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My 10-month-old baby still hasn't been held by her grandparents

And I'm not sure when that will change.

grandparents nicu baby covid

No one can predict a pandemic. But if I could have, I've asked myself many times if I would have done things differently after my baby was born last November.

Due to a NICU stay and respiratory issues, my newborn didn't meet her grandparents right after she was born last fall. My parents came to visit when she was a few weeks old, but at the time, I didn't let them hold her—it was flu season, and our pediatrician had told us to be extremely careful with newborn visits. A few weeks later, my husband's parents' visit ended up getting canceled at the last minute.

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Flu season doesn't last forever, I thought at the time. My parents and in-laws were perfectly fine agreeing to postpone visits till February or March—when the flu would be less prevalent and everyone would be good and healthy, or so we thought.

In March, we got sick. Really sick. The coronavirus was making headlines and some cases popped up in the Midwest, where we live. My husband was at work and people were coughing. A few days later, he got a high fever and chills, and was sicker than I'd ever seen him. A few days after that, my older kids got sick.


As I tended to my boys with high fevers—listless, dehydrated—our pediatrician told me to force liquid down my 4-year-old's throat with a medicine dropper because hospitalization for dehydration wasn't safe in a pandemic (even though, in non-COVID times, that's exactly what he would have done).

We never got tested because it wasn't available in our area. I read the headlines and cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned. I'm OCD. Not in the casual way that people like to joke about, as in: "She's so OCD about how clean her house is." I'm OCD in the way that my brain behaves, with compulsions and fears about what might happen if I do (or don't) follow through on what my brain says is important. A big part of my OCD is triggered by germs, and let me tell you, a pandemic hasn't helped that.

I disinfected everything that I could; checked the kids' temperatures every hour.

The baby never got a fever, but she got a racking cough that kept me up for so many nights. In moments of quiet, I could still hear the beeping of the NICU, and I was terrified we'd be back to the hospital, this time for COVID.

We got better, and as the state shut down, we settled into a forced at-home life. We FaceTimed with my parents and in-laws a few times a week in the early days of the pandemic. It would be over by summer, we said, and we'd get together in person.

Thanks to my OCD and my health issues (I also have chronic health problems and autoimmune disease, and have learned the hard way that getting the flu or any other virus can make my life miserable for weeks or months), my parents and in-laws are understanding. They've never tried to pressure us to forgo precautions.

All spring and summer, I watched others go back to normal life, like there wasn't a pandemic going on. Grandparents hugged grandkids on Instagram. People had family gatherings and birthday parties.

We went to my parents' house once for an outdoor, socially-distanced visit in May. They came here for the same sort of visit in June. They still never held the baby. My mother-in-law has MS, and while we could've had similar socially-distanced visits with them, complicated logistics made a visit impossible.

It's now September, and the reality is that my 10-month-old won't be physically hugged by any of her grandparents until she's well over age 1.

I know that my baby won't ever remember or be bothered that a pandemic happened when she was so little, or that her grandparents had to wait so long to hug her. She FaceTimes with them and smiles, but it's hard for me to realize that when she meets them in person, they will effectively be strangers. She won't have photos with them as a baby like her brothers did.

But as someone who's gotten very ill due to the actions of others, I can't turn around and be that person to someone else.

So I unfollow, or mute, or simply sign off when my social apps show me people who are getting together—sometimes, without apparent regard for the urgent advice being given by public health officials, scientists and doctors. There are safe ways to do it, but for us, it just hasn't worked out. My dad can't isolate from the public enough because of his job; my mom lives with my dad. My mother-in-law's disability prevents her from coming to us, and we simply can't risk—even with all of our caution—taking COVID to her.

I can't—and won't—let the sadness over delayed visits with grandparents be more important than protecting their health or ours. I can't believe the events of this year, but I can make choices to help us get to the next one.

While I would never choose this FaceTime life, my kids don't really have a concept of time. They know they can't hug their grandparents right now because there are too many sick people. But we also talk about the great things we'll do with Grandma and Grandpa and Nana and Poppy when the sickness is done. For now, that is enough.

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

$159.99

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

$29.99

Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

$14.99

Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

$8.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

$7.99


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

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Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

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Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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