Oct 282014

Enjoy Every Moment
Babies are like little race cars when it comes to their developmental milestones. They all follow the same track, but they don’t get to the finish line at the same time. Some babies seem to be in a hurry and walk early while others seem to spend a little more time with the pit crew and catch up with the others later. Keep in mind that the standardized guideline of developmental milestones is just a ‘serving suggestion’ and that your baby is an individual. There is no trophy for finishing first and no champagne cork-popping to celebrate. With this in mind, you can give yourself permission to begin following the development of your little race car without the ‘mommy angst’ of finishing in first place. With your loving encouragement you’ll introduce ways to help your baby move along without spending precious, valuable time focusing on the rush to those waving, checkered flags.

As a grandmother, I can see more clearly the benefit of not worrying over developmental goals. That ‘not worrying’ thing is good practice for other challenges child rearing will bring you, too. Since my daughter was a 27-week preemie, there was a lot to be concerned about and I, more often than I’m happy about, turned that into worry. Hear me say this in my most kind, grandmotherly voice: Worry is a time and attention sucker, it’s not worth it. It’s non-productive. Give yourself a pass when you feel overwhelmed with concern and worry and sing the Frozen song, “Let It Go”. Even in the smallest amounts, worry distracts us from focusing on the present. Some of my best memories of my daughter’s early years are the times that I chose to laugh instead of worry or be embarrassed. (Note: This will come in handy in the teenage years, too. Just believe me.)

I’ll let you in on one memorable incident: I was taking a shower or doing dishes (or I blinked, I don’t even know!) and two year old Morgan found my calligraphy pens. That’s indelible ink, y’all. NON-removable except by time and baths. She loved to watch me use them so it made sense that she thought drawing was an acceptable activity. Drawing on the hallway wall and on herself, to be specific. All over herself. Head and shoulders, knees and toes. No, really. Tummy, face and hands, too. I was, at first, horrified because it was extensive. She was her own Zentangle! What would people think of me for absent-mindedly leaving those pens within her reach and ‘allowing’ her to have access to them? The evidence was going to be around for weeks, anyway, so in defiance of anyone who might comment, we daringly went to McDonald’s for lunch and the playscape. (I’m still rebellious like that.)

Yes, we got some negative, judgmental comments and stares. Unbelievably, they were mostly from older women. (Let’s make a pact to support each other and stick together, ladies!) Other mommies gave me the “oh, no, you’ll be judged but not by me” nod. Mostly, we got comments about the artwork. Many asked what happened and upon my proud explanation of how my smart girl was copying her mommy (sans paper) the reactions reflected my excitement. My girl smiled so confidently at being called an artist because she heard me speak proudly of her. Can you spot the moral of that story? Completely by accident and my out- there-dare, I discovered that my own attitude had a huge impact on everybody but most importantly, my little Picasso!

So, when your baby starts rolling like a rolling pin instead of crawling, celebrate the ingenuity and know that some serious balancing skills are being sharpened! When your baby takes his time learning to sit up, let me encourage you to choose to enjoy the extra time you are helping him learn and the opportunity to be his biggest fan. You ARE his first teacher, after all and face time is always welcomed. A baby’s face time with you is the best ‘toy’ you can give her. You want a people person with near-expert socialization skills? Spend time talking and singing face to face with her. If you have other children, encourage them to do the same. Bonding and happy memory making are key in personality development and it improves the disposition of all involved!

Your little race car’s run for the finish line is his own personal ride around that wide race track. Delight in the process and seal in mental pictures. Today will be the only day your baby will be who he is this minute. As you choose more often to keep a positive outlook and maintain an atmosphere of encouragement (imagine fans in the stands waving wildly with excitement!), with less worry about reaching the finish line alongside his fellow drivers, you will more easily relish watching your baby bloom through every stage of the race.

About Juli, a loving grandmother…
Juli Bio

Sep 242014

As part of my job, I get to “talk” to a lot of new grandparents. They share photos and their excitement on the arrival of a new grandchild. Often times they also ask for advice on the perfect gift for mom to celebrate this special time. (confession: I’m quite biased because MommiesFirst boxes make a great gift). So, I’ve put together some of my favorite ideas that come at little–to-no cost , but will be very special treats for a new mommy!
Number-1Come over for Nap Time. And by nap time – we mean mom’s nap time. During the early day’s of your grandbaby’s life, he or she will be sleeping A LOT, but sleep for mom – whether day or night – will be not be as frequent (in fact, more likely it will be non existent). Offer to come over and play or watch the baby sleep, so mommy can catch some much needed zzzzzz.

Number-2Take lots of pictures of mom and baby. The other day, to celebrate my son’s 5th birthday, I went through thousands of pictures (no exaggeration) and there were only a handful of pictures of my little man and I (no exaggeration here either). As a new mom, I was so eager to capture every moment of his life, and usually I was the one behind the camera. If I could go back in time, I’d ask for more pictures of the two of us. As an added treat, surprise mom on your grandbaby’s first birthday with a memory book of the two of them with all your favorite photos.

Number-3Meals for mom. Drop off or send meals for mom that can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer that are EASY TO PREPRARE. There is a big emphasis on EASY here. Moms (and dads for that matter) will want meals that require (ideally) 1 step to prepare and are easy to clean up! Remember a “gourmet” meal that requires prep work – chopping, dicing, and more than two dishes to clean need not apply!

Number-4Force mom to pamper herself. What’s great about this gift is 1) it gives mom some TLC and 2) it gives mom permission to put her first for a few moments. From the earliest days of motherhood, the dreaded mom guilt sets in, so moms feel horrible spending even one second away from her new baby. Let her know it’s okay to put her feet up and take time for mom with a manicure, pedicure, even a massage on you! I suggest actually purchasing a gift certificate to her favorite salon or spa. If you give her money to treat herself, in might go toward diapers instead!

Number-5Date night vouchers.just the two of them is nearly impossible to come by. If you live close by, offer to come over and babysit, or if you’re far away, hire a babysitter so mom and dad can have a date night. Taking a shower, putting on a little makeup, and getting outside the house is a true gift in the early days.

Perhaps the greatest gift I received was from my mother-in-law was words of reassurance. Positive reinforcement throughout my first year as a mom was the greatest gift from a very special grandma. (And it didn’t cost a penny!)

With love and care,

Sep 082014

Grandparents Month
I’m a first-time grandmother to Jeremiah who is now three months old. He will most likely call me Sweetie (or some baby-talk variation of it) since that’s what my husband, Rich, calls me.

I finally had my daughter, Morgan, after some fertility issues requiring surgery. I was 32 years old and I was obsessively anxious to be a Mommy. Morgan was born three months early due to a condition called pre-eclampsia (can somebody find a cure for that, already?) and she took us on the preemie roller coaster ride of ups and downs with fluctuating oxygen levels, blood transfusions and retinopathy, to name a few. She was so fortunate that she emerged virtually unscathed, compared to many preemies who fight a losing battle or live with life-long complications. Even though there were still health concerns to watch and make accommodations for, we considered her normal and got on with the business of raising a girl. A girl, who happened to be fearless (she broke her arm jumping from a church pew at age two, pretending to be Superman), tender-hearted in a Dr. Doolittle way toward animals, and loved rocks and sticks. That little tornado was five kids wrapped in the skin of one tiny little girl who lived her life with a zeal that had her sleeping twelve hour nights!

Now, at 22, she’s a mommy. Bless her. Although I was ten years older when I became a Mom, I don’t think those extra years prepared me for the frustrations of incessant crying (her, not me. OK, sometimes me) due to colic or sleep deprivation (definitely me!). My mother and I still laugh at my exasperated call to her in which I accusingly asked, “Why didn’t you TELL me it was going to be like THIS?” I’ll tell you why. Because, darlings, nobody can prepare you and you wouldn’t believe it anyway.

Since Morgan was in a hospital for her first three months, I didn’t have the same newborn experiences as my friends. I spoke those words many times, sometimes lamenting the loss of the experience. So, when we ended up caring for Jeremiah for most of his first two months, my words came back to me. My sweet baby girl had developed postpartum depression and was admitted to a hospital for treatment. Jeremiah’s Dad had to work and spent as much time at the hospital with Morgan during visiting hours as he could. We were all stunned and heartbroken and hanging on by our tattered fingernails with her. She missed Jeremiah, we missed Morgan.

Somehow, through some of the most harrowing days and nights of worry about Morgan, Rich and I loved their precious baby boy without reservation, as if he had been our very own. Boy, did I get my ‘newborn experience’! Little sleep, working a full time job and shuttling him to my sweet cousins who cared for him during the day. There’s definitely no substitute for having family close by, especially those who are so willing to help. I received his first intentional smiles, his first giggle and we giggled too as we watched him pack on the pounds.

When Morgan was released from her treatment, I knew my role of substitute Mommy would change. I knew I would feel a hole in my heart when he left my arms. But it was time to be the Sweetie and not the Mommy. The day was July 4th when I asked her if she was ready. Her emphatic “YES!” gave me comfort. She’d missed her baby as much as I’d missed her being healthy. So, in a matter of a few minutes, Jeremiah and all his clothes, diapers and furniture were gone from our house. Rich and I wept occasionally for days, but knew he needed to be with his parents and they needed to be with him, too.

We know the bond formed with him will always be safely stowed in our hearts. It’s what we’ll blame when we let him have cake for breakfast and ice cream for dinner. Being a grandparent brings out even stronger protective instincts than I remember having as a new mommy. I find myself more relaxed as a grandmother than as a new mother, able to soothe him when Morgan can’t. It’s different when the ultimate responsibility rests on someone else and you know you can go home and sleep all night, except for those times when I feel so connected to him that I STILL wake up for that 3am feeding. Love him so!

About Juli, a loving grandmother…
Juli Bio

Sep 032014

Grandparents Photo
September is a big month for most families. For those with “older” kids there are the Back To School preparations, while those with “younger” babies there is also the settling into a fall routine and classes. And for any family, there is a coming to terms with a change in the weather and the (sad) realization that summer has officially come to an end. But, did you know that September also marks the celebration of grandparents? September 7th is Grandparents Day, and because we want to honor all the grandparents that are helping raise our babies – big and small – we are celebrating them all month long at MommiesFirst. While today, grandparents likely no longer live right next door, it still takes a village to raise our little ones. In my own case, I’ve found grandparents to be instrumental in helping raise our boys. So, in our home, it is more than just a “Hallmark” holiday, it is an opportunity to honor, celebrate and give thanks.

I did not grow up with grandparents. In fact, I yearned so much for a grandparent that my beautiful, white-haired kindergarten teacher stepped up to the role (what a special woman). So I love that my boys don’t to need to adopt a grandparent, but instead are building deep, meaningful relationship with their beloved grandparents. And there is another side of grandparenting that I have come to appreciate as a new mom and through MommiesFirst. A kind, patient mother (or in my case, mother-in- law) can have a huge impact during a first time mom’s pregnancy and her first year as a new mom. Home cooked meals, a call to check in, words of support and comfort, free babysitting or a sleep-in are all ways in which my mother-in-law (and father in a law) supported our family in the earliest days of our parenting journey. My father took super abuelito (grandfather in Spanish) to a whole new level as well. For a time, he moved in with us, and was the extra set of hands we needed to manage two kids and one start up – MommiesFirst.

In my role at MommiesFirst, I have the opportunity to connect with grandparents on a daily basis when they purchase boxes for daughters, friends, etc. Often times they share their stories and excitement. It is very special to “feel” that love over email and we do take extra care to honor their wishes through our boxes. I am thrilled to turn September in Grandparents Month and honor all the grandparents out there and thank them for they generosity and boundless love. Do you have an extraordinary grandma or grandpa story? Please share it with me at lorena@mommiesfirst.com.

With love and care,
Grandparents Month
P.S. We have a couple of fun things planned this month to honour our Grandparents! Be sure to check in regularly.