Mr. Fairweather has headed off this evening and I have left at home with Little Paddler. Every so often, she snuggles up to my belly and says, “Oh baby sister. Don’t be frightened. It’s only me.” And when I ask her for a goodnight hug and a kiss she heads straight for my belly to tell baby sister “Night night baby sister. I’ll miss you when I am sleeping.” We don’t actually know if this baby is going to be a boy or a girl but Little Paddler is adamant that she asked God and He said “Of course you can have a baby sister.” Who am I to argue with God. We’ll cross that bridge if and when we have to.
In the meantime we are slowly getting everything ready for the new arrival. Thankfully, there isn’t really anything to purchase. It’s more organising and washing everything. People talk about how much a baby costs and how much rubbish is generated but I have to say that with the Little Paddler we have been blessed.
Apart from the very early days, we cloth nappied her. She was a breech baby and arrived into the world via the sunroof (C-section baby). So once we were back home, it really was a while before I felt up to tackling cloth nappies. This time around though I am feeling more hopeful about cloth nappying once we are home. A friend even donated her teeny tiny newborn nappy collection in case the birth-to-potty sizes that I have are too big for skinny newborn legs. They are so teeny. And fluffy. And soft. And I think I might have issues…..
But cloth nappies are really great both from an environmental point of view and from an economic point of view. Although once you get into how cute they are, not spending money can be a bit of a discipline. But now, I am older and wiser and ever so much more disciplined, it wont be a problem. Also the fact that we are so much poorer this time. So good not to have to buy nappies.
Also reusable wipes. They fix everything. And if you are using cloth nappies, it’s no big effort to switch the wipes too. If you haven’t stretched to nappies because the cleaning seems like too much, then wipes could be an easier change to make.
As for clothes. Friends and family were hugely generous when the Little Paddler arrived. Between new baby gifts and bags of hand-me-downs, we are covered for the first two years of this baby’s life. Children grow so fast, that clothes are often still brand new when they are finished with them. When my supply of hand-me-downs runs out, I will be raiding the second-hand clothes shops. Little Paddler is fascinated looking at the clothes that she used to wear and that we are now putting aside and getting ready for the new baby. Every so often she insists on trying them on herself only to realise they might be better suited to her doll or teddy bear. She is still getting her head around how small a baby might really be. But she keeps informing the new baby that he/she needs to stay in mammy’s belly until they are big enough for her to cuddle. That apparently is the yardstick we will be using to tell if baby is ready to be born.
I breastfed the Little Paddler and I really hope to breastfeed this baby too. I know that there are women who can’t breastfeed for medical reasons and I am not getting in to a formula v breast argument. I just want to paint our picture because that’s the one I know best. Little Paddler and I had a rocky start, but I was blessed to have great support from both a friend and a cousin who had breastfed all their children. They were full of helpful tips and advice and a listening ear at the beginning as I figured things out and worked through issues. It is so, so important to find your support network with breastfeeding. There are so many myths and urban legends and downright hostility out there towards breastfeeding. Pile all that on top of how low breastfeeding rates are which means the art of breastfeeding is being lost. Even the medical profession are ill-equipped a lot of the time to help – they just aren’t taught anymore. So, I would urge anyone wanting to breastfeed to tap into the pooled knowledge of experienced mammies and find their local La Leche League, Cuidiú or Friends of Breastfeeding support group. If there isn’t one near you, there are lots of online groups of peer to peer support. Even if its just to say so-and-so told me I had to give up fizzy drinks/chocolate/wine/spicy foods when breastfeeding – is that true? (It’s not.) Or baby is suddenly feeding like crazy and everyone else is saying I haven’t got enough milk for him. (He’s probably having a growth spurt.) Three of the best pieces of advice I got were:
- Demand a breastfeeding solution for a breastfeeding problem. (Supplementing with formula is rarely the answer.)
- Never quit on a bad day.
- Whatever the problem, boob is the answer.
Enough of a speech. Back to practicalities. What about the leaking? Surely you need disposable pads for that too? I have reusable breastpads which can be chucked in to the wash ad infinitum if needed so no need for the disposable kind here. Besides, the cloth ones are much comfier. For the occasional bottle of (expressed) milk, I plan on using either glass or stainless steel bottles. And I’ll boil to sterilise so no big plastic sterilisers needed here. Recently, lots of mammies I know have been raving about the Haakaa breast pump. I am slowly coming around to the idea of it. It seems so simple and fuss free. I love that there are no moving parts so it can be easily cleaned and sterilised and used for subsequent babies or by different mammies which a lot of other pumps can’t be. It may possibly be the only thing we have to buy for this new baby.
Transporting Your Baby
I know of no real way to get around a carseat if you live in the countryside. You need a car. To transport baby then, you need a carseat. For the Little Paddler, we bought new. Mr. Fairweather is currently checking it over to make sure all is still well and I’ll wash the covers down. If it doesn’t still function, this time around, I know people with a baby car seat that has not been involved in any accidents and we can use that. So it’s nice not to be contributing to more manufacturing but with a carseat, I just think, don’t cut corners.
As for getting around the rest of the time, while we do still have a buggy, I definitely prefer a sling or wrap. Even Mr. Fairweather loves babywearing. I barely got a look in at the beginning with Little Paddler as he had her in the stretchy wrap as soon as we were out of the car. And there is something heart melting about a babywearing daddy. You can’t help but love them a little bit more every time you see them snuggling your baby.
But back to the actually carrier. They can be bought in so many materials, patterns and styles. And certainly for wraps and ring slings, they only soften up with use and so second-hand ones can be more desirable than brand new. Another plus for waste reduction and lowering manufacturing emissions. Again though, I take no responsibility if you fall in love with the stunning, madly expensive ones. I go for cheap, cheerful and easy care as much as possible. Baby is much happier snuggled up to mammy or daddy. Their temperature is easier regulated on your chest. You can keep a closer eye on them. And your hands are still free to do whatever needs doing. My wraps and ring slings are going to be lifesavers in around the house – I just know it. In fact, as the bump expands, wraps and ringslings have been great for helping ease the pressure on my pelvis. I never knew bump wrapping was a thing until this year. If you are pregnant, I urge you to try it. Having said that, granny and Little Paddler are glad there is a buggy. Little Paddler has been putting her doll in to it and practising driving around the house without crashing. She is nearly ready to take her driving test at this stage.
The Other Stuff
You really need very little for a baby. The paraphenalia and must have lists are very consumer driven and out to line big companies pockets first and foremost and not necessarily to make your life easier. We were given play mats and bouncers and swings and told you’ll definitely need this and you’ll have to get that. We were given a second-hand changing table but a towel on a bed works equally well. I kept one play mat and one bouncer. That was it. Little babies just need warmth, food, security and the familiar in a strange world (that’s you). They are more entertained with your face, or the light coming in the window or the noise from the washing machine or even their own fingers and toes than they will be from all the flashing, music making, dancing toys and gadgets that you will find pushed on you from every angle. And in the name of zero waste or at least waste reduction, I would always look around to see what you have at home or what can you get second-hand for baby. An old rucksack lying around could be the best nappy bag. A bird feeder outside a window could make a fantastic mobile to amuse baby for fifteen minutes while you grab a cup of tea. And really life is too short for wipe warmers.