They say it takes a village but mine lives in my phone.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I’m here to correct that phrase. The truth is, it takes a village to raise a mom.

The phrase “It takes a village” never truly resonated with me before I had a baby.  Back then, I thought it meant you’d probably need some friendly faces to bring you a casserole during the sleep-deprived newborn stage, or a few trusting pals to help pick up your kid from daycare. I learned very shortly after giving birth that you need people in your corner for things far beyond the occasional favor. You need a village. A village of gracious, trustworthy souls that can help guide you through the foggy world that is motherhood.

A lot of lucky mamas live near family and friends that can step in and act as their village. But what happens if you don’t? You can do one of two things, navigate that shit alone or find yourself a freakin’ village.

I’d like to strongly encourage doing that later of those two options.

Realistically, not everyone lives near their friends, family or people they can count on. Military families for example, are likely going to be displaced when they and add a tiny new member to their tribe. In our case, we had just moved hundreds of miles away from “home” when I found out I was pregnant. So when the baby came and my husband went back to work, I was pretty much navigating those murky waters on my own.

A few exhausting and overwhelming weeks into new motherhood, it became very apparent to me that I needed support. I found myself wishing so badly I had a readily available “village” nearby to support me and my new little family during one of the most difficult and to be frank, lonely times of my life.

It was during those very foggy weeks that I learned they didn’t need to be physically present to be my people. They didn’t need to ring my doorbell with a lasagna in hand to be exactly what I needed. I realized that a “village” for me was just people to talk to. I’m not talking about chit chat about the weather, I mean, people to really vent to—without judgement. People to be there to listen when I was ready to share my struggles. True conversations about the hard, messy, motherhood stuff you can’t talk about with just anyone. Like true confessions to a therapist at the other end of your fingertips. But on the same token, like-minded individuals to talk about the mundane, boring stuff too. So much happens in the nothings.

Aside from the obvious group of lifetime besties and family, my “village” expanded to include old friends I hadn’t spoken to in years, friends of friends I’ve never physically met, and even strangers I “met” on Instagram. Without even realizing it I was talking to these people nearly every day, because they too were in this weird new club we all somehow knew the password to. That club was motherhood and we were all dazed and confused and in it together. We were all just searching for our tribe.IMG_0633

Before I knew it, I had grown to find my village. But there was a catch—they didn’t have an address nearby. They lived in my phone. This random assortment of humans I would likely never see in person, filled a void in a way I never expected.

As months went on, I found myself texting these new found village people before anyone else. Why? Because they too were in my shoes, and maybe they found their village in me also. They too just wanted to vent that their husband “did it wrong” or that their baby wont nap. They too just want to know they’re not the only ones that have days of anxiety and self-doubt. They too just want someone to send pictures of their babies doing baby things back and forth with without worrying that they’re being annoying. They too love to share their baby’s milestones but also share the days their little ones are pushing them closer and closer to insanity. They too want to share easy recipes because they’re exhausted but also want to feed their families. They too, just want someone to talk to. They too, speak the language of a voice text gone wrong, and actually understand it.

They say it takes a village and maybe mine doesn’t live next door, but I’ve got one and a damn good one at that. I’ve got people in my corner. Motherhood can be isolating and lonely, but it can also make you feel like you’ve never been more connected or understood.

When you connect with women in a way you never thought possible, over this one thing that you have in common, that’s when you’ve found your secret society, your support, your village.

The village of motherhood.

Our Must-Have Baby Items for Surviving the First Six Months

When I was pregnant, I scoured the internet for all the “must-have” baby products. I followed mom forums and asked all my mom friends what I needed to register for or purchase! Ultimately, it got pretty overwhelming and I ended up with a huge amount of baby stuff in a not so huge house.

Now that my little one is  8 months old, I’m starting to put away and purge some items Emmett has outgrown or no longer uses. I look at all this stuff like a staple in my home now, but know it wasn’t always that way. So I figured I’d do a round up for any expecting parents who might be interested on what worked in our house and what we could have skipped.

I’m going to go beyond the obvious car seat, stroller, high chair, crib… All these items have paid for themselves already. (I linked the ones we use in case you’re interested, and we’ve been happy with them overall!)

ITEMS THAT WE COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT (I mean, we could have, but these made life a whole lot easier) 116490561239272p

White Noise Machine: Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine – We’ve been blasting this white noise machine + nightlight since night one. You can control it from your phone so you don’t have to sneak in and disturb a sleeping baby if you need to adjust it. It plays a ton of different sounds, has many different nightlight color options and honestly, just get it.
I asked 5 of my friends what their must-have baby item was, and this was in the top 3 for all. Honestly, I want one for my room too.  AND on the topic on noise machines, get a portable one for on the go. We have this one and it works great. Perfect for drowning out the sound of a waitress dropping a glass just as your baby falls asleep when you’re out to dinner. TRUSTTTT.

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Owlet Smart Sock:  Okay, this item was a major splurge, and at first I really didn’t like it. Because he was waking up ever 2 hours and sleeping 1 foot from my face in a bedside bassinet, (we had this bassinet that we got secondhand, but honestly we moved him to his crib after 3 weeks and wish I would have moved him sooner) so what was the point? I’d also forget to put it on before I put his footie pajamas on and I wasn’t going to get him undressed to put it on after the fact. But once he was in his crib, sleeping long stretches and I remembered to put it on right after his evening bath, this thing became my best friend, especially after some health scares. You can’t put a price tag on peace of mind, and being able to check my baby’s vitals easily (without hovering over him to see if his chest is rising and falling) was/still is priceless to me. We also have the Owlet Cam which we also love, but it was brand new to market when we got it, so there have been some glitches to work through. (They have great customer service!)

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Zip Up Swaddles – Love to Dream Swaddle Up – I’ll admit I spent a lot of money on swaddles that we barely used, until we found this one. Emmett preferred to sleep with his hands up and would bust out of every other kind of swaddle, so this one was a total game changer! GAME. CHANGER. Plus, it’s cute and made him look like a flying squirrel. There is also a transitional one for when they’re ready to have their arms free, which made the transition to a sleep sack so much easier. You can find the transitional one here.

BURP CLOTHS– ALL THE BURP CLOTHS – DONT GET CUTE ONES. GET ABSORBENT ONES… Like these. Even if you don’t have a baby with reflux, babies are still messy and drool a lot. Just get a pack.

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Bottle warmer: Philips Avent Fast Bottle Warmer – obviously, if you are solely breastfeeding, this won’t be necessary, but we were a pumping, bottle-feeding family pretty much from the start, and this was a necessary item for our family. (Used 8x a day for the first 4+ months) Even when we switched to formula, we had a special formula with mix-ins that we always prepped ahead of time. We pre-made bottles and stored them in the fridge for the day, and popped them in this thing to warm them up quickly and safely.

Play Gym Activity Center– This seems silly, because it’s just a mat with some dangly things, but we’re on month 8 and Em is STILL using this. We have this one by skip hop and he love, love, loves it! Plus the toys can come off and they can play with those as they get older.Unknown-3

Bouncer Seat– I’d like to promote the Rock ‘n Play as it was the only thing my child would sleep in the first few weeks, but it has been recalled so I will move on to the next best thing, a bouncer seat. We had this one by Ingenuity and at nearly 8 months are still using it. Bouncers (as opposed to a swing which is huge and my child hated) have a small footprint, don’t require an outlet and are portable. A lot of babies have some level of reflux and need to be propped up to help keep them from spitting up, so a safe space to place babe other than your tired arms is such a mom essential. You can also strap them in to the seat and bring them into the bathroom with you so you can take a shower. Besides, who doesn’t love showering with a tiny cute audience?

Zip Up Jammies– do yourself a favor, skip the snaps. No one wants to deal with lining up snaps in the dark at 2 am. We love the jammies from Carters. They fit him the best and wash well! These are also a great gift, because you can never have enough. Get all sizes, they grow so quickly! But be sure to keep the seasons in mind—fleece generally is not necessary in August.

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Moms on Call Books– I did a post all about how this book helped get Emmett sleeping. I won’t go into detail, but they are a great resource regardless on your view on schedules and sleep training. Great gift idea too!

Diaper Rash Cream–  This seems like a given, but it was one of the things I didn’t have stocked in the nursery. Newborns have super sensitive skin, and they also poop a lot. BAD COMBO. Grab a few tubes for the nursery before baby is born, so you don’t have to panic at 3am and send your sleepy spouse to CVS when your week old baby looks like they just sat on lava rocks (seriously, it’s terrifying and heartbreaking how bad diaper rash can get). We use A&D daily and Desitin when a rash flairs up.

Boon Drying RackA clean, designated place to dry baby’s bottles, baby bowls, pacifiers, etc. A tiny life hack, just get one. Plus there is a cute travel one too! Unknown-2

Blackout Curtains in the nursery or wherever the baby is sleeping– When baby sleeps, you sleep, and all is right in the world.  Be like NIKE and Just Do It.

GIANT WATER CUP WITH A GIANT ASS STRAW– This was something I Amazon primed for myself about 5 days postpartum at 3 in the morning and still use every day. I ordered this cup with these ridiculous 15″ straws. When you have a newborn, you won’t have free hands or free time to refill your water, and probably won’t have free hands to pick it up and drink from it either. And you’re going to be thirsty AF. Get a giant straw and a cup that won’t need as many refills. I will honestly gift these to all my pregnant friends from here on out.

 

Things we probably could have lived without.

Honestly, we’ve used everything we got for baby! Even the list below…  We got A LOT of stuff, but if I had to make a list of things we could have skipped, this is what I’d say:

Baby Swing – We had this one, every baby is different, but Emmett never loved it. We had high hopes for this item and it was one of the first things we registered for! But it’s big and we definitely didn’t use it as much as the bouncer.

SnuggleMe Lounger– I don’t know why I felt like I HAD TO HAVE this thing. I did so much research and heard so many great things about this and the Dock-a-Tot, but went for the SnuggleMe because it looked cozier for a new baby. (It’s supposed to mimic the feeling of being held) We used it a few times, but it definitely did not get it’s money’s worth.

Boppy Breastfeeding Pillow My breastfeeding journey didn’t last long, but for the few weeks I did breastfeed, I found a regular pillow from my bed was a lot more comfortable and stayed in place better. However, now that he’s older, we brought it back out for him to lounge on and help him sit up!

Bottle Sterilizer and dryer– So, I did use this a lot, and still do because I have it and got it as a gift, but if I wanted to save money, I definitely don’t think this is a necessity. I feel like running bottles through the dishwasher with “sterilize” works fine and doesn’t take up counter space. You can also just just boil the bottles to sterilize. I felt like washing his bottles well with hot water and soap has sufficed most often.

All the breastfeeding tops, bras, etc…. I wish I would have waited to buy all these things as the whole breastfeeding thing didn’t work out for us. I’m not saying they’re not worth it, I’m just saying make sure you tackle breastfeeding before spending the money! Besides, I spent those weeks topless or in a robe anyway.

At the end of the day, a baby doesn’t NEED much.  They need to be fed, snuggled, changed and loved. However, a lot of the gadgets on the market these days sure make parenting a heck of lot easier.  I hope this list was helpful, and if you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment!