Local moms, experts and aunts offer up advice and stories on what it means to be a mother.
Motherhood if the most difficult job in the world, but local moms don’t have to go at it alone; there are plenty of resources in Washtenaw County to help new or expecting moms. More importantly, there is no shortage of friendly faces that are willing to help out and share some wisdom.
We reached out to some local writers, new moms and birthing experts for tips, advice or just personal reflections on pregnancy and motherhood.
Stress-free Baby Shower
In addition to providing a shoulder to lean on, friends and family can support pregnant mothers the traditional way — by throwing a baby shower! It can be tough to know what families really need for a new child, especially for first-time parents. That’s why, in order for expecting mothers to get everything they need for their baby, the best idea is to register your gift choices.
One place to register is locally owned and operated My Urban Toddler of Ann Arbor. Expecting parents can peruse a huge list of gift ideas, from big items like a crib to smaller gift options like breast pumps, toys and clothes. Parents find the items they like, simply add them to their registry, and relax. My Urban Toddler has an event room that can hold up to 60 adults at a time. Don’t go shopping during those precious moments of peace after bringing a newborn home. Parents need that time for sleep!
3010 Washtenaw Ave. Suite 107 | Ann Arbor, MI 48104
734-585-0788 | myurbantoddler.com
Supporting Pregnant Friends
If your friend is expecting a baby, you’ll probably be excited for her, and might even be secretly wondering if you will be a new godmother.
Support your friend on her new journey in big and small ways, to help make every step a memorable experience. Something as basic as lending an ear can make your friend feel reassured and that she can count on you.
Check in. Sometimes just a five-minute phone call to say “have a good day” shows that you care and can make a measurable difference in your friendship. Scheduling a girls’ day out including lunch at your favorite restaurant or a little pampering, like a manicure and pedicure, can go a long way. Consider how you can alleviate some stress, surprising her with a home-cooked meal so she can put her feet up, relax and not have to worry about dinner.
Offer to accompany her to doctor’s appointments or be the designated driver. It can be fun to experience the joy of motherhood together. To celebrate this milestone in her life, try something new together like a knitting class — a handmade blanket made with love can last forever just like your friendship. Happy parenting!
Ode to A Single Mom
My niece was 27-years-old with a little girl barely past her first birthday when her husband walked out on them. How does someone process that? No warning, no discussion, just done.
Fast forward 16 years, my niece is now 43 and her daughter is a beautiful 17-year-old young lady with aspirations and dreams.
Thinking back over those years, I wonder how she did it. I never had children, and having sole responsibility of another human being seems daunting. Nobody leaves you with an instruction manual on how to raise a child, let alone manage it by yourself. Thankfully, she always had the love and support of her parents. However, nothing can replace the concept of a team. All the decisions are left up to one. When that child was sick, in pain or just in need of some direction, there wasn’t anyone there to have the discussions with.
Single parents shoulder all the responsibility and, sometimes, the blame. My niece always put her daughter’s needs before her own and maybe that’s just what parents are supposed to do, but I don’t believe I would have been strong enough to manage that alone.
My mother, who my niece adored, used to say, “All you can do is love your kids with all your heart and hope for the rest.” I know my niece followed her advice, because she gave it her all.
To my niece and all the single moms out there, you have my awe and admiration for what you do everyday for your children. But to my niece, you are my hero and I love you with all my heart!
Working out and what to wear
I had my first child in early summer 2002 and, looking back now, I can only marvel at how things for pregnant women have changed today.
Don’t get me wrong – a pregnancy is a pregnancy is a pregnancy; but when I was first pregnant, the way society viewed and dictated what a pregnant woman could do was much more old-school and, quite frankly, boring.
I, for one thing, couldn’t stand the fashion. As a Generation X-er, I had no desire to be confined to the “moomoo-esque” tent-like boundaries of pregnancy clothing which could only be described in one word: FRUMPY. I went from urban, stylish and sleek to something oddly resembling a tent in purple polka-dots.
Today, pregnant women have a vast array of choices when it comes to fashion. They even have pregnancy work-out wear – something for which I wistfully pined.
That’s another thing that has changed since I was pregnant nearly 14 years ago: Women and exercise. I was cautioned not to run, jump or do sit-ups or push-ups after the first trimester of my pregnancy. An avid runner prior to becoming pregnant, I was not happy about that – it felt more like a sentence than a health tip.
Luckily for pregnant women today, if they were active runners prior to becoming pregnant, generally they are encouraged to stay active throughout their pregnancies. And those sit-ups? Actually, according to many fitness trainers and obstetricians, they’re perfectly fine.
One thing that never seems to change for the pregnant woman is receiving unsolicited advice from EVERYONE. I was told everything from “Oh, your bump is riding high— it’s gonna be a girl!” to ideas for names (never run your favorite name past anyone).
My advice to you is to roll with it (no pun intended) and remember that each pregnancy is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be enjoyed and cherished.
Looking beyond birth
As a childbirth educator, my scope of material spans from pregnancy health through the major changes and transformations that happen for new parents in the first year after having the baby.
Somewhere in the middle of this “Childbearing Year” the major event of birth takes place. Birth is a climax event. Birth is painful. Birth is an unknown. Birth is high impact. For all of these reasons, most people make an effort to learn something about the process of birth and how to prepare for it. In contrast, only a small number of expecting parents take a class pertaining to all that comes after the birth.
Beyond Birth education is worth its weight in gold. There is so much you can do to prepare for those intensive early weeks if you just know what to expect and how to plan. The months that follow are more mysterious – a complex life maturation into a new phase of the human story. None-the-less anticipatory guidance about navigating these changes – from the physical to the emotional and more – helps it be a fulfilling and exciting period of life. Early life experiences are highly impactful for your baby as well, and a great class will teach you how to give your baby the best beyond birth.
Eating right… from the start
Erika Buri, mother of one, has been making homemade baby food for the last six months. “My husband and I try to be as environmentally conscious as possible, paying attention to what we eat and where it comes from.” So when it came to their daughter, they wanted to do the same.
Erika explained that since she works during the week, she spends about an hour and a half on Sundays preparing baby food. To prepare the food, Erika uses a three cup food processor and cooked fruits and vegetables. One of her daughter’s favorite combinations is peaches, pears, and avocado puree.
When it comes to storing, Erika suggested 4-oz jelly jars and ice cube trays. Not only are they reusable and environmentally friendly, but they easily fit in a standard freezer which makes it convenient for busy moms and dads who need to prepare a meal quickly.
For those interested in organic food, there are some great cost benefits to making baby food. Erika explained that the difference between a week’s worth of organic and conventional produce is only about $1, whereas the difference between organic and conventional store bought baby food is close to $15.
“Farmers markets are a great source of produce,” she offered. Many farmers grow their food organically and are very willing to explain their methods.
Parents who choose to expand their family through adoption may be able to skip the pregnancy books, but with the decision comes a different set of challenges. Since many families are unsure of how to choose which adoption agency, we spoke to Jill Dettman, Infant Adoption Coordinator for Hands Across the Water, for expert advice:
“When a family makes the decision, for whatever reason, to build a family through adoption, the process can feel overwhelming and complicated. A big decision facing families is selecting an agency to assist them through the process. Application, home study, placement, legal aspects, supervision, and finalization are the steps that any licensed child placing agency can perform. Families are left to choose what agency fits them best.
During the early stages of a family’s adoption process, the most important step is to carefully interview a variety of agencies. Meeting the staff provides the “feel” of an agency; a family’s link to the adoption community. Social workers should be able to answer a family’s questions, provide them with education about the adoption process, and discuss costs and fees associated with adoption. Through education and interaction, a family can truly make an informed decision about the agency they want to work with in building their family through adoption.”
Hands Across The Water
This Ann Arbor based agency does not have any religious affiliation and serves a diverse population, working with LGBTQ couples and individuals, single men and women, as well as heterosexual couples.
734-477-0135 | hatw.org
Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County
CSSW offers support for both low income and teen moms, as well as counseling for adoptive parents and birth mothers. They also provide search and reunion services for those who were involved in the adoption process. CSWW is a member agency of the Diocese of Lansing Catholic Charities.
734-971-9781 | csswashtenaw.org
This non-profit child placing agency has a foster care staff dedicated to providing complete care to their group of up to 75 children.
734-481-8999 | ffkids.org
Since 1924, the Judson Center provides services for kids and families that have been impacted by abuse, neglect, mental health and/or developmental disabilities. Their unique resources help kids heal and grow into leaders with bright futures.
734-528-1692 | judsoncenter.org
Methodist Children’s Home Society
Providing a safe haven and help for neglected or abused children, the Methodist Children’s Home takes care of kids as a 501c3 non-profit, non-sectarian agency. They also offer many programs and opportunities for kids in need, including literacy programs, transitional housing, and an all-day operated home for young boys.
313-531-4060 | mchsmi.org