by Keli Kirwin
“What should I add to my registry?”
“What gift should I buy for my best friend’s baby shower?”
“Top 10 baby shower gifts!”
“Most useless baby shower gifts”
Etc, ad nauseam.
Let’s get straight to the point: the most powerful gift you can give to a new family is to care for them. Mow the grass to give that time back to the family. Bring meals to them. Drop off some coffee. Love on the family. Your gift of time and service is immeasurably valuable. This includes gifting a cleaning service or having food delivered. Give without judgement and without expectations.
New parenthood is beautiful and poetic. It is also raw and really, really difficult. Even the “best” pregnancies, labors, and births are hard work. The smoothest birth is preceded by months of round the clock work, typically unacknowledged until well into the third trimester when others can finally see significant evidence of pregnancy with their own eyes. Before then, mom receives scrutiny for her exhaustion. Surely her body is not working that hard, she has only been pregnant for 9 weeks or 18 weeks or, or, or…
Postpartum is also ‘invisible’ work. Mom changes thick pads and breathes through after-birth pains as her uterus shrinks. Her bottom hurts and she struggles to choose between sitting to rest and literally getting off her sore rear-end. Her nipples are sore and cannot see beyond the exhaustion. Her hormones are shifting dramatically. She attempts to stay level-headed and logical whenever she feels the changing tide. Can she tell anyone that she cannot sleep because of her irrational anxiety?
Was she respected during birth? Does she feel that she was supported? Does she have access to appropriate care postpartum? In addition to the initial 6 weeks with her midwife or doctor, are chiropractors or physical therapists accessible? Are there other providers she could benefit from? Support can be given here; child care for older children, accompanying mom to appointments and watching the baby, perhaps monetary gifts to ensure these appointments are financially sustainable.
We care for others the best whenever our needs are met. Meet the needs of the parents so that they can better care for their home and their family.
What can you do to enrich this time in their lives?