Bringing home a newborn is as exciting as it is demanding, especially if you have other young children to take care of.
In Nigeria where I come from, it is customary for family and/or friends to come over and assist the new mother for at least the first three months in caring for the baby and other domestic needs. It is customary among the Easterners for the mother of the new mom to stay over for three months helping out with household chores and the baby. This is called omugwo.
In my own case, I reside in a different city, far from family and had lost my mom a few years before. So I had the responsibility of taking care of the home, newborn, two-year-old son, my husband, and eleven-year-old nephew in law, all alone as soon as I got home from the hospital. It was a big challenge as everybody needed my attention in one way or the other from dawn till dusk.
I also had my budding online business to attend to. It was also my big-time responsibility to manage our online stores and adverts on online marketing sites. It was tasking. After my toddler and nephew left for school at about 8.00 am, I’d quickly fix my husband’s breakfast, bath the baby and myself, and get set to face the computer after hubby leaves for work. I was often left alone with the baby, except for rare visits from friends.
Whatsoever I had to do had to be done before 2.00 pm when the children would be back from school. How was I able to get anything done at all? How did I cope? Some baby gears, accessories, and household appliances came to my rescue, big time. I completely relied on them to make life easier and help me meet daily set goals. Below is a list of those things which made my “omugwo” easy in no particular order of importance.
1. My Dearly Beloved Refridgerator.
I had to list it first because it started functioning (resumed duty) for omugwo before I put to bed. I knew nobody was coming over for omugwo so I had to make and store food which I would use on getting home from the hospital. This included my different pepper soup flavors and food for the family. Trust me, I made bowls of pepper soup to ease my stress and also to avoid the choking smell of pepper and other spices permeating the house and possibly chocking my darling daughter lol. This dear freezer also held bowls of parboiled rice, jollof rice, moin-moin, chicken, minced meat, fish, stew, and chopped fruits and vegetables for making easy lunch for my toddler.
2. Ever dependable Microwave oven.
My beloved refrigerator wouldn’t be so loved without its partner, the microwave oven. I would just toss jollof rice and chicken there and five minutes later, yummy lunch was ready. It lessened the stress of warming pepper soup over the fire and reduced the aroma of pepper soup spices permeating the living room.
3. Hot water flasks.
The importance of hot water flask in Nigeria can never be overemphasized. What with the irregular power supply and unannounced blackouts? These guys ensured I had hot water within reach at all times for bath and feeding. I don’t have the luxury of turning on the tap to get hot water at all times, all thanks to PHCN, and these guys stood in for me big time. I had one each for myself, the baby, and toddler.
4. Squeasy Squeezy Washing Machine.
A typical African new mother does a whole lot of laundry on a daily basis. Imagine the constant vomit, poops, your own mess, family laundry, oops, with nobody on omugwo duty? The laundry mercilessly keeps piling up. I just wonder how I would have been able to cope without her (washing machine). I only had to toss in laundry and go back to doing other stuff.
5. Baby Bathtub.
This newborn bathtub made my job so much easier. For some unexplained reasons, I hate bathrooms whenever I have a new baby. They just give me the creeps. It was bad enough having to spend approximately one and a half hours every morning and night having my bath(which starts with silt bath for minimum 20 minutes, tummy pressing with very hot water and towel, general body massage, and then hot bath) without having to spend more time there bathing the baby. This wonder of a bath gave me the luxury of bathing the baby right in my bedroom with ease. I only had to elevate it with a side table and viola; we were sparkling clean morning and night.
6. Rock-a-by baby rocker.
This I should say is my ultimate lifesaver baby gear. It afforded me free use of my hands while cooking, writing, or typing. I introduced her to the rocker early enough so I could have free time and she absolutely loved it. She would recline and play and sleep while I got busy. We even went for web design classes together at two months post-partum and it never felt like I had a two months old beside me.
7. Cutie cute baby bassinet.
This cutie was my baby’s first cradle. The bassinet served me in ways that I am still grateful for. I would leave her there while welcoming guest and because she was well tucked in and covered with a bed net, people rarely touched her. Trust our people with their eagerness to ‘carry’ newborn babies. It was so beautiful, comfy, and cozy that she would take long naps in it. It even served as her bed for the first two months. Our two year old still co-slept and was having bouts of jealousy which made me decide to separate this one early enough. She slept in the bassinet just beside my bed at night and gave everyone a much needed good night rest.
8. Double Decker Multifunctional Travel Baby cot/Play Pen.
This two in one wonder stepped in when she outgrew her bassinet. The upper deck made it easy for me to drop and pick her up without having to bend over too much. At five months old she started trying to climb over the edge of the cot so I took off the upper layer and she would stay right in. this served as both playpen when stacked with toys, and bed to lay her tired bones after a hard days play.
9. Baby’s Pacifying Pacifiers?
You see that nipple like stuff they stick in baby’s mouths for them to suck on? They are pure lifesavers. Babies are born with natural sucking instincts. The desire to suck isn’t always due to hunger but sometimes the sucking instinct kicking in. I had them in different designs and colors and they came in handy big time. My baby automatically slept off sucking on her pacifiers.
10. Dear Mosquito Net.
This is an asset of inestimable value in Lagos State, Nigeria. I was given an insecticide-treated bed net to use over my bed free of charge during antenatal, while I bought a smaller one for her cot. The fear of mosquitoes is the beginning of malaria prevention, peeps. When I first used it during pregnancy, it was really uncomfortable especially during hot weather but with constant use and cooler weather conditions (and the occasional mercy of PHCN powered AC), we got used to it. With the baby and toddler, we really couldn’t use insecticides at will except we had to leave the house for a whole day or half. This made me largely dependent on mosquito nets and trust me; malaria was kept at bay.
Are there baby gears and home appliances that made omugwo easy for you? Let me know in the comments section.