Necessary Baby Items for a Fibro Mama

As a mama of three, I share my favourite baby items for other fibro mamas.

There are a multitude of nursery items and almost as many articles about which ones are necessary. Here’s my recommendations for a fibro parent, or really, any parent!

Some of my links are affiliate links, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you if you purchase using these links. I never promote anything I don’t 100% support myself.

my favourite baby items as a fibro mama

Below are my favourite baby items I found indispensable for a mama with Fibromyalgia:

Cot. With an easy to put up and down side, or an opening in the front.

Bassinet. We tried a different option with each baby. Both were easy to move and that was very helpful. I wished for a beside bassinet with fold down side so I didn’t have to get in and out of bed so much and to make co-sleeping a safe option. This 3-in-1 is a great idea, it is a bedside crib and a pack and play.

Changing table. We weren’t going to buy one, I had thought that I could get by without one. But, being given one has been a lifesaver. I have everything I need to change them on the shelf and can lay them down at the right height for changing. You could even use a set of drawers that are the right height with a change mat on the top and the top drawer full of your supplies.

A rocking chair. My husband and I clashed about this one. He didn’t think it was necessary. I believed with all my heart that it was. I ended up getting a second hand one and it has been so useful. For nursing, expressing or just rocking when you’re too tired to stand, it was worth it. Nursing for a mama with Fibromyalgia can be tricky, so a comfortable place to nurse is a good idea – check out my post on nursing with Fibromyalgia here.

Other parenting posts:
Pumping or Expressing for Your Baby: Parenting (Fibromyalgia or Not)

Pregnancy Diaries 2018: The First Trimester of Pregnancy with Fibromyalgia
Coping with a Toddler (Fibro or not!)
Fibro Mama Interviews: Natalie from Surviving Lifes Hurdles

Pushchair. We loved the City Mini Baby Jogger (we have it in black). I found it very easy to steer and lightweight to put up and down. You can also get the universal baby jogger parent console for phones and drink bottles, this goes over the handle. I have recommended this pushchair to everyone, but especially fibro parents as it is so easy to lift, put up and down and steer. I am so sad that we got the last of the old model which means the handle is shorter so we can’t employ the glider board – it would have gotten so much use as each time we had a new baby the older one was not quite old enough to walk everywhere.

my favourite baby items as a fibro mama
  • Infant capsule seat with folding pushchair frame. We didn’t get one before Noah was born because I thought it would be too heavy for me to lift. I was right, very quickly it became a real burden to carry. However, with the frame and the fact that Noah was not a good napper, it turned out to be invaluable. At some stage early on I noticed that he was tired by about 9 in the morning, but struggled to get to sleep. So we began leaving the house (rain or shine) either via the car or walking. He learned to nap this way. The seat and frame meant that I could seamlessly move from car to shops to car to home easily.
  • A Boppy pillow/feeding pillow. I loved this, it was so useful for nursing and to let the baby’s lie down and watch the world go by. It was a real lifesaver when the boys were small to sit them on it and let them watch me potter around the living area. It was also great for Wyatt with his reflux, he took some of his naps on it. We always used it with supervision because there is a chance of baby slipping down and cutting their airway off by pushing their chin forward.
  • A front pack. This is a difficult one. On the one hand, you are going to hold the weight anyway, so why not distribute it more evenly. On the other, from about six months my little guys became too heavy for my shoulders to bear for too long. I absolutely loved having the Boba wrap with number three and I was so sad that I hadn’t heard of it for the first two. For more about baby wearing see this post.

I loved the Gemini Beco – it goes from 7 pounds/3kg, which both of my babies started off at!

A bath seat. This has meant that I don’t have to hold their weight while they were in the bath and it’s far more easy to wash them.

Jolly Jumper. We used this once his neck was strong, at about four months. This was lovely for me when he was super fussy and I was super tired. It gave me ten minutes of time out from holding him.

One thing they can use to pull themselves up with. When he started to develop the ability to pull himself up, we got a table type toy where he can stand and play. This is a useful thing to let them stand without you holding them.

We got one similar to this. Again, this lasted for both of our boys.

Baby seat. This was something I wanted but didn’t purchase until he was already sitting on his own. It would have been useful before this as he loved to sit and see so it could have bought me more non holding time. Now we use it, strapped to a chair as his highchair. We can also take it when we go away. He will be able to use this until he’s tall enough to sit on a chair at the table, without the space a highchair takes.

We used a seat very much like this. We bought it for Noah and have used it for both Wyatt and Nathaniel.

Bouncinette/Electronic Rocker. This was one of those things that buys you some non holding time that you so desperately need when they’re clingy or your sore or you need to get stuff done.

Breast pump. This was a lifesaver for me with nursing my children. I had to exclusively express for my first and then expressed a fair amount for my second. With my third, I was able to nurse exclusively so I only used a Haakaa manual breast pump for catching those precious drops when I was nursing. Our favourite bottles were Avent – because the teats were shaped more like breasts and therefore helped us to avoid nipple confusion.

Something to make baby food with. My nutribullet has been a lifesaver for the puree stage. It is so easy to steam up some fruit and vegetables (say, silverbeet, apple and kumara) and then puree it in the nutribullet with some of the cooking water. I also use it for my plant based milks too so it is far more than just a baby essential.

Did you know that Amazon has a baby registry? You can sign up here Shop Amazon – Create an Amazon Baby Registry It’s basically a mobile registry (available anywhere!)and you will be eligible for discounts and rewards. If you’re going to purchase some of your items from Amazon, you may as well sign up.

Is there anything else to add? Was there one awesome thing you would not do without?

For more information about pregnancy and Fibromyalgia:

Check out the Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia Resources Page – this is the best page I could compile using the limited resources available.

My book is one of only two available about Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia!

Some of my links are affiliate links, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you if you purchase using these links. I never promote anything I don’t 100% support myself.

What I Learnt About Fibro While on Maternity Leave

I have learnt a perhaps unsurprising fact in the year since I have either not worked, or worked less than 10 hours a week. Despite the challenging role of mama to a sometimes stubbornly-against-sleep baby and everything that the first year of motherhood entails, my body responds well to not working. Presumably, more specifically, not working at a computer. And the variety of physical positions in my day. In the stop/starts in the day with a baby.

The key to my physical wellness, sadly, involves not working, or working rather little while also being a mama. Two things that are not possible with a mortgage in Auckland and a baby to raise. Plus, I rather miss going to work.

It’s just sad, beyond belief, that there is no cure for fibromyalgia and that one thing that helps me reduce the all day, every day pain and fatigue of it is more rest than one can afford.

I can write all the things I like about coping. But the crux of the matter is, we can’t afford to rest enough or to purchase all the necessary medicines/treatments etc. to be well without the income. Or, at least, I can’t see how.

Imagine the loss of power, of hope, one feels when they realise that any move that they make will almost certainly result in additional pain and fatigue. Staying up late to do something fun with your husband/partner/best friend. Walking the extra block. Working enough hours to pay the bills.

Part of seeking to live well with fibro, is to find the balance in these things. To decide what you won’t let fibro take from you and to cope, stoically (heroically), with extra (MORE) pain and fatigue.

I am doubling my working hours this week, to 15. Within two weeks, I will be working 20 hours, predominantly at the computer, because that is where my skills lie. So my mind has been full of questions: Will I cope? Will I still be a good mama? Will my fatigue worsen? Will my pain worsen? Can I counteract the consequences somehow?

But I go in with many tools to support me. Fibro is not taking my energy for my baby away from me.

It All Goes So Fast

It is all borrowed time. He grows. I have to work.Noah March

My beautiful baby is rapidly approaching toddlerhood. I am loving seeing him fly by these developmental milestones; clapping, crawling, walking, eating.

As intense and hard as it was, it was precious. This delicious creature whooshed into my life (well, no whooshing, pregnancy and labour took forever) but he came bowling in. He taught me so much.

I love. I strive. I plan. I do. All for him.

It’s all for him, now.

And as he slides towards his first birthday, leaving babyhood behind, I’m a little sad.

It’s time.

I must work. And that will sap my limited energy levels.

So it has started to feel like borrowed time.

We have been turning quiet afternoons into mini dance parties. We savour the cuddles. I watch. I listen. I smile at his perfection.

I still can’t believe how much motherhood alters your existence. Your priorities, your time, your energy, your wishes, dreams and goals, your everything changes. And it’s such a gift.

So I’m thankful, in addition to sad, that this time in our lives is coming to a close. But I’m so excited for what comes next.

The New Year So Far

I rang in the New Year quite tired and a little unwell, but I made it until midnight!

But then I spent the rest of the night vomiting and the rest of the next day sleeping. I caught a bug that my baby has subsequently caught.
The silver lining of bringing in the first two days of the New Year in bed with seriously depleted energy levels (on the first evening, having a shower took all of the energy I had) is that I had some time, while I wasn’t sleeping but wished I was, to think a little.
I mulled over how I had overdone it in the last months, especially as my baby still wakes multiple times in the night. How I had asked for help with the night times, somewhat ineffectually the day before I came sick, and to the wrong person. My husband is working so many hours in a pretty physical job that he can’t help right now. So I am enlisting the help of my mum. In two weeks she is going to take my boy overnight so that my husband and I can go out to a friend’s wedding and then have a whole night of sleep to ourselves!
This has led to a mini resolution:  I am going to ask a grandparent to take him for one night, once a month this year.
I’m pretty excited about our night off! I almost wish I didn’t have to spend the day travelling and going to a wedding before I get this magical night off!

Tips to Cope With School Aged Kids When You Can’t Match Their Energy Levels

For two weeks before Christmas, I looked after two school aged kids, in addition to my baby. I found it very hard going. The amount of energy they needed just couldn’t be matched.

Having been on the go from 7-8 daily with at least one wake up with the baby in the night for two weeks, I am beyond exhausted.

How to Cope with school aged kids when you don't have the energy to match

I have formulated some tips for coping with school aged kids:

  • The park – find a fenced park, take a coffee, sit and watch them play themselves out.
  • If it’s too wet for the park, go to an indoor playground.
  • Morning activity, afternoon DVD. And while they watch, you sit and watch or just relax with the heat pack.
  • Have pre prepared activities. I found word finds and a science quiz at the Science Kids website.
  • Have them start a journal of what they have been up to. One of the kids really took to that idea and spent hours slaving over his book!
  • Utilise the points system. These kids earned points (and lost them) and the points equaled a minute on their tablet. There were some tears when one kid lost tablet time one afternoon and the other had his, but he learnt!
  • Which leads to the last point, be firm and consistent. They remember, even if our fogged brain can’t!
Oh, and try to enjoy them and find their good points!
If you’re only babysitting for a time, like me, know it will end soon. If they’re yours, know they’ll grow out of the difficult faze eventually.
Other parenting posts:

A Bit Lost

I got a bit lost.
It started with visiting a naturopath who claimed I’d be pain-free after six weeks of taking a mix of “tonics” that basically consisted of calcium, iron and magnesium. And, although these are things that are useful for me, they didn’t contribute to any improvement.

Unfazed, she prescribed another six supplements to take for my cure. So I am currently taking several tablets at every meal.

This has cost a lot of money.

Concurrently, my new physiotherapist has posited a theory that my pain is caused by my shoulder.

My little heart has been on a roller coaster. I have become quite sad, wishing with all my heart that the diagnosis of fibromyalgia was incorrect, that I can be fixed with supplements or an injury can be found and fixed.

I have struggled even more with the pain. And the fatigue.

I have been grieving daily about the lack of energy I have for my boy. That travel is more scary than exciting. That work is a big, scary monster to take me away from my boy and decrease my energy levels and increase my pain. That I can’t fathom another child or do all the things my husband would love to do.

I feel like I’m letting myself down and my husband and baby. By not being well.

This week I’ve been looking after a couple of school aged children and it’s frightened me how quickly they impacted my fatigue levels. On the first afternoon my fatigue dramatically increased. I’ve had such a sore neck, despite a physio session on Saturday, that I’ve had headaches for three days. My neck’s been so sore that I am struggling to fall asleep. I’ve taken medicine two days in a row, and I hate taking it.

So I haven’t written. Because how can you give tips to cope when you’re only just scraping by?

5 Things Not to Say to a Sleep-Deprived New Mama

Here are five things that have been said to me, or are continually said to me and just bum me out! I have provided a tip for what to do instead…
  1. When my baby was young I just “got on with it” (oh, I didn’t think of that?!) – now is the time to sympathize.
  2. He’s just a baby (really?!) – let them have a wee vent, see above.
  3. Have you tried…x y z… – assume they know their baby and they have tried it or know that it doesn’t work for their baby in that moment.
  4. I did…x y z…with multiple babies and it worked – just because it worked on yours, doesn’t mean it is “right” or going to work on any other baby.
  5. He’s hungry – not every cry is due to hunger! Just refrain from commenting when the baby is crying.
I have learnt three immutable truths in child raising:
  1. No baby is the same. No mama is the same. No time is the same. Things change from person to person and generation to generation. There are also multiple factors in every outcome. One single component, does not generate a whole, happy, healthy, well-adjusted person.
  2. Mamas get tired. Even at six months old babies don’t always sleep very well in the night time.
  3. Mamas know their baby best.

Conquering the Evening

It seems to be generally accepted that babies have kind of witching hour. A period of time in the evening in which they are fussy.

My boy has recently moved in his routine as he approached six months. So the evening has moulded from a mess toward a nice, new routine.

I have been thinking about the things that make the evening nicer…

Change in scene – we have begun going to my bedroom for a while, the late afternoon sun streams in there and he loves practising his rolls on the softer surface. We do lots of laughs and peek-a-boos.

Figure out the milk/food situation – I don’t know about others, but we have been trying to figure out when and how to spread his food and milk so that he is sufficiently full and can sleep from 10-7. Currently, he is having a small bottle at 6 and another at 7, just before bedtime. And a dream feed about 10.

Make the bath a ritual – instead of thinking of the bath as another chore to do, I savour it, as it tends to be his happiest time of the day. We talk and sing our way through the drying and dressing.

Create a nice bedtime routine – we were floating for a while after he cancelled the old system. Now we count about 6.30pm on as wind down time. We do his bath, quietly listen to music, have a bottle, have cuddles. I sing, swaddle him and leave him in bed awake but sleepy.

These have made our evenings infinitely nicer for the last week. I hope he doesn’t change again too soon!

Six Months of Awesomeness

I’ve had my precious boy for six months.

So I think it’s time to take a minute and recognise how awesome I am for getting here.

I survived pregnancy with symptoms wildly exacerbated by the fibro. I also got married and found out I was severely iron deficient at week 28. The entire third trimester in which my back hurt so much that I couldn’t sit down for long periods of time.

I endured the labour and delivery, which included 20 hours of the worst back pain I’ve ever known. And the physical recovery that spanned further months afterward.

At week three, when my boy went back into hospital with an unknown problem that ended up requiring a minor operation, I coped. The nights that I stayed with him, not sleeping because he was vomiting so forcefully and so regularly. The nights that I stayed at home and expressed every three hours so that I would have food for him when he was ready.

Everything that is part of the new mama experience, not sleeping and not resting enough.

I’ve done it. I’ve conquered it. For many of those days I had a sore neck, headaches, nausea, aching legs and back and shoulders. For more still I was tired right down to my bones. For some I had an upset stomach,  if my neck was super bad I’d also be dizzy.

I am so unbelievably proud of myself.

I’ve also learnt so many things and developed as a person.

If you’re in that battle that is a new baby or pregnancy, know that you can do it. One day at a time, one step at a time. You will get through it. Remember to look after yourself, you need your strength to look after your beautiful baby.

Mama’s who have done the baby journey with additional issues are AMAZING!


Changes and a Family Home

We have been looking for a house for a while. We have tried different neighbourhoods and different counties. We even considered buying a house for someone else to live in, as an investment, in an area we couldn’t live in.

But we have finally found a house in an area close enough to where we currently live and work. It has plenty of indoor and outdoor space for our growing boy. The neighbourhood is “up and coming”. But there are good schools around.

Now I’m excited to get to work with “cheap chic” decorating ideas. I’ve been waiting to decorate baby’s room and have made do with his scrapbook so far.

Of course, my first stop was the library. They have some great books on the subject. The next will be scouring the internet for ideas.

Last week baby started three short days per week with his in-home carer. I’m so thankful for this option of childcare. He will know and bond with his fully qualified early education teacher/carer, who will have no more than one other baby and no more than four children total at a time.

So the time has come to get back into my business and set up some work. Which is a bit exciting and scary at the same time. Will I have enough energy for work and my baby? Will I be able to find a good balance, physically? Will I have the energy to do other things? Will I be able to generate enough work to help is pay this mortgage? Will my neck pain skyrocket?

These questions can only be answered with experience. Please send positive thoughts my way!