Category Archives: how squares have fun

cloth diapers: one month in

let’s talk cloth diapers. remember back when i was pregnant, & i was totally convinced that pocket diapers were the way to go? i did all this research on cloth diapers & somehow decided that pocket diapers would be the easiest & cutest option. obviously i wanted to diaper my child in the caviar-&-cristal of pocket diapers, & would have loved to lay in a stash of bumgenius or even rumparooz (love the double gusset on the leg), but bumgenius pockets are like $17 a pop & rumparooz cost even more. they’re adjustable, from a seven-pound newborn to an enormous 35-pound toddler on the brink of potty training, so they are an investment that will last for as long as you need to diaper your baby, but the idea of shelling out $400 or $500 just for diapers was really overwhelming to me.

it is, of course, worth mentioning that disposable diapers are exponentially more expensive than $400 or $500 throughout a baby’s diapered years, but because the cost is spread out over a long stretch of time, it seems less daunting.

i registered for the fancy cloth pockets i wanted when i made our baby registry, but very few people leapt at the chance to give us cloth diapers as a gift. even though i tried to stress to people that this is what we really WANTED & NEEDED, most people preferred to give us cute onesies decorated with dinosaurs or fleecy blankets with monkeys on them or whatever. which is fine–we will use all that stuff. (it’s amazing, the sheer quantity of baby gifts that seemed extraneous upon receipt but that have swiftly become part of our everyday baby care rotation.) only two friends gave us diapers, & only two a piece. four diapers is enough to diaper your newborn baby for all of four hours…if you’re lucky. another friend gave us a stash of six prefolds, but they are big, for a toddler.

i asked around among my mama friends, because most of them are into attachment parenting & cloth diapering. the consensus was that prefolds with covers are the most economical cloth diapering option. i was scared. how do you use a prefold? just fold it into thirds, tuck it into the cover, & call it a day? what about the babies you see on the internet, somehow wearing prefolds that have been shaped & pinned into the shape of an actual diaper? how does one do that? must one do that? if you don’t do that, are you risking leaks or some kind of mount crapmore-up-the-back-of-the-onesie situation? bleached or unbleached prefolds? what kids of covers? oh, you say these plain white ones are the real workhorses & the cheapest on the market? but…they’re not all cute & colorful like pocket diapers. what about the fact that prefolds come in multiple sizes? do i have to buy a dozen, two dozen, or even three dozen of each size? & the covers come in multiple sizes too. i like the pockets that are adjustable–i don’t have to keep buying the same thing over & over in increasingly larger sizes.

nonetheless, i had asked for advice, & the advice i received was all about the awesomeness of prefolds & covers. so i added a dozen newborn prefolds, a dozen small prefolds, & eight cuper-cute & colorful adjustable covers to my stash. (i also registered for these items, but no one stepped up to the plate. apparently buying prefolds as a gift is even less appealing than buying pocket diapers. & i had one friend who was like, “yeah! the baby that i nanny for totally rocks pocket diapers & i love them & they’re so easy to use & i will buy some for your baby!” but it turns out that the baby wasn’t in pockets at all & was in some kind of weird cloth hybrid thing that didn’t appeal to me & it just goes to illustrate that when you first dip a toe into the world of cloth diapers, it is OVERWHELMING AS FUCK. even a nanny that changes diapers on a daily basis was unclear on exactly what she was changing, so how was i supposed to make an informed decision?)

i will add that i was predicted a large baby. ramona measured in like the 98th percentile for her gestational age consistently throughout the entire pregnancy. when she was born at 32 weeks & 6 days, she weighed four pounds, eleven ounces (that’s big for that age). now that she is at a gestational age of about 38 & a half weeks, she weighs over seven pounds, probably close to eight. & they grow more slowly outside the womb than in it (provided that there are no pre-existing conditions inhibiting fetal growth–i didn’t have any). had she gone to term, she probably would have been close to or over nine pounds (ie, enormous).

because she came early, she was diapered in pampers preemie swaddlers in the NICU. & then the NICU staff was surprised when she developed diaper rash. they coated her butt in desitin during every change & wouldn’t let me put breast milk on her butt. (desitin provides a waterproof barrier, so supposedly it keeps the butt from getting wet & even more irritated, but it doesn’t treat the rash. breast milk is a natural antibiotic that can both clear up existing diaper rash & prevent a new rash from developing.) once we got her home, we buried the disposables they gave us deep in the closet, doused her behind in breast milk, & put her in a prefold with a preemie cover (by litewraps). when we next changed her diaper, her rashy red butt had been replaced by a rash-free peachy butt–just one breast milk treatment had done the trick! she’s been exclusively cloth diapered ever since & her rash has not returned.

she was too tiny to fit into any of the pockets i had laid in, so i just stuck with the prefolds & covers…& discovered that i LOVE THEM. why did i ever think that pockets would be easier or cuter or whatever the fuck i thought? prefolds are a snap–fold them into thirds, tuck them into the cover, snap or velcro the cover shut & bam. it doesn’t seem like any more work than disposables. sure, there’s laundry, but i love doing laundry–it’s my favorite chore. pulling a load of freshly washed cloth diapers out of the dryer is it’s own weird little pleasure for me. we’re also using cloth wipes, which are great. ours are all soft flannel that gets softer with every wash, & they work great for wiping her mouth after a meal too. we’re using the small prefolds (which are still too big for her) as burp cloths. she is finally starting to outgrow her preemie wraps & is graduating into the exciting printed rockabye booty adjustable covers i bought.

& a note on quantities: everything i read about cloth diapering said to make sure to have a supply of at least thee dozen diapers, & some recommended more like six dozen. that seemed kind of crazy to me. i mean, i was planning to do laundry every two or three days–surely i wouldn’t need six dozen diapers! i split the difference & bought a dozen pockets, a dozen newborn prefolds, & a dozen small prefolds. because i was expecting a large full-term baby, i expected that my baby would be able to wear all of these diapers right out of the gate & i could pick & choose among them to decide what worked/fit best.

instead i got a tiny preemie baby…&, i don’t know, blame the percocet or the plummeting hormones or something, but i totally thought we could get by with only a dozen newborn size prefolds. i won’t go into details, but let’s just say that one night where ramona was going through one diaper an hour on the hour (along with whatever onesie & blanket & bouncy seat cover happened to be near her person) convinced me of the folly of my ways & i put in an emergency order for another two dozen newborn prefolds. she’ll probably be in them for a while, being so tiny (though she’s gaining weight like a sumo wrestler in training for the olympics), & they’re only like $2 each, so it seems like a good investment. we can use them as doublers or burp cloths when she outgrows them–or i can sell them or give them away to a preggo friend who wants to cloth diaper. because if you have a preggo friend who is interested in cloth diapering, cloth diapers are the ultimate gift! (once you check in about what kinds she wants.) yes, the baby poops on them & maybe that doesn’t seem fun or cute, but the sad truth is that i am ten million times more excited about my cloth diapers than i am about even the cutest outfit in ramona’s wardrobe.

ramona in one of her preemie baby diaper covers.
ramona in one of her preemie baby diaper covers.
ramona in one of her big girl rockabye booty covers.
ramona in one of her big girl rockabye booty covers.
ramona freed from society's conventions! undiapered freedom!
ramona freed from society’s conventions! undiapered freedom!

bumpwatch terror alert: week 25

if you look carefully, you can see charlotte’s tail in the background.

this pregnancy is racing by. only 15 weeks to go. it sounded like kind of a while until i realized that we’re talking fifteen weeks until jared & i become responsible for sustaining a tiny human life. not that i didn’t know that going in; it’s just kind of easy to lose sight of the big picture when the big picture is so fucking terrifying.

fewer than two weeks until jared is temporarily back in town (along with our friend amanda), two weeks to the day until the baby shower & the start of the second trimester. in three weeks, our babymoon in boston will be over & i’ll be back in lawrence by myself while jared tries to finish up his research on the east coast.

i have been going to bingo as much as i can while jared has been away. jared is generally pretty supportive of most things i want to do, in that he encourages me to do them even if he has no interest in joining me. i don’t think anything could compel him to play bingo. i myself have mixed feelings about it. it can be a very depressing scene. the game i play is at the american legion hall & most of the folks playing are clearly retirees. the young people that are playing would fit right in on an episode of “cops”. or in pretty much any scene from my childhood.

it’s not really a secret that i didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. my dad had a decent job at an oil refinery, but he was an alcoholic & a drug addict, so the money he made was not well-managed. there were times when we had nice things, like a house big enough for all us kids to have our own rooms, or a nintendo system right when they were first introduced. there were other times when i had to get through the entire school year rotating two shirts because there was no money for a third.

now that i’m an adult living on a disability income, obviously i am not exactly rolling around in giant piles of money all day. & especially with a baby on the way, i’ve had a lot of anxiety about money. but my impending motherhood is also making me think a lot about my own childhood & the weird baggage i carry around from it & what values or assumptions i might pass on to my kid. for example, sometimes when i’m going out in the evening & am not going to be around for dinner, jared makes himself a dinner of lentils or beans on toast. i don’t like to eat meals like that. my gut reaction is, “why are we eating this way? we’re not poor.” (even though we kind of are.) but i was also telling him recently that i never really got into foods he thinks i would like, such as pancetta or lamb chops, because i think of them as “rich people food,” ie, food that people like me don’t eat. regardless of the fact that i undoubtedly buy groceries that are comparable in price. i’m not saying that any of this makes a lick of sense. i am saying that growing up with such limited means gave me a weird complex about money in ways that i am still unraveling, over fifteen years after i left my parents’ house. i think about what relationship i want my kid to have with food & i hope s/he will have an adventurous palate & like healthy foods, regardless of how much or how little they cost.

this weird class whiplash totally happens at bingo too, because, let’s face it. you can just tell that most people at the bingo game don’t really have a lot of money. the parking lot is full of cars manufactured at some point in the 90s, & a large percentage of folks in the hall are wearing sweatpants. & although bingo can be a lot of fun, & the prizes at the game i play are quite generous (the smallest payout is $40), the expense of it all can add up if you don’t watch yourself–& you are by no means guaranteed to win every night you go. in addition to bingo, there are other gambling games available, & they are popular. i’ve talked to a few people at bingo who told me they usually “only” play about $50 worth of bingo cards, but they easily drop $100 on the other games. $150. games happen twice a week. that’s $1200 a month. you recoup almost all your costs if you win a single progressive black-out within the time limit (a $1000 prize), but the likelihood of that happening is not good. so basically, going to bingo is an exercise in watching people who don’t have much money piss away what little money they have. in that respect, it can be very depressing.

personally, i try to limit myself to $40 in cards & i don’t play the extra games. the last time i went to bingo, i won the first special of the night for a prize of $200. that’s the most i have ever won in one night of bingo & i was very happy. more often than not, i leave the hall having won nothing. i just find the process of stamping the cards relaxing. i have heard tell of people who play bingo specifically to raise scratch for expensive hobbies they have (pageants, doll collecting, etc). i don’t get that. i haven’t kept track, but it seems like you pay more to play then you end up winning. the game i play actually posts statistics on this. they claim that they pay out, on average, 75% of their take. not 100% & definitely not more than 100%. & it’s in no way a game of skill, so there’s nothing you can do to increase your chances of winning besides get fast enough at dabbing to play more cards than anyone else in the game & give yourself more bites at the apple. & even that is a long shot.

none of this has much to do with the pregnancy, but it’s something i have been trying to wrap my head around for quite a while.

i wouldn’t force this pregnancy stuff on my worst enemy

despite all my clever jokes, the pregnancy is definitely taking a turn for the uncomfortable & potentially worrisome. on sunday, i hit the pool hardcore while jared stayed home & did research. i usually try to do sixty laps at the pool, but my last session had been truncated by lightning, so i decided to try to make it up by doing one hundred laps. the other people at the pool kept me entertained as i water-trudged back & forth, back & forth. i saw another pregnant lady at the pool with her partner. she looked more pregnant than me. i kind of wanted to jump out of the water & say, “i’m pregnant too! want to come over for dinner sometime?” that is always my reaction when i see other pregnant ladies. i start daydreaming about how our babies will become best friends & we’ll watch each other’s kids so we can have date nights with our partners & we’ll hit the baby consignment sales together, etc etc. but i’m too scared to say anything because i still worry that i just look fat, not pregnant, or that they are pregnant with their seventh baby & are already all stocked up on mom friends, or that they’ll just have really different parenting philosophies & we’ll hate each other or something.

there was also a dad at the pool with two little girls. one was maybe six years old & the other was a baby, probably under a year. the baby was in a little baby innertube with holes for the legs so she could sit in there & be safe. he put the little girls in the lane next to me & did a few laps while they watched. the baby gnawed on her innertube & the older girl patted the baby’s head with water. i guess they were getting bored though, so he let the older girl ride piggyback while he pushed the innertube back & forth across the pool. so cute. i hope jared does stuff like that with our kid.

anyway, while i was walking home, i noticed that i felt weird. there was a strange, painful pressure around my pubic bone. i have heard of this weird condition that afflicts some women in later pregnancy, where their pubic bone actually separates because of the relaxin. apparently it’s incredibly painful. i started worrying that maybe this was the start of something awful. i asked about it in my due date club on the internet. one woman said it had happened to her during her last pregnancy & she was confined to a wheelchair until after the birth. another woman said that her first symptom of something being amiss was when her hip suddenly dislocated & she fell down on the ground screaming in agony. & these are women who chose to get pregnant again! holy shit! having a kid must be AWESOME to make someone risk their bodies like that more than once.

the pain i had was nowhere near that bad, but of course i woke up in the middle of the night worrying about it anyway. i called my doctor’s office & the nurse said that usually the dislocation thing is WAY more painful than what i was describing & it was more likely that the baby was just wedged up against my pubic bone in an uncomfortable way. she recommended stretches & liberal dosing with extra-strength tylenol (i have not told my doctor’s office that they really need to stop giving me the okay to take pills–the reason i’ve never experimented with hard drugs or heavy drinking is because i know i’m an addict at heart, as manifested by my grand love affair with over-the-counter sleeping pills). the baby moved the next day & now my pubic bone feels fine. though my ego is a bit wounded by the fact that jared’s response to this whole area of concern was, “haha. you said ‘pubic’.” that guy is going to paragon of maturity in the delivery room.

& then yesterday, jared & i decided to check out the new grocery store in east lawrence. it’s not technically new–just refurbished. it’s the closest grocery store to our house & used to be known as the “dirty dillon’s”. they tore it down last summer & completely made it over. this is why jared & i got a car, actually. this grocery store was close enough to walk to, but the other stores require a car, & we had to use the other stores while the dirty dillon’s was being transformed into what the local newspaper is calling the “dapper dillon’s”. it had its grand opening on sunday & it IS pretty dapper. there are now bulk bins, a “cafe,” a starbucks, an expanded bakery section, skylights, new carts that don’t have sticky wheels, way more express & self-check lanes…the produce is all displayed in a really arty way. we needed garlic, but it is now located in a faux roman pedestal bowl on top of a large display of various onions & endives. i almost couldn’t reach it with my big pregnancy belly getting in the way.

about halfway through our shopping trip, i started feeling crampy, clammy, & shaky. it got worse & worse & i noticed the crampy feelings were coming in waves. i actually had to stop & breathe through them. i haven’t felt anything like this all pregnancy. i bailed on jared when we got to the check-out & went & laid down in the car. sitting down immediately made me feel better, & by the time we got home, i was 100% back to normal. i assume this was braxton hicks contractions? it seemed too early, but i looked it up online & i guess it’s not uncommon for women to start feeling them this early. some women say they don’t hurt, some women say they do. i say THEY DO. it was probably nothing compared to labor, but the anxiety of experiencing a contraction at only 18 & a half weeks pregnant (baby won’t be viable until 24 weeks) definitely added to the pain.

of course the internet is of two minds. half the respondents in my due date club say, “same thing happened to me last pregnancy, don’t worry about it. just make sure to stay hydrated.” half say, “this happened to me last pregnancy, i ignored it, & then i went into preterm labor at 23 weeks & delivered at 26 weeks. call your doctor ASAP!” plus i’m still getting headaches, my feet are starting to swell (slightly) & i am scared of getting elephant feet, my hands feel swollen but don’t really look different (though i don’t wear jewelery, so it’s hard to judge), i’m congested all the time, i’m way too hot all the time…i’m just uncomfortable. already. & i still have 18 & a half weeks to get through before i am considered officially full-term (37 weeks). wish me luck, guys. on the plus side, i finished the top of my baby quilt:

it’s kind of messed up in places, but the baby will probably be messed up in places too. they’ll be a matched set!

bumpwatch terror alert: week 17

it’s saturday! which means i get to knock another week off my pregnancy countdown. let’s go to the photo:

arty, huh?

eventually i want to do one with the dripping blood font, but i worry that it’s in poor taste. so i am easing into the world of poor taste by taking a maternity bathing suit photo. to be fair, i didn’t put the bathing suit on solely to take a photo that makes everyone feel uncomfortable. i was getting ready to go to the pool & i suddenly remembered that i’m officially seventeen weeks pregnant today, & jared wasn’t home, so i could pose in front of the full-length mirror in the hallway without being embarrassed by the prying eyes of anyone besides charlotte.

speaking of charlotte…

yeah, she’s really in no position to judge anyone. she sat on the couch in this position for like twenty minutes last night.

hard to believe i will be halfway through my pregnancy (technically–it still remains to be seen if the baby will decide to show up early or late, obviously) in just three weeks. my next prenatal is scheduled for august 31, & we’re also doing the anatomy ultrasound that day, to make sure all the baby’s body parts are developing properly. i’ve decided to go ahead & be appraised of the baby’s plumbing at that appointment as well. i’ve come to realize that i have less of a gender preference than just an overpowering intuition that the baby is a girl. if it’s not, i’d really like to know before the big delivery room reveal, so i can avoid a scene in which i break down into tears because i clearly have no maternal instinct. jared, however, does not want to know, so somehow i’m going to have to not tell him. if the situation was reversed, he would have NO PROBLEM keeping the news from me. when there’s something he really doesn’t want to tell someone, he can really go into lockdown mode. & he is assisted by the fact that i am wildly unobservant. once he got hit in the face with a baseball & cut his upper lip open. eventually the wound healed, but if left a pretty large scar. a scar that i failed to notice for seriously two years. we lived together for that entire time, we saw each other almost every day (unless one of us was traveling). when i finally noticed it, i was like, “have you always had that awesome scar?” i mean, it really suits his face. i don’t know how i missed it.

i, on the other hand, tell everyone everything. & whatever i decide is best to keep from the general public, i still tell jared. i have told jared stuff i have never told anyone before. i have no idea how i’m going to keep the sex of his child from him. but somehow, i will manage. probably by just not telling anyone. i would hate to spill the beans to someone who tells someone who tells someone who sees jared at the library one day & is all, “so, are you excited about the bouncing baby boy?” i would have to hunt that person down & murder them & then my child would have to visit me in prison. no one wants that.

my most recent prenatal appointment was yesterday. these early appointments tend to be pretty dull. they weigh me & check my blood pressure, they take a urine sample, we listen to the baby’s heartbeat on a portable doppler, the doctor asks if i’m having any issues i’d like to discuss, & we schedule the next appointment. but the cool thing is that the baby was going completely bananas at the appointment. dr. mercado asked if i have been feeling the baby moving around yet. i told her that i think i have, but i know it’s pretty early, especially to be feeling a first baby. (they tell first-time moms not to expect to feel the baby until twenty weeks. experienced moms may feel baby earlier because they know what they’re looking for.) but when she was poking around with the doppler, the baby kicked her! she could feel it with just a hand on my belly! so it’s not wishful thinking after all, there’s really something going on in there! the baby was swimming everywhere & she had to chase it down to get its heartbeat. we also kept hearing thumps where it was trying to kick the doppler away. just like mommy when daddy wants to cuddle on a night that’s too hot for human contact! is that gross? whatever.

i also told her that i have been having crippling constant headaches since the beginning of the second trimester. she asked if i had stopped drinking caffeine & i said, “ummm…no. not at all.” she started laughing & said, “you’re like, ‘damn, girl, are you crazy? OF COURSE i’m still drinking caffeine!’ which is good. your headaches would be even worse without it.” um…AWESOME. i love you, dr. mercado! i kind of expected a lecture. she wrote me a prescription for some pregnancy-safe headache medicine (“it might make the baby drowsy”) & offered to refer me to a neurologist. but it’s probably just pregnancy hormones, so i’m not worried.

i also did an interview with a doula. i expected it to be pretty straightforward, like, “hi, i want to hire you.” “okay, that sounds good.” “here’s a check.” “great! see you in like ten weeks to make a birth plan.” but instead, i wound up going on & on & ON about all the dumb concerns i have about giving birth. i guess they’re not dumb…i just didn’t realize i had so many. like, will i be allowed to eat & drink at the hospital? what i i have a vaso vagal episode & know hydration would help? can i still be in the birth pool or other atypical birth positions with an IV? how would my scoliosis impact the efficacy of an epidural? (that was a big one. turns out they don’t work as well, if at all, in women with scoliosis. so it looks like i’m having a natural birth by default, barring some unforeseen medical emergency.) i’m really not scared of labor & birth (whether that’s commendable or incredibly naive remains to be seen), but i do have a lot of opinions, i guess.

i got 99 problems but the baby ain’t really one

when i had the nuchal translucency test done last week, the nurse told me they would have results in ten to fourteen days. but they called me back on tuesday morning–five days later, including a weekend–& told me that everything had come back 100% normal. my finger hadn’t even finished healing from the blood draw yet!

so now i’m officially in the second trimester & we know the baby is doing great. time to just sit back & let this thing cook, right? but this is ciara xyerra we’re talking about. i’m just not happy if i can’t be all angsty & anxious about something. so now i am anxious about when to go live with the baby registry we’ve put together. it’s all finished & ready to go…& really doesn’t have much on it, because we mostly intend to adopt attachment parenting practices, which requires very little gear. i just don’t know when it’s appropriate to put it out there into the world.

my confusion is complicated by the fact that most people make registries specifically for their baby showers. but it’s unclear to me whether or not i will have a baby shower. i assumed i wouldn’t, because jared & just aren’t that close to anyone in lawrence, & we know pretty much no one that is actually legitimately excited about this baby. (most of the people we know are childless graduate students who are dumbfounded that anyone would complicate the already-stressful process of graduate school by intentionally reproducing. one of jared’s colleagues took me aside at a barbecue & asked me, “so, how long before…you know. you can send it to, like, school for the whole day, & get your life back?” i explained that some preschools now accept infants, but i wasn’t intending to send my kid to school until kindergarten, at age five & a half. she seemed horrified.) the entire point of making an online registry was so that our friends & family members in other states–the people who ARE excited about the baby & most likely to want to help us out with gifts–would be able to do so from afar.

but then a friend in lawrence offered to throw us a shower after all. i still don’t have anyone to invite except for freaked out graduate students & grimy punks from kansas city, which will be an amusing mix of folks, but still. i didn’t think i’d get a “real” baby shower at all, so bring it on!

also complicating things is the fact that most women wait to make their registries public until after they get the second trimester anatomy scan, at which the baby’s sex can usually be predicted pretty accurately. that way they can register for gender-specific clothing, nursery decor, etc. but jared & i are planning to be surprised by the sex at birth. we’ll do the anatomy scan, because it checks for general birth defects & fetal health, but we intend to decline information about the baby’s sex.

adding to my anxiety is the fact that my sister gave birth to her daughter two months premature. my due date is still six months away, which seems like plenty of time to wait on the registry, wait on the shower, wait on doing any major shopping ourselves, & still have plenty of time to lay in all the necessary supplies well before the baby shows up. especially because, statistically, a lot of first-time babies come late. there’s no real reason why my baby would be premature just because my sister’s was–it’s not like it was some familial genetic complication. it was just the luck of the draw. but still. bad enough to have such a premature baby (my niece was in the NICU for her first month of life). to add to the stress by not even having an adequate supply of diapers on hand…i know this is my own neurosis, but i like to control for whatever factors i can reasonably control for. i don’t know if this baby will be early or late or right on time. i don’t know if it will be completely healthy or in need of emergency care. i don’t know how fast i will recover from giving birth or what my emotional state will be like during the first weeks of motherhood. but i can make sure i finish my baby shopping well in advance, damn it!

i did do some major shopping earlier this week…for myself. i dropped some major coin on maternity clothes. most frugal moms i talked to said maternity clothes were a scam & that i could totally get away with just wearing larger sizes of regular clothes while pregnant. my sister suggested that i stick with generously cut cotton dresses with some give in the belly area. one mom friend gave me all kinds of tips on how to make my own maternity jeans but cutting the waistband off some regular jeans & stitching on a stretchy elastic panel. i had been thinking about getting a maternity swimsuit, or at least a tankini, to replace my prepregnancy one-piece which is exploding off of me as i expand. my current suit has a little belt stitched to it, & a few weeks ago, the belt exploded off when confronted with my new girth. every morning, i feel a little bit more like a kielbasa while jared & i get ready to head to the pool. i started daydreaming about what it would be like to have clothes that really fit. t-shirts that were slightly too big for me two weeks ago no longer cover my belly. shorts that were baggy on me a month ago now have to be unbuttoned so i can lounge comfortably. i thought my pajama pants were holding up pretty well, but i noticed the other day that all of their waistbands now have tiny rips, which is how they are accommodating their larger load.

so i logged on to gap.com (not gonna lie, almost all my non-pregnancy clothes are from the gap–i like that their stuff is really plain & casual & easy to clean, & that they have about 9000 sales a week, so you NEVER have to buy anything at full-price…& i like that their larger sizes are actually large, which is not always the case at other stores; not very punk of me, i guess), navigated to the maternity sale section, & dropped $200 on a pretty extensive pregnancy wardrobe. jeans & skirts & dresses & tees & sweaters…i cannot WAIT to wear clothes that were actually cut for my weird new shape. jared was rubbing my belly the other day & he said, “man. you’re growing a whole new person in there. you big weirdo.” how sweet.

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.)

a meditation on useless baby gear

sometimes i sleep like a rock, & sometimes i have really bad insomnia. it doesn’t help that the baby has decided that my bladder makes a really nice ottoman. i got up five times last night to pee, which is pretty typical at this point. i know this is one of the most routine & mundane pregnancy symptoms, but i kind of hoped it was another one that people were exaggerating a little (see previous post about the woman who is constantly pissing herself due to pregnancy). every time i went back to bed, i would start thinking about baby gear & what’s necessary & what’s a scam & how we can possibly afford it & where on earth we’re going to put it.

i’m reading a pretty good book right now called parenting inc., which is all about how parents get bamboozled into buying all kinds of useless junk for their babies. i love books like this! even though they pretty much all say the same stuff, & every single one of them devotes an entire chapter to debunking the marketing of baby videos like baby einstein. this book talked about the advent of luxury brands for infants, & the author specifically called out the stokke sleepi, a “sleep system” that can take your baby from birth to seven years as it can be transformed into a bassinet, & then a crib, & then a toddler bed, & then a kid bed, & then a pair of “stylish” chairs. i had never heard of this thing before & looked it up. & then…i admit it…started drooling. it’s not easy to find a non-ugly (read: plastic, augmented with flashing lights, built-in noises, & tacky mobiles) bassinet. & of course i got sucked into the idea that it can be converted for further kid use. i was all, “sure, it costs $700 but it’s an investment!” which is ridiculous. i too plan to use my bed for at least seven years & i would never spend $700 on it. don’t worry, guys, i’m not going to blow my entire baby budget on a sleepi. even though i did find a woman a craig’s list selling hers for $150. that’s how much a new ugly plastic bassinet costs & i vowed i’d never spend that much, but when it’s a $550 savings off retail price, your eyes start to cross & you start to rationalize poor decisions.

i have thrown the question out to parent friends: what do i REALLY need for my baby? what are the bare necessities, especially for a couple that plans to do some form of attachment parenting? how many onesies does the average baby require? how many cloth diapers are good to have on hand? is there any baby purchase you made that proved to be especially useful? is there anything you were led to believe you needed that wound up being completely useless?

one of the first answers i got was, “every mama i know swears by the sleep sheep, which is a little toy lamb that emits white noise & helps baby sleep.” um…that is like the definition of a useless piece of baby gear that parents are bamboozled into wanting because a) they think it provides a useful function (what parent doesn’t want to help their baby sleep, & will do almost anything to make sure the kid stays asleep once it’s down?), & b) it’s fucking adorable. but in no world can a sleep sheep be considered a necessity. i asked if my box fan or humidifier or air conditioner couldn’t achieve the same function, since i use them for white noise for myself. i guess the sleep sheep is helpful because it’s portable. toss it in the car seat with the kid & it’ll stay asleep even while you’re out running errands.

i don’t know, dude. people have been running errands with their babies for a long time & somehow they got by without a sleep sheep. jared said it should be called the “don’t wake up sheeple”.

a couple of other friends were like, “well, besides the necessities (diapers, onesies, crib), it’s also helpful to have…” blah blah blah. wait, what? since when is a crib a necessity? i had specifically asked what we need if we want to co-sleep, which by definition cuts a crib out of the equation. & even some moms i know who didn’t intend to co-sleep did anyway because it seemed easier in action, & their kids never used their cribs. one of them–totally not a crunchy earth mama at all–named her crib as her #1 most useless baby purchase. i read a book about “organic parenting” that went on & on & ON about how great it is to breastfeed & baby wear & cloth diaper & dress your little one in organic onesies, but it also listed a crib (& all its attendant matching bedding sets) as a necessity. how did we get to this point that otherwise thinking, hippie parents (way more hippie than me!) just roll with the idea that every baby needs a crib? get a crib if you want, but it’s not a necessity the way diapers are a necessity.

though i was telling jared about the american-made versus chinese cloth diaper controversy & how one buy USA cloth diapering mama went so far as to insist that if you can’t afford made-in-the-USA cloth diapers, you should let your baby go diaper-free & just hold it over the toilet when it looks like there’s a proverbial train a-comin’. jared said, “if you managed to time it right even like 60% of the time, that would be like a superpower.” i told him, “it’s far more likely that i would be really cocky about knowing when the baby needs to go & i’d whisk it off to the bathroom & you’d pop in like five minutes later to see how things were going & you’d catch me holding the baby’s hand in warm water.” so, according to some people, diapers are a bourgeois indulgence. but pranking your baby is forever.