Thursday, May 9, 2013

Just the Baby Necessities


When you have a baby, you get a lot of crap.  It’s well-intentioned crap – cute outfits, lots of baby socks – but the stuff that you really need, the things that will actually improve your quality of life once you bring baby home, are rarely gifted at baby showers.  Don’t get me wrong, I am unbelievably grateful for everything I was given, but after we brought the Muffin Man home from the hospital I found myself spending quite a lot of time on Amazon ordering the things I really needed.  Heretofore I’ve compiled a list of the five completely necessary items to have on hand when you bring your sweet little screaming, pooping, not-sleeping bundle of joy home.

1.  Swaddles.  A friend of mine, whose hand-me-downs have saved my ass more times than I can count, gave me two of the Swaddle Me velcro swaddle thingies.  I didn’t really understand their purpose initially, so I shoved them in the back of a drawer and forgot about them.  After we brought the little man home from the hospital and found ourselves struggling to swaddle the kiddo with a regular blanket in the middle of the night, I remembered that I had the swaddles stashed away.  Despite the fact that The Happiest Baby on the Block guy makes swaddling look so easy, it’s not, especially when you’re sleep deprived and trying to do it in the middle of the night.  Do yourself a favor and buy a case of these swaddle things.  You cannot have enough of them, especially because newborns like to pee through everything and you will probably have to change their swaddle at least once every night.  Don’t be a slave to your washing machine like I was, buy enough for a week (which means 10 to
12).

2. A Breast Feeding Pillow.  There is a lot of division on this issue.  Some women like the Boppy, others the My Breast Friend.  I personally found the My Breast Friend too hard and not easy to get into, but I loved my Boppy.  If you’re planning to breastfeed you need one of these pillows.  You will absolutely have terrible neck and shoulder pain from hunching over to feed your baby, and while the Boppy doesn’t stop that from happening it does at least keep you from doing permanent damage and turning into the Hunch Mother of Hancock Park.  Buy one of each, and return the one that doesn’t work for you.  I thought I would like the My Breast Friend, but once I got home and discovered that trying to hold a screaming infant while velcroing myself into a giant pillow wasn’t the easiest task in the world, I exchanged it for the Boppy.  If you have it in your budget, buy an extra one.  I ended up dragging mine from room to room like I was Linus with his blankie, until my aforementioned friend saved my butt again and gave me her spare one.

3.  An Activity Chair.  We have lots of swings.  In fact, we have three.  Unfortunately, the Muffin Man hates swings.  What he does love is this vibrating chair that looks like a monkey, plays annoying music, and lights up.  This item will change your life.  Unlike a large, cumbersome swing, this little number can be carried from room to room with one hand (a major plus once you have a baby).  This chair will occupy your child while you take a shower, make yourself a cup of coffee, or even prepare a meal.  When Noah was really little he would sit in the chair but he didn’t really interact with it.  Now that he’s older he LOVES it.  He laughs at the music and he kicks at the toys hanging from the activity bar.  This chair is solely responsible for the fact that I have not been cited by DCFS for raising my child in squalor, as it keeps Noah busy long enough for me to do dishes and laundry.

4. An Activity Bar for the car seat.  The Muffin Man hates the car seat.  I’m pretty sure that to him it feels like he’s being interned at Guantanamo every time he’s put into it.  You would not believe the ear piercing screams that one child can emit when buckled into this hated contraption.  Prior to getting the activity bar, most of my car rides were accompanied by the sound of one baby screaming.  Considering that in Los Angeles it can take 45 minutes to drive one mile because of the traffic, this really curbed my ability to get out and about.  Two weeks ago, my Mother brought this fantastic little string of plastic toys that you velcro to the car seat handle.  I was skeptical, but low and behold this stupid little plastic mirror and a tube full of plastic beads keeps the Muffin Man from wailing the minute I even walk towards the car seat.  He gets tired of the toys eventually, but usually not before the movement of the car puts him to sleep.  I’m thinking it just might be time for a family road trip to Las Vegas. 

5.  Diapers.  Honestly, you cannot have enough diapers when you have a newborn.  People told me that we would go through a case of diapers in a week, but I didn’t believe them.  Well, folks, they were not lying.  We went through almost two hundred diapers in two and a half weeks.  Seriously.  I’ve never been very good at math, so I guess when people told me you have to change a newborn’s diapers every two hours I didn’t multiply correctly or something, but that’s 12 or more diapers a day.  Make sure you have a giant case of diapers on hand, or sign up for diaper delivery from Amazon or The Honest Company or Diapers.com.  You will not regret this little indulgence.  Trust me, the last thing you want to do is get into your car and drive to Target to buy diapers when you’re a walking zombie.  Heck, my lady parts were swollen and sore for so many weeks I could barely walk to the bathroom let alone drive myself and my screaming newborn somewhere. 

The first six weeks of parenthood are the hardest.  Your life is completely turned upside down and you have no freaking clue what you’re doing.  But it does get easier.  In a short amount of time you will be able to change a diaper without opening your eyes, bathe your child efficiently and without fear that you may inadvertently drown him, and you will learn to function on just a few hours sleep.  I’m sure that my inept parenting has permanently damaged my son, but at least it’ll be a few years before he has the verbal skills to tell me about it. 

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