1) What has most surprised you about motherhood?
Hm. I think what has most surprised me about motherhood is how easy it has been. Don't get me wrong, it's been hard at times, too. We've had ups and downs (and then, sometimes, even more downs...), but really, it's been a surprisingly smooth journey so far and I have just loved every minute of it. This little being is my life; I shift and reframe and mold my life to fit hers right now, and there is so much beauty in that... she has brought me so much peace. So yeah, that surprised me. Maybe what I'm saying is my reaction to motherhood surprised me. I feel very at ease, and more calm than I have felt in a long time.
2) How has your husband most surprised you?
Oh. Oh my dear, sweet, strong, supportive, loving, caring, amazing husband. He has not stopped surprising me since the day Eliza was born. I hope this doesn't come off sounding like I had low expectations for him, because my expectations were actually quite high for him as we entered parenthood together... but oh how he has exceeded any and all expectations. The way he loves on his baby girl, the gentle way he cares for her as he changes diapers, bathes her, dresses her, reads her books... and I love the way he totes her around the kitchen teaching her about the different types of fruit in the fruit bowl ... oh the completely overwhelming, fierce love and protection he feels. I feel so lucky to be able to watch him father Eliza. He teaches me so much. I knew he would be a great dad, but I never imagined he would be this great!
Suzie asks: What are your "must have" item recommendations for a new mama?
Fun question, Suzie! There actually have been a few products that have come in handy as a new mom...
- This Camelback water bottle - as a nursing mama, it's hard to reach down to my coffee table to pick up a glass of water and then put it back down without spilling it... but it's important to drink a TON of water while nursing... so this water bottle is the perfect tool. The "bite valve" is the key - there's no top to unscrew, so you only need one hand to drink from it, which is perfect to use while nursing, and it doesn't spill when you have to quickly throw it down on the couch cushion next to you because you have to help your baby who just came off your nip.ple and is now trying to find it and suck it back into her mouth with the force of a hoover, but she keeps missing it and so she's just sucking the skin right next to the nip.ple and OMIGOD PLEASE STOP IT HURTS SO MUCH.
- Baby-wearing devices! - these have been a godsend for me. Fortunately, Eliza loves them, so we use them a ton. They have allowed me to wash the dishes, do the laundry, cook dinner, and - yes - pee, all while "holding" Eliza - handsfree! Once, I even shoveled snow and cleared my car off while wearing her! My favorite one for when babies are itty-bitty is the Kangaroo Korner Pouch. I'm still using it now, it has a hip carry and a "kangaroo carry" for bigger babies, and Eliza loves it because she can really look around and see things when I wear her in it now. Also, it's a cinch to get on and off, which makes it perfect for quick trips into stores and such. My other favorite is the Moby Wrap. She falls right asleep when I put her in that thing! It's great. And it provides the best back support for me out of all my carriers, I think. I've probably blogged about this before, but yeah, baby-wearing is one of my most favorite things! :)
- A nursing tank top + some sort of zip-up sweatshirt/hoodie. This is my standard nursing mama uniform. I wear one of my two nursing tanks under a zip up hoodie or sweater. Like, all day. Every day. It's perfect, especially for the wintertime. I can just unzip and nurse easily, without exposing my belly. It's perfect for at night, too; it makes side-nursing easier because I don't have to hike up a shirt in order for her to nurse, which would get in Eliza's face and prevent me from seeing her. I'm actually curious - what do you nursing mamas out there prefer as your every day attire to provide easy access?
- Bottle warmer - I asked my husband which item is most essential as a daddy, and he said the bottle warmer, hands down. For those (albeit RARE) occasions when Eliza takes a bottle from daddy, the bottle warmer is handy because SPEED is key. It heats up bottles really fast, which is important when you have a hungry baby screeching for mama's milk! I know my parents have appreciated having this around when they babysit, too.
- Lastly, I have to make sure my beloved i.Pod Touch makes the list. As a nursing mama - and especially in the early days when we pretty much nursed ALL. DAY. LONG. - this is always by my side. I'm kinda-sorta addicted to Teh Internets, and this allows me to be connected to my email, face.book, etc... at the touch of a finger, and I only need one hand to use it. Also, the games you can download are great, and it doubles as a nightlight in the middle of the night, and it makes a great clock/alarm clock/timer, too. I swear, I don't work for Apple...I just volunteer ;)