Back in the spring of 2003, when I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I ran right out and bought some cute outfits. For the baby. Some pink, some blue. I wanted to be Prepared.
I also bought some cute little plates with nursery rhymes on them and matching spoons. And embroidered bibs. And a red wagon. And a ceramic piggy bank with stars on it. And some books with singing alphabet letters.
My friends and family threw me a delightful baby shower. They purchased all sorts of lovely things for me and baby, such as charming little white outfits with lots of buttons, Jacadi Paris stuffed animals, an electronic baby monitor, Sterling silver picture frames, Pottery Barn Kids hooded towels, baby blankets (I received many of these, some handmade by dedicated aunts), and colorful BPA-safe plastic toys.
Now I stare at the dusty photos of me and all my loved ones at my precious shower, oohing and ahhing appropriately over the adorable presents. One snapshot captures my interest: while I eat my fifth piece of rainbow cake and gaze longingly at my girlfriend’s wine rack, The Husband sweetly holds up a doll-sized wool sweater with a penguin on the front of it and coordinating leather booties.
These were exactly the right gifts for me and my fat belly at the time. I heard myself saying (often), “The nursery theme is farmyard animals and the colors are sage green and ecru,” as I waltzed around in a la-la land of frogs and sheep and smiling cows. My perfect first baby would have everything he needed to live a sage green and ecru happy life.
When Tall arrived on December 4th, two days early, I was not searching for the hooded towels and stuffed horse. I needed nipple cream, and I needed it now. I also needed nursing pads (to prevent me from leaking milk nonstop) and pacifiers.
The baby monitor turned out to be superfluous, as anyone within a five mile radius could hear our well-dressed crying baby. The monitor only served to amplify the sound (not a good thing for a mommy who was already sleep-deprived and would wake up at the sound of a faucet being turned on).
The silver picture frames were surprisingly inept at mopping up baby spit-up. The Husband made an emergency trip to Babies-Spend-A-Lot to get some cloth diapers to use for this purpose instead.
I suddenly remembered the mom friend (who had a toddler) helpfully suggesting that I should register for a “Boppy” pillow. I had no idea what a Boppy was at the time, but just by the name I could tell I didn’t like it. Toddler Mom had said I could use this to prop up the baby while I fed him. My silent reaction to her advice is forever screen-saved on my brain: “That is the stupidest and laziest and most wastefulest thing I have ever heard of, registering for a special pillow to hold up baby! Why not use a regular pillow or two?”
After unsuccessfully manipulating 12 "regular" pillows in a pathetic attempt to prop up the baby each and every feeding, I made a desperate plea to The Husband to zip back out for yet another emergency trip to Babies-Spend-A-Lot to buy the previously-detested-but-now-coveted Boppy pillow and two extra covers (he was not real happy when I called him on the cell phone and mentioned he should probably buy an extra Boppy for the living room too).
Why had I not registered for any of these things? Where was the bottle brush? The night light (so I don’t trip over the stupid wagon in the middle of the night)? The infant tub (“I’ll just hold him while you wash him,” I recall saying in earnest to The Husband when I was eight months pregnant)? Where were the damn ear plugs? Where were the baby outfits that just zipped on with one motion across his midsection instead of 128 buttons and forcing the outfit over his non-compliant floppy head?
Were the items I really needed buried under the farmyard of stuffed pigs, horses, goats, chickens, cows, and ducks? They stared at me sympathetically from their home on the darling Pottery Barn bookcase, but I know the llama mocked me (“Shoulda asked for some diaper cream, dummy!”).
I had registered for the Barbie-Dream Misguided Fantasy Version of what I needed. As a novice, I didn’t know what was essential, so I registered for what the helpful Babies-Spend-A-Lot brochure told me to. Plus, tell me what grandparent wishes to spend their money on a Boppy pillow when what they truly want is a photo of their grandchild wearing the linen sailor suit and matching hat while holding the stuffed turtle?
I gradually figured out what I needed, but it took some time. However, there is one initial purchase I am grateful I made after all: the ceramic piggy bank with the stars on it. We broke it open to buy a crate of diapers.
(“Meltdown Over Vanity”)