The best present for a new baby

I am still pregnant. This past week has felt like an eternity.

When I typed today's date at the top of this article, I wrote Feb. 27, 2018. 

That's how it feels. 

I've been nesting up a storm. Cleaned the refrigerator. Trimmed the girls' finger and toe nails. Had my eyebrows waxed. Purged the kitchen counters. 

I am anticipating the accumulation vortex that sweeps in with a new baby. 

Thinking about the incoming clothes, cards and casseroles has me reminiscing about my all-time favorite gift when Maria was born. It came from my next-door neighbor Rona.

I should've known Rona would knock this out of the ballpark. That's just how she is. 

When I was expecting for the first time, she threw Ted and me an awesome couples baby shower. It was so much more fun: a stocked bar, a hilarious diaper-changing game and a relaxed present-opening environment where only interested parties sat and watched. 

She gave us an incredibly meaningful shower gift: a big basket stuffed with all her favorite children's books, including the sentimental ones her kids had best loved.

Here's Rona's older child, Taylor, reading the pig-finger-book she had once loved to newborn Maria. (Taylor is now a fifth grader and the best role model my girls could hope for!)

Much to our delight, the basket included my favorite childhood book, which she learned from my mom and managed to snag on eBay (since it was out of print) and Ted's favorite childhood book, which he had once mentioned years ago.  

Rona has been an invaluable sounding board as I adjust to motherhood, beginning by helping combat the pressure to breastfeed effortlessly and endlessly. From early on, she preached the mantra "good enough," a message she probably sensed I needed to I am still working on. 

Then came the gift she compiled the day Maria was born: a time capsule of the day's newspapers and magazines. For my husband and me, a history buff and a journalist, respectively -- both of us keen on documenting our firstborn's life -- it was the dream gift.In fact, shortly before going into labor, I had envisioned collecting the day's newspapers but hadn't suggested the idea to anyone. Ted, on his own, had come up with the same idea but wasn't able to act on it or articulate it.

We were so touched by Rona's generous gift, which involved her scurrying off to a newstand late at night to round up the day's offerings, from Time magazine to TV Guide, plus The Star Tribune, The Pioneer Press, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and USA Today. A wonderful smattering of local, national and global news, from foreign affairs to cultural commentary. 

It is such a special keepsake. 

Rona was kind enough to do the same thing the day Jane was born. 

We were so grateful!

I never did pen the kind of thank-you note it warranted, because, well, isn't that it goes?

I recently texted her about it because, in my nesting, I uncovered Jane's box. She texted back the sweetest response and indicated she's on stand-by to do another run when Baby No. 3 decides to arrive.

I am so ready to report that news to you!


 Christina Ries is a freelance writer who lives with her husband and two young girls (and another baby on the way!) in Inver Grove Heights. Write her at