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My Baby Nurse Was a Game-Changer

How a night nurse saved my marriage (and my sanity).

My Baby Nurse Was a Game-Changer

I’m writing this from a comfy hotel bed. I have the family dog at my feet, my husband has left for work, and I can say for the first time in four months, I woke up according to my body’s internal clock. Which is pretty incredible considering that my clock has been completely twisted and smashed since the birth of my second son in May.

My kids were at home last night with my night nurse, Clavia. I want to call her Clavia the Great and Powerful because she is just so great, and also because she pretty much singlehandedly saved my marriage.

This hotel thing was her idea. At four months, we decided that Baby G was ready to cry it out. Like most mothers, I am a fragile flower when it comes to hearing my baby cry. So Clavia urged my husband and I to get a hotel for a night or two while she stayed at our place and did the dirty work.

Of course, this hotel stay is only the tip of the Clavia the Great iceberg. She’s been staying with us every weekday night, getting up for every one of my baby’s whimpers while I sleep soundly.

This is worlds apart from the experience I had with my first baby. Flashback to three years ago, on the floor of my husband’s grandmother’s house in Queens, where we were staying while our apartment was under construction: My breasts are hooked up to the breast pump, my dog is biting my dirty pajama pants trying to get me to throw him the baby’s pacifier, which he has appropriated as his own new chew toy. My colicky son is in his bouncer crying hysterically, as he seems to always be doing. And so am I. Desperate cries, from exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and an overwhelming sense of helplessness.

With my first baby, I thought I could handle it all by myself, and besides, I thought, there would be family around to help. But “family” isn’t there at two in the morning when your colicky newborn falls asleep nursing, then pops his eyes open like one of those vintage baby dolls with the scary plastic eyelids the minute his body touches his mattress. Family likes to come over to “visit,” which means holding the baby while he sleeps. And family is usually off having a quiet dinner at their own homes while you and your husband are playing hot potato with your screaming, red-faced baby, trying to shovel in takeout and making passive aggressive comments about who had the harder day.

For months, I not-so-quietly resented my husband. He got to sleep at night, leave for work and have a sense of agency and independence for 8 hours every day. He wasn’t being drained of life from an infant suckling at his breasts every minute of the day. I hated my life. I strongly disliked my baby. I cried multiple times a day. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. My husband and I were both so tired, we never did anything together at night besides rush through eating before I power-showered so I could climb into bed as soon as possible because I’d be getting up an hour later for the baby.

This time things were different, with Clavia at my side. Nights started with smiling and laughing, and included quality time with both of my children. There was dinner, wine and Netflix with my husband, and then there was sleeping. Sure, a little less of that--I probably lost an hour or two a night while nursing during those first few weeks. But not long after, I was able to sleep the whole night without pumping or nursing; Clavia fed the baby bottles of pumped milk and I slept straight through until my toddler’s 5am wakeup.

This time around, my husband and I actually enjoyed each other’s company during these first few months of our baby’s life. There was no resentment. And since Clavia was there already, we would go on little date nights during the week. Sometimes just to get ice cream at Ample Hills or to take the dog on a walk together. Or occasionally, like last night, to escape to a fancy hotel for drinks and dinner and a full night’s sleep.

These are Clavia’s last nights with us--it is time to cut the proverbial cord. Hopefully the baby will be sleeping through the night soon. Sleep training has been going pretty well, so far (reports Clavia).

I know it is unconventional to outsource dealing with the crappy parts of having a baby, and it is something not everyone is able to swing financially. Of course once in a while, I feel a little guilty for not having had to rough these stormy seas of early motherhood like almost everyone else I know. But I also know I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I am happier, I didn’t get postpartum depression this time, and my marriage is so much healthier because of it.

My postpartum memories this time around are filled with images of quiet nights at home together with my husband, and cuddle-filled mornings with our two sons. And also, delicious mornings like this one, with me alone in a sun-filled hotel room, cup of coffee and a dog beside me, and nothing but the rumble of traffic on the Bowery below to disturb me.

Image source.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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