Overcoming Baby Store Syndrome

Originally posted December 29, 2015 on Merely Mothers (now Evie & Sarah)

I didn’t get to register for a wedding, but, as a girl who loves to shop, I always imagined getting that little scanner gun and zapping my way through a store would be wonderful. So when I first found out I was pregnant, the idea of finally going into a baby store to choose things for my own child seemed like a dream come true.

Mid-way through my first trimester, I walked into one of the larger baby chain stores. Outside the store, I trilled with excitement. Inside, I instantly felt nauseous. Maybe it was my usual bout of afternoon ‘morning’ sickness or the fact I’d come from work and was tired and hungry, but after just one aisle, all I wanted to do was run out of there screaming. And I did, well, minus the screaming; I kept that in my head. Maybe it was a little too early to think about baby gear.

By trimester two, though, I was ready to try again. After all, eventually I would want to register for and/or buy at least the basics before baby was born. So on a bleak, foggy day in early December that reminded me eerily of the opening scene in A Christmas Carol just before four creepy specters arrive to terrify Scrooge, I entered the overwhelming world of baby gear once again. And once again I wanted to cry, or vomit, or both. What was it about the sight of onesies that induced such a gut-wrenching reaction? It’s a humbug I tell you!

Seeing aisles of products I couldn’t name, never mind know what to do with had made me panic—twice. How much of this crap did I need? Who’s going to show me how to use it? What if I pick something unsafe? How much is this all going to cost? All these thoughts raced through my already exhausted pregnant mind, leaving me with one conclusion: I haven’t a clue what I’m doing, and therefore both the baby and I were obviously as doomed as Scrooge’s unredeemable soul.

After a snack, a nap, and a chat with a pregnant co-worker nearing the end of her pregnancy, I realized this reaction was relatively normal, although perhaps a bit exaggerated by hormones, hunger, and the fact I’d been teaching A Christmas Carol long enough that I was beginning to have it memorized. Logic returned, somewhat, and I turned to my third favorite resource—after food and friends and family—books, but no more Dickens.

With a hand-me-down copy of Baby Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields, I set out to conquer the challenge of choosing baby gear from the safety and security of my own home. For a couple weeks I spent my evenings reading through one section of the book at a time while constantly checking online for prices, pictures, and further reviews. In my pajamas, without the bright fluorescent lights and towering aisles of gadgets and gear, I was actually having fun thinking about using these things with my little one.

While it was still super early, I even began adding things to a registry online. There was no way I was going to remember all the information later, and since I wouldn’t likely be sharing my choices for months, there was no stress; I could change mind at any time. By the final chapter I felt like I had a handle on the most important things I’d actually need, all things I had heard of and do know what to do with (in theory). Turns out a lot of the other stuff flooding the store shelves are niceties that most babies and parents don’t actually need. And while the logical part of my mind knew this, seeing it on paper was a major relief.

The Ghost of Baby-Yet-to-Come was far less scary with his hood off and realities exposed. I was not doomed to fail at motherhood because I had never seen an apparatus to suck snot with my mouth out of an infant’s nose. (Yeah, I know moms love these things, and I’ll probably be one of them some day, but really?) And for now it is enough to know I’ll need some bottles, and that there are many kinds out there if my little man turns out to be fussy about his favorite. I don’t need to stress before ever meeting him what kind that is.

So later this week I will once again venture into the baby super store. This time I’ll be ready and armed with a mostly completed registry, a dash of knowledge, some much needed perspective, and, most importantly, an experienced best friend or two. Bring it, Babies R Us!

If you have your own registering advice or stories, please share!


Photo credit: Kalinovsky

Honesty Over Ease: Why I Won’t Avoid the Daddy Question

Originally posted December 13, 2015 on Merely Mothers (now Evie & Sarah)

As a single mother by choice I expected the “Who’s the daddy?” question to come up. I’ve actually been surprised at the restraint people have shown when I’ve told them I’m expecting while not wearing a ring and still going by Miss. Sure, in some ways it’s none of people’s business, but as someone who is at times overly inquisitive herself, I understand it’s also natural to wonder.

Since I’ve been so open throughout my journey to single motherhood, I didn’t mind the not-so-subtle fishing of some acquaintances. (Saying, “Oh, you and your husband must be so happy!” or “Are you Miss or Mrs.?” when these topics have never previously come up, is not exactly subtle, but I appreciate the attempt at politeness.) And while some single mothers by choice are sensitive to it, I’d never be upset or angry with a stranger for assuming there’s a daddy in the picture. My getting pregnant did require some male assistance, after all.

That said, if someone brings up the topic, I’m not comfortable pretending there is a dad.

I won’t smile and nod and let people think their assumption that all families include a mom and a dad is correct, because it’s not, and people need to be exposed to all kinds of families in order to understand and accept them.

Yes, it would be easier not to explain that I’ve chosen to become a single mother to complete strangers at the doctors’ office or the maternity store, and it might be more comfortable for them, too. But then I wouldn’t be comfortable. I’m not ashamed of the way I’m starting my family and not speaking up would feel like I had something to hide.

More important than my feelings though, are those of my son. There will be a day when a stranger says in front of him, “Oh, he must look like his daddy.” Again, it might be easier for me just to agree. After all, my son may look like his donor, and to a stranger what’s the difference? Nothing. But to my son, there will be a difference. I want him to know that while he doesn’t have a dad, his family structure is just as legitimate, and special, and loving as any other. If he thinks I’m not comfortable talking about it, how can he ever be comfortable with it?

I also want others to understand that while they mean no harm in their assumptions, times have changed, and the language we use to talk about families needs to change with it. According to some statistics, ‘non-traditional’ families now outnumber ‘traditional’ families. That doesn’t mean we need to stop talking about families with moms and dads, but it does mean we need to start talking more about other kinds of families. And that starts with those of us willing to be forthright gently reminding those who ask, hint, or assume that we exist and are not ashamed or uncomfortable with whatever make-up our families consists of.

So, no, I won’t lie or even smile and nod to make others feel more comfortable. Because while they may be mere acquaintances or even complete strangers to whom the truth means little, my child needs me to tell the truth, not only to him, but to the world. Because the truth will help shape the world he grows up in—and I want that world to be educated and accepting of all the types of families that exist. Ours included.

Photo credit:  enterlinedesign