Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer, or at least I think it does. At least when I was growing up it was the day all the pools opened up, so that was my indication that summer had started. This year, we got a little ambitious and tried to make our summer start at the beginning of May, which in North Carolina, can be hit or miss. This year, we missed the summer part of it. It was pretty chilly and rainy the entire time. To top it off, the rest of the house all got the stomach bug. Somehow Jessica, Forrest and I dodged that one. We still had a ton of fun with our friends when during our early beach trip out on the Outer Banks in Duck, NC, which if you’ve never visited (any of the Outer Banks), you are missing out.
Rental house we shared with friends in Duck, NC
What the ocean looked like the majority of the time. No bueno.
With this trip being our first trip to the beach with Forrest made me think about how much extra stuff we had to think about bringing with us. There was way more than I initially thought. So, in case you’re getting ready to hit the road for your baby’s first beach trip, I’ve compiled a list of things we brought (or wish we had brought) with us on our first beach trip with Forrest and will absolutely be bringing with us next week when we go on Jessica’s family beach trip, also on the NC coast.
We used our BabyBjorn Travel Crib a ton. We debated bringing it because we had a room with two beds and thought that we might just want to put up “pillow bumpers” and let him sleep in the other bed, but in the end, we felt a lot better about having him in his travel crib. Although we didn’t get use a lot of the others during this first trip, we know we’ll being using them a lot next week, if the weather is nice, which is should be. However, we did wear our Tosan Pop + Tot sweatshirts since it was chilly and we’ll be packing them again this time around for those chilly nights, especially if I end up sun burnt. Oh, and PS, got tons of compliments on those, although Forrest is still working on filling into his.
A few things we initially didn’t think we’d need/want to take and were either glad we did bring or will definitely be bringing this time were our Nest Cam, LilyPad and Bumbo Floor Seat. Nest Cam came in handy a lot when we’d put Forrest down for a nap or to sleep and didn’t want to have to keep running up and down like four flights of stairs to check on him. We could just check on him from our phones and setting up the Next Cam away from home was super easy. We’ll definitely be bringing it again next week too. The LilyPad was also a lifesaver. Any play mat is essential, especially if your beach house is all hardwoods. There were plenty of times we wanted to put Forrest down on the floor to play, but didn’t want him doing tummy time on the hardwoods. And the Bumbo seat was also a great idea instead of packing up a whole highchair since we could easily move it around all over the house to have Forres hang out in and also feed in him his solids in.
Mother’s Day has taken on a whole new meaning to me this year. Of course, I always honored it and did nice stuff for my own mother on Mother’s Day while growing up and still give my mom a call and if I’m in town, I’ll take her out to dinner. But, it wasn’t until having a child of my own and watching my wife mother him day in and day out that I was able to truly understand the sacrifice and work that mum’s put into this whole mothering thing. Being able to witness how much a mother truly deals with from the very first day one of becoming a mother, has made me not only appreciate my wife, and the mother of my son, but also my own mother. If I was anything like our son is, then I know I was certainly a handful right away. Showing mother’s how much we appreciate them on one day out of the year obviously isn’t enough and it should’t stop there, but if you want to show the mother in your life a little gratitude and appreciation, then be sure to do something extra nice. In addition to the Mother’s Day gift guide below, you ought to consider giving the mother in your life a break for a day. Whether that means cooking all day, cleaning the house from top to bottom for her, breakfast in bed or maybe consider a spa day for her. Do something that will help her relax and feel appreciated. To go the extra mile, get her something that will make her feel special and that she can remember this Mother’s Day by. So, whether you’re buying for your wife or your own mother, here is my Mother’s Day gift guide!
Who knew finding a diaper bag that wouldn’t clash with me and my wife’s personal styles while carrying around would be so hard? Honestly, I have no idea why so many companies and brands thought they should design diaper bags as if the child itself was the one carrying it around. I searched high and low for the best diaper bags for dads and of course, moms too. Luckily, a few sensible people out there created some better looking diaper bags (The Honest Co., Tosan, Storq) that even most dads wouldn’t mind carrying around.
It’s also become more common and practical to use other types of bags that weren’t originally designed for the use of a diaper bag. Personally, we went this route when we decided on a diaper bag. Mostly because many of the amazingly designed and produced diaper bags we loved were simply too expensive (like the incredibly designed Leader Bag Co. bag shown in this post which goes for $465) for us at the time or weren’t available yet. Plus, we also liked the idea of being able to use whatever we bought again later for something else. We ended up going with the Fajllraven Kanken Daypack for those exact reasons. Not very expensive and can certainly be used for other things. It’s a pretty good quality bag, but it’s not so expensive that we’ll lose our minds if we spill something on it or it gets damaged. If it lasts, which it seems it will, until after Forrest is no longer wearing diapers, we’ll be able to use it again for other purposes or he can even use it for school. The design of it isn’t crazy which helps ensure that it won’t look all that dated in a couple of years, so I am hoping it will still be a rather cool and hip back pack in a few years.
Before really ever looking into what diaper bag we wanted, I knew I probably didn’t want something that was created specifically as a diaper bag because my experience up until my wife’s pregnancy was that all diaper bags pretty much suck and we both probably wouldn’t be all too excited about carrying some floral or animal print bag that had to be worn over one shoulder or carried by hand.
My criteria for a diaper bag both Jess and I would be happy to lug around looked like this:
Large enough to store everything we might need for a full day outing plus some of our own items.
Backpack style. Anyone with a kid knows you need your hands free, so carrying a bag was out of the question and cross body/shoulder backs can really do a number on your back and shoulders.
Durable and reliable yet lightweight. We wanted something that could take a bit of a beating without feeling like we were carrying our child in it.
Has both style and function and was unisex. No reason to sacrifice one for the other, right?
Reusable when finished using it to carry diapers and baby stuff.
These were ones we looked into along with some newer ones we’ve discovered since then. You just can’t go wrong with any of these though. Sorry, but not sorry if you start drooling over the Leader Bag Co. or Filson bags. You just might have to work an extra few ours and check under the sofa cushions to get those.
The moment my wife told me she was pregnant, I was flooded with more emotions and feelings in that moment than I had ever had before. My heart instantly felt heavy and full, my eyes began to tear up, my face boasted one of the biggest smiles it’s ever made and my mind was racing with everything from names for our child to finances to the notorious “what’s next” question. Being a first time dad is exciting and scary. It’s such a unique experience and one part of that, that I wanted to make the best of, was the pregnancy. From day one of the pregnancy, as the husband (or partner), you take on a new role that will require you to do a lot of learning.
I wasn’t completely sure what to expect during those ever so important nine months and wouldn’t have minded knowing a little more ahead of time. I definitely learned and figured most of it out quickly, but I certainly didn’t learn it all on my own. I had help from baby apps, books and of course, my wife Jessica. She would let me know or hint at anything I wasn’t doing or anything I needed to know. That got me thinking about how great would it have been had she not needed to hint at things and I already knew how to fully support her, keep her comfortable, happy and feeling loved? For a first baby it’s completely normal to feel like a fish out of water but if you want a head start and major brownie points, take these tips and be proactive with your wife during her pregnancy. Also, I’m using the term “wife” here because that was who my experience was shared with, but of course, this can apply to anyone you are supporting through pregnancy.
One important piece of info to note right away, is that a mother’s health and state of mind is important to her and the child she is carrying. Stress and anxiety can have negative effects on an unborn child, so her feelings and emotions are just as important as the food she eats. By helping mama keep her stress levels down, feeling good about herself and remaining sensitive to her needs, emotions, cravings, etc., you are doing both her AND your child a favor.
SUPPORT HER. As obvious is it sounds, you really have to support her and not just verbally. The ways I supported my wife came in the form of listening to her, being sensitive to her ups and downs and remaining understanding. I quickly had to learn not to take it personally when she was unhappy, for whatever reason whether it was something rational or irrational that upset her. It is hugely important though to understand that to her, it’s all very rational in that time and place, so jump in with both feet and remember that you don’t need to provide a direct solution most of the time, just a listening and understanding ear. Stay engaged even though you may be lost. Show her the support and understanding she needs and she’ll love you all the more and be super appreciative.
EDUCATE YOURSELF. Knowing the process of pregnancy and what’s going on with your wife and child will help you both. There are some really great apps (What To Expect, Pregnancy+, Who’s Your Daddy) out there that helped walk us through each week and explained the changes that were happening to both mama and baby. These gave me a better understanding about the symptoms and even emotions she was experiencing and how to help her with them. Plus, it was also really awesome to learn about the development of our child. It’s pretty incredible stuff. The point is though, that to be the best husband and support to my wife during this time, I had to educate myself, I gathered as much info as I could. If you don’t know where to start don’t be afraid to her for suggestions. She’ll love the fact that you care. Here are a few great books to check out
LESSEN HER STRESS. Even though you’ll both be on cloud nine and filled with excitement, pregnancy is demanding in it’s nature and just like a demanding job, it can cause stress. It’s both physically and emotionally difficult, so do whatever you can to rid her of any unneeded pressure. Tackling tasks around the house is a huge help and will allow her to relax. Something that Jessica voiced to me during her pregnancy was that she actually didn’t want me to do everything. I had to reminder myself that she isn’t handicap, but pregnant instead. So, let her do what she’s comfortable doing and then handle the rest yourself. And as a heads up, the things she is comfortable with doing may change randomly, one day she’ll find the smell of glass cleaner completely repulsive. Just embrace it.
LET/HELP HER SLEEP. Let her sleep in, let her nap, let her go to bed early, let her sleep whenever the heck she wants. There is a lot of activity going on within her and it’s exhausting, especially during the first trimester. So if your wife or partner is sleeping like it’s their job, just pretend it is. Sleepiness was one of the first signs that Jessica was pregnant and that continued for the next few months. While the first trimester is a snoozefest, during the second, she’ll regain some good energy. The third trimester is when she may have more trouble sleeping. The discomfort from the weight of the baby and belly bump make it very hard to get comfortable, so sleeping on the side is pretty much the only option. I got Jessica a Snoogle (full body pregnancy pillow) which she used every night and brought that huge thing with us on any trips we had made. She began to not even be able to sleep without it. And yes, it took up half of our bed, but it was well worth it.
GO WITH HER TO DOCTOR APPOINTMENTS. I went to all but one of the ob/gyn appointments, but that was only possible because I work from home and make my own schedule. But even if you don’t, you’ll still want to try to make it to as many as you can and especially the more telling appointments. Besides the fact that you are there supporting your wife, you also get to hear you child’s heartbeat and at some appointments, you’ll get to see him/her. Another reason I wanted to make it to as many as possible is because I never wanted her to be there alone if she were to get bad or concerning news, which we actually did receive at one appointment. It was very scary news to hear at the time and even though everything turned out fine, thank God, I couldn’t imagine her sitting in there alone getting that news. Being able to grab her hand, comfort her and tell her everything will be fine, even if I wasn’t completely sure it would be, was everything to us.
BE PATIENT. If you’re lucky, you are naturally a patient person. If you aren’t, which I fall somewhere in the middle, you are going to need to learn how to be. The hormones in your wife’s body are all over the place and she obviously isn’t used to have to deal with them, so you may find her happy and excited one moment and enraged and frustrated shortly after. It’s just her hormones, so don’t take it personally and just go with the flow. You’ll also need patience for the frequent visits to the bathroom to pee. Pregnant women pee so much and I know you’ve heard it before. But again, they pee so much. I felt like Jessica thought of herself as an inconvenience, especially if I expressed any degree of annoyance or frustration and I imagine most women feel similar at some point. Practice patience at all times.
COMFORT HER. The physical changes that happen to your wife will certainly make her feel uncomfortable. Carrying a developing human being creates all sorts of soreness, pains, aches and stiff muscles. Jessica loved a gentle back and foot rub. I also learned how to properly massage her belly from the book we read in our birth class, which she loved and so did our baby. He would kick like crazy when I’d do that. I’d also get the bathtub going and add some oils and epsom salt to help get rid of some of the pain and soreness.
SATISFY HER CRAVINGS. I don’t think I could have ever imagined that I’d end up eating so much watermelon and Mexican food, but that was what Jessica wanted. Those were her cravings and yes, you could say I got lucky because I’ve heard of much worse cravings. There were definitely times though, when even the thought of Mexican food almost made me sick, but because it made her happy, I was all about it.
COMPLIMENT HER. Guys, reassure and affirm. It’s safe to say that it never hurts to tell your wife she is beautiful and that you love her, especially during pregnancy. The physical changes going on can be a lot for her to handle. Give her no reason to doubt you still find her beautiful and that you love her and are in love with her.
SPOIL HER. Your wife is doing a lot and going through a lot both physically and emotionally. Beyond your words and actions, you can also show you are thankful, love her and care about her by doing some nice things for her. For example, I treated Jessica to a spa day where she got a pregnancy massage. From time to time, I’d take her shopping for maternity clothes. And we also took one last trip together without having kids. Neither of us had ever been to Portland, OR so we used some miles and spent a week out there and it was rather perfect. Just make sure if you plan a trip that you’ll be flying for that you do so before the cutoff period for her to be able to fly which is somewhere around the 35 week period.
DATE HER. It’s easy to get caught up in the baby prep mode and forget that the reason this baby is on it’s way is because you two dated in the first place. Keep it going. Just because she is pregnant doesn’t mean she needs to be treated like a pregnant women all of the time. I’d try to take Jessica out to dinner several times a month and not only talk pregnancy and babies but also talk about the kind of romantic stuff we would talk about before we were expecting. This made her feel like more than just the person growing and carrying around my child. We would never make it through a whole evening without switching to the subject of our little human on the way but be sure to give her some of that old romance, pre-baby.
TAKE HER PHOTO EVERY WEEK OR MONTH. We had a lot of fun doing this and looking back on the photos now is just crazy. Jessica wore the same outfit every time, or at least something very similar, so that it was consistent and the only thing that was dramatically changing in the photo was her belly. Some people like to do it by the week and some like to do this by the month, but either way, she’ll love it and love you for doing it. And on top of that don’t forget to just take random photos of her and the two of you. It’s super fun to look back at and remember that time. We took bi-weekly photos but definitely wish now that we had taken more random ones of just her and of us. Lesson learned so, at least we know now for next time.
If any of you dads have any additional advice on taking care of your wife during pregnancy, share it in the comments below. Mamas, you too.
It wasn’t but a couple of years ago that my wife and I began to actually appreciate and enjoy adult beverages – beyond beer and $10 bottle wine. From the very beginning of our journey into liquor, bourbon has been our drink of choice. If I’m being completely honest, when we found out Jessica was pregnant, I was actually sort of bummed that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy our occasional drink together for the rest of her pregnancy, but of course, the reward outweighed that sacrifice by far. During that time, I often felt guilty when I poured a drink after a long day of working, especially because Jessica was also doing the same work I was and couldn’t enjoy a drink with me.
As my taste matured and I learned more about mixing drinks, I found myself experimenting and practicing so that when she was able to have a drink again, I could make her something special. I started with the basics and an old fashioned was the perfect cocktail to make her. It can be enjoyed all year round and can be tweaked to taste. I played around a bit with a few different recipes and methods and the recipe below is the one I made for Jessica for celebratory drink after Forrest’s birth.
– 2 oz. bourbon – 1/4 oz. Angostura bitters – 1 sugar cube
– 1 splash water
– 2 brandied or maraschino cherries
– 1 orange slice
– Add sugar and bitters in a rocks glass, muddle.
– Add bourbon and ice and garnish with orange twist, cherry and add splash of water. Gently stir. – Optional: To sweeten things up a little bit, add a spoon or half-spoonful of juice from the cherries.
Now, go make this classic boozy drink for you and your baby mama after you put the kid(s) to bed, because we both know she could probably use one about right now to help wind down this evening. Trust me when I tell you she’ll certainly love it!