Why is it that when you are thinking about having another baby, pregnant women come out of hiding like lightning bugs at dusk? First, there were the two pregnant women in my new book club. Then, a third announced she was pregnant. Then, a good friend who was visiting from out of town. Then, two of my best friends. Then, a friend-of-a-friend (who announced on Facebook, no less).
But even before all of the announcements from the women I knew, I would see pregnant women everywhere I went: the grocery store, restaurants, the library, the bookstore, the bicycle shop. The farmer's market, the beach, the playground. And not just pregnant women, but pregnant women with toddlers. I shamelessly found myself comparing the ages of the children these women had: that one's looks about two; this one might be four; maybe her kid is three? I was looking for some affirmation that having waited this long is not only ok, but maybe some kind of new "norm." That if my two kids were never in the same school together, they would be ok. I would be ok. The world would be in harmony.
I envied those women and families who chose to time their children close together in age. Because there are four years' difference between my siblings and I, I always thought having children closer together (say, two years apart) would be more ideal. You know, ensure a closeness, some kind of bond between siblings. But after we had our first child, I realized how quickly a year passes, and how totally not ready to be pregnant I was. There was no way I could space my children two years apart; I was physically and mentally not ready to take the leap again so quickly.
Then, our daughter was two, and potty trained, and life was good. And I got a little selfish. I was really enjoying our new-found freedom. Our daughter was independent, and charming, and...easy to take care of. We found ourselves going out more, with and without her. I found I had not only the desire but also the energy to see friends, go to the gym, read a book--in short, do a whole lot more than curl up on the couch every free moment I got. And I smugly enjoyed this while I watched others struggle to juggle two kids, or a toddler and an infant. But then, suddenly, things changed.
As with everything else in my life, when I finally decide it's time to do something (diet, buy furniture, cut my hair, clean the house), I need it done NOW. This, much to my husband's (and daughter's, now) chagrin. I don't give people much of a chance to get on board with what I need done or am doing. I don't do a lot of thinking aloud. By the time you hear about something, I've pretty much already decided it needs to have been done yesterday. So, once I realized I was ready to have another baby, of course I wanted to be pregnant last month. Still, knowing all of this doesn't help the feeling that I am surrounded by pregnant people--people who, for all I know, have been trying to achieve their current state for far longer than I have even known I wanted to be in it as well.
As a precursor to my list of essential nonessential baby products (otherwise known as the List of Things I Wish I'd Registered for and/or Had Known Existed Before My Baby Was Too Old to Need Them), I thought I'd put together a list of all the stupid stuff people (aka Babies 'R Us, since I didn't have any friends with kids at the time) told me I would need, as well as some of the things other moms have shared with me as either wastes of money or money well spent.
The Nap Nanny--apparently, this thing is "all the craze" right now. And why wouldn't it be? Seems every other baby born in the last two years has been diagnosed with esophageal reflux, so why shouldn't somebody come up with a product to make life easier for those moms and dads?
Kidco Baby Food Mill: seriously...use a potato ricer or masher, or that food processor that has been sitting in your cabinet above the refrigerator since you unwrapped it after your wedding.
Graco Swing 'N Bounce: some swear by them...my sister's kid was bored in the seat and didn't like the forward & back swing motion. She recommends a side-to-side swing like the Rainforest Cradle Swing, which my daughter loved as well.
Baby Seats and Bouncers: again...sort of boring, and we didn't find it helpful or useful. Slightly different, but so much better, was the Infant-to-Toddler Rocking Chair, which was useful for much longer, as our kid loved sitting in it once she started toddling and "reading."
Wipe warmer: not sure why the advice to "make sure baby has a warm, moist wipe every time" was so compelling. Turns out, baby doesn't know the difference between warm or cold moist wipes! A waste of money, AND electricity.
Miracle Swaddle Blanket: now, I do know lots who have sworn by these (although my sister, who does use it, also admits her son can still get at least one arm free). But I swear, if you really learn how to swaddle your kid, the much-better and much-longer useful thing are the Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Wraps. Of course, they come in gender-neutral and other patterns...but I just love butterflies.
Receiving blankets--ok, let's eliminate the confusion once and for all. Those receiving blankets Gerber and Carter's and other brands sell are useless as anything other than glorified burp/spit up cloths. They're too small to swaddle your baby in, and according to an informal poll of everyone I know who's had a baby in the past three years, EVERYONE swaddles their baby for at least the first month or two.
Crib bumper--not only are "they" now recommending these decorative accents are bad news for babies, but they are a pain to tie onto the crib rails of the fancy cribs sold nowadays. Still...I felt like the crib seemed so stark and unfriendly without it that I continued using it despite the advice becoming public when my daughter was about three months old. I kept it in there until she was standing and climbing on it, and until I felt comfortable putting more stuffed animals in the crib with her, to "soften" the look (and feel!) a bit.
I'm sure there are lots of other things I could think of as wastes...of space, time, and money...but for now, I'm starting to get excited about the list of things I wish I'd had the first time around. And I'm just gonna say it--if we have another kid, I don't give a damn about the whole "no baby shower" the second time around. If you're going to shower my first baby with love and (hopefully) useful things to make the first year of its life happy, comfy, and easier (for its parents, anyway), then why the heck wouldn't you do the same for siblings??