming, I suggest that you avoid garlicky and stinky foods around her due date. If you slipped and could not avoid the garlic naan bread, fine, bring mints and gum and lots of it. (Beware: your chewing noises while she is in pain won’t go over very well, so chew quietly).
- Learn about breastfeeding – If she has decided to breast feed, learn all you can to support her. It can be very painful and exhausting in the beginning, and lots of patience is needed. This is an easy Google search.
Bonus tip for both parents – When you bring the baby home make lots of noise. I turned the vacuum on the first few days and even purposely banged some pots and pans together. You must get your child accustomed to hearing noise. (All three of my babies always slept through almost anything).
Finally, make sure that grandparents from both sides are included (provided they are mentally healthy humans). But recognize also that daughters can be really close to their own mamas. Be understanding and patient with this relationship. Grandparents can be forever role models and make deep impressions in a child’s life. My grandfather Jackson was my world, and although he passed away when I was 11, he taught me kindness and unconditional love. He also showed me what hard work meant and what a $100 bill looked like. I still carry one in my wallet to this day . . . Well, unless I’m shopping for grandbaby clothes, then it mysteriously disappears.