Crafty Momma

Apparently, there’s a trend in the birth world that I find a little disturbing…

Pregnant women are going online to get ideas about how to create impressive Gift Baskets to give to their L&D Nurses on the day that they give birth.

Now, don’t get me wrong! I ADORE Labor & Delivery nurses — they are the front line of support and care in a hospital birth and I know first-hand how hard they work to provide families with a positive birth experience. So it’s not the gratitude that I take issue with at all. And I hope it goes without saying that your nurses are 100% committed to helping you, your partner and your baby have a healthy birth — gift, or no gift!

However, if after the birth of your baby, you feel compelled to acknowledge your nurses role in this awesome event, then by all means — thank them. But thank them in ways that are heartfelt and meaningful — to you.

I’m sure that nurses enjoy receiving coffee cards, candy, donuts (or any of the other gift basket ideas that you can find on Pinterest for this specific purpose!)… but they might appreciate hearing what they did specifically to help make your birth experience positive even more.

Nurses, like most other professionals, strive to improve in how they do their jobs. And nurses, like most other professionals, don’t get to hear the good stuff (positive feedback) as often as they should. It’s usually when something doesn’t go well that they get an earful! And while this information might be instructive, it can also make their job more challenging.

If you feel like your nurses did an amazing job, take the time to write down their names before you leave the hospital. And once you feel settled in with your baby (days, weeks, months later — it doesn’t really matter!) send a note of gratitude addressed to the nurse manager of the hospital where you delivered your baby and mention your nurse by name.

Provide those important details about what she did and how she made you feel on one of the most important days of your life. If you had to make some decisions that were really difficult for you, what did she say or do as the circumstances of your birth changed that made it okay for you? What was it about her demeanor or her personality that you and your partner appreciated the most?

This letter of appreciation can have far greater impact than a gift basket of candy ever could! The nurse will be recognized on the unit for her care and attention to you and your new family and this will likely encourage others to do more of the same. It will become part of her professional file, referenced at her annual review and this can positively impact the trajectory of her professional career, as well.

But, really, why am I not in full support of the L&D Nurse Gift Basket idea? Because, honestly, it is a really nice thing to do.

I’m concerned that this may mark the moment many women start to feel pressured by some of the expectations that go along with what it means to “become a mother.” (Duh, duh, duh!)

Is it possible that this is where the pressure to “curate” your baby’s life moment-to-moment begins? Does this curation of childhood come with the job? Are you a crappy Momma if you don’t bring in an elaborate L&D Nurse Gift Basket?

I want to make sure that those women for whom gift baskets, and scrapbooks are a part of who you are do not in any way feel judged. I have many friends for whom this would be a natural extension of how they operate in the world. Whipping together a basket of goodies or lovingly creating yearly scrapbooks that capture pictures and detailed descriptions of their children’s major milestones is a joy for them to create! They have the time, energy, desire and inclination to take these projects on. These activities and projects are some of the things that feed them creatively as women. Please hear me say this: You are amazing!

No, this is a post for those of us (ahem!) who might not be the world’s most crafty. Those of us who would seriously be lost in a Michael’s store. Those of us who might not have the time, energy, and absolutely no desire or inclination to take on these projects — but maybe feel an intense pressure that this is part of what it means to be a mother.

Calm down and take some deep breaths. Because you know what? These kinds of projects are not prerequisites to be being a Momma. And please hear me say this: You are ALSO amazing!

I’m the fourth out of six kids in my family. I can remember the first time I compared my baby book with my brother Jeff’s (he’s the oldest). I’ll admit it — at the ripe old age of about eight, I kind of felt ripped off! My brother’s book had pictures throughout, and there were statements about his important “firsts” and all of the blank spaces for information – where he was born, what time he came into the world, who his doctor was, blah, blah blah — were all filled in. My book only had a few copies of the same baby picture and a wrinkled copy of my birth certificate shoved in between some pages in the middle.

But now, as a mother to four of my own, I’m not the least bit upset about the baby book situation. I get it. I understand completely. I am, in a lot of ways, my mother. And while I’d like to claim it’s in all the ways that she’s fabulous in this role, for the purposes of this post I’ll concentrate on one fact: she was not the greatest curator of our childhood. Not in the way that involved beautifully created scrapbooks or completely filled in baby books.

And guess what? Neither am I. 

I rarely take pictures of my kiddos. If I do, I might post them on Facebook — but more often than not, I don’t even do that! The pictures live in my phone. (And they’re usually not very good anyway…)

Instead, I have a big cardboard box in my kitchen that I throw things into that I think might be worthy of keeping for posterity: drawings, funny homework pages, poems and other writing projects, awards, certificates, etc. About once a year I go through the box — and immediately recycle at least half of it. Only the things that still resonate with me or best represent my kiddos’ past year get to stay – everything else goes.

My kids don’t know this, but I have four big tupperware storage bins downstairs in the basement. The best of the best gets transferred from the cardboard box in the kitchen to their individual bins in the basement. (This is an idea that I stole from my own Mom and it suits me just fine.) When my kids turn 21, I will go through each of their bins and place only those things that have stood the real test of time into their “21 Book.”

This I can do. This is not too much for me. This will be a gift to put together as my children are becoming adults — and I look forward to giving it to them.

I can promise you that it won’t be fancy. I won’t be using scissors that make cuts in different patterns. I won’t be using any stickers or bubble letters, or decorate each page with color-coded borders. It will be a big-ass binder full of “stuff” that they can look through with their own children someday — laughing about their outdated hairstyles and fashion, feeling proud of their accomplishments, enjoying their kid print and art.

The pressure to raise an infant into adulthood as a fully developed human being is huge, my friends.

The curation of this childhood adds a whole other layer of pressure that can be unbearable at times — and if it starts at your baby’s birth, imagine how it might feel to curate their first birthday, the holidays… And later on, school spirit days and science projects!

If you’re like me, and crafting projects are not your thing, know that it never has to be.

Mommas come in all shapes, sizes, personalities, abilities — and levels of craftiness. If you don’t feel compelled to bring a gift basket with you to your birth, don’t do it.

I can tell you that when I bumped into one of my nurses months after my daughter’s birth, fumbling over my words of appreciation about her kindness and caring that helped me so much at the start of my journey as a new mother, her smile let me know that she appreciated my gratitude just as much (or even more as far as my non-crafty mind wishes to believe!) as a big gift basket of goodies.

How about you? Are you someone for whom the gifts basket idea really resonates? And if so, what did/will you create one for the birth of your baby? If you’re like me, does this post help lessen the pressure to be “The Crafty Momma?” Are you breathing a little bit easier knowing you don’t have to be all that? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this idea. Thanks for sharing and commenting.


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