Five Things

When I was pregnant, I read a million and one lists of What You Must Have and What You Totally Don’t Need.  I cribbed together a fairly detailed spreadsheet, delicately titled “Shit We Need”.  We were gifted/handed down the vast majority of what we needed, plus a bunch extra, so as we received things, I’d colour code the cells and add the information to the thank you card tab.  (Yeah, I’m that person.)  The list was fairly comprehensive, from the big ticket items like the car seat and crib, to small things like washable breast pads and baby socks.  I won’t go in to all the details, because, as I said, there are a million and one resources for that kind of thing on the net.  But I will list the 5 things that Baby J needed/loved the most.  It will be interesting to see if the list is the same for hypothetical future second child.

1) Baby Log.  The best $5 I spent in the last year, no question.  After the first month of so, when J’s habits started to become apparent, I downloaded every free baby tracking app that would work on my old iTouch.  I picked the one that I liked best, imaginatively called Baby Log, bought the full version, and tracked that baby every single day until she was 11.5 months old.  Which, on paper, is crazy OCD, but in reality was wonderful.  J lives by a clock in her head, and as soon as I figured out what her preferred schedule was, especially in terms of napping, my life became so much easier.  I knew she would want a nap 2 hours after she woke up, and the app kept count so I didn’t have to remember.  As she got older, the waking times changed slightly, but with the app, it was easy to see and adjust and not have to think too much.  It also tracked what side I started nursing on, so I didn’t have to remember that either, and during the 1-poop-a-week phase, we could easily track that too.  I know, I know, but with this baby, who lives by her own clock it was the most wonderful thing to have.  I’m not that OCD or clock following myself, but she is, and this was worth it’s weight in gold coins.

2) Swaddling/Sleep Sacks.  J enjoyed being swaddled from the beginning, albeit with one arm free for finger sucking.  When she was too strong for swaddling, we switched over to sleep sacks.  We keep our house on the cool side, and she’s now a very mobile sleeper, and this keeps her warm and cosy and makes it slightly tougher for her to cruise around the crib.

11 month old imp in a sleep sack

11 month old imp in a sleep sack

3) Stuffed animals.  This was a surprise to me, and points to other people for providing them.  J LOVES stuffed animals.  Like, open-mouthed-making-out-with-them love.  It’s adorable.  There’s now something cuddly in every toy bin in the house.  If she’s upset, just hand her a stuffed penguin and watch her cuddle him to happiness.

7 months old, with her namesake Skipper penguin

7 months old, with her namesake Skipper penguin

4) Bumbo seat.  J wanted to sit up from a young age and watch the world.  The Bumbo made that possible.  We still use it every day, when we eat dinner in the basement, on the couch, watching tv.  (Yeah, yeah, I know, but at least we’re eating homemade food together as a family.  And she tends to ignore the tv except to dance to the music.)  Sure, she can flip her way out of it now, and we only use it with one of us sitting with her at all times, but it helps corral her during dinner, and it’s easier to use in the basement than the high chair in the dining room where we eat breakfast and lunch.

2 months old

2 months old. already watching and judging

5) Bassinet.  Our bedroom is on the main floor, and the nursery is upstairs.  She slept in a bassinet in our room until she was 7 months old.  Co-sleeping didn’t work for us, going upstairs 5 times a night wasn’t going to work for us.  The bassinet was perfect.  It was on a stand, so I didn’t have to bend much, which would have been impossible after the c-section anyway.  Even after she moved upstairs to her crib, she’d still occasionally have naps in it.  I know a lot of people say not to bother with them, but it was perfect for J, for a very long time.

A few weeks old, swaddled in the basinet

A few weeks old, swaddled in the bassinet

Sure, we needed a bunch of other things: strollers, diapers, clothing, a baby bath tub (oddly essential for a very short period, especially for shaky new parents), a swing, bouncy seat, high chair, baby fingernail clipper, etc.   But those are mostly generic needs (though swing vs seat is pretty baby specific.  J liked both…).  I’d say that the 5 above were pretty key.

As for what we didn’t need?  J hated carriers and wraps from almost the beginning, so the 3 different kinds I bought got very little use.  J rarely spit up so all the nice homemade burp clothes people made for me barely got used.  We barely used the 3 bottles I bought – even when we’d go out, she’d basically just wait for me to return before eating much.  There are a dozen unused sippy cups of various styles in my kitchen, purchased before I tried a cup with a straw, which she handles like a champ.  (Yes.  Can’t use a sippy cup, has no problems with straws.  I was surprised too.)   We have been given a lot of toys, and some of them have not been played with at all.  (Unlike the duplo, which she is still officially too young for, but she adores taking blocks apart and using the blocks to make noises.)

Babies.  They have funny personality quirks and opinions just like real people!

Someone gave us a play tunnel.  It's a ridiculous thing to have in your living room, but the baby loves it, so...

Someone gave us a play tunnel. It’s a ridiculous thing to have in your living room, but the baby loves it, so…


Weighty Issues

Jess got her 2 month shots recently, and while we were at the public health nurse, they also weighed and measured and assessed all sorts of things.  (See, me crying in a medical office while discussing my feelings, AGAIN, ugh.)  She took her shots like a champ.  There were three of them in quick succession (and having got my own booster shot 1 minute earlier, I was extra sympathetic about how much they hurt).  Jess was screaming away as I tried to latch her on the boob, but she was screaming too much to focus.  So the nurse rang a bell, loudly and constantly.  I actually laughed at my poor baby who was so entranced by the sound of the bell that she stopped crying completely and then latched on.  (She ate for 2 minutes, then fell right asleep, and slept for most of the rest of the afternoon.)  The nurse told me that the bell doesn’t normally work on 2 month old babies – usually not until they are older.  I was like, yup, my baby is amazing!

However.  They also, as I said, weigh and measure the baby.  Her head was in the 97th percentile (might explain that c-section…).  Her length was about 55th percentile.  And her weight?  97th percentile.  Which on the weight to height chart put her right off of it, in the what the hell range.  Sure, if your baby is at the top range for weight AND height, that you clearly just have a big healthy baby.  But 55th and 97th?  That’s, well, that said to me that my baby is short and fat and oh god what I am doing wrong to have cause my little girl to be so out of proportionality oversized already panic flail guilt.

Then we had a doctor’s appointment 5 days later, and they weighed her WITHOUT a damp cloth diaper and got her age in weeks correct, and she went to 55th percentile in length and 70th percentile in weight – a much more normal proportion for a little baby.

And I was relieved.

And then I felt kind of shitty, both at my reaction and more so about my relief.

I mean, I’m short and heavy myself.  And I’m pretty okay with that.  I mean, I’ve been this height since like 14, so I’ve had time to get used to the fact that I’m the shortest in all of my extended family.  (My sister is 6 inches taller than me, and my cousins are mostly taller than her.)    My weight’s been pretty stable since I started working 8 years ago.  My natural weight range is small.  Hell, compare my lowest weight in high school while I was on the cabbage soup diet (UGH) and my highest weight pre-pregnancy is only 23 pounds. It’s very hard for me to move outside that range, compared to my sister or cousin whose ranges are much bigger (30 and 50 pounds, respectively).  I have long made my peace with my weight, as much is probably possible in our media driven world.  I know that I would rather lift weights than run, and that my body muscles easily and holds on to my belly fat, and than it would be so very, very difficult for me to move and then stay bellow my natural range.  (Hey, if healthy eating and swimming competitively at least 6 times a week as a teenager didn’t make me slim, there’s not much I can do now at 30 to change that.)  Sure, I can be healthier and I do prefer to stay near the low middle of my range instead of the top, but still, I’m okay with my body and myself.  (Although one post pregnancy note – c-sections are terrible on your endurance and stomach.  I tried crunches yesterday, and managed a measly TEN without even managing to lift my shoulder blades off the ground.  And it hurt.  My fitness classes a few months ago would often have at least 10 minutes of serious ab work, and now I can’t do 30 seconds of weak work.  Sigh.  THAT upsets me, and I will be working hard to get my core strength back.)

So, back to the baby.  I’m okay with my body and my short and heavy proportions.  Why on earth would this cause me to react so strongly about my baby?  My breastfed on demand baby?  Babies cannot eat more than they are hungry for – their stomach can’t expand and if they eat too much it comes back out.  You can’t overfeed a breastfed on demand baby, I’m told by the doctor, the nurse, the internet.  And yet, I felt like I was already failing her.

Clearly, I have work to do.  My mother had a ton of body issues that she projected on me, and she’s already starting on Jess.  (She accused me of letting a 9 week old baby of eating from boredom, not hunger, “like we both do, right?”.  Thanks mom.)   And I want to break that pattern.  I don’t know how yet, but I will work on it.  I’ll also tell my daughter that she’s beautiful more often than my mother did to me.  (Which is easy.  We’ve already surpasses the number zero.)  But look that that smile and those chubbly wubbly cheeks.


How can I not want to protect my little girl from my issues?  I owe it to her to get over my reaction to the initial news, even if it was incorrect.  Because there is a good chance that she will to grow up to be built like the women in my family – short and chesty and muscular and chubby.  I owe it to her to make her feel like I always have her back, yes?  To make her believe that someone will always find her beautiful and smart and strong.  Growing up with that security is something I never had, and really want to be able to give to my baby.  So that’s my work, I think.

Cute AND smart