To all my mamas who miss their dearly departed daddies on Father’s Day:
I feel you. You are raising amazing little brown or black boys or a similarly amazing little brown or black girl, and while you do have lots of men in your life, nobody replaces your daddy. No one is stronger, smarter, more protective, funnier, wiser or able to discern how to help you fix your problems more than your pops. At least that’s how it was with mine.
My father was the first man to buy me gold earrings. They were tiny hoops, 24k gold, from Marshall Field’s. I was 14 when I got them on my birthday, and I never knew, until I was much older, that my father gave me jewelry for several reasons. One, so that I would of course be beautifully adorned, but also so that I knew the difference between trash and treasure. The situation of the creepy man on the street, hanging out at my high school and trying to give away cheap gold-plated rings or bracelets to girls in exchange for sex (which really happened, by the way) never happened to me. I didn’t need to trade sexual favors for gold from strangers. My pops gave me jewelry, not a lot of it, but enough to make it clear that I never needed to gold dig – not while I had a mother and a father and an entire extended family happy to help me get whatever I needed (and sometimes wanted) in life.
It is not seemly to talk about sex. And I’m not trying to be unseemly. I also don’t want to scare anyone who is pregnant or in labor right now because you probably won’t wind up with a third degree tear like I did. At least, I hope you don’t.
Airlines can’t stay out the news lately can they? They seem to always be doing something awful to passengers. From the doctor who was beat down for not giving up his seat to the mother who was nearly knocked out by her own stroller as it wielded by an airport flight attendant, it seems that flying with baby is mighty perilous these days. Don’t worry, Sassy Plum is here to help you figure out how to do this. You CAN do this mom. You can fly safely and efficiently with your baby, your infant, your toddler or your young kid. And hopefully you can do it with minimal issues.
I put my 18-month-old son in a traditional pre-school and he came home crying daily. The school also sent home reports –written in red ink– stating that he wouldn’t sit still at his desk and that he was “clumsy” and kept falling down during the five block walk to the park. He didn’t stay long at that expensive preschool.
Guess what? Both stay-at-home moms and moms who work outside the home use the hell out of their digital devices and spend a lot of time on social media and watching streamed television shows and movies.
My four-year-old is a great helper. He can put on his pajamas by himself and he can take them off and put the in the dirty clothes hamper. He also sleeps in a pull-up or overnight diaper, and sometimes, in the morning, he throws the pull-up into the hamper as well. And what do I do? Because I am a genius, I dump everything in the basket into my high efficiency washing machine, add some soap and Oxyclean and leave the house.
I thought I was done with breastfeeding. No milk had come out for two weeks, and baby boy was two years old and on solids. YAY! My BFF had also gotten engaged and we were all packed and ready to head to Puerto Rico for a long weekend of celebration.
I got an interesting request the other day. It was from a friend asking me to host a Super Bowl party for “for everyone.” Why? “Because,” she wrote, “You have a big basement. All you have to do is finish the walls, fix the lights and bar and throw a party!” Notwithstanding the fact that someone texted me to suggest I throw a Super Bowl party in my unfinished and not up to code basement, but who would then clean my house, provide the food, breastfeed my newborn while people came over, sanitize everything after they left, shovel and de-ice every walkway, provide the liquor, set the TV up (or buy a new one) and play hostess with the mostess during a five- to seven-hour event?
I’m about to break down the new baby rules for you and most of you aren’t going to like it but here goes. When a baby is born, the most important person in the room is… the mama. That’s right. The mother. And what mama wants should be what mama gets.
Before the new baby arrives, ask the mama what she wants in terms of visitors, privacy, advice, food and help. Don’t assume she wants you to spend the night. Sometimes visitors get in the way of good bonding, so ask before you assume.
Let the new family adjust to each other for at least a week. Unless you are specifically invited to come over, don’t just pop over for a visit. New babies need time to get used to being out of the womb. Everything is too loud and too intense. Perfume is too much. They’re hungry and cold and feel weird. They don’t want you to hold them. They only want their mom. They know their mom. They were inside mom for most of a year. They know her heartbeat and her voice. They can’t see her yet. Give mom and baby a week to unfurl and to relax into each other. If you must visit, just drop food at the door and don’t come in. If you must come in, don’t ask to hold the baby.
Don’t ask mama to hold her newborn. Yes. Yes. I know you came to visit a baby, but you can look without touching. If mom offers baby to you, then SCORE! Wash your hands, drape a blanket over your outside clothing and hold that precious baby. But if mom did not offer? Or if mom is having problems latching or if mom is just staring at her little baby in the bassinet? Don’t touch.
Acknowledge that you are germy. YOU. You’re carrying some nasty worms and parasites and whatnot. Seriously, even if you think you’re 100% perfectly fine, your coworkers aren’t and that bus you just took was dirty and the valet who parked your car? He didn’t wash his hands after wiping his ass after taking a dump at lunch. He left fecal material on your car door and steering wheel. Then you touched the steering wheel and came inside and refused to wash your hands. And.. babies really don’t need your germs. Not yet. If you’ve ever seen an infant in the NICU, in a hard plastic, sterile enclosure, struggling to breath oxygen, you would understand why it is absolutely imperative that this new baby not be exposed to your heebie jeebies. Now. Once they get a little older? All bets are off. But under three months? They don’t need your personal herpes (no kisses please if you are shedding!) or hepatitis (don’t bite the baby please) or “a little taste of” your pneumonia.
Bring mom a glass of water. If you got inside the house, you must be a good person. Continue that forward momentum by understanding that nursing is hard work. Bring water and ice cream and mother’s milk tea. Take a swing through the La Leche League breastfeeding site so you can show some solidarity and learn something too.
If baby is formula fed, don’t assume that mom is no longer needed and tell her to get out and go see a movie. Mom still needs to feed her own baby and cuddle her own baby and bond with her own baby. Please, pretty please, don’t snatch a baby out of her hands because you want to feed it.
Bring something. Wipes. A onesie for the next size up. A board book. Clorox wipes. Germ X. Toilet tissue and Paper Towels (for the guests.) Or bring something to eat that has lot of calories and a side salad.
Stay out the fridge. Most mamas prepare food in advance for the time when they are resting and recovering. Don’t open the fridge and ask for tomorrow night’s dinner. And wash your hands before touching anyone’s fridge please.
Order food from mama’s favorite restaurant. Have it delivered. With wine.
Ask Dad/Partner how he is doing. Do it in private though. Make sure he/she is ok. And ask him how mama is doing. Post partum depression is real and only a good friend or doctor will care enough to notice and to act.
Newborns are easier while older babies are more challenging. Do you want to really be helpful? Offer to babysit when that kid turns six months or eight months or one year old. Give the parents a date night or a birthday dinner night. You can get all day and all night and maybe even a whole weekend of feeding and holding and changing that baby under your belt if you wait just a teeny little bit.
What tips did I miss? Lemme know your “rules” for the days after you get home from the hospital.
Breastfeeding Tips for the Mama Whose Milk Won’t Come in
When Baby Boy #1 came along, I did everything they told me to do to stimulate milk production: I drank a ton of water, I decreased caffeine, I had skin-to-skin all the time, I ate healthy and I didn’t provide any bottles. And my child still lost weight and got dehydrated and needed to be fed with a dropper and formula until my milk got going. The thing is, he gained weight in the hospital but as soon as I got home? He lost weight, and my milk dried up. Kinda.
We were all in a panic. What happened? How could this be? What was wrong with my breasts? Was I not eating enough? Was I not enough? Were my breasts too small? Should I just give up and use formula?