Monday, January 30, 2012

The best postpartum gifts

We have continued to be incredibly fortunate to have the most generous family and friends in the world. Before visitors arrive or friends from far away are in touch, everyone wants to know what they can bring. I've been impressed with not only the generosity but also creativity of these visitors and subsequently awesome gift bearers. Because pre-baby I always struggled with what to give someone who's just had a baby (I hate being a redundant gift giver) I thought I'd share with you some of the cool items we've been appreciating lately.

The obvious one is home-cooked meals. Particularly thoughtful friends have spent time researching good foods for breastfeeding moms. As a result we've had some great dinners delivered to us including steak and peppers, Greek salad with chicken, chicken pot pie, brown-sugar marinated chicken and rice, lentil stew, veggie stew, meatball soup, turkey meatloaf...just to name a few. Friends have also delivered awesome sides and desserts such as corn muffins, blueberry muffins (a great breakfast treat), whoopie pies, brownie/cookie bars, and lactose-free brownies (for Matt's diet). Seeing as I can use plenty of calories, I've been thoroughly enjoying some extra dessert as well!

Other awesome gifts include:
Personalized items containing Natalie's name -- since we kept her name a secret from the world, it's been fun to receive in the mail several items containing her name or initials.

Newborn clothing -- we underestimated how much newborn clothing we would need, and with the exception of one outfit, we did not receive any gifts of newborn clothing before Natalie was born. So, it's been great to receive a few sets of footed zipper onesies (the easiest thing to clothe a baby in during the day) and newborn gowns (the easiest thing to clothe a baby in during the night -- makes late-night diaper changes quite simple!). One discovery: Carter's newborn clothing has fit our baby perfectly; the Circo brand at Target has been slightly bigger.

Diapers -- we're going to switch to our cloth Bum Genius 4.0 diapers once Natalie is closer to 12 pounds. Seeing as that will take a while, for now we are using the Pampers Swaddlers that everyone, including the hospital staff, seems to prefer. The 90 diapers we got sent home with from the hospital lasted for about 10 days, and now we've been digging into the massive supply some of our friends brought us last week. Also, on a related note: wipes! These are another item everyone has to have on hand, and we went through 72 wipes in 6 days (since then I think we have learned how to better use the wipes so we can now be more conservative with wipe use).

Magazines/books/Kindle gift cards -- My awesome friend who came to the hospital to be with Matt and me during discharge (aka the worst moment of my life as we left Natalie in the NICU) came bearing about 6 magazines ranging from People and Us Weekly to Real Simple and Vogue. In case you were wondering, this is an amazing arsenal of magazines to have on hand while breastfeeding or waiting for your baby to fall asleep in your arms. I'm also taking full advantage of my new Kindle and trying to read uplifting, hilarious works. This week's pick was Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Office writer and generally funny lady Mindy Kaling (I have a thing for women in comedy). It also happens to be this month's book club read.

Candles -- this is a special request I gave a group of girlfriends who visited the other week. Because I'm adjusting to my new lifestyle of spending most of my waking hours at home as opposed to most of my waking hours at work, I'm loving creating a peaceful, soothing environment here. That means keeping some candles burning as often as possible. It's one thing I did not think to stock up on pre-baby. Another item that goes with this: candle lighters, which for me means one for each level of the house.

Comfortable, breastfeeding-friendly clothes -- OK, this is one I bought for myself, but I was thrilled to have one of my best friends along with me for the shopping excursion I went on about a day after arriving home from the hospital, while Natalie was still in the NICU. We went to Target and Destination Maternity (which is a combo A Pea in the Pod [expensive maternity store] and Motherhood Maternity [pedestrian maternity store] housed under one roof down the street from my house). At Target I got the world's most comfortable robe (with the world's biggest robe pockets, which are large enough to house a Kindle, an iPhone and several baby bottles) and a couple on-clearance button-less cardigans for around-the-house wear. Then we picked up several nursing bras and nursing tanks at Destination Maternity. Pre-baby I had only purchased one nursing bra, not knowing what my preferences and lifestyle would be like, but a baby in the NICU meant I needed lots more nursing-friendly undergarments, stat!

Anything remaining from the baby registry -- I've been trying to keep our baby registry as up-to-date as possible. When I order something from Amazon or, I make sure to take it off our registry. I know most people don't want to buy the most utilitarian items from a registry, such as a crib sheet or a set of infant bottles, but turns out those are the things you most need, so in a pinch, you'll just order it yourself. I did this for a Pack N Play crib sheet the other day. Thankfully, with a coupon and a few more items on the order I got free shipping and the order I placed one afternoon arrived the following afternoon.

Speaking of...
Gift certificates to Amazon, or the store where the couple registered -- Again, no matter how prepared you are before the baby's arrival, there are going to be items you need soon after the baby arrives. We were more conservative with some purchases and some items on our registry, figuring we needed to test the items out with our baby before we committed to getting more. This is the time when you're least keen on going out to stores to pick up these miscellaneous items, so online shopping is, in fact, a godsend. As those of you with babies are probably already well aware, typically has higher prices than Amazon, and Amazon has a program called Amazon Mom which allows users to reap most of the benefits of an Amazon Prime membership for free. As fate would have it, though, beginning on January 12 (Natalie's birthday, for those of you keeping track) Amazon temporarily suspended new enrollments in the Amazon Mom program, so now we're on the waiting list. This is why when I got a couple good offers from I jumped on the coupons and free shipping which ultimately led to a better deal than what I could currently get on Amazon.

What have you appreciated having on hand during your postpartum period?

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