There are a lot of things that I know now, through experience, that there simply was no way for me to know before I gave birth. For example: I now know that I knew absolutely nothing. I read up on a lot of things. They gave me glimpses into how life would change. I was terrified of childbirth; girrrrrrrrrl, childbirth – while no laughing matter and EVERYONE HAS A DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE – at the end of the day, if you go home alive with an alive baby: YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN READING MORE ABOUT WHAT TO DO AFTER YOU GO HOME WITH THE BABY. Or maybe that’s just me? I felt completely unprepared for WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS TINY CREATURE WHO DEPENDS ON ME FOR LIFE. Not how to change a diaper but rather… how do you entertain it?!
I am so, so, so fortunate for so many reasons: Hubba Hubby’s company is fairly generous with paternity leave, and I found myself part of an amazing community with tons of parents who are very generous with their advice, suggestions, and offers of help. I wasn’t entirely alone – not until Hubby went back to work, anyway – and then I found myself reaching out and finding mom-friends that are in the thick of it with me, which has been amazing.
But the months before I gave birth, all the reading in the world that I did, all the prepping that I did… I’m writing this down now, more than a year after I gave birth, for posterity. To remind myself the next time I do this what I don’t think I should do next time, and to remind myself of the things I actually thought helped.
FIRST OF ALL:
DO NOT MOVE WHEN YOU ARE 34 WEEKS PREGNANT
(even if it is only a block away and you hire movers to pack and move you)
ESPECIALLY DIRECTLY FOLLOWING A 2 WEEK TRIP OVERSEAS
AND DO NOT HAVE A BABY SHOWER A WEEK AFTER YOU MOVE INTO YOUR NEW PLACE,
AT YOUR NEW PLACE (well, in one of the amenity areas, but still)
BECAUSE YOU WILL THUS BE 36 WEEKS PREGNANT WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE
and all of the generosity that has been showered upon you will then need to be unwrapped, washed, folded, put away, and thank you notes sent, and…
Before we moved into our new apartment, one of the things that worried me was how I wasn’t nesting. In hindsight, I wasn’t ‘nesting’ because I didn’t have a nest. Once we moved into the new place, I began ordering everything under the sun that I thought our baby might like or need, but shipping takes time and when all was said and done, very little in the baby room was set up and done.
I also began meal prepping like a crazy-person. If you know anything about me, it’s that I like to eat and that I get very HANGRY if I don’t eat. I read lots of horror stories about people not eating when they were in the throes of caring for a newborn, and I was not going to abide by that! I read articles like “6 hours of prep for 42 meals” and “how to feed yourself after giving birth” and “how I meal prepped 3 months of food before I gave birth to triplets and also had to feed my 2 year old and my 5 year old and my stupid in-laws who showed up and stayed for 6 weeks without asking ahead of time” and… okay, I might just have made up all these titles, but that was the type of thing I was reading.
One morning, I woke up and Googled ALL OF THE ARTICLES about freezer meal prep for baby, and went absolutely insane. By which I mean: I spent 2 weeks in the kitchen, barefoot, pregnant, and waddling around scooping, cooking, par-cooking, portioning, and freezing.
Below are the recipes for the photos I posted on InstaStory back then. I’m sorry to tell you that I dealt with a LOT OF HATERS (and some of them are probably reading this now… I genuinely think some of them didn’t realize what freaking haters they were being), and I’m proud to tell you that they were all wrong. And not because I was being stubborn. But because they were, simply put, wrong.
Every single person handles childbirth differently. Every partnership is different. Every family is different.
This worked for my family. I took the slow cooker out, I used box after box of slow cooker liners that made clean up a snap, and we continually ate slow cooker meals day in and day out for weeks on end. Days or meals that I didn’t feel like eating what I’d prepped, we went out. Oh yes – my pictures show me that we were out and about eating at restaurants within 5 days (honestly, less) of me giving birth.
I’ll ramble on a bit more about haters and what they said after the pics. I’m sure you’re getting bored of my self-serving little rant here.
The first batch of meals I prepped – not slow cooker meals – all ground beef based. The above, my arsenal.Spaghetti sauce. Whenever I freeze sauce, I flip the sandwich bags over a large cup or mug to hold it upright so I can pour/scoop sauce into it without getting it all over the outside. You can buy these gadgets to do this job and maybe they’re better at it than my glass jar idea, but mine is free and I had it on hand already. I also made chili. And cottage pie (shepherd’s pie using beef instead of lamb).
Pork tenderloin! I got a huge one on sale at BJ’s and they cut it into 4 equal pieces for me — the guy looked at me like I was crazy, I think people usually ask them to cut into chops? — but it really worked well for my ‘recipe’.
Which mostly was apple sauce, some seasoning, salt… it turned out some super tender pork chops, as long as I turned off the heat before it had gone too long. Letting it keep going meant the whole thing would fall apart, which could be good I guess? But wasn’t what I wanted.
Italian sausages, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, a can of diced tomatoes, and pre-chopped frozen peppers and onions. So easy — I actually made this for dinner a few nights ago, though I put it all together on the fly instead of pulling a frozen bag of everything out of the freezer.
For example – buying frozen meatballs made these freezer-slow-cooker-meal-kits suuuper easy. You can definitely make your own. At 37 weeks pregnant during August and armed with a BJ’s membership, I did not.Instead, I counted out 25 meatballs per bag, added Italian seasoning, garlic, frozen veggies, and tomato sauce. Too much Italian seasoning and honestly, the veggies were a bad choice (they would get mushy and my hubby didn’t care for them, so he’d dig around them and I’d just poke at the sad mush on my plate or in my hoagie).
Both the sausage and meatball meals could be served with pasta, which I did at least once – a box of spaghetti that I cooked and then dumped into the slow cooker with the finished meats – but the easiest option was picking up a 12 pack of grinder rolls from BJ’s ($2.99… yes I’m serious) and making sandwiches. Sometimes a bag of salad (Caesar salad kits were our go-to) rode shotgun on the plate, making it a reasonably balanced meal. Sometimes I wolfed down a sandwich with a newborn in my arms. Sometimes it was 2. Sandwiches, not newborns.
I don’t recall eating this one, but this or a variation of this meal prep showed up in basically every website that posted pregnancy meal prep ideas or even just regular meal prep ideas. Essentially, a jar of salsa, a bunch of chicken that you can cut up or not, slow cook the heck out of it, then shred the meat. Using white meat, I hate this meal. Using dark meat, I don’t remember this meal. It’s not my thing, maybe it’s yours. I think some people eat it with rice and cheese. It’s not flavorful enough, and white meat turns out really stringy and dry.I also made Japanese curry – seriously, I don’t remember eating the salsa chicken… maybe I should check my freezer. Anyway, the Japanese curry came in handy months and months after I gave birth. More on that later.
One night, I made pork fried rice. Instead of keeping the leftovers in the fridge, I put them in the freezer. This one I’m pretty sure is still in the freezer (and will be thrown away the next time I see it!). I am a huge fan of slow cooker chicken tikka masala – this one I made a batch and froze instead of eating. Well, we didn’t get around to eating this because I couldn’t get up the energy to cook rice. I own and use a rice cooker to make rice, I’m not sure why I couldn’t make rice, but there you have it. (I eventually thawed this and used it for lunches for Hubby one week, which saved me time but it was way beyond the newborn stage.)
Oh geez… here’s the mess of stuff we were generously gifted by other people. This is just the brand new stuff – my sister and a friend both gave us a ton of their sons’ clothing, which I also washed in baby detergent. And folded. And sorted. And barely used (but that’s not their fault). So… this is the reverse side of the last picture. All of the hangers, tags, boxes that everything in the last picture came in. Did you know there must be a law somewhere that states baby clothing must come with no fewer than 6 hang tags that you must use scissors to remove, a few stickers for good measure (usually telling you to look at the butt because there’s a cute animal peeking out at you), and an excess of stuff to remove which are all choking hazards before you can wash it in specially-made-for-baby’s-sensitive-skin detergent that costs a boatload more than your regular stuff? Well, now you do.
One of my brief thoughts when I’ve given gifts to pregnant/newly-given-birth friends in the past year has been “I should wash this for them first” because that would have made me so, so, so happy to receive already washed items. But then I realized I would have washed it again anyway because you just don’t know what happened in transit. I also considered just cutting all the tags off things for people before giving them gifts, but I realized that if something didn’t fit or they wanted to re-gift it (and now, having had a baby and understanding the sheer amount of stuff I received that I’ve never used, this doesn’t offend me AT ALL) or they had to return it or whatever, removing the tags is a bold move.
*The above was written in August 2018, the below is me finishing up this long-forgotten draft in March 2019*
I’m not entirely sure why I included these pictures — they appear to be snacks I ate a day or two before I gave birth. Funny enough, I’m looking at them and while they look delicious, I’m amused by the inclusion of cold cuts because that’s something I thought I did my best to avoid during pregnancy. Oh well! These were inspired by Danish smorrebrod (open-faced sandwiches) — Melba toast smeared with butter and topped with various things. I’m not even hungry right now and it looks delicious!
And here’s a photo of my dog looking up at me expectantly, hoping I’d drop some food. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I recall I constantly dropped food on my belly – I don’t know if it was because it protruded so much or if I was just so off-balance and careless by that point…
In any case, I hope this was helpful to you, all my newly pregnant (first time and not!) friends! Cheers to an amazing rest of your pregnancies!