If you and I were to sit down for a cup of coffee this morning, I’d tell you that the idea of a coffee date was actually kinda ironic because I’m not drinking coffee right now. And then I’d probably order some sort of iced herbal tea, because I’m also off of soy and dairy—making pretty much everything on the menu at the coffee shop off-limits. That’s alright, it’s all so my baby girl feels better, so that makes it worth it.
Once we sat down, I’d probably tell you that I’m really struggling with how much of my private life I want public now that I’m a parent. It’s no longer just my life that I’m sharing, it’s this tiny human’s, too. And I feel like my sole purpose is to protect her. Part of me wants to shut out the whole world, but the other part of me wants to spread around all this immense joy I feel everyday. It feels like too much happiness to keep to myself. Especially considering the state of the world.
You’d probably ask if the baby was sleeping through the night yet (because that seems to be the question everyone wants answered), and I’d probably give a hearty chuckle, because our sleeping arrangements are decidedly unorthodox.
I’d confess that since we’re dealing with a baby with severe reflux, we haven’t let her sleep without one of us awake nearby since she was diagnosed six weeks ago. Which means we split the night up into two shifts—Craig takes from 8pm-3am (with him waking me up once for her to eat), and I take from 3am-10am. The irony of this situation is even though both of us sleep on strange schedules, we’re actually both getting more sleep than most parents of newborns. I haven’t felt sleep-deprived since the first week we were home.
So no, she isn’t sleeping through the night, but we’re cool with that.
Then, I’d tell you how it was a blessing-in-disguise that Craig was laid off from him job during paternity leave. I know it’s unfashionable to talk about money, but I’d admit to you that it’s taken some financial rearranging to deal with the sudden loss of work. And then I’d tell you that even though it’s been hard, it’s probably the single best thing that’s ever happened to us, because it means we both get to be home with our baby girl. Silver linings and all that stuff.
We’d talk about how I’ve re-watched both Friday Night Lights and The West Wing during my late-night nursing sessions over the past two months. And now I’ve moved onto re-watching Gossip Girl. If you’re a mother, I’d probably ask for your reassurance that I’m not totally ruining my child’s brain by watching TV while she sleeps on my chest.
If you were pregnant, you’d probably ask me for some advice, and the biggest piece of advice I’d give you is to throw away all your parenting books. Seriously, don’t read them. Your instincts are the only guide you need. And all those books will do is make you feel guilty when you don’t follow their recommendations exactly. Which you wont. Because every family is different. And no one has ever written a parenting book about your family.
And then I’d ask you if you want a box of baby clothes. Because a new outfit or two gets thrown into the “too small” pile every day.
Since you’re polite and a good conversationalist, you’d probably ask how my work was going. And I’d tell you that I am so happy in my career it isn’t even funny. I’d talk about how miserable I used to be in my job—how I’d cry almost every single day—and how drastically different my life is now. It feels like an entirely different universe. I’m in such a healthier place. And I’m so proud of the work I do. Sure, I still have frustrating days, but that’s life. And overall, I’m so much more fulfilled in what I do.
I’d ask you how your family was doing. And then I’d try really hard not to talk anymore about my baby girl. She’s really all I want to talk about all the time, but I’m not so far removed from being childless that I don’t remember how annoying that can be. I refrain from telling poop or spit-up stories. And try to think of something non-baby related to talk about.
I decide to talk to you about my other baby—our garden. I tell you all about our grandiose plans next year to plant even more space and sell at the farmer’s market. I tell you that Craig and I really want to start a CSA, but are petrified to take the leap because the number of successful farmers out there that make a living wage off their farm is pretty much right around zero.
I’d then tell you how excited I am to spend hour and hours with JuneBug in the garden when she’s a little older. I remember playing in the freshly-tilled soil as a kid, and I can’t wait to give her those same memories.
Whoops. There I go again, talking about the baby.
I’d tell you how I’m starting to get the urge to get back to taking care of myself again. We’d chat a bit about weight loss, and then I’d sheepishly admit to you that I’m intimidated of the weight loss process again. What if it doesn’t work this time? What if I never can get back to feeling healthy? What if I can’t figure out how to fit in fitness and taking care of a kid?
I’d tell you that I’m back up close to my highest weight ever as an adult, and, while it feels totally different this time, it also feels just as insurmountable as it did before. I’d tell you that I miss my old clothes. And I miss my knees not hurting. I’d tell you that is such a strange feeling to be so incredibly proud of this body (it made this beautiful creature, birthed her, and fed her), but at the same time want to change it.
I’d tell you that I tried to workout last week and it was so difficult, I cried. But it also felt so amazing. I’d tell you that it’s going to take some time to get used to this new body—the parts just aren’t all working the same way they used it.
I’d then probably apologize for unloading all my baggage on you. Let’s change the subject.
We’d start talking about the good food we’ve both been eating lately. I’d tell you that I’m totally obsessed with mashed avocado on toast, topped with a few slices of our homegrown tomatoes, salt, pepper and a perfectly-runny poached egg. I’d admit I’ve eaten it at least once a day for pretty much the last month.
I’d tell you that I’ve started to drink beer again (oh, how I missed it), but I’m such a lightweight now that about a 1/4 cup of the stuff gets me good and buzzed. Hey, at least I’m a cheap date.
I’d then tell you about the most perfect (orange!) honeydew melons we grew this year. And then I’d beg you to take one off my hands because we have a million of them sitting on our counter. No matter how delicious, two people can only go through so much melon before it goes bad. In fact, I’d probably hand you a whole bag of produce to take with you before you leave.
Then I’d probably apologize for scratching so much, but I can’t really help it because the lower half of my body is covered in poison ivy—and has been for the past month. You’d ask where I got it, and I’d tell you it was from walking the path to my parents’ house a few times a week. I’d tell you it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out the source and start wearing boots and long pants over instead of flip-flops and shorts. You’d tell me not to scratch. I’d nod my head and then try to covertly scratch between my toes. Because it itches worse than any itch I’ve ever had before.
I’d look up at the clock and realize I spent all of this time together babbling on about my life, without asking you much about yours. I’d promise to be a better listener next time, and then I’d ask that maybe we go for pedicures for our next coffee date, because my toes haven’t been touched since the day before I went into labor. And I’ll try to have something non-baby-related to talk about.
When I was working on pulling together our baby registry, one item that was on all of the must-have lists was a nursing pillow. Being someone who’d never breastfed before, the idea of a nursing pillow confounded me. I mean, after all, women have been nursing babies for long before nursing pillows existed—why did I need one? I was skeptical. And the price of them really made me skeptical. I had a hard time justifying $45 for something that I might never use. Now that I’m two months in to breastfeeding, I can safely say that a nursing pillow might not be an absolute necessity, but it certainly does help make the tough first few weeks of nursing a little bit easier. And it’s really a difficult time, so anything you can do to make go a bit more smoothly is highly recommended.
There are two different common styles of nursing pillows on the market today, and there is no way of really knowing which one is for you until you try it (which is pretty much the story of all baby items). I own both styles. I made this Boppy nursing pillow knock-off back when I was pregnant, and then also ended up purchasing a My Brest Friend (worst name ever) at the recommendation of my lactation consultant.
I definitely used the My Brest Friend the most when I was learning to nurse in the first few weeks. It’s firm and rigid, which helps when you’re trying to awkwardly get a squirmy baby latched on. And because it wraps around your body, you can use it to support the baby’s weight, giving you free hands to help get latched on.
But now that JuneBug and I are old nursing pros, we’re transitioning to being more lax with our nursing sessions—and that includes using the pillow that I made, which admittedly is a ton more comfy for both me and the little girl. This pillow also works as a comfy spot for JuneBug to lounge in. I’ve also heard of a lot of new moms using this pillow as a comfy cushion to sit on during the first few weeks postpartum.
I’m happy I have both pillows, but I’m definitely glad I decided to make my own Boppy instead of buying one. For about $10 worth of materials and an afternoon worth of work, I was able to get my own Boppy knock-off with fabric that I love (the irony of which is now that I’m breastfeeding, I’m off coffee because the caffeine affects JuneBug—this fabric is the closest I get to the stuff).
If I had to pick just one pillow to buy, it’d be the My Brest Friend, but like I said, it’s different for every Mom. I know some mothers who hated the My Brest Friend and swear by the Boppy. And some who hate nursing pillows all together! You really don’t know until you’re in it, and that’s why I think this tutorial is an awesome way to get to test out one style without shelling out tons of cash. I’m so glad I didn’t pay all that money!
To make your own Boppy knock-off, here’s what you’ll need:
First step is to print out the pattern, cut it out and tape the four pieces together following the diagram.
Once you have it taped together, you’ll have what looks like half of a nursing pillow.
Trace around the edge of the pattern using a marking pen onto the white cotton fabric, making sure the right side of the pattern is lined up with the fold. I just used cheap-o white cotton muslin (the stuff that’s like $1 a yard), but honestly, you could use whatever you want. This is just to make the pillow form to go inside of the case.
You’ll want to cut out two pieces from the white fabric.
Unfold them, and then pin them right-sides together.
Using a straight stitch, sew the two pieces together using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Sew all the way around the case, except leave about six inches open at the top to allow you to turn the case and stuff it. Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and the end to reinforce the seam—you’ll be stuffing this pillow very tight, and you don’t need your seam ripping in the process.
Turn the case inside out and give it a good pressing.
And get to stuffing.
You want to stuff it until it’s very firm. A firm pillow is a good nursing pillow. If you make a floppy, soft pillow, you might as well just use regular bed pillows for nursing. You want it to be so tightly stuffed that you can’t even fit your hand in the case.
It should be so stuffed full that you have a hard time keeping the opening closed.
Once it’s nice and firmly stuffed, fold under the opening seams and pin it closed.
Since the pillow is so firm, you’ll need to hand-stitch this opening closed.
No need to worry about it looking nice—you’ll never see this part of the pillow—just make sure it’s nice and secure. I’d recommend going back and forth over the opening a few times to really secure it.
And your pillow form is done! That wasn’t so hard, now was it?
Set that aside, and start working on your slipcover. Repeat the same process with the pattern and your slipcover fabric. Again, you’ll want to cut two pieces, and make sure to line up the right side of the pattern with the fold of your fabric.
This time, instead of pinning the two pieces together off the bat, we’re going to measure for the zipper first (trust me, you want the zipper for cleaning later).
Place one of the pieces, right-side-down, and center the zipper over top, right-side down. Curve the zipper around the top of the pillow gently, and pin in a few spots, just to get it secured. Using a marking pen, place a mark at the beginning and end of the zipper. Then remove it and the pins from the fabric.
Place the two pieces of fabric, right-sides together, and pin all the way around, leaving open the space for the zipper.
Sew around the cover, using a 1/4″ seam allowance (note, this is 1/4″ less than the pillow form in order for it to be slightly larger, but still use the same pattern). Make sure to leave open the space for the zipper.
Turn the case inside out and give it a good pressing.
To insert the zipper, place it right-sides together with the front layer of the slipcover. Lining up the top of the zipper tape with the top of the fabric of the pillow case. Pin it down, but make sure you only pin through the top strip of zipper tape and through one single layer of the pillow case.
Pin all the way around, working gently to make sure the zipper curves with the curve of the pillow.
Pull off the arm of your sewing machine, and put on a zipper foot (you could do this with a regular foot, but the end result wont be as nice and clean). Open up the cover and place it on the sewing machine, zipper up.
Begin sewing to the right of the zipper teeth—making sure you only have one layer of the pillow case under the needle.
When you have about four inches left of sewing. Stop the machine and unzip the zipper to back behind the presser foot. This is a little difficult to maneuver, but you can get it back there if you’re using a zipper foot. If you’re using a regular foot, you might need to lift the presser foot to get to back there.
Continue sewing to the end of the zipper tape.
Turn the pillow case inside out, and repeat the process with the other side of the pillow. Align the top of the pillow case fabric with the top of the zipper tape—right sides together. And pin, making sure to only pin through the top of the zipper tape and one layer of pillow case fabric
Place the pillow back on the sewing machine—this time, no need to place it over the sewing machine arm—and sew the zipper to the fabric, making sure to stop four inches from the end and unzipping it past the presser foot. Depending on your zipper foot, you might need to reattach it to switch sides of the zipper teeth (I did).
Next, you’ll want to finish your seams since this will be put into the washer pretty frequently. You can use a serger to finish the edges, but I like to use pinking shears. Nice and easy (plus, I don’t own a serger).
Turn it right-side-out, iron it again, and then place the pillow form in the cover and zip it up! All done.
The zipper covered is really nice for easy clean-up, and if you plan on making this for a baby shower gift, I’d actually recommend you make two or three for the mom-to-be.
Just like with the name-brand version, make sure to use caution with this pillow. It’s not meant for babies to sleep in, and make sure you’re always supervising when your baby is in or on the pillow.