Gifts and comfort kits

Happy Monday son,

The gifts keep trickling in, not in a big rush as in the beginning but we still received some cute Petit Bateau PJs this weekend. It’s so true that I needn’t have purchased a single summer outfit, as we received tons and tons of onesies, and we’re not doing too shabby on the warmer six month size either. The only things I ended up purchasing were things I thought were too cute to pass up, and things I grabbed in California when I went during my second trimester, but other than that we were set.

I picked myself out a gift back in February. I got your papa to buy it for me for Valentine’s Day. I wanted some sort of jewelry charm to celebrate this particular time in my life. Walking past Agatha in Printemps one afternoon, I saw this little butterfly pendant. Nothing terribly fancy or pricey, just a simple silver butterfly. Something about the butterfly seemed a good metaphor for pregnancy, the belly is a bit of cocoon isn’t it, and what is pregnancy if not a transformation of the self? I also bought myself a handstamped pendant on Etsy with your due date on it (which ended up being wrong, but that just makes me laugh), that also had a little blue Swavaroski crystal and pearl dangling pendant. I’ve now put the butterfly on that chain with the crystal and pearl, and taken off the due date pendant and put it in the little recycled box it came in, and figure I will wear this necklace until your little hands yank it off of me.

An unexpectedly welcome gift came in the form of music. In the weeks following your birth, two people sent me some music. A former colleague mailed a CD mix of various artists, and a friend in Los Angeles uploaded two albums for me in his Public box: Grizzly Bear “Veckatimest”, and Beirut “The Flying Club Cup”. It sounds odd, but this ended up being a surprisingly welcome  gift in the first few weeks. Along with a few movies that your papa downloaded for me, these provided a relaxing respite during those crazy first weeks.

In The Hip Mama Survival Guide, Ariel Gore talks about having a comfort kit prepared for the days after birth to kick back with the baby. She includes in this comfort kit :

-bath salts

-cash earmarked  for takeout food and a stack of menus from places that deliver

-a stack of funny VHS videos like Tank Girl and anything with Bill Murray (did I forget to mention this book was written in 1997 ?)

-Some music to chill out, like Tracy Chapman and Tori Amos (see above)

-cold dark beer , alfalfa tea, and a freezer stocked with dishes you made when you were nesting in the last trimester

-Comfy clean clothes

I’ve been reading some books lately about the postpartum period, admittedly a bit late but I didn’t get around to doing this when you were born. In Robin Lim’s book After the baby’s birth : A woman’s guide to postpartum wellness, she suggests (as Gore also notes in her book) that a note should be hung on the door or a message on the answering machine that reads the following :

Glad you are thinking of us ! Mom and baby are doing fine. We sure would love a helping hand with cooking/cleaning/laundry/care for older children, etc.

I’ve been reading also Aviva Jill Romm (I love all her books) and the birth activist Sheila Kitzinger, who all talk about how in many cultures, the postpartum period is a time when the mother and baby are left to bond and all the household chores are taken up by members of the village. In India, a period of twenty two days of bed rest is enforced for the mother and baby.

All three talk about the importance of the mother taking care of herself, eating well, getting massages, a daily relaxing soak in the bath or a daily shower,  very light yoga, getting out for a walk with the baby in the sling once she feels up to it, and drinking postpartum herbal brews that contain things like stinging nettle, raspberry leaf, fenugrec, motherwort,  fennel seed, chamomile, etc.

And, coming back to gifts, Rom talks about how the baby will get many gifts, but it is nice to give a personal gift to the mother : tea, a new hairbrush, a book of poetry, music, a bottle of massage oil.

There was a lot that I took from these books that I could talk about, but that would just be going on and on. I wish I had had these books during those mad first six weeks, but I think that I did a lot of this stuff instinctively. Robin Lim even has a little paragraph on how swimming is very good exercise for new mothers.

Another thing that I continue to appreciate, is while your papa is giving you a bottle, having a slow walk with the dog up to the end of the street in the evening, watching the soothing effect of the wind in the trees, watching the lights of the Eiffel tower (currently they are having a light show celebrating the 120th anniversary) in the distance, and then slowly walking back. It feels like a nice wide stretch.

I really appreciated that time, but like all of it, it was fleeting. Here you are, one day away  from being six months old !

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