On Preparing To Parent, The Second Time Around

God help us, it’s time to buy baby gear (again)

When I last was pregnant, lo these many years ago, Ben and I had no idea what we were doing. We were 30, which for our demographic was young. Our friends weren’t having kids yet. None of our siblings or even our cousins had reproduced. We had no model to copy or to set ourselves in opposition to. No preconceived notions. No received wisdom. And no stuff.

I wasn’t an editor here yet but I was a friend of the site, and my thoughts at the time were recorded for posterity in chats with Mike:

The biggest purchase we have made for the baby is our two-bedroom apartment. (Also a practical decision.) Otherwise, we’ve gotten everything either second-hand or for free. …
Either second-hand or free, we have gotten: 1) a little bassinet-y type thing that folds up and rocks, which you can put next to the bed for the baby to sleep in for the first few months; 2) a changing table with lots of compartments; 3) a sling; 4) some clothes and what are essentially burrito-wrappings for the baby. Apparently they like being swaddled into giant immobile tortillas.
Oh, and a Bumbo chair? I don’t know what it is exactly, but someone gave it to us. That’s it! We probably need some diapers. I hear babies like to poop.

I’d forgotten about the Bumbo chair. We didn’t end up using it, in part because of all the horror stories that subsequently surfaced. Though we were told that if you keep the thing on the ground your kid will be fine, we decided not to bother. Instead we used, and really liked, a Go Pod, which you unfold, assemble like an indoor camping tent, and stick your child in. The baby looks delighted to be sort-of standing — new vantage point! — and you get to use your hands.

We also liked a thing that basically tied your kid to a chair for mealtimes. In fact, these days, we could use a toddler version.

Now that I’m about six weeks from D-Day, I’m combing through memories, drawers, and sales histories, trying to remember what worked and what flopped, what we need to get rid of and what we need to acquire. So I’m making lists: MUST STAY, MUST GET, and MUST GO.

MUST STAY

  • The changing table I got from a neighbor is the kind that comes with six drawers and functions as a dresser. You bet it’s sticking around.
  • Sling and baby-carrier, check, check
  • Wipe warmer. I remember that Meaghan & Dustin disagreed with me, but I found it invaluable.
  • Nursing cover. Because we live in a bizarro world where women using their breasts to sell things is good but women using their breasts to feed babies is bad. And I have, sadly, 100% absorbed its values.

MUST GET

  • Mini crib
  • Swaddles
  • Baby diapers
  • Pacifiers! I forgot about pacifiers. And how there are different kinds and you have to try more than one, usually, to find the version that will transform your baby from a shrieking despot into Pema Chodron.
  • All those devices I found useful last time: the bouncy chair, the rock-a-bunny sleeper, the breast pump. Oh god, all that breastfeeding stuff that I’ve spent years happily not thinking about, from bottles to freezer bags.

MUST GO

  • The huge wooden porch rocker my mother-in-law gave us as a present ages ago worked fine as a nursing chair for the last go-round, but since space is at a premium now, we should probably trade it in for something far more compact, like this.
  • The full-size crib, which Babygirl still uses, needs to be replaced by a loft bed, to make room for a mini-crib underneath. I may have tracked one down from someone who lives in the area; I just need to make sure the dimensions will work in our shoebox of a second bedroom.

We have clothes at least. A neighbor who’s also having another kid has been inundated with stuff for said kid to wear, and she gave us 2–3 huge bags of overflow. Even if we haven’t managed by D-Day to acquire any of the things we’re supposed to, at least the tiny boy currently breakdancing in my belly will, when he emerges, have something to put on.

What am I forgetting?