When I first visited my OB, I received a welcome bag. It had a few pamphlets about first pregnancies, blah, blah, blah. Three-fourths of the bag contained advertisements for “stuff” the baby would “need.” The Babies R Us pamphlet teetered on top.
As I flipped through it, my eyes grew large and I handed it to my man. “Is she serious? Why is this even in here? Does she have stock in Babies R Us?”
Really? A baby “needs” all this s!@#? I mean, really? Who do you think I am? A 16-year old, naive kid who will buy everything people tell me I need? Part of me wanted to return the bag during my next appointment and ask for something actually helpful–please.
I don’t mean to sound harsh. I’m sure this is fun for many new mothers. The “nesting”, the “nursery”, and all these other bulls!@# words that we’re supposed to happily swallow.
I’m just not buying it. Any of it.
We’ve gathered the absolute essentials, and that’s it. Because it seems to me the baby market is just another target consumer market that lies to you telling you how much you need this and need that. If it were up to me, the baby would sleep in a drawer. And you know what? She wouldn’t even remember it when she hit 12. Babies have done it for years and the little thing would be just fine. But of course, the traditional father in the house won’t go along with all my ways, so give and take, right?
But I’ve had about three close friends tell me, if you have a bad back (or in my case my legs give out for no particular reason whenever they feel like it due to the nerve damage—they did it again this morning after a fairly strenuous swim and I fell directly into my driver’s seat–thank goodness) that a swing is a life-saver.
So, last weekend, we decided to go down to the Jacksonville baby consignment sale. And OMG. That’s the only word that comes to mind. OMG.
It ran for three days. We could only make it the last day due to my husband’s work schedule. I could have gone alone but I’m horrible at making important decisions on my own and I get amazingly overwhelmed by the decision in the first place, and so I waited until Saturday when he could get off work to go with me. We knew the place would be loaded with baby stuff, but we were only there for one thing—a swing. And Saturday was the last day meaning everything was 1/2 price off. I liked that too.
When we parked, I noticed many mothers with children in tow and couples walking out empty-handed. Hmm….that wasn’t a good sign.
When my husband walked (I waddled) through the door, a dad leaning against the wall with a kid in a stroller and holding a second baby greeted us with a smug grin as if he knew something we didn’t.
And then we entered the second door. The line to check out snaked around the entire room—women with babies on their hips and holding onto strollers, clutched tons of colorful, plastic toys or stacks of clothing. Tiny outfits hung neatly on tiny hangers circling the room. They didn’t end. EVER.
A baby cried as if someone was trying to kill it on the right side of the room. And on the left, a newborn cried nonstop as his grandmother danced with him in the aisle, which seemed to do NOTHING for the baby, though grandma seemed thoroughly entertained.
There were thousands of tiny shoes a baby might wear three times, stacks of books wrapped in rubber bands, toys that looked like junk—big, colorful and shiny, along with Ziploc bags full of plastic bottles. Twelve super expensive strollers stood at attention on the wooden dance floor across from one swing. ONE swing.
I didn’t even touch it. I stood there and gawked. Overpriced, full of colorful, hanging trinkets, and so small it could only be used for maybe a month, I certainly couldn’t picture a 4-month-old’s kicking legs fitting into it. My husband reached over and gave it a little push.
And you know what washed over me? Memories of the African women in Botswana along the roadside selling colorful rocks they’d found and handmade dolls they’d sewn.
They wore their barefoot babies, who kicked gleefully behind them, in colorful scarves. The toddlers ran close by sharing wooden blocks and playing with rocks, laughing and chasing one another with runny noses. Some of them wore cloth diapers, some wore nothing at all.
There were no onesies with clever sayings or matching shoes, no snug-fit-leak-proof Huggies. The tots didn’t play with colorful, plastic toys and peer at themselves in attached miniscule, distorted mirrors. There were no fluffy, name-brand strollers to push the kids through the rocky dirt. No convenient carriers to take from the car and clasp into the strollers. Not one baby sat in a clean, white bouncie or a swing, thoroughly entertained. And yet, I’d never seen happier kids.
The bright memory faded and my mind returned to the dimly lit room. The babies screamed and cried around us as the mothers rummaged through junk like it was Christmas Eve. The room appeared to grow smaller and I felt like Alice in Wonderland when she began to grow very tall and no longer fit through the door. I looked up at my husband with a face like this and whispered, “Let’s get out of here.”
The loaded-down-with-kids husband leaning against the wall smirked at us again on our way out. I wanted to throw something at him. We joined up with the masses that filed out of the building, empty-handed, who no doubt simply refused to wait in that line.
I had to go to the bathroom at least twice in that small amount of time and when I emerged the last time, I found my patient husband waiting on a bench for me. Tears sprung to my eyes. “That was a 45 minute drive for nothing. We came all this way—for nothing. I feel like I wasted your day off,” I told him.
He smiled that warm, wonderful smile of his. “Are you kidding?” he responded. “I get to spend today with you. I don’t care what we do. I’ve been out at sea and haven’t been able to spend any time with you for weeks. I couldn’t be happier.”
Out of habit, I reached up and fluffed my flat bangs, thinking how ugly my hair was now that the color was growing out. I hated that he had to come home to me ugly with a basketball sticking out of my shirt and uncolored roots. As if he read my mind, he reached over and gave me a kiss, placing his hand gently on my protruding belly. “You’re beautiful. I like your hair,” he said, out of nowhere.
How IN THE WORLD did I get so lucky, right?
We walked out without a swing, hand in hand, and enjoyed a wonderful day together searching for a car seat and eating breakfast for lunch. And I decided he was right.
I’d let the baby sleep in something other than a drawer. 🙂
- An imperfectly perfect day. (itsclassified.wordpress.com)
- Sleeping Arrangements (threewildthings.wordpress.com)
- Ruined (airheadblog.wordpress.com)
- What To Expect When Your Friend Is Expecting (daffodilsanddishwater.wordpress.com)
- British Man Builds Homemade Stroller. Top Speed: 50 Miles Per Hour. (cheezburger.com)
- Baby wearing vs Stroller (mamasbagoftricks.blogspot.com)
Oh… Jennifer, this post brought tears to my eyes. Seriously.
Our No.1 slept in a laundry basket through her first month. I would put her in it and drag from room to room wherever I was doing something. She didn’t give a damn about where she sleeps. It was comfy, and safe.
We’ve got an old wooden high chair that we found in our garage when we moved in to this place. It is still with us, and we plan to use it with our No.2 as well.
If I only could I would mail a swing chair to u. We do not use it anymore and we got it from the family I used to care for their children. It works great!
As for the shoes. We didn’t buy a single pair until our No.1 started to walk on her own. Even then we would let her run bear-foot for most of the time.
You’re so right… there is no need for all the s&^t people buying for their kids just be used once or twice.
We have only one stroller that has been useful for both our kids. It’s on the edge of falling apart but it still works and takes the baby wherever we need to go safely.
Do not get depressed over it. Seriously!
Have you looked up stuff about Montessori infants? They have a lot of good ideas about keeping everything simple and natural. I felt similar to you when I first started to get all of those stupid Babies R Us and cord banking and this and that in the mail. We made up a Montessori infant room for the baby on the way … and added a few fun things here and there, but overall I’m really happy. The best investment? Despite the piles of coupons we keep getting for pampers, we got a big pack of FuzziBunz cloth diapers that will last us through potty training.
you were right jennifer, children do not remember the drawers they slept in, the boxes they played with, nor the clothes they wore–as long as everything is clean enough, and there is plenty of dirt around the yard..they grow happily.
too much attention stunts the innovative qualities of infants, mine were so used to the desert, barefooted that on the first day of school, i had to check for full clothing..”but mama, i am shoefooted!”… said the middle one..(well in french) but it was so revealing of our healthful lifestyle.
i can see you in this plastic jungle of spoiler traps, sending gazelle signals to the man with THE smile..
again you wrench romantic memories out of an unwritten memoir in the back of my plexus..love you all.
Great story Jennifer! A good piece of writing. You’ve got something with this story.
Jennifer, Love, love, love your observations on our world. Keep digging your heels in because you are not alone. I would prop cloth books in my enfant son’s crib and turn the pages when I passed by. Sounds like you have your own Mr. Wonderful.
Swings are overrated anyway.
This post brought tears to my eyes .
Jen, This blog is the best yet! You have a great sense of humor and it is showing here shining like the bright star that you are. I knew from the start that you should be writing about your experiences as an expectant Mom. Congrats this one should get you an award. Luv ya, Mike
We had twins. We bought some of the “stuff” that everyone said we needed because we were terrified. We got a good bit of it second hand (shock and horror a USED crib). By the time they were 1 we decided 99% of what we’d purchased was unnecessary. You are so right about it being another market to convince people to buy crap.
Your husband is wonderful. Obviously he meant the words, but also knew the right moment to say them.
And you are absolutely right about not needing all of the stuff that is out there. When we had kid #1, we lived in a granny flat with only one bedroom, but there was a laundry room beside the bedroom. We painted the laundry room a nice bright colour, hung some garden stepping stones on the wall (ladybugs) and curtained off the washer/dryer. The only furniture was my grandma’s rocker and a crib that we borrowed from a cousin. We bathed the babe in the laundry sink (nothing special equipment-wise needed for that) and we used some folded towels laid across the washer/dryer for a padded change table. My father in law and step dad built us a set of shelves in the shape of a lady bug and we used those to hold diapers, etc. The one thing that I really did use a lot was some extra large receiving blankets that a neighbour specially made for us – they were soft flannel, large enough to swaddle in (and the youngest kid still sleeps with one as her blankie) and useful for just about everything. I didnt buy disposable wipes, just used small cloths that I bought at the dollar store and wet them in the laundry sink for diaper changes, then threw them in the laundry tub afterwards to await the next load. We did have a great gift of a highchair/swing that a group of friends went together to buy – and loved it, but not everyone would have use for it.
Good luck getting together your necessities and have a little fun with it. Consignment shops/used is definitely the way to go for the clothing items – you won’t need each size for very long at all.
P.S. I would love to make and send you a large receiving blanket, if you send me an email with your address.
Oh, Jennifer, I just love this story!! With our first child we were duped by “stuff.” We just had no clue. By the 4th, we’d gotten rid of just about everything but clung to the swing (I can’t hold a baby 24/7!), the bouncy floor seat, my two handmade slings (one to wash, one to wear), and the bassinet (she slept in the closet of my room for the first two months).
Babies need just a few things: mom’s milk, sleep, warmth, and to have their bottoms cleaned. Babies-R-Us cannot sell a single thing that does does better than one built-in product: MOM and DAD.
Bed? The floor works fine. Swing? Mom’s body works fine. Swaddling blanket? Dad’s flannel works fine (arms tie like a straight-jacket…babies love this). Pacifier? Finger works fine, if breast doesn’t work. Diapers? E.C. train instead…it works.
Really. Stuff is an American thing for babies. The women in Africa (as well as the ones I knew in SE Asia) have it right. Baby MilitaryZeroWaste will not be the worse for the wear without all of it.
PS – lucky indeed. He’s a keeper. 🙂
Yes you are on the right track Jennifer…don’t be taken in by all the gadgets and rubbish churned out for the baby market……African babies look a lot happier playing in the dirt than western babies who are plonked infront of TV… Do tell me when the person of sheer delight is arriving!!!
Hubby got his priorities right there is never a better sight thana pregnant lady
What beautiful pictures! And yay to Mr. Jennifer, what a legend! My baby cried buckets when we went to Babies R Us, he wasn’t buying in to it either. Loving the blog!
Great story, Jennifer. You’re a very lucky lady!
Affirmation- yes you do not need all that stuff “they” say you do! Just had my first and all we use is a play pen with a bassenette & changing table in it (although she spends most of the time in our bed), a car seat, a moby wrap, a swing (yes an absolute must have!) cloth diapers, and onesies ( people have us stuff we didn’t have to buy anything!). Now that she’s 3 months we’ve added a used baby bijorn front carrier and just a few rattle toys. The baby likes looking at people and trees outside more then anything else!
Have you checked out the baby consignment shop Once Upon a Child? There are several in Jacksonville. I was also able to get a used jogging stroller that is a great work out for me and entertainment for her- unfortunately we can’t swim (workout swim) with the baby in tow and the jogging stroller lets me get some exercise. Good luck with everything, Jennifer!
Like you, I have been to *exactly* one consignment sale. Very overwhelming!! We did end up with more crap than we wanted (it’s an ongoing issue, as you know), but a lot of it was handed down from friends and handed on to someone else when we were done with it. I’d try thrift stores and craigslist for that swing….or let your friends know and you might get one that you can use for the 2 months it’s handy and then pass it on to someone else.
FIrst of all, congrats! How exciting to hear you’re expecting. There was an amazing amount of junk for babies when my kids were born – 80’s and 90’s, but it’s overwhelming now. When my daughter visited with her newborn, I thought I’d run out and pick up a swing – for some reason, I thought it would be about 40 bucks or so, boy was I naive. I was amazed at how expensive and “fancy” they all were.
My daughter absolutely rants about all the stuff she’s gotten from the Dr. and the hospital where her first was born. (Her second was an alternative birth.) You should hear her go on when breastfeeding issues come up and all the pamphlets, coupons and samples given out by the Dr…when it’s been proven for years and years how much better it is to breast feed. She’s still upset that Target changed all there tags in their baby aisle to remove the word “breast” as if it were somehow taboo.
Stay strong, keep it simple – and yes, a swing is a godsend! Good luck, and I’m looking forward to hearing more!
By the way, neither of my children ever ate baby food from a jar – although their sitters thought I was very odd, they resigned themselves, after several complaints to opening a little container I made up instead. So much better, and *bonus* so much more inexpensive! As a matter of fact, I asked them to give me some of the jars they were throwing away, washed them well and used them for my food because they are such a handy size.
I had a stick blender I was given for my wedding, and thought it would be ideal – but I never thought it worked well and it was tedious and gave it away, and stuck with my regular blender.
Such encouragement you all give! A thousand thank yous! I enjoyed these comments so much. They made me laugh and smile and really made my day. I shall keep you posted.
Mom Photographer, that laundry basket idea I just LOVED!!! She must too, because she’s kicking up a storm as I write this. Ha! ha! 😀
I’ve been off line for quite sometime. So, I will say congratulations . I am sure your Mom has collected more baby things than you will ever need (if I know Donna) Hand-me-downs are wonderful!
I wanted to get a baby bed for Jordyn (Michael’s daughter) but the OB said with all the issues they have found with Baby Bed’s (I’m shocked – you kids slept in them without recalls) a play pen would be a better choice. Michael & Haley opted for a play-pen (one for them and one for me) and Jordyn stayed in it happily until ready for the big-girl-bed.
At Christmas and gift giving times the box things came in is more fun than the present- When the box tears up then the present gets attention. No matter how times change the love and affection given a child is the real gift, and having Granny’s phone number handy doesn’t hurt for a dose of love and affection.
Jennifer today I am looking at the calendar and wondering if I am a Great-Aunt yet???? I was thinking for the last several weeks after reading your post– I just happen to have a brand new Evenflo baby car seat covers- If you do get the evenflo baby car seat used but needing help let me know and give me your address so I can send you a new cover for it. O also, want to send you a small present I picked out for you when I heard you were expecting… Also, read on FB where your cousin Nickki is due (a boy) in March– Have your mom call as soon as the little on arrives. Love you all Aunt Jackie
Well Jenn…Jackie does know her big sister…right…all you need is an empty room to store this stuff for the next 3 years….Ha
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