When my sister-in-law was pregnant earlier this year with my nephew, I watched him get spoiled — consistently and thoroughly — despite not yet having even taken his first breath.
He had toys he couldn’t yet play with, clothing he wouldn’t fit into for months, and gear that took up 10 times the space he would. (Yes, I contributed to each of those categories because he’s my nephew and that’s my prerogative.)
But as her pregnancy wound down, I began to think back to those first days and weeks after my own son was born eight years ago. I remembered how raw it all felt. My body, my emotions, my hormones — my world felt like it had been broken wide open at the same time that I was suddenly more exhausted and charged with more responsibility than ever.
“I want to sent your sister some kind of package when Connor is born,” I told my husband one night, a few weeks before her due date.
“Stuff for the baby?” he asked.
“No, he has it all,” I said. “I’m sending something for her.”
I began asking friends and polling mums in my Facebook groups: What did you wish you’d had after the baby was born? What would have helped? What would have made you feel like a human being again?
That’s how I created the New Mum Care Package formula. Grab a box and include 1-2 of each of the following for your favourite new mum:
Something to keep her hydrated
A large water bottle that she can keep filled next to the couch. A set of herbal teas. Some expensive coffee beans she’d never splurge on for herself. Wine. Beer. Liquor. (We’re using “hydrated” loosely here.) Give her a favourite liquid treat.
Something to keep her warm
Think this one goes for any time of year. She’ll be up at all hours of the night and she’ll want something to wrap around herself. The softer, the better. A lightweight robe, a pretty scarf, a long sweater or a pair of fuzzy slipper socks will do the trick.
Something to keep her pampered
A gift certificate for a massage, a handheld back-scratcher, her favourite lip balm, scented lotions. Or chocolates. I don’t care if it’s cliché; you can’t go wrong with chocolates.
Something to treasure
Give her a little “new mum” keepsake. I’m thinking jewellery, people. A ring with the baby’s birth stone. A bracelet or necklace engraved with the baby’s name, first initial or birth date. Something both sparkly and sentimental.
Finally, include a great card
The usual “Congrats on your baby” card won’t quite fit in this care package. Because you’re not just congratulating her on the arrival of her new baby. You’re congratulating her on bringing that baby into existence and still managing to function at a basic human level. That requires a card with more oomph. Here’s the card I chose for my sister-in-law.
And tell her what she needs to hear — what we all need to hear but often forget to say: To be a good parent, you have to remember to take care of yourself. Your oxygen mask goes on first.