Friday, March 14, 2014

Baby showers and the consumer impulse

When I first got pregnant, I told my mom about all the things Heather and I planned to buy.  She began to grimace, then told me (with the spirit of her frugal Midwestern father flashing behind her eyes) that she did not believe that people should be sucked into such rampant consumerism where babies were concerned.  The used dresser that she and my dad bought, she declared, was a perfectly adequate changing table for my sister and for me.  I considered her point, but replied that this was not just a first baby, but a long-planned, much-wanted baby, and we were probably going to get sucked in.  Reader, it was the truth.

Not the truth?  My mom's claims of resistance.  Before the first trimester was out, she was assiduously collecting baby-gear recommendations from co-workers and anyone else who'd been in contact with a newborn within the past five years.  The e-mails flowed: "Okay, so I cornered one new mom in the elevator today, and she says the Boppy lounger is a must."  When my sister's friend Tabitha came through town in the fall, I got lists of her product recommendations not because I asked but because my mom kept her and her baby daddy at the dinner table until they'd spilled every drop.  Links to various "must-have" lists followed.

Our first purchases, in celebration of the three-month mark, were a Pack N Play and activity gym from a discount store.  Soon, Heather had a pile of onesies to add, and then my mom found a footed sleep sack on eBay.  "She can wear it like a sleep sack in the house, but you can rebutton it with legs so she can go in the car seat!"  To say things snowballed from there is a gross understatement.

The most dangerous thing I've done recently is to subscribe to a variety of e-mail newsletters and to follow the attendant Facebook pages.  Let me say first that Pregnant Chicken* is hilarious, and no matter what it encourages me to buy, I will never regret signing up.  Rookie Moms made a valiant attempt at emphasizing the essentials, and our brave midwife reminded us that all the little one would need to start out were a boob and some diapers.  Those lists, though...  "Five Most Ingenious Baby Products" and "Newborn Must-Haves" and "What I Really Wish I'd Bought" and "Cool Devices You Wish You Had"...

Shower #1
Baby-Shower Pre-Shopping

This past Sunday was our first baby shower, with the second (at work) following three days later.  Despite the deluge of wonderful baby goods from well-wishers on top of all the gear we'd already bought, the accumulation instinct was stronger than our common sense.  Heather and I decided to give my hormones some air on Tuesday, taking advantage of some rare good weather to visit the park with our hammocks and lunch.  Unable to lounge comfortably for long, I started squirming, looking up nail salons

Baby Shower #2
to redeem my sad feet.  Turns out, there was one well-rated one that happened to be in the mall.
We were so excited to get our shop on that we documented it.
"Hey, baby, how about we go get our toes done when we leave here?"

"I don't know if I'm really up to that.  Where would we go?"

"There's a place at the mall that got good reviews on Yelp."

"Oh, I don't want to go to the mall!"

"Well...  The Children's Place has a location there, too, and Tabitha said that their zip-up jammies were amazing.  I think they've got a sale right now."

Heather was suddenly a lot more open to the idea.

An elephant hat at Gap Kids that we did NOT buy.
So there we were, the day before our second baby shower, buying newborn "stretchies."  Why on earth a pair of pajamas needs a counter-intuitive name like "stretchie" is one of those parenting mysteries, I guess.  And of course we had to stop at Gymboree and Gap Kids to scope out their supplies... then go to JC Penney, where we got even more baby gear.  It seemed like a great expression of the consumer mania that sets in for prospective parents, that we were sure we needed to shop between showers.  One of the pleasures of finishing with the showers, actually (aside from social recovery), is that Heather can get a final tally of what we have and what we need.  This is a far cry from the boob & diaper vision of Midwife Amy, or the pulled-out-drawer as crib joke (?) of my mom.

Post-Shower Shopping

By no means are we done, either.  One of those damn lists introduced the Kiinde Twist system, which has to do with bottling/storing breast milk, and I was mesmerized.  Heather tried to be skeptical about the introduction of more baby goods, but she's a sucker for any product with a video.  Then I heard about the Tummy Tub, which babies allegedly like better than the lounge-style tubs, right after someone had given us a lounge-style tub off our registry.  A lady on craigslist offered the (scary-expensive) mamaRoo at half price, and, listen, guys, it was on Tabitha's list.  Of course, we already have the Rock N Play and a BabyBjorn bouncer, plus a Moby wrap to carry the kid, but what if she needs another soothing option?  I was lucky that the craigslist lady stood me up; the money I would have paid for it was great when I needed to buy stretchies.

*I learned from a recent Pregnant Chicken publication that "onesie" is term trademarked by Gerber, so every other one-piece has to be called a bodysuit or a snap-tee or something equally confusing.  How's that for knowledge?


  1. Hi there. I just discovered your blog and have read years in one sitting. I love your humor and perseverance. Best wishes to you and yours! I noticed that you switched from using California Cryo to Fairfax. Can you please say why? We are now in the picking a bank stage. Best wishes again, Jo :)

    1. All about money, I've got to say. CCB's prices were going up-- I think they adjust prices at the end of every year?-- and we were looking at $600+ for a vial there, vs. something in more of the $400 range at Fairfax. I know there are a lot of variations in price beyond prep type (open vs. anonymous, "Graduate" donors, etc.), but on average it seemed like Fairfax was less expensive. If money was no factor, though, I'd definitely have stuck with CCB. Their customer service is superb and I prefer their site design for browsing/ordering.