I was reading another fantastic article on Evolutionary Parenting a while ago . . . and one line spoke to me. To paraphrase, as I cannot remember it verbatim, it said something along the lines of ‘the modern world has managed to convince parents to buy a host of gimmicks, stuff designed to stop them from holding their babies close’.
I haven’t nailed it, the lady that originally wrote those words did a much better job than me, but that in a nutshell is our modern world. And not just stuff to stop us holding our babies, like rockers and bouncers and cribs and saucers . . but just stuff in general, baby stuff. Lots and lots of stuff that they make us think we need, so we trot off and we spend money on it. Lots of money. Money that could be better spent on things you need after a baby is born. Like coffee. And chocolate. And carriers! #buyallthecarriers! (Yes, I have a problem/addition/obsession).
You see, call my cynical but it’s a fact . . . money makes the world go round. And to keep the rich rich, and the not rich believing they are happy, there is this desperate need to sell us stuff. And who better to sell to than a pregnant lady who has no idea what she and her baby will need, but wants to do everything she can to be a ‘good’ parent and give little bubba the best possible start in life with an ergonomic baby bouncer and 2.5 TOG whatever sleeping bag, device that mimics your heartbeat and individual containers for all the baby food you’re not going to make. Plus any other thing they can think of to sell to you. I mean hell, if you’re not playing classical music to your baby through your stomach using especially designed headphones to fit your ever expanding girth . . what sort of parent are you!
They’ve even coined a term for it so you have more of an excuse to go out and spend money on stuff you don’t need. Nesting. They call it nesting. Now, I think what nesting used to mean was cleaning and tidying and getting ready for the arrival of your new baby. However what nesting has come to mean to pregnant women everywhere is the expectation that you will go out and buy a heap of stuff that you really really need. But don’t actually need at all. Or don’t quite need just yet.
I fell head-first into this trap. The pee had barely dried on the stick and I went out and bought a cot. A beautiful wooden, mattress, pillow and blanket included, cot from the second hand shop I walked past every day on my way to work. A cot that at 8 months old, Ziggy has used maybe 5 times . . . and that we would have done just as well without. The cats use the cot more than Ziggy does.
You see a newborn baby does not come home from the birth centre or hospital or wherever and sleep in a cot. Most babies start out in a bassinet, our baby doesn’t even bother with that any longer, he just sleeps in the bed with us. I had no idea this was going to happen while I was pregnant, but it has and we love it (most of the time). I can see him sleeping with us for a fair while yet. And when he is ready to sleep in a bed of his own, he’s going to be big enough to go into an actual bed. The cot was a bloody waste of money. The only thing it is useful for is popping him in it when I want to take a dump in peace, because I know he can’t escape. It’s not a cot, it’s a holding cell.
The second trap I fell into, and bought before Ziggy was born, was the pram. Because every mum needs a pram right? And it was a ‘proper’ pram with heavy duty wheels and a bassinet attachment as well as a seat for when he got a bit older. Okay, It was 7 years old, second hand and a bit clunky, but it looked the part. I was going to pull on my exercise gear, lace up my nikes and trot along the riverfront, coffee in hand, pushing my beautiful baby while all the old ladies walking past goo’ed and gaa’ed over him.
Yeah right. Ziggy hated the bloody pram. Hated. Screamed blue murder. We’ve used it three times. Three. I’d be happy not to have a pram at all, it’s so much easier to just wear him everywhere. If I hadn’t wasted my money on the pram, I could own the most beautiful Mei Tai by now. I mean look at it, how freaking stunning is it. But I don’t own this item of beauty, because I was an idiot and fell into the ‘we need a pram’ trap. As I type this, the bloody pram is staring at me from the corner of the foyer where it’s been optimistically waiting for an outing since, ages ago. Well you just keep waiting pram. Just keep waiting.
And then there are the clothes. How freaking adorable are baby clothes! The cutsie itty bitty baby booties, and bonnets, and onsies and bibs and oh my gawd how they set your ovaries a quivering. So you buy them. You trawl the 5 second hand shops within walking distance from your work every damn day. Buy all the bibs! Buy all the booties! Buy all the bonnets! And then your baby is born, and everyone gives you booties. . . and bonnets . . and onesies . . and bibs. And you realise that actually socks stay on his feet better, but you don’t have socks, you have booties in every colour of the freaking rainbow. Fucking booties.
The list goes on and on and on. You need a monitor so you can see him and hear him. No thank you. . . I’ll just put him to sleep somewhere I can see, or at least hear him, which is easy enough in a house this size. Oh but you need a shusher so he sleeps . . erm. . . I’m perfectly capable of shhh shh shhing myself thank you. What about a device that mimics your heartbeat? Um, how about holding my baby and wearing my baby so he can hear my own heartbeat? Okay, well at least buy this book, or that book, or this DVD collection about who bloody knows what. Please just buy something! You need it, you really do.
I think I would have continued to spend money on crap I thought we needed that we didn’t actually need, if not for a course we went to run by The Nappy Lady. She was talking about cloth nappies and how so many parents fall into the trap of buying a stash of cloth nappies before baby is born. Which, she says, it stupid, because what if they don’t fit your child. What if you don’t like them, what if they are too loose around the thigh or too tight around the belly. Buy, she said, one or two of a few different kinds and then when your baby is here. . . you can buy more. Because we live in a day where shops are just down the road! If we need to buy something, what do you know, we can get in a car, go to a shop and buy it. You are having a baby not stocking up for the end of the world.
Oh . . good point. Why did I not think of that myself? I like to think I am an intelligent person, but for some reason being pregnant did something to my common sense. My expanding girth must have swallowed it. And this ‘buy what you need as you need it’ concept goes not just for nappies but for everything. Don’t go out and buy ten stretch and grows and five sleeping bags and 20 bibs and a dozen swaddles. Just buy the bare essentials. Actually, wait till after your baby shower, or closer to when bub is born because you will be given so much stuff the list of things you need to buy will get smaller and smaller, and then, as you need stuff, jump in the car, head to the shops and get more.
This advice came a bit too late for me. Why did no one tell me this earlier? I look at all the shit I have in the cupboard that we have never used . . . the sleep sacks, the cute but impractical dress shirts, the blankets, the mesh food bags, the dozens of soft toys . . . and all I can see is how much money I could have spent on things we actually needed. Like a Fidella Fly Tai, or a Gryffindor cloth nappy with ruffles. But no, I’m stuck with a cot and a pram and stupid swaddles that don’t swaddle properly and more clothes than he will ever be able to wear, even if he goes through three outfits a day.
Man I wish I could go back and have a talk to my newly pregnant self. Stop buying shit! I would tell her. You don’t bloody need it! But you really do need another baby carrier . . .
Have you fallen into the ‘buy all the baby things that you don’t actually need’ trap too? It’s okay, I won’t judge. I might laugh a little, but it’s only because I understand.