Archive for the ‘Dear Rachel’ Category

Click here to view the previous post in this series.

If there comes a day when your eight glasses of water are hard to swallow, remember this post.  When you dread every drop of liquid because you know it means that you will wake up five times in the night to waddle to the bathroom, remember this:  it is preparation

I heard about it when I was pregnant with my first.  An older friend told me that the disrupted sleep is nature’s way of preparing a new mother for the first several months of motherhood, a sort of warm-up for those nights of broken, restless sleep.  I thought it was a brilliant theory!   But, after having four kids and mothering for several years, I think the frequent potty breaks get us ready for a lot more than just the first few months.

Consider this:  going to the bathroom once an hour is tedious and inconvenient.  You must stop what you are doing, use the restroom, readjust your lovely maternity garments, wash up, spend minutes checking out your preggo profile in the mirror to see if it’s changed in the past hour, then finally return to what you were doing.  It’s not like you have a choice, either! The bladder calls; you must respond.

That’s parenting, sister.  (Well, not the bladder part.)  Parenthood is strewn with endless mundane, sometimes mind-numbing tasks.  Through diapering and  potty training,  instilling good habits, tieing shoes, settling squabbles, helping with homework and always disciplining, a mother (and a father) is called to do the same thing over and over and over and over. 

I know. It doesn’t sound very fun.  Please keep reading!

Just as the incessant need to relieve yourself is a good thing for your body, the consistent, routine tasks of parenthood are good and necessary for your child.  Yes, it gets tedious (oh  believe me, it does!)  But one of the wonderful things about raising a child is that they are constantly maturing.  Their well-being and good health, that first smile and laugh, the first step, the first time they “help” you clean up; all of these are in great part due to your diligent care.  You constantly get to experience the reward of your work!

These rewards are a sweet (and necessary) boost when you are  cleaning soggy toast chunks out of their neck folds for the 273rd time.

So when you are visiting the ladies’ room for the fifth time (before noon), remember that you are a parent-in-training.  Like a professional athlete conditioning their body for competition, you are getting ready for a mighty big challenge.  Just remember, your reward is not  the top podium, a trophy, a medal or your face on a cereal box. 

It is simply the sweetest thing you will ever hold in your arms.



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I know, this is a repeat picture. But I can't resist this hand--look at the chub on those fingers!

The previous post in this series is found here.

I mean it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!  Thank you for not waiting to find out the gender of your baby.  Thank you for choosing to let that sonographer rub all over your preggo belly until the great secret is revealed, because I might spontaneously combust if I had to wait until your due date to find out!  Hold on…

I’m back!  Just the thought of not knowing for five more months sent me to my Halloween stash for another fun-size Snickers.  Anyway, despite my desire to tell you everything I can about pregnancy, lately I find myself  thinking about your baby and wondering if we’re going to welcome another boy cousin into the family, or if you’re going to even things out for the girls.  Instead of dispensing maternal wisdom I chew on my nails and check the calendar to see how many more days until the crucial appointment.

Now, I have to admit something here. I think I know what you’re having.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but I feel pretty confidant!  You’ll encounter other people–friends, perfect strangers–who will declare the gender of your child based on how you’re carrying, the type of food you prefer, or simply their own intuition.  (They might  be really obnoxious about it and depending on your hormone levels at the time you may or may not respond graciously.)

But I’m your big sister.  I’m not  sure why that makes a difference here, but still, I think I know and I’ve revealed my guess in this post!  Try to find it!  Or not. Perhaps you rolled your eyes after the first couple of sentences and went off to do something more interesting like winterize your pool.  But it’s here, on record, so that if I’m right I can slide into big sister mode and say:

I told you so!

If I’m wrong?  I sincerely, absolutely, unequivocally do not care.  The gender, when revealed, will suddenly be exactly what I wanted my baby sister to have.  (It’s crazy how that happens!)



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To view the previous post in this series, please click here.

I’ve worried about this message for a few days.  It involves a topic that is particularly guilt-inducing for some moms.  Perhaps–I thought– it’s better to just leave it alone. 

Wait…what?  Leave it alone?  I’d have to give up my Bossy Big Sister status!  No way. I’m licensed to interfere, push, prod, nag, pester, bug, irritate, dictate, speculate, never hesitate and when all else fails–boss. (Or tie you up ’til you promise to behave, whatever works.)

Anyway, I’m talking about preserving memories for your sweet baby and I’m going to keep it short and sweet this week.  If you want to create a scrapbook that weighs fifty pounds by Baby’s first birthday, go for it! If a pre-fab “baby book” is more your style, grab a cute one and start filling in the blanks. 

 But if traditional, detailed chronicles of any sort are not your style, don’t beat yourself up about it.  Just save something. You’ll enjoy the flood of memories  every time you reexamine the keepsakes and your child will treasure them all their life.  Here’s a few no-stress suggestions to get you started.

  • Keep a pocket-sized notebook in your purse and jot down a poignant moment when you can. Encourage hubs to add his thoughts as well.
  • Keep a small camera with you to snap photos of sweet and silly moments–like when you first realize you can no longer see your feet, grab that camera and record the new view!
  • Print copies of any e-mail correspondences related to the baby.  Did you e-mail anyone with the big news?    Do you and the hubs e-mail back and forth about appointment times, possible baby names, how many times you’ve felt the baby move, what food just gave you indigestion or the ten egg rolls you need him to get for you right now? Print them out and tuck them away!
  •  Hang on to a receipt for your maternity clothes or the first package of diapers that you buy.
  • Keep an easy memento of pregnancy cravings.  Stash an extra copy of your favorite take-out menu (circle the things you’ve ordered over and over during your pregnancy) or a grocery store receipt that shows the ten pints of Super-Duper Triple Chocolate Chip (theoretically speaking).

Remember, these memories are not just for you and the hubs to savor, they are the beginning of Baby’s personal history.  Trust me on this:  kids love hearing their story.  It doesn’t need fancy, color-coordinated packaging, it just needs to be preserved for all of you to enjoy.



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I blame this post on the latte. Some of us can't hold our coffee.

You can view my previous bossy-big-sister advice here. 

Don’t ever hesitate to call your doctor if you have a question.  Ever.  I’m feeling really very bossy about this right now, so if you’re not in the mood you might want to come back later or block me with security settings or something because it feels sort of like when I was twelve, you were six  and I knew everything.  (I think I should have made that latte I ordered this morning a “tall” instead of a grande.) 

Okay, where was I?

Right. Calling your doctor.  If you have an absolutely fabulous doctor then she has already assured you that you can call any time you have a concern or question.  Do it!  Don’t ever talk yourself out of a phone call because:

  1.  “It’s a silly question.”
  2. “I should know this.”
  3.  “I should be able to figure this out on my own.”
  4.  “There’s no way I’m going to say that word out loud.”
  5.  “She’ll think I’m a complete idiot for asking that question.”

I’m going to ditch these objections  for you.

1.  It’s a silly question.  Really?  Why?  Because you think you should already know it?  Because you think everyone else probably knows this and has never called your doctor to ask it?  Not likely.  In fact, I would wager Grandmommy’s cake stand that someone has asked it before.  In fact, I challenge you to come up with a sincere, pregnancy-related question that your doctor has never heard!  Now, for the sake of argument I’ll admit that silly questions are possible.  If you called your doctor to ask, “What’s the likelihood that I’ll deliver a six-toed cat with black ears and a purple tail?” even I would call that silly.

2.  I should know this.  Why? You’ve never had a baby before!  Don’t trip yourself up with this one; it’s silly ill-advised.

3.  I should be able to figure this out. Well, if you let yourself go down that road, you just might convince yourself that you and the Hubs can ditch the doctor and deliver the baby yourself!  Seriously,  I know you’ve got a lot of great resources (ahem!) to consult when you want some information and I’m not suggesting that you ignore these, but just keep in mind that your doctor is the medical expert here.  She’s the ultimate resource. 

4.  I can’t say that word out loud.  Okay, I get this one, I really do.  Fortunately, if it’s a problem, you have a great vocabulary and can probably get the idea across without saying the actual, precise, completely mortifying, anatomically correct word. If not, drive to your doctor’s office and write it on paper or draw a picture.

5. She’ll think I’m an idiot.  I’ll make this brief:  (a) No she won’t. (b) If she does she’s too professional to show it. (c) If not “a” or “b”, then get a new doctor!  (On this point, please refer back to number one.)

The thing to keep in mind is that the doctor knows you are totally new at this. Guiding a first-time mom through all the little details is part of her job.

I’m so glad I got this out of my system!



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To view the previous post in this series, click here. ~K

When I was pregnant with my first baby, a good friend suggested that I start buying diapers well ahead of my due date.  I don’t remember her rationale for doing so, but I followed her advice! 

Babies: small parts, big changes.

I purchased two to four packages of diapers a month, starting in the middle of my second trimester.  I had a nice stockpile by the time my baby was born! Here is why I recommend it: 

Preparation boosts confidence.  Every action you take to get ready for the baby boosts your self-confidence as parents.  It’s good to feel “ready”.  Building up many week’s worth of diapers feels “really ready!” 

It’s one less concern.  Instead of  running to the store for a package of diapers when your baby is a week and a half old, you can do more worthy things with your time. Get to know the newest member of the family.  Grab sleep when you can.  Chat on the phone with all of your well-wishers.  Go get a pedicure.  Call your big sister and tell her that you would never have survived pregnancy without her timely, brilliant advice.  

You can get used to the expense.  Frankly, I was shocked when I took my first stroll down that foreign aisle stocked with rows of diapers, wipes, soaps, lotions and pureed human food.  Was it possible that it cost that much for disposable infant underwear?  At the time, we kept a strict grocery store budget of $50.00 per week.  A month’s worth of diapers increased that amount by just over 50%–if we bought the store brand. The first month that I purchased diapers, I bought only one package (about a week’s worth).  The next month I bought two.  By the time our baby arrived I was buying one package a week and we had adjusted to our new budget. 

It’s fun to shop for your baby!  It feeds the excitement, the giddy, joyful anticipation of that sweet little person you are waiting to meet.  Yes, even something as utilitarian as diapers contributes to the fun. 

There are other consumables such as wipes and formula that I also suggest stocking early.  Start slow if you like.  Ease into it.  Most of all, enjoy the preparation! 



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To view the previous post in this series, click here. ~K

All the joy and wonder of pregnancy is happening for the first  time and it marks the transition in your life between without-a-child and Mommy.  Whether you end up with one or five kids, this is the only “first.”  So be greedy, grab with both hands and shovel in as much of these wonderful experiences as you possibly can.  You’ll never have another first pregnancy!

Moments to treasure…

Take many opportunities to laze around and do nothing. Such a luxury will be scarce for many years to come!

The ability to rest when you need to and sleep in when you can.  If another pregnancy is in your future, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the freedom to pamper yourself like you can now. (You’ll be taking care of another little one!) 

The opportunity to spend quality, uninterrupted time with your husband.  See above.

The physical changes.  Some are surprising, some are fun, and some may have you groping for your phone in the middle of the night to call your doctor. Still others may have you and your husband rolling on the floor with laughter. You might feel kind of strange sometimes or you might feel perfectly normal for nine months (except for all the internal gymnastics and increased waist line) or you might feel like that stretchy super hero mom in The Incredibles! Whatever you feel, treasure it. It’s all a sign that a life is growing in you–for the very first time!

All the fussing and attention you receive.  When I was pregnant with my first child, a friend gave me this advice and predicted, good-naturedly, “you’ll never be fussed over like this again!”  She was right!  While friends, family and even strangers  shared our joy and anticipation of the next three children, I was never again the focus of so much attention as I was during that  first pregnancy. Soak it up!

The extra curves.  I think this is self-explanatory! If not, ask your husband.

I can’t wait to hear about what you enjoy the most as your baby grows!



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To read the first post in this series, click here. ~K

I know you’ve been feeling great.  I’m glad, glad, glad for you!  I felt healthy and energetic throughout my first pregnancy.  I always felt grateful that pregnancy seemed to give me an extra boost and didn’t slow me down.

I strongly recommend pre-natal yoga for every pregnant woman! I had several DVDs and they were always comfortable and effective. I also recommend pre-natal massage. But I never had one of those, so be sure to let me know how it feels!

It also made it really easy to exercise regularly, which I did.  You can find plenty of research-based articles sprinkled with quotes from experts, exhorting you to exercise while pregnant, outlining all the good reasons to do so.  Google it and they will appear!

Here’s why I did it:

  • To minimize weight gain
  • To maintain good circulation as the pregnancy added weight and blood volume to my body
  • T0 help me relax
  • To keep my body strong for labor/delivery and recovery
  • To avoid developing sedentary habits that might continue after the baby was born
  • To make it easier to drop the pregnancy weight after the baby was born

Throughout my first pregnancy I walked most days for about a half hour.  I also tried to do a pre-natal DVD two to three times a week.  I picked one up at Half-Priced books and it was so dated I think someone was wearing leg-warmers, which means it was actually a VHS.  It was corny and not terribly challenging, but it worked for me at that time.

My absolute favorite pre-natal DVD is Fusion Pilates for Pregnancy with Jennifer Giani.  It’s a bit long–I think it runs a full hour–and it’s just stretching and light toning, but it makes a pregnant body feel fabulous.  Giani has put together a fantastic series of stretches that hit all the typical problem areas.  (Hello, lower back and hip flexors, please don’t snap apart the next time I try to bend over!)

If you’re not sure what you want to do to keep active, flip through a Fit Pregnancy magazine or visit their website. My doctor’s office always had a free copy available; your doctor might as well. 

And if you’re nervous about exercising, chat with your doctor about it.  You might be surprised what the doctor will “okay”.  I was surprised to learn that I could continue running while pregnant.  But, despite approval from my doctor, I just couldn’t do it.  I tried to go for a light jog one day but kept imagining my miniscule child ricocheting off the walls of my uterus, losing SAT points with every impact.  It just wasn’t worth the stress! 

I advise movement.  You choose what it is, but do it consistently. Let me know if you need leg warmers and I’ll send you a pair.



PS:  I wish I had written this to myself when I was pregnant with my third and fourth!

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Dear Rachel

A few weeks ago I got a call.

It was my baby sister and she had big news.

I squealed and screamed.  Then I told my 8 year-old and 3 year-old girls.  They squealed and screamed.  I screamed, they screamed, we all screamed for Aunt Rachel’s impending baby!  I think I even jumped up and down.

After I remembered that I was a grown woman with four children and not a 6th grade girl, I calmed down and got to the business of details.  When did

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand. I could rattle off something about green symbolizing new life and there's plenty to say about those small purple flowers springing up in the middle, but the truth is I just wanted a photo to break the monotony of text and this was all I had at hand, a picture I took to check the focus on my camera. The plant does remind me of my mom because she used to border her front beds with them and my mom is obviously gave birth to my sister, but I think that's trying a little to hard, don't you?

 she and her husband find out?  How far along was she?  How did my parents react when they heard the news?  How was she feeling?  Was she drinking plenty of water?  Did she have a doctor appointment lined up?

I tried to ask these questions as if she were one of my long-time girlfriends and not my little sister.  Despite the fact that she’s all grown up (and has been for awhile) I still have to bite my tongue to keep from whipping out the bossy big-sister talk whenever we’re together.  And, man!  Not sounding like a bossy big sister is hard.  I always feel so awkward. Frankly, I would be a lot more comfortable if she would let me pretend that she’s still three, I’m nine and our parents have put me  “in charge” .  No, that would never work.   She’s almost six feet tall after all, and I’m built a little closer to the pavement.  I just don’t think I can make her mind me anymore.

So I listened to her excited chatter and worked in a question here and there.  With strenuous effort I kept myself from rattling off a list of things she needed to do and and things she needed to avoid, like immediately.  Truly, I don’t think I offered more than two pieces of unsolicited advice before she laid the real shocker on me.  (You should make sure you’re sitting down before you read this next part.)

My baby sister, my only sister, said to me, “Any advice you have to share, just feel free!”

I didn’t speak.  I was groping for a paper bag, trying to control my breathing.

“Really?”  I gasped

“Yeah, I’m totally new at this. I don’t know what I’m doing.”


“Seriously, anything you think of, just shoot off an e-mail, text me, give me a call…you know…”

There were no paper bags.  I threw open the door and stepped outside for fresh air.  Oxygen flow restored, I felt the need to caution her.  It just seemed fair.

“Uh, do you realize what you’ve just said? ”

“Yeah, seriously…”

“No, seriously, you’ve just told me, your older sister, to give any advice, any time I feel like it!”

I think she laughed.  Yeah,  I’m pretty sure she laughed. 

I was giddy for days.  My little sister was having a baby and she had asked  me to give advice, anytime

Well, that was a few weeks ago and in the meantime I have packed up one townhome and with my family moved out of state into a new town home, unpacked, set up house and started the new homeschool year with a third-grader, first-grader, pre-schooler and infant. 

Every day I think of a little something that I want to tell my sister.  Sometimes it’s associated with a sweet memory from one of my own pregnancies, another time it might be something not-so-sweet that I wished I had known.   Now that my days are a little more settled, I find myself mulling longer over these thoughts and really longing to share with her. But as much as I want to call her every day and bossily ask her precisely how much water she has drunk so far and if she’s taken her pre-natal vitamin and remind her that daily exercise is really helpful, I just can’t bring myself to do it.  Not every single day. Not several times every single day when I think of these things.

 I need some kind of dumping ground for all the advice and memories piled up inside, so it’s going here, on this blog in a “Dear Rachel” category.  It’s the perfect solution.  I get it out of my system and she can decide when she’s had enough without having to screen my calls! Brilliant.


PS:  Don’t think for a minute that I’m not still calling and texting her.

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