I’ve always had a weakness for russian dolls… they are a fun symbol of maternity and I thought they would make the perfect party favor to embody the close bond I share with my two daughters whose initials are featured on the medium and small dolls. On the large doll I chose to feature a bouquet as my daughters’ names are floral. Those Matryoshkas are also pretty cosmopolitan themselves as they were designed in the US (per my guidance), the wooden dolls were made in Russia (by Golden Cockerel), while the packaging (the printed boxes and stickers) were made in Lebanon (by DELF / Dar El Founoun).
My mom’s idea of supporting me through the pre and post labor phases has meant for the most part cooking and cooking some more… of course she went way overboard and I’m enjoying every bite of it, each bringing back unique childhood memories and a lot of comfort as it reminds me that I have the support I need to go forward…
I particularly want to focus on Meghleh, a traditional Middle Eastern pudding served as a treat to family and friends after the birth of a new baby.
Meghleh has been flowing in my house for the past couple of weeks and I have consumed industrial amounts of it! Not only is it smooth, delicious, festive and addictive but more importantly for breastfeeding mommies, it can give you a much needed and quick energy boost to cover those extra calories you’ll still need to insure your milk supply while benefiting from its healthy ingredients:
- Spices: caraway and cinnamon (Grandmas swear that those spices help stimulate the breast milk production)
- Rice flour
- Toppings: shredded coconut, raw walnuts, pine nuts, almonds and pistachios, each boosting your diet with filling protein, fiber, healthy unsaturated fats and important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
While waiting for the real deal to flow, the first milk a breastfed baby would savor for a couple of days after birth is the colostrum. Colostrum is a thick yellow-orange fluid with creamy texture, concentrated and not very abundant. Highly packed with so many goodies (proteins, vitamins, minerals and antibodies that boost your infant’s immune system), it protects your baby from disease and gives baby everything he/she needs. It’s the best way to start your baby’s nutrition, nothing else comes close. This incredible substance acts as a natural vaccine and has certainly contributed to protecting my tiny little baby from the harsh flu I got shortly after my delivery, even though baby and me are practically glued 24/7! (of course a protective mask for mommy and other sanitary precautions around the house are also imperative to minimize the likelihood of baby catching the virus)
- Start breastfeeding right away, even in the delivery room! Nursing in the next hour or so of your baby’s birth is very important to stimulate milk production. You won’t be too sad to learn that you might be asked to do away with the lovely hospital gown for your first breastfeeding, as skin-to-skin contact between mommy and baby is recommended to jump start the natural bond and breastfeeding.
- Avoid or minimize bottle or pacifier use, as it can get in the way of developing a good breastfeeding routine.
- Have your baby in your room the first few weeks so you can nurse more often and on demand, this will help improve your baby’s sucking which in turn will build up your milk supply.
- At least 3 comfy and well-fit nursing bras
- Nursing pads
- Nursing pillow
- Lanolin (nipple cream)
- Breast milk pump
- Nightgown, pajamas or other clothes that button or snap down from the front
- Hand sanitizer
- Burp cloths
- Sterilized milk bottles for when you need to pump your milk (either buy a sterilizing machine for the bottles or you can just boil them for a couple of minutes in hot water)
- Make sure your washer and dryer are in good condition because they will probably be running non-stop!
- Wait until the colostrum phase is over to introduce your favorite onesies as the stains it creates are much harder to wash off.
- Train another person to burp your baby after each feed (so you can take turns) and this way you can get some extra time for rest between feeds.
Easter Sunday had more in store for us than predicted and baby # 2 hatched out of her egg shortly after the beginning of the 39th week. My labor was quick, no complications and we were out of the hospital with our Easter baby shortly after the mandatory 24h waiting period.
It was now time to adjust to the delicate balance of taking care of the fragile newborn while making sure that my soon-to-be 3-year-old wasn’t feeling alienated. Of course it didn’t start very well, as my first daughter seemed to think we brought home a new doll toy for her to play with and got upset that we wouldn’t hand it to her. On the first day, she would follow me around the house with her toy milk bottle and didn’t seem to understand why I was so attached to this doll. It didn’t take too long however for her to figure out that this doll was different: it moved, made a lot of noise and was getting much more of my attention than any other doll… which prompted her telling me two memorable (and heartbreaking) things: “Maman arrête avec le bébé!” (ENG: “Mom stop it with the baby!”) and “Je ne veux plus acheter un bébé!” (ENG: “I don’t want to buy a baby anymore!”)
My first priority was to orchestrate a system whereby between my husband and I, we can still give our eldest the same degree of attention she had prior to her sister’s arrival while making sure that our newborn’s needs are attended to on time. It has been a challenge (despite both grandmas joining the effort), mainly because the newborn’s sleeping and eating hours are unpredictable at this stage and my eldest was acting out and trying to grab our attention in many creative manners (such as jumping on couches she would not have dreamt of stepping on before and screaming at new high pitches).
I had learned from my first post-pregnancy experience that it is better to have a plan and sway from it, as newborn demands, than not having one to start with. Today my eldest spontaneously hugged and kissed the baby and said “7ayeteh bébé!” (ENG: “My darling baby!”) It’s making me feel that maybe we are on the right track… As for baby, she just seems to be oblivious to the power struggle and anything else happening around her… she is exclusively interested in sleeping and breastfeeding, whenever it pleases her!
…which means I now have to debrief Manhattan pedestrians on every block (and in every elevator) on my pregnancy. Questions range from, “how far are you?” to “any minute now?” to “is it just one?” (with the best follow-up, “are you sure?”)… Too much for New Yorkers not caring, with a belly this size (see pic) the questions flow and they’re unavoidable (because they usually come with a huge smile and surprised eyes)! The best of course was the person who told me “Honey, I think you need to head to the hospital right now!”