Category Archives: potential controversy

bumpwatch terror alert: week 29

one of my friends told me that she doesn’t understand these pregnancy photos & can’t gauge how big i am getting because of “the flash” in them. i was super-confused because i take these photos in a mirror & obviously don’t use any flash because i know it would obscure the image. i still have no idea what the hell she was talking about. i even took a photo right in front of her & showed it to her on my camera without any photobucket alterations & she was like, “yeah, i can’t really tell what you look like.” rationally, i feel that an inability to understand a photo is something weird on her part, but i’d be lying if i didn’t admit that it made me feel self-conscious about these photos. i don’t think i am necessarily getting appreciably bigger from week to week, but you can see the bump, which is all that really matters. i don’t know. the whole thing totally weirded me out.

so, after much hullaballoo, i got my hands on a blood pressure machine & blood pressure medication yesterday. i got the machine from the hospital pharmacy. my regular pharmacy told me that was the way to go because the hospital pharmacy can bill my medicare for a “medical device” & i can be reimbursed for the expense. of course, when i inquired about it, the pharmacist was all, “yeah, they are really cracking down on that & it’s probably not even worth filling out the paperwork.” when i explained that a doctor had actually ordered the machine for me, & i stepped back from the counter so he could see that i’m legit pregnant, he changed his tune. it was kind of annoying because he walked me through all the paperwork like i’d never filled out a form before. it was mostly just filling in my name, address, & medicare claim number over & over again. the last page was a survey about my experience at the hospital pharmacy, & he said, “what we like to see here is all fives,” & then sat there & watched while i circled all the fives. even on stuff that was totally inapplicable, like “ease of use for product,” “product safety,” & “explanation of how product works” (he did not explain how it worked). i considered answering more honestly, but i was late for my doula’s breastfeeding class & just wanted to get out of there without any strife. it was uncool though.

when i rolled into the breastfeeding class, i realized that i knew one of the other pregnant ladies there. & i was not pleased about it. i mean, we’re all adults, we can go ahead & have babies any time we want, no one needs my permission. but this is like the third person that i don’t really like at all that is pregnant at the same time as me. i wish one of my close bros was having a baby at the same time as me–just one? please? to balance out all these assholes & nitwits? not that it really matters; it’s not like our kids will necessarily play together or anything. but i was especially upset to see this woman the day after being diagnosed with such a serious pregnancy complication because we have had some major arguments in the past over things like medicare. which basically boiled down to arguments over whether disabled people deserve to live. i mean, if you are seriously arguing that you don’t deserve access to health care if you have health conditions that prevent you from working for an employer that offers health care or making money so you can buy a policy on the open market, you’re basically arguing for disabled people to just go die in a corner. i really don’t think i’m being hyperbolic here.

i had been thinking that morning about how grateful i am that my health care will cover the lion’s share of my suddenly super-intense & expensive prenatal care (i have to have a biophysical profile done every week for the rest of my pregnancy, & each one would cost me at least $500 out of pocket without insurance), & then here’s this awful woman sitting there, all knocked up. obviously i am feeling a little extra-protective of the baby right now, & i could barely stand to be sitting in the same room as someone that i know holds such vile opinions about the health care i need to keep my baby healthy. she has not historically been the best at understanding that our differences of opinion are actually fucking serious & not just a whimsical lark that i’m willing to overlook, so i was really nervous that she might try to chat with me after class. thankfully, i think one of the numerous times that i informed her that her political viewpoints make her a horrible monster of a person actually sunk in, because she just got the hell out of there once we were dismissed. here’s hoping she takes the same approach if we ever run into each other on the playground. here’s hoping even more that becoming responsible for a tiny life imbues her with some degree of compassion for other people.

i started trying to figure out my blood pressure machine when i got home, & it kept giving me crazy high readings, like 154/126. i mean, my blood pressure is on the high side, but that’s taking it a bit far. i had a friend come over to serve as a control & his reading was also abnormally high. but i think i figured it out. the cuff needs to be positioned just so for an accurate reading. i’m still getting high-ish numbers, but they’re not completely beyond the pale. i am still absorbing all of this new info & recalibrating my feelings about the pregnancy, but between my perfect bloodwork, lack of edema, & decent home blood pressure, i’m hoping i can avoid a super-premature delivery. my goal right now is to make it to 37 weeks. i just want the baby to have nice mature lungs & be able to breathe on its own. i told my doula that a week ago, i was just focused on getting ready for a newborn & not really thinking about the pregnancy that much. now the newborn aspect is totally on the back burner while i put all my energy into sustaining this pregnancy to term. so much of the stuff i cared about a lot before seems really unimportant right now. i’m glad that jared & i are mostly all set for the baby. all i really need to do is prep our diapers, install the car seat, & put together a labor bag. i’m so relieved i don’t have a bunch of last-minute shopping to do. people may have laughed at me for taking care of so much of that early in the pregnancy, before the baby showers, but thank god i did.

bumpwatch terror alert: week 27

this photo is actually a week old.

i have been pretty much incommunicado for a week & a half because of houseguests, baby showers, & traveling. but i did manage to carve out five minutes to snap a belly photo last weekend & make it look all goofy in photobucket.

my friend amanda, from philadelphia, visited last weekend for our kansas baby shower. jared took a temporary time-out from his research to fly home for it as well. it was a nice visit in some ways, & kind of depressing in others. jared seemed to be fighting off the flu & was really out of it all weekend. he didn’t want to get up in the morning because he was up half the night coughing. i actually got up & got him a glass of water one night at like 3am, even though i am in the third trimester now & getting to my feet is no easy task. it made me think about how easy it is to take care of someone when you really love them, & that made me feel hopeful that i won’t find taking care of the baby too onerous (although it will be much more demanding than just a boyfriend who is feeling under the weather).

it was great to see amanda. we hadn’t seen each other in over two years, since i spent the summer living in her south philly row home while jared was in new york city doing a hydrology fellowship. she talked a lot about how windy it was in kansas, & how it was exactly what she expected. it was indeed uncommonly windy on the first day of her visit, but i have lived here for over three years & a) it’s seriously almost never that windy here, & b) i have never heard this idea that kansas is an especially windy place. she also spent a lot of time answering texts, taking photos & sending them to her boyfriend, trying to connect to the internet to look up various things she wanted to tell us about, etc. it didn’t bother me too much at first, but by the end of the visit, i wanted to run her phone over with my car. i didn’t even check my e-mail the entire time she was here, because i didn’t want to waste friend time doing some dumb bullshit i can do any time. maybe i am a complete dinosaur, but i’m so sick of people fiddling with their phones when they are hanging out with me. are facebook & foursquare really more important than whoever you’re spending time with?

jared & i flew to boston together on sunday for our babymoon. in case you don’t know, a babymoon is kind of a couple’s last hurrah vacation thing before they have a baby. it’s kind of new-ish, trendy concept, & it’s a little silly, but i knew we couldn’t go back to boston for christmas this year because it’s too close to my due date, & i didn’t want my next trip to boston to be post-baby. jared had to go to the east coast to do dissertation research anyway, so we carved out a few days, booked a stay in a bed & breakfast, & decided to have a real vacation.

in a lot of ways, it was awesome. i got to do almost everything i wanted to do, which is to say i got to eat almost everywhere i wanted to eat. (the only thing i missed was ethiopian food, but jared surprised me one night by suggesting we go to trattoria di monica, the delicious italian restaurant he took me to for my birthday last year, so i was more than happy.) jared had access to a car, so we were able to drive around boston & window shop at all kinds of cute, expensive baby boutiques, the likes of which don’t really exist in lawrence, kansas. i only bought one thing: a stuffed calico cat toy. i’d been looking for one for months with no luck, so i was pleased to walk into an independent toy store & find one no problem. it’s a classic calico, not a tabico (tabby/calico mix), which is more charlotte’s coloring, but close enough. the baby won’t really be old enough to appreciate it for kind of a while, but that’s okay. it’s very soft & a dog outside the toy store thought it was real & went absolutely insane trying to attack it.

we did a lot of socializing in boston. we visited with jared’s brother & his girlfriend because we wanted to ask them to be the baby’s guardians if anything happens to jared & me. they also hosted a baby shower for us, & the following night, jared’s parents had us out to newton for dinner & to load us up with baby heirlooms. we looked at photo albums of jared & his brother when they were babies. jared seriously was such a cute baby, & it was so cool to see baby jared making the same faces adult jared makes. his mom gave us two little outfits jared wore when he was a baby, plus a stuffed bear & a bunch of blankets, & the peter rabbit-themed quilt a friend of hers made for baby jared. it’s really beautiful & we decided we’re going to hang it on the wall over the baby’s crib & maybe someday we’ll be able to pass it down to our first grandchild. she is also giving us jared’s garndfather’s silver cup from his babyhood exactly 100 years ago. our baby has family heirlooms! it’s so cool.

i kind of had a meltdown that night though. our friend bart was in town & wanted to hang out before he caught his plane to chicago. but it was 11pm & everything was closed except for bars. if there’s one thing that just doesn’t sound fun to a pregnant lady in the third trimester, it’s sitting around a bar with her boyfriend & his best friend, unable to drink while her feet are swelling & she has just had to justify to her baby’s grandparents why she isn’t marrying their son anytime soon. the three of us went back to the bed & breakfast & hung out in the lobby, but i really wasn’t having fun. i was wishing that jared & i had taken our babymoon in some city where we don’t know anyone, where we could just be alone together, because alone together couple time is going to be in short supply in about three months. i told jared, “i can’t wait until you come home again & everything goes back–” & then i burst into hysterical sobs because i was going to say, “goes back to normal,” but i realized that we’re having a baby & there is no normal anymore. we are changing our lives & it’s exciting, sure, but let’s face it. it’s also completely terrifying. & the days where i can just fall asleep on jared’s lap or hide out in his arms & shut out the rest of the world are about to come to a screeching halt. sorry if that sounds weird, i know i don’t usually write so bluntly about the more romantic/personal side of jared’s & my relationship. but we are about to become jointly beholden to a brand new little life & yeah, sometimes i worry about how that will affect “us”.

i must say, though, after my little crying jag, i slept the best sleep i have slept all pregnancy. i guess i just really needed to get that stuff out in the open.

teach your children boring crap

i have really been living up to my nom de blogge recently. i have been super-crabby. probably a mix of pregnancy hormones, not having jared around to vent to (somehow talking to the cat about how irritated i feel about the little annoyances of daily living doesn’t really make me feel any better), & seasonal allergies.

i got really grumpy the other day when yet another person expressed their ignorant perspective that children should not be taken along on errands. i swear, every time a kid has a tantrum at the grocery store or the pumpkin patch or the doctor’s office or whatever, five more people have to roll their eyes & say something like, “children don’t belong in a grocery store/pumpkin patch/doctor’s office.” i was particularly aggravated this time because the person saying it is in fact a mother herself. so you’d think she might know better. hasn’t she ever had to take care of an errand while no one was around to watch the kid at home? if not, what kind of charmed life is she leading?

i tried to make the point that children need to learn by example. if you want your kid to know how to grocery shop for itself one day, or do its own laundry, or deposit a check at the bank, maybe it’s actually a smart move to take the kid along while you do these things for yourself. she said that she agreed that outings could be educational, & that is why she only takes her child on educational outings, like to the the science museum or the petting zoo or whatever. which teaches the kid…what, exactly, about handling the more mundane aspects of leaving the house & taking care of business? someone else tried to point out that it’s good for kids to have to do boring stuff like go to the grocery store because they need to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them. if the only time they are ever leaving the house is for a “special educational opportunity” or kid event like a soccer game or a trip to the zoo, they’re going to be ill-equipped & whiny when they have to do something that is boring but necessary, like go to the laundromat. & then when the kid is in college, it will totally be that kid who brings their laundry with them when they visit on the weekend so mom can wash it. ugh. who wants that?

this reminds me of how jared & i were hanging out with some friends a few weeks ago & we were talking about parenting strategies. i was talking about some interesting tips i’d picked up from a book about how to involve your baby is tidying & cleaning even before it is really old enough to be helpful. even a little eight-month-old baby can play with a dishtowel. so the book suggested giving the baby a towel or rag while mom &/or dad is wiping up whatever mess happened during lunchtime & the baby will mimic what its parent is doing. that way, baby feels involved & engaged, giving the parent the necessary time to straighten up (rather than rushing around trying to pry hardened banana off the table while baby is napping), & it’s learning a useful life skill at the same time.

the friends we were with were like, “oh, i think it’s cruel to make a baby clean up.” i tried to explain that it’s less cruel & more impossible to actually expect the baby to be helpful in this process, & it’s more about involving the baby in the little details of life & modeling behavior that will be helpful in the long run. i mean, if the baby is equally entertained by playing with a dish towel & watching an elmo video, i personally would prefer the dish towel approach because figuring out how to wipe up a spill is a more useful skill than being able to sing some dumb elmo song over & over, right? i told them, “i just really don’t want my kid to be one of those kids who leaves home & has no idea how to do its own laundry or wash its dishes or balance its checkbook or whatever.” (in part because i myself left home without knowing a lot of adult skills that would have been pretty useful to me. i had to teach myself.)

one of the people started laughing & said that he never learned how to do laundry. he said he was supposed to do his own starting in high school, but he figured out that if he just put it in the laundry room, his mom would eventually do it, & now his wife does it. i was kind of flabbergasted. in my house, i do my laundry & jared does his laundry. i think the only time i have ever done any of jared’s laundry was when he was sick & really needed some fresh socks or something, & i was doing my own laundry awyway. i threw some of his socks in with my wash. we have totally different laundry styles & it just works for us to take care of our own, even though we have lived together for over four years. before we had our own washer, we would often go to the laundromat together, but our laundry was still washed & dried separately. i mean, maybe we’re weird, but i would kind of feel like i’d done something wrong as a parent if my kid grew up to expect someone else to do its laundry, or accepted responsibility for doing his/her partner’s laundry. i mean, there are way worse things that could happen. i would feel like even more of a parent failure if my kid grew up to be a murderer or something. by comparison, laundry is not a big deal. i guess i just value independence & competence & i think basic skills like knowing how to pick up after yourself, or manage your basic finances, or cook a simple meal with a vegetable side are being ignored while kids are being over-indulged with trips to the science museum, karate lessons, SAT tutors, etc.

bumpwatch terror alert: 17 weeks, part two

i really just have more stuff to write about, hence the part two. here’s a bonus 17-week maternity swimsuit photo (unaltered) to ease us in.

do i LOOK like it’s okay for you to touch my belly?

so, i’m totally stoked & simultaneously a little chagrined that it took me 17 weeks of pregnancy (plus the eight solid months of trying to conceive, plus the two years of pre-conception baby rabies) to think up the perfect place for the baby to sleep! i knew from the get-go that i didn’t want this baby in a crib. that’s just not my jam at all, & i don’t want to have to deal with getting up & having to bruise my armpits on a crib railing to pick baby up for a middle-of-the-night feeding. plus, in our tiny little house, there’s really nowhere to put a crib.

i pitched the idea of co-sleeping to jared & he was on board. (as he has been for like everything i have suggested for this baby. cloth diapering? let’s do it. baby-led weaning? sounds great. baby sign language? why not. babywearing? makes total sense. d.i.y. baby purees? as if we’d do anything else.) at first, i figured we’d get an arm’s reach co-sleeper. the baby can be on my side of the bed, so i can just reach over & scoop it up for nighttime snacks, but it wouldn’t actually be IN the bed, which is a morass of ever-shifting blankets & pillows & adults. i am seriously the thrashiest sleeper, & my side of the bed looks like a hobo encampment that’s been hit by a tornado EVERY morning. it’s even worse now that i have the snoogle. it’s just really not a safe space for a baby. with the baby in its own zone, maybe it will have a fighting chance at staying alive.

but then i talked to some co-sleeping mamas who sleep with their babies in the bed. they say your sleep habits change when you have a baby & you’re always aware of where it is, even if you’re asleep. one mama i know said she used to be a really thrashy sleeper too, but now she sleeps through the night in one safe position so her baby can sleep next to her. i was like, “okay, sounds legit. maybe that will work for me too.” & then i heard about the humanity co-sleeper, which is a kind of mat thing with a pillow built on to the side to keep the baby from slipping between the mattress & the wall. i decided we should do that.

but after a few weeks, it suddenly occurred to me that babies nap a lot during the day. where would the baby nap if all we have is this weird mat/body pillow thing for an adult bed? once the baby can roll, it’s not really safe to leave it in the bed without pillow forts on all sides, & before the baby can roll, it risks being smothered by our mattress pad. plus i don’t want to be stuck in the bedroom keeping an eye on the baby while it naps. sure, sometimes i’ll be napping too, but sometimes i’m going to want to seize the opportunity to brush my teeth or pay some bills or something. so we went back to the co-sleeper idea.

& suddenly today i remembered that some people (including a mama i know, so i have no idea how i forgot that this was an option) buy regular cribs & turn them into side cars for their beds! duh! this is fucking genius! it addresses all the problems! baby has its own nighttime sleep zone but is still right there for feedings. it can go down for naps there & will only require a pillow fort on one side. it can stay in the sidecar until it’s kind of old–but the arm’s reach co-sleeper isn’t safe to use as a co-sleeper anymore once the baby can sit up (like six months-ish). it can be used as a play yard then, but obviously that’s not really where you want your baby to be sleeping at night. jared’s pretty handy & can probably transform a cheapo crib off craig’s list into a side car. i’m so stoked! i was looking at dropping like $200 for a co-sleeper we’d only be able to use for like maybe a year, tops–& that’s if we get a really lazy baby. we can find a used crib for a fraction of the price & use it twice as long!

i mean, part of the reason i want to do all this co-sleeping babywearing breastfeeding baby food-making natural birth stuff is because it’s the CHEAP way to have a baby. if you don’t have painkillers at birth, you don’t have to pay an anesthesiologist. if you breastfeed, you don’t have to shell out money for formula. cloth diapers require an upfront investment, but over time, they are WAY cheaper than using a fresh disposable diaper every time your baby “visits the office,” as jared puts it, & cloth diapered babies are sometimes toilet trained sooner too. a sling is way cheaper than a stroller. mashing up some bananas or avocados for the baby is a lot less expensive than buying bananas & avocados pre-mashed in glass jars.

there’s this natural parenting community thing i read on the interwebz, & one of the women involved posted an article last night about how a new study shows that vaginally birthed babies have higher IQs than cesarean-birthed babies. i thought it was so totally stupid. like, “sorry you didn’t get into college, junior, i just could not dilate for the life of me!” i recently took an IQ test & scored 138–that’s “smarter” than 99.5% of all other people. so smart, in fact, that i can tell you that IQ tests have been shown to be culturally biased & not predictive of successful life outcomes. just look at me, i dropped out of high school. maybe it’s because i was born via cesarean–i’m smart, but not smart enough to do anything with it. maybe there’s some benefit to pureeing your own baby food & toting baby around in a sling, but i don’t subscribe to this whole “parenting choices determine a child’s success or failure in life”. ultimately the kid will start making its own decisions. i’m just trying to do what i can to mitigate the beating my checking account is taking in the meantime.

it’s like a neverending, really hot playdate with nothing to drink but kombucha

maybe a few weeks ago, i was dicking around on the internet, as you do. i was perusing some terrible advice website, similar to yahoo! answers. maybe it even was yahoo! answers, i don’t remember. anyway, someone had posted & asked, “my baby is bleeding from the eyes. what should i do?” the “best answer” selected was, “go to the emergency room.”

after taking a moment to fervently wish that i never have to confront a situation where my baby is randomly bleeding from the eyes, i had to laugh at this person whose immediate impulse when confronted with an obvious medical concern was to consult dr. internet. maybe i truly am of another generation, having not been raised with computers & internet connections, but when confronted with true emergencies, going online is just not my default solution. the internet is for reading snarky recaps of babysitters club books & looking at cat pictures. it’s not a licensed medical professional.

so i posted this observation to facebook. my suggested answer for this person was, “accept the fact that you are a terrible parent.” one of my friends, who is a nanny but not actually a parent, got VERY upset about this & left a long response about how it’s never appropriate to call someone a terrible parent because parenting is really hard work & sometimes people make mistakes but they aren’t going to be helped by having their parenting abilities defamed. she elaborated that some people don’t have money for medical care or access to doctors–some people are isolated in rural areas or very poor or both or something.

but not so rurally isolated & poor that they can’t afford a computer & an internet connection? seriously, if you can get online, you can probably get within striking distance of an ER, especially when the situation is an infant BLEEDING FROM THE EYES. don’t give me all that “check your ER access privilege” malarkey. in the united states, emergency rooms are obligated to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay. when i was a teenager, i did live in such a rurally isolated area that we couldn’t get cable TV access. but there was still a hospital like half an hour away.

a few weeks later, jared & i got to chatting about the episode of “beverly hills, 90210” where donna is in trouble for drinking at prom. plot synopsis: before the prom, there is an assembly where the students are informed that drinking at the dance will not be tolerated. they are told that anyone who is caught drinking or drunk will be barred from the graduation ceremony. not that they won’t graduate. just that they won’t get to walk in the ceremony with their classmates. & maybe there was some kind of summer school/community service element, i forget the details. so the gang goes to prom & donna manages to get completely wasted in the bathroom. to the point that she can no longer walk under her own power. it’s up to her friends to try to sneak her out of the school before any chaperones notice that she’s toasted. but of course, they fail, & donna is in big trouble.

she’s brought in for a disciplinary hearing & informed that she won’t be walking in the ceremony. her friends think this is really unfair because she wasn’t the only one drinking–she’s just the only one that got caught. somehow they convince, like, the entire school to rise up in solidarity with her. they stage a walk-out & storm the hearing where they demand amnesty for donna & permission for her to walk in the ceremony with them. & despite the fact that the school administrators made the rules more than explicit upfront, & donna brazenly disregarded them, they cave & cancel the punishment.

i posted about this on facebook too, because it’s absurd, & one of my friends wrote this rant about how she’s some kind of a teen educator (not a teacher, i don’t know what she does–tutoring, maybe?) & it’s a developmental reality that teenagers find it really important to do what their friends are doing & have their friends’ approval, so it would have been psychologically crushing for a teen to be barred from walking in the graduation ceremony with her friends. she also said that events like graduation ceremonies are important milestones & preventing someone from participating in one can be, i don’t know, emotionally scarring or something.

um, maybe i am missing something, but isn’t that kind of the point of a punishment? you take away a privilege that really matters to the kid. what the hell is the point of a punishment that the kid doesn’t care about at all? when i was a teenager, if there was something i wanted, like a show i was dying to see, or a sleepover at a friend’s house, & i broke a rule, obviously stopping me from doing that thing i wanted to do was going to be a far better deterrent than, like, making me do lines or something. it’s like this girl was suggesting that telling kids that there are clear consequences for misbehavior, spelling out exactly what those consequences are & what kind of misbehavior they’d have to do to earn the punishment, & then actually following through when someone misbehaves is, like, cruel & unusual punishment. isn’t it more cruel to keep moving the goalposts by being completely inconsistent in what you say & what you do? isn’t it cruel to society to not hold kids responsible for their actions?

it’s nice to have principles, i guess, like that it’s never okay to suggest that someone is a terrible parent, or that teenagers have unique developmental needs that must come before everything else. the problem is when those principles brush up against reality. or when people start coming up with hackneyed excuses to ignore the fact that sometimes people make really bad choices that potentially have long-term consequences. & i feel like this is the morass i am wading into by becoming a parent. i’m in for a lifetime of, “hey! some people’s only access to sound medical advice is yahoo! answers, okay? we can’t all call up mayoclinic.com like you!” & “subjecting your children to reasonable consequences for their poor life choices will turn them into sociopaths!” hell is other people, & the ninth circle is reserved for people with lots of opinions about children.

the great china-made cloth diaper debate

after my money-related freak-out earlier this morning, i spent practically all day researching cloth diapers. even before i got pregnant, i imagined that i would cloth diaper whenever i had a kiddo. while i am not necessarily gung ho 100% all about every facet of attachment parenting, & have in fact amused myself on a regular basis poking fun at hardcore hippie moms (who are generally way into attachment parenting), there’s a lot about it that appeals to me. breastfeeding, baby-wearing, cloth diapering, co-sleeping…i don’t want to make bold proclamations about how i definitively will parent because i just won’t know until the baby is here, but from what i have read & seen with friends who have kids, all of these choices look ideal to me.

& i’m not gonna lie: a huge part of what appeals to me about these things is the financial savings involved, & the fact that these parenting strategies are space savers, as a general rule. a brand-new budget crib is still going to cost over $100, & in my little 600-square foot bungalow (that’s probably a generous estimate), it would be difficult to find space for it. if jared & i co-sleep with the baby, all we’ll need is a bassinet or a small co-sleeper–& a lot of co-sleeping parents don’t even use those anymore once the baby is big enough to roll around. they just keep the baby in bed with them. breastfeeding takes up way less space than boxes of formula & bottles & bottle cleaning brushes, & it’s far cheaper as well. if we want jared (or a sitter) to be able to give the baby the occasional bottle & take the pressure off me for all the feedings, we can keep a handful of bottles on hand & rent a breast pump. the cost of strollers is terrifying to me–they can easily cost a couple hundred dollars, particularly for infant strollers (you can’t put a newborn in an umbrella stroller because they’re not old enough to sit up yet–they need a stroller in which they can lie down). & if you’re choosing a stroller that is larger than an umbrella stroller, like a travel system that includes a car seat, they can take up a lot of space. a sling, on the other hand, can be wadded up & stuffed in a drawer or closet when not in use. & it can enable all kinds of hands-free parent activities while baby stays engaged & snuggled when it is in use.

but cloth diapers. oh man. of course jared was pretty much on board with cloth diapers from the start, mainly from an environmental perspective. he’s an environmental historian specializing in waterways, so of course the idea of contributing an average of around 7500 disposable (but largely not biodegradable) diapers to landfills before our child is potty-trained doesn’t especially appeal to him. one could make an argument that cloth diapers take a toll on the environment in their own way, needing to be washed & using water & electric resources, but i figure–we’re going to be using the washer anyway. why not wash some diapers while we’re at it?

i looked into the different kinds of cloth diapers on the market & was pleased to see that the cloth diaper market has expanded a lot since i was a cloth diapered baby in the late 70s (flat diapers affixed with pins; my parents were given a year of diaper service as a baby shower gift, apparently). i am most drawn to all-in-ones, which are basically washable cloth versions of disposable diapers. they are already shaped into diapers, with elastic in the legs, & you just snap or velcro them shut. easy peasy! there are also pocket diapers, which are a similar principle, with a pocket in the gusset to place an absorbent insert. the benefit of pocket diapers is that the soaker insert comes out & therefore the whole package dries more quickly. there are also cloth diapers that can be adjusted with a system of snaps to grow with the baby, meaning that a single set of cloth diapers can take the baby from birth to potty training. no having to upgrade from newborn sizes to 3-6 month sizes to 6-9 month sizes, etc. i decided that these were the diapers for me, as a cloth diapering novice.

from my extensive googling, it seems like the two most popular brands of one-size all-in-ones or pocket diapers are bumgenius & fuzzibuns. new, one of these diapers retails for $15-$17. that’s kind of major sticker shock considering that you need to lay in a stockpile of at least 24 to really have enough on hand to avoid doing laundry every single day. that’s a minimum expenditure of around $400. it’s really nothing in the greater scheme of things, considering how much it costs to buy disposables (a brand like pampers averages about 25 cents each–so a new fancy cloth diaper would pay for itself in about sixty uses, which would only take a few months if each diaper is being washed & used again three or four times a week). but still!

so i hopped on ebay & discovered that there are chinese cloth diaper manufacturers that make one-size pocket diapers & all-in-ones in cute colors & patterns & sell them for $5 or $6 each, including free shipping. we could lay in a whole supply of enough diapers to do laundry only twice a week for under $300. i looked up some reviews, & some people complained that the chinese diapers didn’t fit as well as
bumgenius, or the colors faded too quickly, but mostly, the reviews seemed comparable.

the only real realm of contention was the fact that these diapers are made in china. never mind that other popular american cloth diaper brands are also manufactured in china–the fact that these discount diapers were being made & sold by chinese companies really bothers some cloth diaperers, who think the priority should be supporting american companies & keeping our cloth diaper dollars in the american economy. but what if supporting american-made diapers is going to soak me for three times as much? it’s all well & good for a solidly middle-class family, but we’re doing this baby thing on less than $30,000 a year.

there are other cloth diapering options, like using flats (which intimidate me–i am willing to pay a bit of a premium for the convenience of a diaper that is shaped like a diaper), & buying used. i have no problem with used cloth diapers, but even used bumgenius & fuzzibuns generally sell for about twice as much as new chinese diapers. & there are so many other brands out there, each of which has its own quirks in terms of pocket opening, lining, snap placement, etc–i could pretty easily stock up on used cloth diapers at the baby consignment store near my house, where they sell for between $5 & $10 each, but i’d have a lot of different brands of diapers (unless i was very choosy) & i’m afraid it would be confusing for jared & me.

i know this is a topic where there’s a learning curve, & by the time my baby is a few months old, i’ll probably be a pro at cloth diapering & so many of the things that intimidate & confuse me now will seem really basic. but unfortunately, the baby is going to need diapers as soon as it’s born, so i’m stuck guessing, using my best judgment, & taking advice from more experienced friends to get me started. the whole “support america” argument really bothered me because…i won’t say that it’s not financially possible for some people to only use american-made cloth diapers, but people are entitled to prioritize their limited resources, & some people might prefer to spend only half their cloth diaper budget on diapers & use the other half for all the other baby expenses that crop up, like a children’s health insurance plan, a car seat, or just paying the bills so the baby will have a place to live. one person said that they would be happy to walk new moms through flat diapers if they can’t afford to lay in a supply of american-made pocket diapers & all-in-ones, but maybe a new mom would rather have a physically convenient diaper experience than an american-made one. i think that’s where i’m at. i don’t especially make any effort to buy exclusively american-made for myself; why should i bother with my baby? i don’t know.

why would you enrage a pregnant woman?, part two

SPOILERS OVER. YOU CAN COME BACK NOW. this theme of not wanting to take responsibility for your own poor choices was perfect for spoiler girl though because not once did she apologize for posting what she did. a few weeks ago, i wrote a post about being victimized by accidental rudeness & i wrote about a facebook friend who said she wanted to redecorate my house after seeing photos i’d posted online. same lady. in that situation, she was all, “i’m sorry if i offended you, but i was seriously just talking about how you have the same bedside table as my mom & i think it’s really tacky.” see what i mean? even when she does apologize, she’s really just insulting you even more. i unfriended her because i barely knew her anyway & i was really sick of the “i should get to say anything i want & no one should ever take offense & i don’t need to be responsible for my words” attitude. i told jared that i really want to make sure that our kid knows there’s a time for humility, that it knows how to issue an apology that is sincere, that it can weigh a situation & make responsible choices, & take its lumps when it makes a bad choice. it’s something so BASIC, & it’s pretty much all that stands between the assholes of the world & the non-assholes. & yet, it’s amazing how uncommon it is.

so maybe on some level this is about more than a dumb TV show, or maybe pregnancy hormones are making me have a really intense reaction to a TV show…i really don’t know what the fuck is going on. maybe it’s a pregnancy protectiveness thing. i feel like, if i am really pregnant (as all the sonograms & pregnancy tests indicate), then i am growing a whole new fresh person here, & while that person is eventually going to enter the wider world & come into contact with jerky kids that steal its crayons, & asshole teachers that grade their opinion-based essays low because they disagree with the kid’s opinion, & mean moms who don’t want it socializing with those bad kids who drink alcohol & wear crushed velvet capes, such forth & so on, i want it to have a grace period of just getting to be innocent for a little while.

several people i am friends with (or have been good friends with in the past) have had, basically, nervous breakdowns lately. all the circumstances are different & people are handling their business in different ways, so i’m not going to go into detail or make generalizations about anyone’s behavior but my own. my own behavior has been to pull away. i don’t handle other people’s mental health crises well in the best of times, ie, when i am not growing a human. but now that i am, i just have no time for anyone’s drama or histrionics, even if it is all in the service of a very serious mental health issue. if i’ve said it once, i’ve said it a million times: i’m not a mental health professional, i’m not equipped to deal with that shit, & at this point, i have no qualms saying that i don’t WANT to deal with that shit. i hope everyone starts feeling better very soon, but i don’t really want to be around it. all i want to do is eat pizza, go to the pool, & nap. no muss, no fuss. i need this chill time.

i think acting like a jerk & refusing to actually apologize or take responsibility for it is just another behavior i don’t want to deal with. there’s some narcissism there, & i don’t know if being pregnant is bringing up feelings about my own terrible relationship with my crazypants narcissistic mother or what, but just…NO. i’m not having it. i pretty much cut her out of my life in 2006. once a person severs ties with her own mother, she is not going to give some other rando fifteen second chances, you know? get your shit together, think before you act, take responsibility for the unintended consequences of your decisions, or get out of my life. it’s pretty simple.