This is an inevitable post, really. Pick a mommyblog, any mommyblog, and you’ll find the requisite post listing that mommy’s favorite baby stuff. Also, Mommies have definite opinions on this subject. If you don’t believe me, just type “Diaper Genie” into Amazon’s search engine, scroll down to the review section and stare slack-jawed at the 1,999 (and counting) reviews therein. Definite opinions, I tell you, and some aren’t so nice. (I’m using “aren’t so nice” to mean death-rays being sent over the Internets straight to your eyeballs.)
However, although this post is unoriginal and totally irrelevent to those without children, it is a very important post to me. You see, I have a friend — we’ll call her…SchmeAnne…who, along with her husband…Schmimmy… have been to hell and back in their quest to have a baby.
All kidding aside, I do mean hell. Those of you who are parents may think you know what it’d be like to be unable to have a child. After watching them go through the last few years, I’m here to tell you that you do not. Unless you’ve been there, that is. It is a horrible and very personal nightmare that takes over your life completely.
I won’t go into too much detail because my friends are private people. So, guys? I’ll leave up to you to put a link to your blog in the comments section if you want.
But: Happy Day! SchmeAnne and Schmimmy have been able to conceive a bouncing baby boy via a surrogate! Yay! The surrogate is halfway through her pregnancy, and SchmeAnne is starting to feel the compulsive need all expectant mothers feel to feather her nest (love that expression). In short, Mama needs a new pair of…everything!
So, SchmeAnne, this post is dedicated to you, my dear. This is my list of Baby Things I Could Not Do Without. And I’m opening up comments (I’m not really sure what that means, since comments are always open, but all the bloggers say it, so there) for others’ advice. And, in doing so, I think I make myself the first to humbly give you the “gift” that’s been bestowed upon all new parents since time began — Too Much Information! Enjoy!
BABY CRAP THAT ROCKS
1. The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp. Let me tell you a story. Oh, shutup and learn somethin’, will ya? Roughly 3 weeks into Evie’s life, I was pretty much at the end of my rope, sleepwise. The child would not stay asleep. She would go to sleep, but she would not stay asleep. Believe me, people, no matter what They try to tell you, sleep deprivation is torture.
So, I found myself on the couch one day, unshowered and dressed in a pair of yoga pants I’d worn for so long they’d become a part of my body. The baby was exhausted. I was past exhausted. We both cried together in our exhaustion and flailed our arms about.
My husband, bless him, placed a surreptitious and desperate call to his mother. Katie needs help, STAT. My mother-in-law, bless her, had seen an article in the paper that very morning about Dr. Karp and his happy babies. She brought both it and his book to me that day. I read it in small spurts during Evie’s “naps.”
My life changed forever that night. Dr. Karp, if you’re out there, I want you to know I love you. I do. And if you were here, I’d kiss you right on the jaw. Because that night, after I’d read The Happiest Baby on the Blockand did what Dr. Karp told me to, Evie slept for four hours straight. How’d I do it? A swaddle and a pacifier. That’s it!
While there’s more information in Dr. Karp’s book that will help you tremendously in calming and/or soothing your upset baby, it was the first two of his “5 S’s”, swaddling and sucking, that saved our collective ass.
2. SwaddleMe’s: Nurses. I luuuuv me some nurses. They’re so wise and strong and calming. They almost always smell good and call you “sweetie” and “honey” when you’re scared and hurting. They can also swaddle a baby with a deftness and precision usually reserved for snipers. No kidding. This one nurse who came into our hospital room late one night, I swear to God, swaddled Evie in five seconds flat without even looking down at her. She then placed Evie on her lap and rolled my hysterically crying burrito-child back and forth a couple times. Evie burped loudly and went to sleep. Meanwhile, I stared stupidly at the nurse’s shiny, maroon-laquered nails and vaguely wished to be swaddled myself.
Where was I? Oh, yes. So then you get home and realize that your swaddling skills do not come close to that of the nurses you left behind at the hospital. Nay, your ability to successfully swaddle a baby is roughly equivalent to your ability to perform brain surgery. That’s when you discover the SwaddleMe.
(Why did it take so long for me to make the connection between the swaddling that happened at the hospital and the swaddling that should have been happening from the first night we brought our baby home? Don’t judge me, people. There were yoga pants growing onto my butt. )
By the way, the science-y stuff behind the swaddle is pretty simple, really. Babies can’t control their limbs. They’ve spent the last nine months basically swaddled inside of a human body, only to be shot out into a swaddle-less existence. Have you ever tried to sleep while your arms and legs flail about? My friends, you just can’t do it. So along comes the SwaddleMe to save your exhausted self. Simply wrap your little one up in it and fall in love with Dr. Karp along with the rest of us. Plus, they come in all kinds of colors and patterns. Shopping! Whee!
3. Pacifiers. So you’ve got your little peanut swaddled, but the pweshus darling is still a red-faced, screaming demon. Have you tried a pacifer? No. No, you haven’t.
Babies are born with an overwhelming need to suck. Again with the science-y. Sucking is how babies eat. Babies need to eat. A lot. So: overwhelming need to suck. But they can’t eat 24-7. No, really, they can’t. Plus, sucking is how they soothe themselves. Enter the pacifier.
I have to tell you, however, that the pacifier is controversial. And if you’ve ever seen a four-year-old with one stuck in his maw, you know why. But, the truth is, most babies use pacifiers only temporarily until they find their thumbs or just give up sucking all together. Until then, however, you need to equip yourself with approximately 45 of them. Because, and other parents can vouch for this, you’ve not known true panic until it’s four in the morning, the baby is crying and you can’t find a paci.
Do buy several different kinds, though, because babies are picky when it comes to paci’s. Some like the green ones the hospital gives you. Some like the orthodontically super-special ones. Some, like Evie, like the ones that say “ROCK STAR” in pink glitter on them. Try them all out, find your baby’s favorite and then load up, my friend.
4. Dr. Brown’s bottles. My sister Sara is my Baby Crap Guru. In fact, that is her official title. I listen very closely to Sara’s advice because she teaches and takes care of children for a living and is never wrong about her recommendations. In fact, maybe Sara should be writing this. Hmm.
Where was I? Oh, yes. Bottles. Dr. Brown’s bottles are the only brand Evie’s ever had in her mouth. Let me make it clear that Evie has had gas bubbles that really pissed her off, and we are no strangers to spit up. But, after watching other babies, I believe I can safely say that the Dr. Brown’s bottles have prevented A LOT of gas and spit up. They do have an extra piece that is part of the super-special venting system. This extra piece would be a pain in the ass to clean if you didn’t have a dishwasher. However, if you don’t have a dishwasher and you have a baby, you have a whole other set of problems, and my hat is off to you, frankly.
(Oh, and be sure to buy at least 8 or 9 bottles. Your life will be so much easier.)
5. Dishwasher basket. This is the best $6 I’ve ever spent. Get one. Put it in your dishwasher on the top rack. Toss all your bottle parts in it, close the lid and send me candy for saving you from the irritating job of trying to cram all your bottle parts in that stupid, STUPID basket that came with your dishwasher.
6. Exersaucer. One of the cutest memories I have so far in our babyventure is of the unveiling of our Exersaucer. Gill placed Evie in it, stuffing a receiving blanket in front and back of her because she was not quite big enough for it. Then my wants-to-know-how-everything-works husband bent down beside the baby, and they both started intensely examining each toy on the new contraption. Cute, huh?
Evie loves the Exersaucer, and so do I. It almost always buys me at least 10-15 minutes to finish making dinner, load the dishwasher or fold some laundry. Or maybe to sit on the couch and watch some Sober House. Love that show.
Lordy, how I do go on! Okay, last one.
7. Graco highchair. This thing rocks for the following reasons: a) the tray can be removed with one hand b) the tray is in two pieces, and the smaller top piece can be removed for washing c) Mr. Moo-Cow and Mr. Zebra live on the highchair and spin and make lots of noise so that the baby is distracted and Mommy can stealthily slip another bite of applesauce into her mouth d) the whole thing is on wheels so that Mommy can roll a delighted Evie around with her while she does housework e) the whole blessed thing is washable. Score!
There are other things on my list, but I’ve already lost most everybody, and they all think I talk too much. So, SchmeAnne, I guess you and I will have to make a trip to Babies R Us and spend an hour or so. Damn! These are the sacrifices I make for you, my friend.
Now, as for the rest of you: Wake up! Submit your suggestions in the comment section for SchmeAnne and Schmimmy. They need your help to become as overwhelmed and confused as possible. It is the right of every expectant parent and your duty as an American!