Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gift for a New Mom

My sister-in-law just turned 30. Meg is also expecting her first child any day now.

When Ely was born, I was thankful for his relatively easy birth and that it went exactly as we had hoped it would. Don't get me wrong, it was hard hard hard work work work! Pushing was the most frustrating, uncomfortable, and exasperating thing I had ever done, and when it took much longer than it should have I was sure he was never going to crown. But, I was able to sleep during contractions for the first half of labor, had an active stage that was only about 2 hours long, and when the midwife arrived at our house, she found me completely dilated at 10 cm. During the previous weeks, we had been worried about what my already-almost-at-the-high-cut-off-line blood pressure might do during labor, especially if it was a long and drawn out one. When Ely came quickly, it was as if our prayers were answered.

Learning to breastfeed knocked me off my feet though. I thought it would be easy and natural. I was prepared - I had read lot of books, learned about breastfeeding in our Bradley childbirth classes, attended several La Leche League meetings while pregnant, been breastfed myself when it wasn't the popular thing to do, made sure there were no bottles or formula in the house, and had an extremely supportive husband. Instead of joy, I had over a month of pain, severely cracked and bleeding nipples, plugged ducts, and mastitis. At one point I just knew I had thrush because there had to be some reason why it hurt so much. Nursing made natural childbirth seem easy, and everyday I wished I could birth my son again instead of having to feed him. My saving grace was the maximum dosage of advil and the lactation consultant who came to my house 3 different times (though by the end she was just there to cheer me on as I was doing everything right). My other saving grace was the entire Sex and the City series on dvd, because I had entertainment during those hundreds of hours I spent sitting on the sofa feeding my baby then holding him once he fell asleep. There was no way I was going to move once he was asleep. Not only did I watch every episode, I watched every episode again with the commentary turned on. Yes, I was hardcore.

It can be really hard being a new mom. There can be physical pain, emotional pain, boredom, loss of independence to get used to, and, of course, lack of sleep. Anything to make a new mom's life easier is always appreciated. I remember all the food that came to our house after Agnes was born. The day may have been long and hard, but at least we could sit down at the table every evening as a new family of four and eat a delicious meal someone had made for us out of love and friendship. Our next door neighbor even brought everything over hot and ready to dish onto plates exactly at 6pm.

For my sister-in-law's birthday gift, I wanted to give her a little something that would make her new life easier. I remembered cloth.paper.string's weighted bookmark, and loved the idea of being able to hold a book open without using your hands. I'm sure if I had one four summers ago, I would have added some reading time to all my tube time. I used some neutral linen for the front, light green canvas for the back, and embroidered my sister-in-law's initial on the front in darker green floss (green is her favorite color!). I measured an average size book and decided to make my finished bookmark 9x3 inches. Once it was stuffed with the lentils I found in my pantry, I was unsure if it would be sturdy enough to hold open a book, but I tested it with a newish hardback book and it did with no trouble at all. I also made Meg a nursing bracelet of green opal beads threaded onto elastic thread to help keep track of which side the baby last nursed on. The bracelet slips easily from one wrist to the other. When the baby starts a new nursing session, you simply go to the side the bracelet is on, then move the bracelet to the other wrist. I meant to make one for myself before Agnes was born, but when babies unexpectedly arrive early at 37 weeks, a lot of your plans fall by the wayside.

So, all Meg needs now is her new baby boy. And maybe a season or two of SATC.