Maybe it's your own grandmother who never spoke about it. A friend of a friend. Another mom in your child's class. Or maybe you're the one in four who has experienced pregnancy loss. For me, it's all of the above. I never imagined I would be a part of this particular mom's club — the one where we lost a baby we loved but never met. The club that has us silently grieving years after the loss, while everyone else has forgotten.
And because she is finally sleeping, so are we. The two parents who were so proud of our baby's ability to self-soothe. The two parents who swore we would never co-sleep with our children. The two parents who were so desperate for uninterrupted sleep.
The days are long and exhausting with daycare drop-offs, working eight-hour days, coming home, getting dinner on the table, and prepping to do it all over again for the next one. But they also blend together in a way that makes you question what month it is, like you're Rip Van Winkle, sleepwalking through this chaotic, non-stop world. And so, while some days may drag on, overall months sometimes feel like only seconds have passed. And even though some days are long — and sometimes difficult — I try to soak it all in. Because before I know it, my infant will be a toddler. So I am going to enjoy the baby months for as long as I can. Because those cliches are exactly right.
Now that we're heading into fall, all we want to do is soak up the nice weather. As a Boston mom, there’s so much to do in the city! But when you have an 8-month-old who doesn’t do a whole lot yet, where do you go? Here are some of our favorite Boston day trips for mom and baby.
After the ordeal of getting through security, I am full of dread. I quickly realize that the extra outfits I had put aside for the carry-on bags are still sitting in the living room. I have no change of clothes for my baby, and we're only minutes into our vacation.
The whirlwind of motherhood can be overwhelming and difficult to process. My lack of desire to shed the pounds or eliminate the cellulite is not a disguise for laziness; instead, I have learned to welcome rest — both mentally and physically. It has been life-changing to shift my perspective, making the conscious choice to enjoy my femininity (whatever that may look or feel like). Why do our bodies need to be what they used to be? Can we not be satisfied with how they are now? All of us women deserve bragging rights — our bodies are amazing.
Whenever I'm in a funk, I head for the forest. Forest bathing, or what the Japanese call shinrin yoku is the practice of simply being among the trees. Benefits include increased immunity, lowered stress hormones, lower blood pressure, and increased energy and vitality. But, most importantly, it changes the scenery, which sometimes is the best self-care of all. When my babies were little, just going outside changed the mood so quickly, with new smells and sights and stimulation. I could ward off a tantrum even on the streets of Cambridge.
When they’re babies, it’s just plain old sleep deprivation. Nothing fancy, just a basic form of torture outlawed by the Geneva Convention yet somehow totally cool when perpetrated by a tiny human that looks marginally like you. Then as they get older, their torturing skills mature. It becomes less about brute force denial of sleep and more about finding psychological mechanisms for draining the joy out of the act of sleep.
We are so hard on ourselves, as women, and we hold ourselves to standards none of us can achieve. When was the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror and thought you were beautiful or had belief in your abilities? In the world of social media, we tend to have a skewed perspective. Everyone’s life seems perfect, and everyone looks beautiful under the veil of an Instagram filter. If we are judging ourselves harshly, our daughters will do the same. We need to be kinder to ourselves, so they know how to be kind to themselves too.
Everyone gets so excited when family members or friends have a new baby, and we immediately want to see them. I have done the same. Each friend who has had a baby, the first question I used to ask is, "When can I come meet him/her? What can I bring you? I'll watch the baby while you sleep!" But, things have changed. My son got meningitis at 4 weeks old.
I know our son won't remember our travels from these early days of his life. I do hope that maybe these experiences in some way help him internalize that the world is so much more than our street here in Boston. Even if it doesn't do that for him quite yet, it is good for me to remember that there is life outside nap schedules and 'Daniel Tiger.'
"Looking at my son today, you'd never think he'd been a preemie. When he gets hangry and downs a bottle like he's been in the Sahara desert dying of thirst for three days, it's hard to believe he was on a feeding tube for the first few weeks of his life. As he achieves all the standard milestones like a pro and is on an average growth track, I know we are lucky that he is healthy — and I am thankful for that."
Step 1. Stop in diaper aisle. Mutter to self about flushing money down the toilet with each diaper purchase. Realize that diapers don't actually come in any larger size before they begin to be labeled for adult incontinence. Side eye toddler.
Growing up the 'burbs, school selection was easy. You live on this street, you go to this school. Eventually, every kid in town ends up at the same high school. Typical suburbs. Well, I don't live in the suburbs anymore. This is Boston. School selection is a real thing. And it starts at the pre-kindergarten level. My firstborn is 4, and I am already stressed over which school he will attend.
I see you over there stifling a yawn during toddler story hour. I see you guzzling another cup of coffee during playgroup. I see you struggling to muster the energy to chase that little girl of yours (who might just rival the Energizer Bunny) around the gym. I see you — and I get it.