Saturday, August 25, 2012

Babies and their stuff

This post will be of no interest to those of you whose childlessness is actual rather than a lazy misnomer. However, I have been asked my opinion on this subject a few times, so figured I may as well compile my thoughts somewhere, and why not here, where my faithful readership (the few, the proud, the patient...) can weigh in with comments?

Baby stuff. What is necessary? What is helpful? I don't really know. Forrest was my first rodeo. We survived, so I can attest that my baby gear choices did not prove lethal. But here are a few things I had and didn't have, and my thoughts.

Clothes for tiny people:

I like zippered sleepers. Zippers are faster than snaps, and I found the gowns, while aesthetically sweet, rode up to the armpits. I am morally opposed to putting babies in clothing that isn't pajamas for a minimum of three months. They may never have the opportunity to dress so comfortably again in their entire life!

Receiving blankets complete the outfit. My mother-in-law, a daughter of the Utah pioneers, sewed me a huge pile of flannel receiving blankets which I used constantly for everything and without which I would have been Lost. If you have access to a daughter of the Utah pioneers, you may want to hit her up for some. If you are not so lucky, I also had good experiences with the pricey but useful Aiden and Anais brand of swaddling blankets. Swaddling is very calming, though I've heard it's important for hip development for the legs to be able to frog up, so don't get too wild with your papoosery and blame me when that kid gets hip dysplaysia.

Cloth prefold diapers are great because they are absorbent and there is a lot of absorbing that needs to happen. Especially if your kid spits up a lot, as mine did for probably eight months. I'd lay one under his head while he slept which greatly reduced my frequency of sheets-laundering, for better or for worse. I also had these quilted, waterproof, washable pads that were meant to go in a crib but I just used them everywhere, like drop cloths. Again, absorbent and sheets-protective. Highly recommended.

No footie pajamas once they start walking. So slippery! I've seen many a child tumble and crack their head on a slippery floor. Don't let this be you.

Feeding gear:

I had none, unless you count the $12 nursing bras I bought at Walmart; they were great and I can't think of how I'd improve them. No underwires can help prevent plugged ducts, FYI. I did not pump milk. Forrest never used a pacifier. When he started grabbing food out of my hands, I let him. Consequently, he has a penchant for Indian and Ethiopian cuisines. I didn't buy or make baby food. I nursed my brains out and lost ninety pounds, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

I like to keep a terry cloth pullover bib in my bag when we eat out in case he gets something drippy. At home, I generally just strip him down before eating. We have the plain plastic okra highchair, and it's good and easy to clean, but takes up more space than our even better (portable! Even easier to clean!) clamp on chair (Phil and teds brand). I'd recommend the latter unless your dining table is over a carpet, as ours was.

Baby transportation:

We have a britax marathon carseat and I've found it simple to install and adjust and have never wished for more. I also have no basis for comparison.

I have a simple umbrella stroller. It was a hand me down. It gets the job done and is small to store, so it lives in the trunk of the car. Perhaps others have more passionate reviews of strollers. Mine works but has never made me euphoric.


We borrowed a swing, used it for a couple months. Could have lived without it but it was kind of nice. Same for the wipes warmer. In general, I'd say borrowing is the way to go, if it's possible. Ask on Facebook if anyone has anything they love and wouldn't mind you test-driving.

Those were the only gadgets we had, unless you count a white-noise maker (which is a must-have). Only. I don't know if my quality of life would have been improved by more, but I doubt it. When he cried, nursing always seemed to fix it, no matter what the problem was. I liked not having a bunch of stuff in my house that I'd only use again for brief intervals.

I lied. Just remembered about nightlights! Have them! The kind you can turn on and off manually, not the light-sensing kind, which are put on earth to plague me. I didn't have these, but I think the kind you slap-on/slap-off would be good, the big round ones.


This one is for real. I had a couple pouch slings (needed different sizes as I lost weight precipitously, thanks breast feeding, good riddance Costco pizza, my pregnancy nemesis). I liked the simplicity of the design and found them easy to use and comfortable. A ring sling would adjust in size, so if you suspect precipitous weight loss, maybe get a maya sling instead of a pouch. When Forrest got bigger, I bought an ergo performance. I'm sure the regular ergo would be great; I was suckered by the promise of more breathable materials but in retrospect don't think it matters. It was nice to be able to carry Forrest on my back and have my hands free to do awesome, liberating things like the dishes. Childedness is even more glamorous than childlessness, in case you were wondering.


I had a thing from ikea (the trofast system, I think?) to store clothes, blankets, diapers, books, etc. but that's it. I didn't have room for or interest in a crib, changing table, or whatever else people put in their nurseries. I wish I hadn't nursed Forrest to sleep all the time (as in, every time) because he still doesn't really know how to go to sleep any other way, but I would have him in my bed again--just wouldn't nurse him all the way to sleep. You live, you learn.

We got a lovely La-z-boy recliner which I used a lot. I'd rather have a piece of furniture I can keep using after the baby is out of the baby stage than a bunch of baby-specific furniture. Some people say their recliners were lifesavers and, while I wouldn't go that far, it was nice. I was gifted a lovely breast feeding stool which made it much easier for me to rock the babe, but I'm only 5'3".


Just buy the depends. This is no time for dignity.

Other thoughts:

I take so many more pictures than I would if I didn't have this magical iphone. You can back up pictures and videos online, send them to grandmothers effortlessly--I will always have a phone with as good a camera as I can while I have children, so help me, even if they have to sleep in laundry baskets! Set up a system to keep photos and videos backed up and organized. You will take eight trillion which can be mighty overwhelming, plus you'd be amazed how fast you look at a picture and can't quite remember when it was taken, which is no fun. I organize nine in folders by month, but whatever you do, just have a system.

If you live in Utah, go to Fotofly. They are cheap and do a lovely job. Best deal I've found by a landslide and one thing I already miss about living there.

I'll add to this if I think of more but, in the meantime, it's your turn, parents. Comment away!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Every party has a pooper

Before leaving Utah I was keen to set up as many pieces of our situation in California as possible, knowing I'd arrive exhausted and debilitated and violent in a way one only experiences in the wake of packing one's earthly belongings.  The biggest detail, house-hunting, was taken care of; a happy little rental awaited us on August first, giving us a week or so to stay with Ryan's sister, recover, and quit fantasizing about torching everything we own.

Predictably, when we arrived, Ryan became so immediately consumed by work as to be unavailable to move our stuff from our garage, where we'd stashed it until the actual apartment was ready for move-in.  I, encumbered by a toddler in a way that mothers of toddlers will likely understand viscerally, am not well-equipped to haul large objects because my hands are generally full of an increasing large and opinionated person. So we stalled a bit on the moving-in, instead enjoying the bed-and-breakfast-like conditions provided by Ryan's sister, swimming in the pool, playing with the cousins, and happily avoiding the contents of that garage. At least, that's what I did. Ryan was working. You win some you lose some.

At any rate, by August 7 we decided enough was enough and so Ryan went over to our place with his dad and brother-in-law to move in our beds and a pile of boxes so I would have something to unpack and, to my chagrin, resume contributing to society.  Upon opening the front door, they saw standing water throughout the apartment. Further investigation confirmed the origin of the water which turned out not to be water so much as it was raw sewage.  Human waste. A storm of a most indelicate nature.

A backed up pipe, presumably, was to blame for the mess throughout the house. The bedroom carpets were soaked, and, horrifyingly, the toilet and bathtub filled to the brim with exactly what you're imagining.

We were mighty pleased with ourselves for not having moved any of our stuff in yet.  Chalk one up for procrastination!

I am hopeful that the hazmat team's efforts, insurance company's contributions, and landlord's diligence will allow us to move in eventually with confidence that no traces of a regurgitated sewer line remain.  In the meantime, if you need me, I'll be at the pool.