Thursday, October 19, 2006

Because Partner Said I Should Really Blog about This

A couple of weekends past, Partner and I went to register. We have an upcoming shower, and the invitations were already out indicating where we were registered, but the thing is, we weren't. Registered. At any of those places, so on a sunny Sunday afternoon we set off to the big baby store. As we pulled into the lot, we looked at each other with wide eyes. "Are we really going in there to shop for us?" Partner asked me. "We're not buying for someone else?" I smiled. This was going to be fun!

And then we pulled into the "stork" parking. Previously I had parked there and defied anyone to challenge me, but this time we just grinned at each other as we pulled in. Yes, certainly, we were in for a fun afternoon. I was armed with the Baby Bargain book, requisite highlights and all.

We sat down in plush chairs and listened to the very pregnant women guide us through the registration process. She handed over the scanner. We beamed. Here we go, I thought.

We started at the breast pumps, which everyone has assured us no one will actually buy for us. No matter-- we'd put it on the list anyway. We scanned the top (dollar) choice. And then we wondered what else we needed. Breast pads? Soothing pads? Shields? More bottles? Warmers? Coolers? Shit. This wasn't so easy. Moving on. Bottles and nipples. How many were enough? What was the correct size? Did we really need that many since I'm planning on keeping the kid at the boob for as long as possible? But we were going to want to go out sometimes...Okay. Next aisle. Baby monitors. Easy enough. Or not. That one has only one monitor. Did we want multiple monitors? For both of us? How far was the kitchen from the bedroom? (Nevermind that because our house is a very open plan, we can talk to each other from pretty much anywhere in the house and hear each other with no problems, whatsoever, we were still very concerned about the multiple monitor issue.) Was the monitor going to interfere with the cordless phones? Could we make it to the mailbox and have the monitor still work? Why were we even asking that question? As if we'd walk to the mailbox and leave the Cricket in the house alone?

Let's just say, we didn't move very fast. We had to get every baby tub out and simulate washing a babe in it. We had to wax about whether it would be comfortable for the kid or us or both. We had to press our hands into the spongey backs and make verdicts about how irritating they might feel. We had to smell baby products. I was tired and we weren't even through one eighth of the store yet.

Then we got to car seats. And shit. We'd skip those for now. We just hadn't done enough research. And we couldn't figure out how to get them out of their bases. Or adjust any of the damn straps. We were now not just tired, we were frustrated too. Which is not a good place to go as you venture further into baby-store-hell.

Strollers: I made the mistake (or inspired action) of telling Partner which of the strollers were hot European models. And thinking that perhaps I was only one who might fall prey to trendy baby gear, I thought she'd steer us opposite of the high priced models. Not a chance. Immediately she had the Peg Perego down and was wheeling it through the store. I noted that I hadn't read the stroller section of the Baby Bargains book yet either, so maybe we should wait. "Okay," she conceded, "But I think I'll just push it around a little more." I observed that perhaps other people at the store wanted to see that stroller and she shouldn't hog it. This didn't phase my usually altruistic partner a bit. It came with us to the pack-and-play aisle. It stayed with us while we tried on Bjorns. It tripped me up as she wheeled past me. It annoyed the living shit out of me. It dawned on me she didn't want other couples to see the stroller so they wouldn't register for it.

We tried on the Bjorns. Is it possible to be too fat to wear a Bjorn? I was uncomfortable. It felt like there was no room to put a baby in the baby part of the Bjorn. All my images of carrying that kid around in the Bjorn were evaporating in a fat-panic attack. And why were there so many choices of Bjorns? Okay. We wouldn't register for that either. I was not having fun. No siree, Bob. This was not fun.

Soon after this, I knocked a baby bouncy seat and it started playing music I couldn't turn off. I pushed every button I could find. Nothing. If anything it was getting louder. Partner wheeled up to me with the stroller. "Is that the one you like?" she asked.

"No. I hate this fucking thing. I can't fucking turn it off." This elucidated a few stares from other browsers.

"Here, hold this," she said as she pushed the stroller toward me. She proceeded with no avail. Somehow the two of us poking at it made it stop. And then I told her to put back the damn stroller.

"How do I know if I like it if you won't let me push it around?" (She'd been pushing it around for a good fifteen or twenty minutes at this point.)

"Just. Put. It. Back," I said through clenched teeth. And just as the Bjorns put me over the edge, this must have been what did it for her. When she came back, and we were inspecting swings, she nearly broke one taking off the shelf and when she couldn't get it to swing the way it said it did, I felt we were on the edge of a very very bad moment. It was possible that soon we were going to be barred from the baby store.

We wheeled past diaper bags, and Partner wanted to know why we couldn't just use a backpack. I snarled at her. We dismissed every crib in the store. We questioned, when faced with baby bedding, our decision not to find out the baby's sex because everything was so damn gendered. Finally, we collapsed into the rockers for parents, each of us declaring our respective chair was the most comfortable chair ever made. We could have been on a bed of nails and it would have been a relief. Clearly we were on overload and after emptying our bladders, we came back together as a couple.

"We need to get out of here," I said to her. "We need to get out of here fast," she agreed. Finally we were back on couple wavelength, agreeing about something rather than arguing the merits of a separate bag made just to carry diapering materials.

We ended up at Target, which felt a little better than the Baby Store Hell, and then came home to do some online crap too. I have never been so tired. Registering for our commitment ceremony was fun. We spent hours with the scanner at our respective stores. We went out for drinks afterwards. We agreed about everything. But this baby stuff felt more high stakes. I could never set foot in a baby store again and be happy.

We still haven't decided on a stroller. We don't have a co-sleeper on our list. There's no crib out there I like. (Why is every cute crib a convertible? I don't want a convertible.) I'm debating the merits of buying a stroller online I haven't (or more to the point, Partner hasn't) even pushed around. Is this a really stupid idea? How much is too much to pay for a stroller? What if we get it and hate it? I need some serious help with the stroller. (I think I like the Peg Perego A3, but is this ridiculous amounts of money for a stroller? Shit. Maybe don't tell me if you think it is, because I think this is the one, but I haven't seen it in person even, only the Pilko, which seemed nice enough too. At this rate, we'll be lucky to have a stroller by the time the kid is five.)

I am six months pregnant and feel no more ready for this than I did when we got the first positive beta test. I'm self soothe telling myself all we really need is a car seat to get the kid home in, and other than that, it's all about the breast and diapers.

And love. Of course, love, the only thing I don't worry about providing and the only thing we don't have to register for.


Blogger Trista said...

Ah, yes. The baby shower registering. SUCH a tiring, frustrating, squabble-making process. You're tired, your feet hurt, you're emotional, you're bloated, your back hurts...

and that's just the non-pregnant partner.

I congratulate you two on getting as much done as you did. And I also congratulate you on coming back together as a couple and getting the heck out of dodge. We did all our registering at Target and it was just fine. And for the larger gifts (carseats, and strollers, and breastpumps) we just pinned down the person most likley to get it for us and told them exactly what we wanted, or, better yet, suggested a gift card. Tacky? perhaps. Effective? Completely.

3:37 PM  
Blogger DD said...

Would you believe me if I said in a year you will wonder why you were so stressed out about what kind of baby tub or swing or even stroller you should get?

Do you have a subscription to consumer reports? If not, I'll send you the info from the most recent ratings in Feb 06. I'm sorry to say, Peg doesn't rank up there on any category but Umbrella style.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Melody said...

OMG-- you're stressing me out! The thought of all that extra stuff in our tiny little house just stresses me out. Vanessa and I have made a pact to buy only the bare essentials in baby preparation-- starting with the stroller. Everyone I know says that they barely use it. I can't figure out where everybody puts it. We're probably going to get a $20 umbrella stroller from K-Mart and be done with it.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Suz said...

KUDOS!! I was so overwhelmed by the registration process that I never built one. I got it all up and then put one baby item on it. ONE. I'm the champion of indecision and I just couldn't decide.

For the stroller, the only advice I would give is to get one that you can put an infant carrier in and then transition out of when the kid gets bigger. Or... you can do as we did and get a cheap snap-n-go, leaving the expensive stroller 'til later. The reason this is important, as I found out, is that you don't want to haul the sleeping little one out of the carrir - to the stroller - and then back again.

But you probably already knew about that :-)

You can adjust the heck out of the bjorn - you probably didn't have the straps moved up all the way. Before he lost all his pregnancy weight (yes, he had pregnancy weight), George carried Henry around comfortably.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Beth said...

The secret to _Baby Bargains_ is the registry cheat sheet in the back. Each category gives their top recommendation.

Er, except strollers, because there are Many Issues when choosing a stroller. We registered for the Snap n Go (which is just an empty frame into which you snap your infant car seat and, well, go) as well as a stroller K liked. (The hand-me-down stroller we got from her sister doesn't fit in her car!)

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Round is Funny said...

Heh. We had the IDENTICAL experience at the evil baby megastore. Just remember that you don't need something just because they tell you you need it. As for car seats, they all have to meet the same safety regulations. Don't let yourself get suckered into the biggest one thinking it's safer - they weigh a ton!

5:14 PM  
Blogger Brooke said...

Oh yeah. That sucked. My assvice:

Register for one of a variety of bottles. See what cricket likes and then get those when you need them.

Forget the Bjorn. I guess men like them a lot better than women do. I only used ours twice because it made my back ache. Get an Ergo (with an infant insert if you want). If you really want a Bjorn, we can probably loan you ours. It's actually Em's brother's, but since they aren't planning on more kids (soon anyway), I'm sure you could use it.

Wait until you need the stroller to get it. Those travel system things are a pain in the ass. Think how often you are going to be *driving* someplace and then want to put the kid in the stroller. Unless you have an SUV they will take up the whole damn trunk. Clearly, some people love them. BUt I know more people who regret getting them.

And you can never have too many onsies.

7:37 PM  
Blogger hd said...

My assvice: The baby store scares me also. I did most of my registry online. Anything that is at both places, put it on your Target registry. Target is so much easier to manage, and it's been my experiencde that people are more likely to go to Target.

I agree with Brooke about the Bjorn. I don't know much about the Ergo, but I have a multi-function wrap. No baby to put in it yet, so I can't speak about its ease of use, but it's been reviewed highly.

I also agree with Brooke about the travel system--soooo heavy. I am registered for a fancy European stroller (Chicco) which my dad will probably end up buying, but I didn't get the travel system because the infant seat was huge and ridiculously expensive. The stroller is great, though--lightweight, fully adjustable, one-handed fold capacity.

Babbling now--it's such a task, outfitting a tiny person who isn't even born yet. Good luck.

8:50 PM  
Blogger art-sweet said...

I just can't believe you're six months already... holy shit.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I will repeat the recommendation for a snap & go as your first stroller. You can register for a second stroller, too, or you can wait and see what you like about the snap & go and what you hate, and let that help dictate your next stroller. That way you can test drive the next stroller (which you will use for a long time) WITH Cricket in it and see what's really good.

I will also repeat the anti-Bjorn and pro-Ergo sentiments. The only Bjorn that is comfortable for any length of time is the Bjorn active, which is more expensive than the Ergo! And we love our wrap (we have the Moby wrap) which HD mentioned.

I could go on and on about baby gear, but I will cut myself off about here!

8:57 PM  
Blogger Pixie said...

Wow! Six months already....

It really is overwhelming- all the bajillions of teeny weeeny baby must-haves...but I'll have to second DD- in a year you'll be old pros and laughing about this!

I also agree with some other comments about the Baby BJorn- I had one, wore it several times...but I had a VERY large baby and the Bjorn was just not that comfortable. I used a sling- The Maya was wonderful. Jade nursed in there and slept and just hung out- it was so easy to adjust as he grew...I even used it when I carried him on my hip.

But about the stoller...I had one of those middle of the line kind of pricier ones- a Combi. It was made to work with the infant carrier/carseat (i used a Graco) and then when you stop using the carrier you just snap off the bar in the front and replace with the snack tray. About the bulk- yes it was pretty bulky. But I went for a lighter model. I had a butterbean of a car- an old than dirt honda civic hatchback...It was hard to stuff the stroller in the trunk at first- but once I got the hang of it it was fine. I chose to go ahead with a better, sturdier model because I took the baby absolutely everywhere I went-including work or really long walks a few times a week. I used the poop out of my stroller and was so glad that I had a better model. And I also had an umbrella for quick and easy trips. I felt good and prepared.

The Baby Bargains book and consumer reports were my life savers- I had things starred and underlined- haha!

Good Luck...Cricket'll be here before you know it- yay!

10:15 PM  
Blogger Sophia said...

My assvice: Visit and read up on different kinds of baby carriers. My sis and I are plus size and did much better with a ring sling, a mei tai, and a long wrap.

10:38 PM  
Blogger mermaidgrrrl said...

Dear sweet gorgeous K... I will make you a sling! Let me know what style fabric you'd be into and I'll make you one with a nice long tail that is guaranteed to fit (I know it will cause I'll model it on myself). Problem solved!

7:12 AM  
Blogger fisher queen said...

Read the Baby Bargains book. It is a major piece of research but it answers all those questions. If you can't handle reading through everything, at the end of each chapter they have their top picks. I sat down with it and a friend's reccomendations and did all my registering online in one morning. Don't do it in the store. You will go insane.

I got a sling. I'm told they are much more comfortable, and the adjustable ones shrink with you!

8:42 AM  
Blogger LilySea said...

We used Consumer Reports for strollers and car seats and got the best buys on both. If you really want to see my top picks of things I could not parent an infant without, hit my "Baby Stuff We Love" category at the blog:

But meanwhile I have to say wrap over bjorn EVERY time.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Gandksmom said...

2 and ergo! Don't buy the Bjorn because you can't use it as long as a sling. And you can nurse in a sling! Also, for the best car seat ever, Britax. Talk to Estelle. She's the car seat queen! We bought a co-sleeper for $200 and NEVER used it (other than to take her pic in it for posterity). It was a high priced diaper and wipe holder. If you are planning on going back to work and want to pump, invest in a high grade pump (hospital grade).

7:31 PM  
Blogger agoodlistener said...

Bjorns and car seats and nipples Oh My! When we shopped for Max, we just got a Graco, nothing Euro, nothing fancy, but very comfy. What's funny is how short the time is that you'll actually need this equipment. Cricket will be out of the baby stuff before you know it, and you'll wonder what the big deal was anyway.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Yeah, that would have been us, too. We went with friends and their 2.5 year old son and helped us register for everything. I was grateful because it would have been far too overwhelming for us to do on our own. Too much! can't decide!!! On the stroller issue, R had to have the Bugaboo Chameleon because "it's like a transformer." I figure we're only doing this once, so might as well. Our friends lent us a lot of stuff, too, like the crib, tub, toys, clothes, bumper & crib skirt, monitors, bouncy seat; another friend sent me her Medela Pump in Style. I'm certainly grateful for my friends!

My assvice: accept help from anyone kind enough to offer. If there's no one IRL, just appeal to your internets. That's what we're here for!

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Meredith said...

Uggh. Boy do you bring back bad memories. Those stores, and all the books about baby stuff, create so much stress that just isn't needed. Don't forget that their motivation is not to help you raise a child -- it's simply to sell more stuff.

So like you realized, go back to thinking about the important things: carseat to get home (not always immediately necessary, we walked home with our older boy), diapers, breast, love, and two happy not-stressed-out moms. Everything else can be borrowed and/or figured out later. Best of luck!

7:04 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I don't have any advice, but I echo that sentiment of being amazed you're already six months. So exciting!

1:12 PM  
Anonymous abby said...

Hi Kate,

Get the A3. It's wonderful. We have a seriously tiny preemie who is now the size of a newborn, and since we lost her twin and went through hell to keep her, money was no object (even though it's going to be hell to pay the credit card bills). So I splurged. And it's worth every cent---the thing turns on a dime, the pramette feature is brilliant, and you can find it on line in 2005 model still (I think) for under 300 dollars. Puts all the others to shame.

My rec for car seats is the Britax Companion. But I'm not sure it is that much better than the Graco Snugride and hence unsure it's worth the price tag differential.

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, you don't know me, but I am going to give you advice anyway :)
You don't need 75% of the stuff they say you need. No matter what you decide before hand, the baby is going to end up in bed with you. Trust me on this one. If you want a crib for decoration in the nursery, go ahead and get it, but that is all it becomes.

I can't tell you the stuff that is sitting in my basement unused.

Here is the stuff you really need:
1. Diapers
2. Car Seat
3. Receiving blankets
4. Onesies
5. Hats
6. A good stroller - but you don't need it right away
7. Baby bjorn or wrap. Just some way to hold the baby for a long stretch of time.

Congratulations on the pregnancy. Having a baby is the best thing ever....

10:53 PM  
Blogger ButchMommyDaddyMaybe said...

Another repeat of stuff that folks already told you... All the moms who wear one LOVE the Ergo - and it works from newborn to big kid. Our baby loved the mobi wrap in the first months, but my partner was better with it than I was.

We got a car seat on Craigs List and a snap N go to start and then when the baby was bigger invested in a better stroller after test driving a few times(I went for the Mountain Buggy Urban - a jogger style) It handles very nice. IF you find one you like then look online for a 2005 model & you can save a LOT of $$$ on it.

We used a Pack N Play as a crib and changing station for the first couple of months before setting up our crib and real changing table - if you have a 2 story house or apt get an extra pad to put on a lowish peice of furniture to have a second changing area to avoid going up & down stairs all the time.

You cant have too many onesies, burp clothes, or in my opinion blankets (my wife would disagree on the last one).

10:35 PM  

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