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Baby Shower Gifts…With a Twist!

Taking time to shower new parents with thoughtful gifts is one of the brightest spots in pregnancy for both expectant parents and their friends and family. Who doesn’t love to peruse a registry, marvel at how many gadgets babies “need” these days, and pick out snuggly sleepers and footie jammies? However, there’s only so many clothes one baby can wear and maybe you’re the creative type looking for a baby gift that’s off the beaten path.

Search no further, my friends! I’ve compiled a few ideas that are sure to dazzle at the shower and show the new parents how much you care. Read on for all my ideas!


Medical Munitions and Bath Time Basics – New parents can often feel overwhelmed by the number of remedies, salves, and creams that exist for the care and keeping of their new babe. Putting together a basket of commonly used items is thoughtful and a huge help to new parents. Nobody wants to be making tough decisions in the baby gas relief aisle at 2:00 in the morning, am I right?

Some great things to include are:

  • a high quality thermometer
  • a baby nail care set
  • gas relief drops
  • diaper rash cream
  • a nose suction set such as a bulb syringe or Nose Frida
  • teething tablets and/or pain relieving gel for little gums
  • additive free baby soap and lotion
  • infant pain reliever like Tylenol or Motrin – Even better, print out a copy of the most recent dosage information to include for quick reference

This gift bundle would look so cute packaged in a baby bathtub. Toss in some wash clothes and a hooded towel and you’re set!


Laundry Quandry – Want to help out with all those adorable new duds? Stock up on laundry essentials and the new parents will be eternally grateful. I received such a gift from a dear friend when I was expecting my first. She also included a dogeared copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding that had been passed on from friend to friend and it’s still one of my most treasured gifts.

Want to jump on this idea? Snag a cute laundry basket and toss in:

  • additive free laundry detergent such as Seventh Generation or Dreft
  • stain remover (breastmilk poop. nuff said.)
  • baby hangers
  • a few new bibs and socks (to replace all the ones sure to be eaten by the dryer)
  • a mesh garment bag for those socks to be washed in (in hopes that maybe they won’t lose too many tiny socks)

Survival Mode – It’s all well and good to buy essentials for the baby, but few people remember Mom and Dad. I’m an outspoken proponent for planning for postpartum, so why not make a gift of it?

A survival mode basket could include:

  • new mugs for the parents-to-be – bonus points for the mugs that stay hot for a long time and have sturdy lids
  • lots of their favorite coffee or tea – if mama is breastfeeding, be sure to add Mother’s Milk tea
  • snacks you can eat with one hand – granola bars (chewy is better so baby doesn’t end up covered in scratchy crumbs…ask me how I know), lactation cookies, packages of crackers, trail mix, etc.
  • gift cards or spending money attached to a quick reference restaurant guide to delivery options in their area
  • gummy vitamins for replenishing those depleted vitamin and mineral stores
  • new slippers and cozy socks would also be fun additions.

This would be such a fun gift to receive, especially if it came in a caddy with a handle. Pack the caddy with the essentials, leave space for the tv remote and parents’ phones, and they can just move it around the house as needed. Easy peasy and such a thoughtful gift.


Hospital Necessity Bag – I’ve given this gift to a few new moms and it’s always met with much appreciation. Whether you’re preparing for your first birth or it’s not your first rodeo, it’s often hard to remember what to toss in that hospital bag. Even if you do know what you’d like to take, there are always a few things that are last minute additions and it’s so easy to forget your toothbrush on the way out the door…unless you’re gifted one of these bad boys.

I like to buy a cute toiletry bag, preferably one that’s see-through so partners aren’t digging blindly through a bag while their ladies are waiting (patiently?) for an item they need. I fill it with:

  • lip balm
  • gum and mouth wash – This might be more for partners when the birth goes into the wee hours and everyone’s breath gets a little stale. No laboring mama wants to breath deeply in a room full of bad breath.
  • hair ties and head bands
  • travel sized toiletries like tissues, shampoo (dry or regular), conditioner, lotion, makeup remover, etc.
  • a battery operated phone charger that’s ready to go
  • nipple cream
  • If you’re shopping for a close friend, you could always add in witch hazel, Tucks pads, hemorrhoid cream, or stool softener…you know, just to be a pal.

The toiletry bag can be paired with cozy socks, cute slippers, and even a pretty new robe or a new shade of lip gloss…anything to make mama more comfortable and feel like herself in the hospital.


Give the Gift of Birth Preparation – Shameless plug alert! As I was writing this post, I actually had a friend contact me about gifting some new parents with one of my Birth Brainstorming sessions. I love the idea so much!

Birth Brainstorms are very casual meetings held in the clients’ home. We cover a lot of information and work through a questionnaire aimed at helping couples identify their birth goals, navigate decision making, explore how to effectively communicate with one another during labor, and generally get the best support possible from each other and their birth team. This is a great gift for first time parents who would appreciate time with an unbiased third party and the opportunity to ask questions, try out positions, discuss fears, and nail down their plans. If parents decide to add on birth services after their brainstorming session, I’ll deduct the cost of the session from their deposit, so it’s a win-win for everyone!


Those are all of my most creative shower gift ideas…at least for the moment. What do you think? What did I leave off the list or what’s the most fun/creative/helpful gift you received while pregnant? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

As always, thanks for visiting Bright Birth and happy birthing!

XOXO,

Mary Susan

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The Unhealthy Hustle

Where my postpartum anxiety/depression friends at? 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️



“The more anxious we are, the more high-functioning we will make ourselves appear, which just encourages the world to lean on us more.” – Sarah Wilson



Anyone else identify strongly with this statement?



Personally I can easily say that the height of my PPA/PPD struggle was when I was hustling most to make it look like I wasn’t struggling at all. And guess what? I was incredibly convincing. Chalk it up to my expensive theater degree (thanks, Mom and Dad!) or to the overwhelming pressure I felt to not be perceived as weak or needy, but the more I struggled the more I hustled to cover it up.



It was exhausting. It was overwhelming. It was indescribably unhealthy. It did not serve me, my husband, our family, or the greater community in any way. None.



Repeat after me: Sometimes the hustle is not healthy.



If you’re hustling to further your career or keep your body strong or to achieve your goals, you go get it! I am proud of you for the work you’re putting in and I will cheer you on every step of the way.



However, if you’re hustling to prove to someone that you’re capable, to prove that you’re fine on your own, that you don’t need help, that’s a problem.



If you’re hustling to cover up feelings of shame, that’s not healthy.



If you’re hustling to keep up with any arbitrary cultural standard, that’s a problem.



If you’re hustling because you don’t feel like you’ll let people down if you step back or say no, that’s an issue.



If you’re newly postpartum or deep into that 4th Trimester of baby’s first year and you find yourself hustling, I want you to take a minute to question. Ask yourself, why am I so exhausted? Did I lose sleep? Am I feeling more than just blues? Am I struggling with extreme emotions like sadness or anger? Am I secretly over-using or becoming too dependent upon substances or other numbing mechanisms to cope? (Think misuse of food, alcohol, excessive social media use, etc.) Am I taking on new tasks or responsibilities because they’re things that bring me joy and satisfaction or because I feel obligated or because I want to make others happy with me?



If these questions strike a chord, you need to get creative and prioritize yourself. I know that’s hard, especially when you’re keeping kids alive and have other responsibilities. But remember, your family/baby/husband/coworkers also need you to prioritize yourself.



The height of the struggle is not the time to hustle more. It is time to prioritize rest and mental health. Remember, your schedule should reflect what works, not what’s “normal.” Be creative. I have a friend who spent the first two years of her baby’s life staying up all night and sleeping for most of the day. That’s what worked for her family and it was perfect. Do what works even if it seems bizarre to others.



It’s incredibly difficult to stop hustling, especially if you’re anxious and depressed. If you’re overwhelmed and you need help to stop the cycle, reach out. The lie says that you’re the only one struggling, you’re a burden, be quiet because your life is easier than most, and on and on and on. The truth is, everyone is struggling. Everyone. You are not a burden. Ever. Also, all the cool moms go to therapy. (That’s a little tongue in cheek but truthfully speaking, talking to an unbiased third party for the better part of a year saved my sanity. Therapists, counselors, priests, pastors, mentors, friends, support groups…they’re all there to listen and support. Use your resources. You will never regret it.) Constant hustling perpetuates the cycle. Just like in labor, the only way out is through. But also just like in labor, there are people ready and willing to support you. You don’t have to shoulder life all on your own. You’re worthy, my friend.



Need a place to start? Try the following resources:
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On Receiving

Mama, you don’t have to do it alone. I know you’ve probably been fed a steady diet of American culture your entire life. You’ve been taught to value independence, hard work, self-sufficiency, and stick-to-it-iveness. If you happen to be a Texan like me, you were brainwashed at an early age to respect those who don’t aren’t dependent upon others to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get shit done.

 

But, Mama, what if I told you that’s all an impossibility? What if I told you that, while life does call on us to dig deep and be our own heroes from time to time, it’s often the grace of receiving that truly pulls us through.

 

It is hard to receive, so hard to accept help when it’s offered, much less dare to ask for it ourselves. So many of us would prefer to struggle under our burdens with forced smiles rather than to accept assistance when it is offered.

 

Why?

 

Because accepting help is admitting lack. Admitting lack. Everything in me recoils at the thought of that, of admitting that I’m lacking. There it is again, the culture rooted deep telling me that I’m supposed to have it together. I’m supposed to have it in me to be self-sufficient. I’m supposed to have, not lack.

 

But, Mama, we do lack. We do and that’s okay. The illusion of doing it all, juggling all the things, being self-sufficient, above all not being needy, it’s all a lie. It’s all an impossibility designed to alienate and isolate us.

 

I think it’s difficult to receive for a number of reasons. I struggle with it quite a lot, that feeling of shame for needing and lacking. But I think that receiving well pushes us out of our comfort zone beautifully. It’s hard to admit that we’re lacking in any way, and yet I don’t believe that “lack” has the power to change anything about our personal value or our identity, not in the way our culture would have us believe. Friend, the amount we do, the things we accomplish, the items we tick off our to-do lists, the amount of laundry folded (not put away, let’s not go completely crazy here), none of that truly speaks of our value as people. And more than just people, our ability to achieve or the fact that we lack bears no reflection of our worthiness as human beings carrying souls inherently anointed with dignity.

 

Obviously, I’m asking you to swim against the current. I’m asking you to reach out in a world that shames you for needing. But, Mama, I think we can both agree that we’d like to raise children who are able to ask for help when they need it. We want our kids to reach out to us when they need something, whether that’s demanding another trip to the bathroom (during which they’ll tell us to leave), or to help navigate middle-grade friendships, or to ask our advice on how to soothe their new babies so their wives can rest. If we want to raise these people, we have to be these people ourselves.

 

Receiving well requires humility. We have to be okay with our own lacking. We have to own our story and be willing to be vulnerable (for more on that, go read all the Brene Brown you can). And there’s always the argument that allowing people to help us is a blessing to them. Receiving big things from others is an opportunity to allow others to practice charity, something sorely needed in our communities. If someone offers something to you, whether its a small thing like a meal or something of more monetary value like an expensive stroller or a flight to visit your family, they’ve offered that thing because they wanted to, because they love you. The people in your life want to bless you. They really do or they wouldn’t offer.

 

All of this rambling to say, Mama you do not have to do this alone. You are allowed to want and need help. Hiring a postpartum doula or a housekeeper is not admitting defeat, it’s practicing good self care and allowing another person to provide for her own family, which is an amazing gift in and of itself. Using formula instead of breastfeeding is not “taking the easy way,” it’s choosing the right  path for your baby and body. Texting a friend with the hard, harsh, honest truth about how you’re feeling is not being needy, it’s finding support when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Seeing a mental health professional is not a sign of failure, it’s a sign of strength.

 

Mama, you don’t have to do any of this on your own. You may be lacking, but it is our lack that makes us beautifully real. Our lack is not a deficit, but an opportunity. If you’re struggling to receive, don’t make snap judgements. When you’re offered something (a gift of time, money, assistance, etc) take a moment to think through why you’re inclined to turn it down. Is it because of shame? Shut that liar up. Is it because you feel like an inconvenience? Remember that people wouldn’t offer unless they truly wanted to give the gift. Is it because it genuinely wouldn’t be a help? Respectfully decline and feel free to be vulnerable and tell that person what would actually be helpful.

 

Are you turning down help because you don’t feel worthy? Mama, you are worthy. You are so worthy of time and love and acceptance and rest. Be gentle with yourself. You were not made to do it all. You were not made to transform into a doormat, beaten down, and weary from your vocation. You were, however, made for community. You were made for friendship and sisterhood. You were made to give and receive help. You just have to open yourself up to it.