Category Archives: hausfrau hoedown

win a night with a baby warthog!

let’s talk anatomical development! ramona’s mucus membranes are starting to mature, which means she is producing mucus. lovely, huh? but that also means that she has all this snot & she doesn’t know what the fuck to do with it. it was kind of cute at first, because it just made her snore these adorable baby snores. but then she had a not-so-cute snot explosion all over her face & started making these intense snorting noises when she was both asleep & awake. they are the kind of noises that would embarrass the shit out of you if they were coming from your great-uncle murray at your cousin’s wedding or whatever. but they are coming from a tiny baby who doesn’t have any comprehension of her actions.

honestly, the warthog impression doesn’t bother me too much. i know she’s not doing it because she’s unhappy or even necessarily uncomfortable. it’s just a phase, until she learns how to clear her throat effectively. she’s not asphyxiating or anything. we’ve been giving her nose drops & suctioning out her nose on the regular (enough that she doesn’t even mind it anymore). but i guess the snorting really bothers jared.

it bothered him so much last night that i decided i would just sleep on the couch with ramona next to me in her bouncy chair on the floor & let jared have the bedroom for the night. we’ve been sharing the nighttime baby load pretty evenly. we go to bed no later than 10pm, & trade off getting up with her throughout the night. she usually wakes up three times between 10pm & 7am. i get up with her at 7am & jared usually sleeps for another hour or two. (i kind of lose my mind if sleep in too long, especially if i’m going to bed so early, regardless of how much ramona keeps me up in the middle of the night. i found her feedings really onerous when she first got home, but now we have a rhythm. she sucks down her bottle & then i read while i pat her back until she burps & falls back to sleep. it’s not a bad way to spend an hour at 3am.)

however, ramona seems to be going through a growth spurt because she wanted more bottles than usual. jared gave her one at 11pm, & then i took over. she wanted a bottle at 12:30am, 1:30am, 2:30am, 5am, & finally again at 8am. i got up with that last one (an hour later than usual, which already had me all stressed out) & put coffee on. jared got up shortly thereafter & immediately launched into a litany of complaints about how hard it is to sleep when she’s snorting & how stressful it is to feel responsible for stopping the snorting. i wanted to say, “are you fucking serious? you just slept for eight hours straight. i haven’t slept for eight hours straight since NOVEMBER, & let’s be serious, more like MARCH if you factor in all the pregnant lady nighttime peeing. do NOT talk to me about how hard it is to sleep when i got up with this little beast FOUR TIMES last night. ALONE.” instead i just sipped my coffee & asked if he had any suggestions for how to address the problem.

i went into the kitchen an hour later to top off my coffee & try to tackle the rest of the day…& the coffee was gone! jared drank it all. even though i shouldn’t have been surprised–we bought a new espresso maker right before ramona was born specifically so we could share coffee in the morning without having to make multiple batches–i’d gotten into the habit of finishing all the coffee on my own in the morning because i was usually up for several hours before jared. & i am usually better rested in general because he was helping take care of her in the night. instead, i’d done all the night care solo & only got half the coffee. & we were out of espresso so i couldn’t even make more until one of us went to the coffeeshop for a fresh bag. i started crying. i told jared i felt resentful of him for not helping with the baby the night before & then finishing the coffee, even though i had volunteered to take care of her alone & hadn’t asked him to leave the coffee for me.

i decided it would clear my head to go for a walk & get more coffee, so off i went. when i got home, jared was lugging a hamper of damp laundry up from the basement, telling me the dryer had conked out halfway through its job. this is never good news, but especially when you are cloth diapering a baby that goes through like twelve diapers a day. he started stringing up a clothesline in the living room, like we’re living in some kind of lower east side tenement circa 1910, but i called the landlady, who immediately came over & fixed it.

& then i called the tiny k people. i guess they do assessments of premature babies & help their parents figure out how to best stimulate & interact with them to optimize their development throughout early childhood. it’s a free county service & ramona was seven weeks premature, so…why not? i have been reading a lot of books lately about premature babies & NICU experiences. they are written by people whose babies are much more premature than ramona. she was born at 33 weeks; most of these authors had their babies at 24 weeks, 25 weeks, 26 weeks. in the world of premature infants, a single week can make a monumental difference. but it’s still sobering to realize just how early ramona was, & how many bullets we managed to miraculously dodge (knock on wood–with preemies, sometimes developmental delays or behavior/health issues don’t show up until the child is older). it makes all those early congratulations we received on our “healthy baby” all the more incongruous to me, even though i was in denial at the time & was just like, “thanks!” i talked to jared about it & he admitted he had been very concerned about ramona’s health, in a way i never was, probably because i never saw her on the ventilator (i was too sick to visit when she was on it) & was on too many drugs to really take it all in when she was having other major interventions. by the time i was off the percocet & actually able to pay attention to ramona’s health with any degree of real comprehension, she was on room air, her central line was out, she was over her jaundice…she seemed perfect to me. just small.

places to stash the baby

parenthood really does change a person. i went to bed last night at 9pm. i did happen to be awake at midnight, because i had to get up to pump milk. jared was still up with ramona, dressing her up in various outfits, so we were able to ring in the new year together. kind of. at the stroke of midnight, i was sitting at my desk pumping & balancing my checkbook, jared was in the kitchen putting a fresh outfit on ramona, & ramona was screaming because she hates being dressed & undressed.

one of the many looks ramona sported last night during her impromptu baby fashion show.
one of the many looks ramona sported last night during her impromptu baby fashion show.

sometimes i feel like we should really have this whole new baby thing down to a science because ramona is already over a month old. but then i remember that she’s only been home with us for like a week. so obviously we’re still figuring things out. she was pretty easy to deal with in the NICU, because the hospital had such a strict schedule, & she was just too tiny to have the energy to go off script. if she woke up during a diaper change, we were lucky. the first night we spent with her was really hard because we discovered that she really did scream sometimes, but we didn’t know her well enough to know what she was screaming about, & we weren’t experienced enough with babies to know that you don’t have to attend to every little squeak or grunt. she would murmur in her sleep & both of us would immediately be cribside, offering her a pacifier, patting her back, fixing her a bottle, wondering what was wrong, when all that was wrong was that babies have no self-awareness & make all kinds of goofy noises that don’t necessarily mean anything.

we are starting to learn though. here are a few valuable lessons i have learned in my first few weeks of new motherhood:

i know i spent a lot of time while i was pregnant reading lists of necessary & unnecessary baby supplies. bouncy chairs were a key item on countless lists of baby necessities, & i remember scoffing at that. i thought a bouncy chair might be an okay auxiliary item, but a necessity? surely not.

i am now here to eat my words. i mean, obviously a bouncy chair isn’t really a “necessity”. plenty of people in developing nations get by without them. but i’m sure they have someplace where they “stash the baby,” as i put it. while ramona was in the NICU, obviously we relished the opportunity to hold her, but sometimes it gets really exhausting to hold a sleeping baby. your arms, shoulders, & back start to ache, especially if you are kind of inexperienced with babies & you’re all tense & hunched up during the holding. the baby falls asleep & in a dim, warm room, you start to fall asleep too, especially if you’re holding a baby & can’t move around too much for fear of jostling it to wakefulness. sometimes it was actually a big relief to put ramona back in her crib & get a break from the constant holding.

so when it was time to bring her home, i told jared that we had to get a bouncy chair. i wanted somewhere to put her down, other than her crib (which is fucking enormous compared to her). & i didn’t want to just lay her on the couch or something. eventually she’ll be rolling over & i wanted a chair i could strap her into. he was really skeptical of this idea. he considered it basically just another form of baby incarceration. but i insisted, & went to the baby consignment store & picked out a pretty basic secondhand bouncy chair. i immediately removed the railing with all the goofy toys hanging from it, & i have yet to use the vibration or music modes. it’s just a place to put her when she’s snoozing & i need to get up & do other stuff–wash some bottles, make a phone call, write a blog post, whatever.

the first time i tried putting her in the chair, she fussed. this was only our first or second day home with her, before we had figured out that she tends to fuss a little when you move her from one place to another–even if you’re just moving her from your shoulder to your lap. jared was all, “see, she hates it! she knows she’s being abandoned!” that really pushed my buttons because i was already feeling all this weird guilt & anxiety about not wanting to hold her all the time (a blog post for another day). i cried. he thought the hammock shape of the chair forced her head on to her chest & compressed her airway & that she would suffocate. he took her out of the chair & carried her around for the rest of the day.

but let’s be serious. that’s just not realistic. eventually i put an infant car seat support in the chair to hold ramona up a little & now she chills in her bouncy chair all the time. & jared has acknowledged that he was wrong & that the chair is a godsend. holding her & carrying her are great–but sometimes you need a break.

on this tip, another great item i bought was the ergo carrier (with an infant insert, because she is such a tiny baby). i had been eying it for a while but didn’t take the plunge because they cost like $150 new. then i found one used at the antique mall for $75. i was still reluctant to drop that much money when i had no proof that the ergo was any better than any other carrier, & especially when i’d heard so many weird stories about babies rejecting their carriers. but it was such a good price, i went for it, & i’m so glad i did. we don’t have an infant car seat & the ergo is great for carrying ramona when we have to go out (like to the pediatrician). it’s also great for toting her around the house but still having both arms free. ramona (& all babies, i guess) has a tendency to be gassy, & it helps her to be laying belly to belly with us. we can pop her into the ergo & ease her gassiness but still put away laundry or whatever. we’re not tethered to the couch while the house becomes a festering craphole around us. & as jared said, “it’s all the awesomeness of kangaroo care, without the indignities of having to take off your shirt!”

bumpwatch terror alert: week 19

remember when i had boobs that weren’t just part of an undifferentiated mass of torso? that was pretty cool.

front view:

when i showed jared this photo, he said, “look at that thing! i’m really starting to think that there will be two of you at the end of this whole mess.”

i’m almost to the halfway point! only a week to go! word on the street is that i now look “unmistakably pregnant”. that’s a quote from my therapist. it was cool to hear, but it was also kind of like, “oh, i really did maybe just look questionably fat before.” not that there’s anything wrong with that. it’s just kind of like when you haven’t seen someone in a while & you’ve lost 75 pounds in that time & when they see you, they are like, “wow, you look AMAZING!” thanks, but i guess i didn’t look amazing before? because i was a fatty fatty two by four, right? not that that’s ever happened to me. i’m more the type to GAIN 75 pounds & then see someone again. & they’re like, “oh, wow, i bet elastic waist pants are really comfortable.” okay, no one has ever said that to me. but they are comfortable, just for the record.

i had my first prenatal water aerobics class yesterday. here’s a little tidbit about pregnancy that i didn’t really know going in: it makes you really hot. temperature-wise. it’s because your body is producing way more progesterone than usual & progesterone makes you feel warm. i force jared to sleep with the air conditioning on every night because i am always way warmer than he is. so, there’s a bunch of ladies in various stages of pregnancy gathered together for this water aerobics class. the most pregnant woman is due in late october & the most newly-pregnant is due in early march. & i had forgotten because i’ve been going to the outdoor pool all summer, but they keep the indoor aquatic center really warm all the time, i guess for all the oldsters & small children that use the pools & have trouble regulating their body temperatures when they’re all wet. i asked which pool the class was happening in & was directed to a pool i’ve never been to before. i’ve taken two previous water aerobics classes. one was in the shallow end of the regular lap pool, & one was in the deep end of the olympic-sized pool. this time i was directed to the “three-lane warm water pool”. yeah, they had a bunch of over-heated pregnant ladies splashing around in artificially heated water! i guess it’ll be nice if i stick with the class until i’m due, but the combo of hot aquatic center/warm water/pregnant/august was a bit much.

i was chatting with one my classmates about pregnancy stuff & i said something about how much i love maternity jeans. mine are kind of annoying because i guess i have actually lost weight everywhere except for my bump in the last few months. they are a little too big & i have to hike them up a lot. i am probably going to buy a pair of maternity corduroys too, one size smaller. but it’s still such a stroke of genius to do away with the waistband & instead harness the power of a large belly to hold up one’s pants. anyway, this lady was like, “you know what’s even better? seriously, save your money & get yourself some full-panel black maternity yoga pants. you can wear them out, you can wear them to bed, no one will know the difference & they are so comfortable.”

i do in fact have a pair of soft maternity pajama pants that resemble yoga pants, & they are very comfortable. & i do wear them as much as humanly possible. but i have not yet gone so far as to, like, wear them to the bank. i’m willing to accept that my boundaries around wearing pajamas pants beyond the confines of my porch might change as i become even more pregnant, but this was a lightning bolt moment for me. i’ve never met ANYONE who was more into finding a way around wearing real clothes than i am. jared had to sit me down last year & give me a little talk that went like this: “to me, you’re always beautiful. but maybe if you dressed less like a hobo…?” i actually made it an item on my daily to-do list to get dressed every day. sometimes it didn’t happen until 8pm, but as long as there was a bra & maybe some pants with buttons donned at SOME point during the day, i felt like i was making the effort to blend in with humanity.

i hit another baby consignment sale this weekend & picked up a clip-on high chair for only $15! usually those bad boys are like $50. it’s in great shape & fits perfectly on our table. i knew i wanted a clip-on high chair, even though the baby obviously will not be needing it for quite a while, because our house is small & we don’t have anywhere to stash a whole massive regular high chair, even if it folds up. this guy folds down small enough that it can just go in the closet with all the other baby stuff.

& the diaper covers i ordered from rockabye booty arrived as well.

OMG 2 cute 2 B 4gotten

we have been planning to use diaper covers & prefolds when the baby is really little because it can be hard to find a pocket diaper that will fit a newborn. & young babies aren’t mobile yet so you don’t need to worry so much about their diapers being really trim. but i am starting to have a change of heart now these covers are actually in my possession. maybe i’ll use prefolds until potty training just to keep these babies in the rotation. our baby will have the cutest diapers in the county!

all nesting all the time

in the past week & a half, i have been victimized by three different enormous spiders in the bathroom. the most recent horror was in the sink, desperately scrabbling up the basin to freedom, but being pulled back down by its own girth. jared captured all three & released them into the freedom of the garden. & this is why i’m not outdoorsy. too many monstrous beasts.

the spider situation was making me really sad. i’m nearly 33 years old; i shouldn’t be afraid of my own bathroom. i don’t necessarily think that the spiders were colonizing the bathroom because of its relative cleanliness level, but i did get obsessed with giving it a thorough scrubbing & hopefully scaring any other horrible monsters out of their hidey-holes. but i was also scared to start cleaning because we had inadvertently provided quite a few hidey-holes. for some reason, we had an old shower curtain stuffed behind the bathtub (did we think we were going to repurpose it someday?), & any number of spiders could have been lurking in its folds. so i kept jared on standby while i pulled everything out of the bathroom. no spiders emerged.

i wiped down all the baseboards & woodwork, cleaned & polished all the ceramic & metal, & mopped. then i cleaned everything else that had been in the bathroom–plungers, plastic storage boxes, plastic shelving crates, the toothbrush holder…the bathroom is now sparkling clean & hopefully 100% spider-free.

this week i also shipped out the last of my doll collection, which i sold to raise money for baby expenses (prenatal care, hospital stay, baby gear). i was able to put away a few thousand dollars once it was all said & done! i also completely emptied the hallway closet of anything that isn’t for the baby (we already have a box of baby clothes from a friend who works for carter’s, a handful of board books we bought at the children’s book sale at the library, & some breast milk storage bottles from my ob-gyn, plus the fabric i bought for the baby quilt chepina & i are making). i re-organized my own closet to make room for extra linens & old journals, & emptied one of my dresser drawers to make room for baby clothes or cloth diapers. & i cleaned out the fridge & washed all the shelves & drawers with hot soapy water. basically, i am hardcore nesting. unfortunately, the baby isn’t due for another six months, by which point everything will be filthy & messy again.

i also decided to tackle the epic baby gear question head on. jared & i had experimented by going to baby stores & window-shopping, but that did very little to teach us what we really need for our baby. mostly we just became completely overwhelmed & started hyperventilating. i asked around to some of my parent friends, & quite a few of them had helpful tips, but none of them gave me what i really wanted, which was a detailed list of the bare necessities & the cheapest places to get each item at the highest quality. i consulted some online baby registries, but they were totally confusing & seemed to be padded with all kinds of useless shit. one registry included a baby comforter & specified that comforters are dangerous for babies & that it is only to be purchased to match the other nursery linens. points for honesty, i guess?

finally i printed out two copies of the baby registry at the bump. i kept one copy for myself & gave the other to jared. then we each independently went through the list & crossed out anything that seemed pointless & annotated as needed. this is our final list:

CLOTHES
3 short-sleeved onesies*
3 long-sleeved onesies*
3 tees*
2 pairs of leggings*
3 footie pajamas*
1 romper for looking cute*
1 sweater*
8 pairs of socks
3 sleep sacks (young baby only, pre-rolling)
1 winter cap
1 sun hat
1 snowsuit
1 swimsuit**
(items marked with * should be purchased in multiple sizes)
(items marked with ** should be purchased after baby is born)

SLEEP
cosleeper
4 large receiving blankets
3 swaddling blankets
quilt (making it myself)
glider*
cute animal mobile*
basket for toys/diapers/clothes
bouncy chair**
(items marked with * are things i would want even if i wasn’t pregnant)
(items marked with ** can wait until after baby is born, see if it likes being bounced)

DIAPERS
diaper bucket
wet bag
cloth wipes
10 one-size snap pocket diapers
10 one-size velcro pocket diapers
a dozen newborn-size prefolds
a dozen small-size prefolds
5 size one thirsties fab fitteds
5 size two thirsties fab fitteds
5 diaper covers

CLEANING
baby shampoo/wash
washcloths

FEEDING
5 glass bottles*
assorted nipple sizes*
bottle brush*
8 large bibs
high chair attachment
dedicated ice cube tray for freezing breast milk
nipple pads & cream
(items marked with * are for dad feedings)

FIRST AID KIT
aloe vera plant
baby nail clippers
cotton balls
medicine dropper
nasal drops
gripe water*
old-fashioned teether*
(items marked with * can be purchased after baby is born, see if they’re necessary/useful)

GETTING AROUND
convertible car seat
moby wrap
umbrella stroller (older baby only)

ENTERTAINMENT
carefully chosen stuffed animal
gnawable board books
rattle

that’s it. i didn’t include anything that we already have or can fashion from items around the house or other items on the list. we eliminated a LOT of items from the suggested registry. a baby doesn’t need a bathtub. give it a sponge bath in the sink when it’s tiny & get in the bathtub with it when it’s a little bigger. my sister used to take her baby into the shower with her so they could both get clean at the same time. baby towels are adorable (especially the ones with animal face hoods), but a baby can be wrapped in a regular towel just as easily. you can substitute baby socks for no-scratch mitts & they actually stay on better. if you’re already using a perfume-free gentle laundry detergent on your own laundry, you can use it for baby laundry too. cribs & all their accoutrements are like the #1 go-to must-have baby item (i bought my sister one when she got pregnant, not even considering that not everyone uses them), but if you plan to sleep with baby, what’s the point? if you live in a 700-square foot house, you don’t need a monitor. a baby doesn’t need its own CD player. a baby hairbrush? babies barely even have any hair.

i could go on. i did some research & put together a registry with specific items we want. (i guess i’m going to put that online next week after my next sonogram.) a few people have said they want to buy us something, if we give them some guidance about what we could use. so that will help a lot, & we can fill in the rest as the due date approaches. i am still overwhelmed by all this baby stuff. i went to the store yesterday to stock baby’s first aid kit & got completely overwhelmed. i wound up ditching my basket & hiding out in the pet toys aisle for a while. i mean, an ear thermometer costs $20 to $40, & none of them have good reviews. why not just re-purpose one of my numerous fertility awareness digital thermometers (i kept “losing” them & replacing them) as a rectal thermometer? more accurate, & it’s not like babies remember that stuff.

oh, ps–i had another baby dream. this is the third dream i’ve had in which the baby is a girl. (i have had zero in which the baby is a boy.) this dream was super-specific. she was a girl & we named her ramona. she was born on january 17 via cesarean. let’s see how much of this comes true! (hopefully all of it except the cesarean.)

babies & cats: pretty much the same, right?

man. i took it upon myself to sweep the living room, which had not been touched in over a week. i did what i always do when i sweep the living room, which is close the closet door next to jared’s desk (he loves to leave it open, which is also his attitude toward all doors, & drawers, & practically anything else that can be opened but ought to be closed). about an hour later, jared told me he heard a banging noise, but i didn’t hear anything over the sounds of the air conditioner, box fan, & ceiling fan (it’s been consistently over 100 degrees for over a week, with no end in sight), & told him he must be imagining things–perhaps the hobo that we pretend lives in the basement.

eight hours later, i gave charlotte her evening meal, but she didn’t come a-running like she usually does when she hears kibble hit her bowl. i checked her cat bed, but it was empty. i checked my closet, where she has recently been hanging out (i leave it cracked for her during the day). i looked under the bookcases in the living room & even under the bathtub. i checked the foyer & started to panic, trying to remember if there was any point today when the front door might have been open & she could have escaped without attracting our attention. then jared looked in his closet, & a dazed, neglected charlotte emerged from within, blinking & looking sad (maybe i’m projecting).

jared & i had a good laugh, since i often try to predict my own parenting abilities based on how well i feel i parent charlotte. this was a major cat parenting fail. probably every cat parent inadvertently shuts their cat in a closet at some point, but not all cat parents are extrapolating their cat-rearing abilities to their projected parenting skills, especially when the hypothetical baby in question is cooking as we speak. but i was pretty amused at the thought of being such a ridiculously neglectful parent that i would shut my baby in a closet for eight hours & not notice until it fails to come running for its evening feeding.

of course i posted about this incident on facebook because, for those readers that are not my facebook friends, i basically use facebook to broadcast all of my failings & foibles. if someone was trying to get a bead on my competence as a human based solely on my facebook updates, i would definitely come up lacking. one of my mom friends commented & was all, “don’t worry, your baby will roll off the couch eventually! it happens!” i was kind of like, “…okay…will my baby roll off the couch & into a closet which then latches? because that’s what i’m talking about.” but instead i just made a remark about how i’d feel bad if i shut my kid in a closet (unless the kid really had it coming…kidding! kidding!). she was all, “LOL! babies are nothing like cats! you would definitely notice a baby missing before you’d notice a cat!”

O RLY? babies AREN’T like cats, you say? this…really changes things. i thought babies were EXACTLY like cats. the only difference i could see is that babies are easier to dress because there’s no pesky tail to get in the way (if you’re lucky). surely babies are self-cleaning & can be trained to poop in a box. i had been planning to just set out some dry cheerios & a bowl of milk on the floor every morning & let the kid feed itself. but in light of this alarming new information that babies are not like cats…i may have made a huge mistake. is anyone in the market for a (hopefully) healthy white infant? i’ll trade it for a cat.

seriously, i know i don’t make myself look good on facebook but i’m not THAT dumb.

on a different, but still baby-related, note, i went to the fabric store today to make some final choices for the baby quilt chepina & i are making. one of the employees asked if i needed any help & i explained i was making a baby quilt & was going to need a quarter-yard of a bunch of a different fabrics, blah blah blah. she asked, “do you know the gender of the baby you’re making the quilt for?” i said no. she kind of paused & then asked, “then how do you know what fabrics you want?” because surely i’ll want army green patterned with naked women for a boy & hot pink sequins for a girl, right? jesus christ. can’t i just pick out some cute fabrics with animals & stuff on them & call it a day?

i did select my fabrics & a different employee cut it for me. when she got to some pink fabric patterned with elephants, she said, “oh! it’s a quilt for a girl.” i said no, it’s a quilt for a baby, & we won’t know the gender until january, & boys can enjoy pink too, especially if some fucking elephants are involved because elephants are the bomb. she started rambling on about how keeping the gender a surprise is such a nice idea but it will be hard for us to shop for baby supplies. i said, “no, i’m pretty much just going to get pink stuff because i like pink & if it’s a boy, he’ll have a lot of pink.” she tried to recalibrate & was like, “well, babies don’t care…dress him in pink when he’s a baby because he’ll never be able to wear it again!” um…unless he wants to? some boys like pink. jared is a boy & he wears pink. what the hell, lady! finally jared said, “if we do have a boy, i hope that he never spends one minute worrying about his baby quilt being appropriately masculine,” & she finally dropped it.

a couple weeks ago, jared & i went to the gap outlet in topeka. the clerk asked me if i was looking for anything in particular. i asked about maternity wear & she said they didn’t have any (curses! i refuse to pay full-price for maternity clothes). then she asked, “are you pregnant?” “yes,” i said. “do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” she asked. “no,” i said. “oh. because i was gonna say, everything at baby gap next door is 60% off. if you knew what you were having, you could get some clothes for the baby. i guess maybe you could get an outfit for each?” or, here’s a radical thought, i could get what i think is cute regardless of gender cues because it’s not like a baby gives a flying fuck.

i know this is only the beginning. i guess i just wasn’t expecting it to start so early! poor little narwhal. everyone wants to know about its junk.

the great china-made cloth diaper debate

after my money-related freak-out earlier this morning, i spent practically all day researching cloth diapers. even before i got pregnant, i imagined that i would cloth diaper whenever i had a kiddo. while i am not necessarily gung ho 100% all about every facet of attachment parenting, & have in fact amused myself on a regular basis poking fun at hardcore hippie moms (who are generally way into attachment parenting), there’s a lot about it that appeals to me. breastfeeding, baby-wearing, cloth diapering, co-sleeping…i don’t want to make bold proclamations about how i definitively will parent because i just won’t know until the baby is here, but from what i have read & seen with friends who have kids, all of these choices look ideal to me.

& i’m not gonna lie: a huge part of what appeals to me about these things is the financial savings involved, & the fact that these parenting strategies are space savers, as a general rule. a brand-new budget crib is still going to cost over $100, & in my little 600-square foot bungalow (that’s probably a generous estimate), it would be difficult to find space for it. if jared & i co-sleep with the baby, all we’ll need is a bassinet or a small co-sleeper–& a lot of co-sleeping parents don’t even use those anymore once the baby is big enough to roll around. they just keep the baby in bed with them. breastfeeding takes up way less space than boxes of formula & bottles & bottle cleaning brushes, & it’s far cheaper as well. if we want jared (or a sitter) to be able to give the baby the occasional bottle & take the pressure off me for all the feedings, we can keep a handful of bottles on hand & rent a breast pump. the cost of strollers is terrifying to me–they can easily cost a couple hundred dollars, particularly for infant strollers (you can’t put a newborn in an umbrella stroller because they’re not old enough to sit up yet–they need a stroller in which they can lie down). & if you’re choosing a stroller that is larger than an umbrella stroller, like a travel system that includes a car seat, they can take up a lot of space. a sling, on the other hand, can be wadded up & stuffed in a drawer or closet when not in use. & it can enable all kinds of hands-free parent activities while baby stays engaged & snuggled when it is in use.

but cloth diapers. oh man. of course jared was pretty much on board with cloth diapers from the start, mainly from an environmental perspective. he’s an environmental historian specializing in waterways, so of course the idea of contributing an average of around 7500 disposable (but largely not biodegradable) diapers to landfills before our child is potty-trained doesn’t especially appeal to him. one could make an argument that cloth diapers take a toll on the environment in their own way, needing to be washed & using water & electric resources, but i figure–we’re going to be using the washer anyway. why not wash some diapers while we’re at it?

i looked into the different kinds of cloth diapers on the market & was pleased to see that the cloth diaper market has expanded a lot since i was a cloth diapered baby in the late 70s (flat diapers affixed with pins; my parents were given a year of diaper service as a baby shower gift, apparently). i am most drawn to all-in-ones, which are basically washable cloth versions of disposable diapers. they are already shaped into diapers, with elastic in the legs, & you just snap or velcro them shut. easy peasy! there are also pocket diapers, which are a similar principle, with a pocket in the gusset to place an absorbent insert. the benefit of pocket diapers is that the soaker insert comes out & therefore the whole package dries more quickly. there are also cloth diapers that can be adjusted with a system of snaps to grow with the baby, meaning that a single set of cloth diapers can take the baby from birth to potty training. no having to upgrade from newborn sizes to 3-6 month sizes to 6-9 month sizes, etc. i decided that these were the diapers for me, as a cloth diapering novice.

from my extensive googling, it seems like the two most popular brands of one-size all-in-ones or pocket diapers are bumgenius & fuzzibuns. new, one of these diapers retails for $15-$17. that’s kind of major sticker shock considering that you need to lay in a stockpile of at least 24 to really have enough on hand to avoid doing laundry every single day. that’s a minimum expenditure of around $400. it’s really nothing in the greater scheme of things, considering how much it costs to buy disposables (a brand like pampers averages about 25 cents each–so a new fancy cloth diaper would pay for itself in about sixty uses, which would only take a few months if each diaper is being washed & used again three or four times a week). but still!

so i hopped on ebay & discovered that there are chinese cloth diaper manufacturers that make one-size pocket diapers & all-in-ones in cute colors & patterns & sell them for $5 or $6 each, including free shipping. we could lay in a whole supply of enough diapers to do laundry only twice a week for under $300. i looked up some reviews, & some people complained that the chinese diapers didn’t fit as well as
bumgenius, or the colors faded too quickly, but mostly, the reviews seemed comparable.

the only real realm of contention was the fact that these diapers are made in china. never mind that other popular american cloth diaper brands are also manufactured in china–the fact that these discount diapers were being made & sold by chinese companies really bothers some cloth diaperers, who think the priority should be supporting american companies & keeping our cloth diaper dollars in the american economy. but what if supporting american-made diapers is going to soak me for three times as much? it’s all well & good for a solidly middle-class family, but we’re doing this baby thing on less than $30,000 a year.

there are other cloth diapering options, like using flats (which intimidate me–i am willing to pay a bit of a premium for the convenience of a diaper that is shaped like a diaper), & buying used. i have no problem with used cloth diapers, but even used bumgenius & fuzzibuns generally sell for about twice as much as new chinese diapers. & there are so many other brands out there, each of which has its own quirks in terms of pocket opening, lining, snap placement, etc–i could pretty easily stock up on used cloth diapers at the baby consignment store near my house, where they sell for between $5 & $10 each, but i’d have a lot of different brands of diapers (unless i was very choosy) & i’m afraid it would be confusing for jared & me.

i know this is a topic where there’s a learning curve, & by the time my baby is a few months old, i’ll probably be a pro at cloth diapering & so many of the things that intimidate & confuse me now will seem really basic. but unfortunately, the baby is going to need diapers as soon as it’s born, so i’m stuck guessing, using my best judgment, & taking advice from more experienced friends to get me started. the whole “support america” argument really bothered me because…i won’t say that it’s not financially possible for some people to only use american-made cloth diapers, but people are entitled to prioritize their limited resources, & some people might prefer to spend only half their cloth diaper budget on diapers & use the other half for all the other baby expenses that crop up, like a children’s health insurance plan, a car seat, or just paying the bills so the baby will have a place to live. one person said that they would be happy to walk new moms through flat diapers if they can’t afford to lay in a supply of american-made pocket diapers & all-in-ones, but maybe a new mom would rather have a physically convenient diaper experience than an american-made one. i think that’s where i’m at. i don’t especially make any effort to buy exclusively american-made for myself; why should i bother with my baby? i don’t know.

does this sound like prenatal depression?

maybe this will sound weird or ungrateful or something, but i think i have prenatal depression. the thrill of finally being pregnant wore off really quickly, & at first i thought it was being replaced by the panic of having to rustle up some funds to turn my house into a baby safe haven (auxiliary babies not welcome), but i think it’s actually a little more serious than that. i just don’t want to get up in the morning. not because i’m too tired to get up (i am experiencing pregnancy fatigue, but it’s not too bad yet). just because i don’t want to get up & face the day, deal with my responsibilities, or do anything. my official psychological diagnosis is dysthymia, which means that being mildly to moderately depressed is just kind of my natural state. i’ve had bouts of severe depression & i’m not quite there yet, but i feel like i’m getting there.

i’m only about five & a half weeks pregnant, which might still be too early for major symptoms, but so far, the pregnancy is going really smoothly. i haven’t really had any nausea or major food cravings/aversions. i’m tired & i feel mentally foggy all the time, but it’s not, like, debilitating. when i was pregnant four years ago, i didn’t even have the energy to get up off the couch & turn off the TV when “everybody loves raymond” came on. that’s how i wound up watching like every single episode of “everybody loves raymond” (because it was on four times a night in syndication). my fatigue is not that bad this time (yet?). i eat a lot better now & am taking my prenatal vitamins, which probably helps a little.

i don’t know…maybe the mental fog is contributing to my feeling sad. it’s just so hard to concentrate. it’s difficult to read, or write, or have a conversation. i lose track of what’s going on really easily, i forget things people told me, it’s hard to connect with people because so much of what they’re saying is like white noise to me. of course i would rather be sleeping or watching TV or something (depression symptoms, for me, anyway) because it takes so much work to engage my brain. i keep thinking, “i’m going to tackle this writing project or read these books or socialize with these people or take this class once this is over & things are back to normal,” & then i remember there is no “normal” anymore. i’m going to spend the next seven & a half months (fingers crossed) pregnant, & then i’m going to have a baby.

i hope i can shake off this fog & start feeling excited again soon. i had a sonogram last week to make sure there’s only one blob in there & that it’s where it’s supposed to be & progressing properly so far. it went perfectly, but i was still too early for a heartbeat to be detected. so i’m having another sonogram next week, at around seven weeks, & hopefully we will be able to hear a heartbeat then. my sister told me to bring tissues because i will cry. it was definitely exciting to get confirmation that there was in fact a little blob of a person-to-be hanging out in there & that i wasn’t having a very convincing hysterical pregnancy or anything. hopefully it will be even more exciting to hear the heartbeat.

i swore i wouldn’t complain about pregnancy on my blog! does this count as complaining? i guess i was EXPECTING fatigue & nausea & backaches & food aversions & all that stuff. i wasn’t expecting to feel so shitty emotionally. maybe i’m naive, but i honestly thought the high of getting pregnant would carry me through the whole nine months & that i’d be so excited about meeting my baby & testing my abilities as a mom that i wouldn’t have time to feel depressed. i guess that is pretty naive. nine months is a long time. i think it would be difficult for anyone to sustain a cheerful disposition for nine months, but especially when they are putting in the physical labor of growing a person.

this is probably yet another instance of me looking around at how other people are portraying themselves & assuming that they are all happier, more competent, more relaxed, better off financially, healthier, & generally just better people than i am. like all new moms-to-be, i am reading pretty much every baby/pregnancy book i can get my hands on, & they present this world where all new moms-to-be live these really satisfying lives of shopping for organic veggies at the farmer’s market & decanting their bulk grains into air-tight glass canisters that always look elegant & never get all smudged with fingerprints. their shirts always cover their pregnant bellies & they don’t struggle at all to find the energy to sign up for pre-natal yoga classes that will empower them to have beautiful natural childbirths while listening to some cool indie singer-songwriter i probably have never even heard of. they have a wealth of friends & family that will help them outfit their perfectly baby-proofed homes with organic cotton onesies & natural baby mattresses stuffed with wool & silk, & after enjoying the satisfying maternal experience of whipping up a healthy dinner full of eggplant & organic polenta, they will spend half an hour each evening detailing their thoughts & feelings in an elegant pregnancy journal with a satin cover & acid-free paper. meanwhile, i am falling asleep with the crumbs from my burger king whopper staining the t-shirt that is already too small to cover my belly (less because i am showing than because i’m both pregnant & kind of fat), & waking up in the midst of an anxiety attack over the fact that i will only be five weeks & four days pregnant ONCE (at least for the first time…& i guess this is technically my second time) & i should be capturing my thoughts & feelings & documenting the joy & wonder but all i really want to do is watch bad TV & somehow convince jared to take over all bed-making/dinner-cooking duties for the next year or two.