Tuesday, June 18, 2013

baby capitalism, 13 weeks, 4 days


We’ve done it. We’ve dipped our toes in the treacherous waters of baby commoditization and THERE IS NO TURNING BACK NOW. Hold on to your Sophie the Giraffe[1] and Manhattan Toy Winkels!

It all started with Adam Davidson’s recent piece in the NY Times Magazine, The Sippy Cup 1%. The article is a rather startling ethnography of the hypercompetitive commodity market of all things baby, through the lens of the Brooklyn Baby Expo – which was, no doubt, an insufferable affair, full of children named “Seneca” and “Juniper” and “Grover[2]” and parents comparing their children’s raw diet and “diaper-free” living.[3] The article tells tales of a $5000 stroller – which obviously converts into a spaceship because, GAH, so much money! – but is also an interesting and profound commentary on the fact that, basically, all parents are TOTAL SUCKERS who will buy anything if it keeps baby safe/BPA free/ivy league bound.

Of course, it left me wondering. How much does a stroller cost? And does this mean I can’t name my baby Juniper?

So, first trimester safely under our belt and nausea now relegated to an every-other-night-annoyance, C and I took a dive into Amazon-baby-registry-land. The only safe space, behind the glow of a laptop, where other moms-to-be can’t judge and where my future employer, who does not yet know I’m pregnant, can’t run into me in the cloth diaper aisle. <Furtively looks left to right>.

[Cut to C and Sarah perusing the Amazon Baby Best Sellers feverishly and with abandon]

<Exclamations of panic and horror over the price. OF LITERALLY EVERYTHING.>

<Labored breathing/wipes sweat from brow/tries to contain self/checks bank account/recovers>

C: Ooh diaper bags, what’s going on in the world of diaper bags? (Dead serious, and interest piqued. Inexplicably. Is this my husband?)
C: We’re not getting a prissy diaper bag, are we? We need something made by craftsmen.
S: <perplexed look>. So… you want a diaper bag made of reclaimed wood?

C: Oh yeah, look at that baby gate, that’s the kind of gate I like!
S: A gate? There are bath towels with bear ears and you’re interested in a gate?

S: Ooh, I like this ErgoBabyCarrier. But “supportive hood” just makes me think of Guantanamo – it sounds so dark.
C: What?! Who ARE you?

Then, in between describing various “bouncers” as “frightening” and debating the merits of a diaper genie – utterly disgusting or shockingly necessary? WE MUST KNOW NOW! – we were stopped dead in our tracks.

"Am I busy? Oh no, not at all!"
(I’ll give you a minute to digest this totally amazing photo).

How on earth can this “mother[4]” be casually chatting away on what appears to be a giant, antiquated Blackberry. Doesn’t she know there are giant plastic contraptions dangling from her boobs, meanwhile she is suffocating in some kind of restrictive, medieval girdle? LADY! GET IT TOGETHER!

We laughed our heads off for entire minutes. We are so much better than this woman! This woman is CRAZY!

We said. Before growing eerily silent. We both knew what was coming. I plan on breastfeeding. I also plan on working full time. <Deep breath, looks at feet>.

<Quietly now, and with great resignation>. I will be buying a restrictive, medieval girdle and hanging giant plastic contraptions off my boobs EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

You win, Amazon. You win.

<End scene.>


[1] Seriously though, what is it about this giraffe?
[2] I think we all knew that a Portlandia clip would make it in here somewhere.
[3] For real. I could not make this up – a friend of mine just confided that one of the other parents in her son’s day care subscribes to some totally bananas heretofore-unknown-potty-training-“method” wherein after two months, she goes entirely diaper free. She literally holds her infant over the toilet at… random intervals? Every ten minutes, just for good measure? WHO KNOWS. One thing is for sure, she spends an inordinate amount of time dangling an infant over a toilet making futile pleas for it to act on demand. (Moments later: Okay, so I totally just Googled “diaper free” and the first hit was a thoughtful commentary about diaper-free support groups and “elimination communication.” I can’t even. I just can’t.)
[4] I put mother in quotes because her stomach is far too flat and clearly not-recently-the-carrier-of-a-fetus. Amazon, you devious bastard.

25 comments:

  1. Just discovered your blog and am such a fan already! I'm a pastor in a 2-year residency, 24 weeks preggo (due in Oct) and also registered on Amazon (similar reactions to nursing bra/medieval torture device thing). Anyway, so glad to have found your blog and best wishes through the rest of your pregnancy! I look forward to reading along. (:

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    1. Congratulations and thanks for reading! I haven't actually taken the registry-plunge yet but it's probably only a matter of time... ha

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  2. This post was amazing and that medieval torture device turns into a godsend when you have to pump. I work nights at a hospital and it was the only way I could pump and manage to get something to eat. Also, that rabbit hole is long and deep and I have had many times where I have bought stuff on Amazon--Prime is both a blessing and a curse--just because I needed to pretend that something would get the horrible screaming to stop.

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    1. Seriously, I have a feeling that the Amazon vortex is going to be a dangerous midnight spend-fest! Anyway, glad to hear another endorsement of the torture device.

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  3. Oh my god, I am dying with laughter. This comment requires bullets:

    - First of all, I totally hate that ALL marketing of baby stuff involves models who are clearly not pregnant and probably never have been and have abs of steel. Also, I'm fairly certain that the breast-pump lady is holding a Sony Walkman to her ear.

    - I actually was consider the name Juniper if we had a girl. But I'm not sure I like the short form "June" so much. Grover is too much, though. Maybe I'll just name my child Portlandia and irony as a concept will implode.

    - What IS with Sophie the Giraffe?! Like, is it just because she's made by French people that everybody's obsessed with her? I can't decide whether I want to give 'er the big fuck you and refuse to buy her, or if I should just join the cool club and get one to demonstrate that I'm a "mom in the know".

    - DIED reading that comment about the Ergo carrier hoods being like Guantanamo torture devices! I was JUST looking at those yesterday online and thinking, "What the hell is that damn hood for? Don't moms carry umbrellas?" It looks so last-minute, too, like the designers were all, "Shit, let's stick a flap of Gortex in there and charge $100 more for this"... grrr...

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    1. Ha! You are so right on with the Sony Walkman - or a Zach Morris type saved by the bell cordless phone. Also, baby Portlandia has a nice ring to it and I'm pretty much convinced that we will all be required to buy Sophie - like before we're allowed to leave the hospital recovery room. Totally saw a baby who was Ergo-hooded. I think she looked happy?

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  4. First post of yours I've read, and I'm hooked. :)

    Sophie - I don't know what it is about her, but she is AMAZEBALLS. I have yet to meet a baby who doesn't love her. Get her. Seriously. I am not a "baby stuff" person, but that toy is magic.

    That hands free pumping bra? Yep, I was hooked up to one 4 days a week for the 10 months I pumped at work. I also passed the time by talking on my antiquated blackberry. Does that make me odd? :)

    Random -but here is the post I wrote on the necessities for all of this. The cheapie hands free device was what I used at work - and it kicked ass! http://mycheapversionoftherapy.com/2012/10/03/pumping-and-breastfeeding-necessities/

    EC...ya, I have a friend who used it, and her kid was potty trained way before one year of age. I just can't imagine doing it myself! LOL

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    1. That post of yours is so helpful - exactly the kind of one-stop-shopping guide I need! Also, I'm intrigued - you know someone that successfully used EC? Insanity!

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  5. Oh my gosh you are hilarious!!! Tell us more about your parenting style, will you cloth diaper? If so, which style will you choose? I'm not even pregnant but I've been researching cloth diapers for EVER and I still haven't decided. I also think I'll end up having to pump and I wish there was a way to do it without hubby seeing me. I mean, how could he ever think I have nice boobs again after seeing that?

    Glad you are feeling better and you are having fun buying things for baby :)

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    1. Ughhhh cloth diapering. I can't decide on that either. I'm torn between being a good mother/person/environmentalist and being absolutely terrible at doing laundry. *sigh*

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    2. Goal is to cloth diaper but I'm also going to go easy on myself - if it works, it works. If not, we'll try something else (which will probably not include hanging the infant over the toilet and coaxing it to go). Also, JustMe - there's a beautiful thing called a cloth diaper service! They pick up the dirty diapers and drop off fresh ones. I think it's the only way to stay sane and cloth diaper at the same time. Anyway, it's easy to be ambitious when we're still in fetus-and-not-real-baby-land. Ha.

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  6. i laughed loudly several times while reading this. and then i made The Artsy Engineer read it. he was absolutely fascinated by the breast pump. i think it was like watching a surgical procedure - it's grossing you out but you are so fascinated that you can't peel your eyes away. i keep scrolling up to look at the picture again, because its effects DO NOT wear off.

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    1. Ha! thanks LL (can I call you that? did I just coin something). It sounds like you needed some laughs today and I'm always happy to oblige. Looking at that breast pump picture is like watching a train wreck - hard to look away.

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  7. This entry was hilarious and kind of scary too. I was frightened enough by the wedding industry when we were planning our wedding (tons of stuff to buy and plan! most of it unnecessary! everything with prices inflated 3 to 5 times! yikes!) I haven't thought ahead much to buying for babies, but it sounds even scarier. Right now I'm avoiding the thought by promising myself I'm going to follow the Bare Bones Baby Guide (see here: http://unclutterer.com/2008/10/14/bare-bones-baby-buying-guide/) or something similar.

    That bra...yeah words fail...

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    1. wow, thanks, had never heard of this bare bones baby guide - totally intrigued! And yes, it feels eerily similar to the wedding planning world of crazy where everyone proclaims that you'll never be happy unless you buy X or make the flower arrangements in such-and-such-way or, you know, wear a leotard and dance on your head. At the end of the day, I always felt like you know, it's my wedding, so I get to do what I want - that's the point. Hoping I can carry the same motto with baby... we shall see...

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  8. Do you know I get excited when I see your posts? They just crack me up. This one didn't fail...in fact, one of the best...including your random conversations while online shopping. HA.

    Some thoughts:

    -Sophie the Giraffe??? I have no idea! I feel like I have to buy one to be a part of this parenting generation. wth??
    -I actually like the name Juniper. You SHOULD name your baby Juniper. Please??
    -The breast feeding device terrifies me. Like our boobs will stop belonging to us and start being McDonalds milkshake machines.
    -STROLLERS ARE SO EXPENSIVE!! I mean, not $5000 expensive, but all of them seem ridiculous. Damn.

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    1. ha, thanks :)
      Also, I think we all have to buy Sophie. I think it's in the birthing contract with our respective OB/midwife/doula. Juniper is growing on me and also, we better start getting used to being total dairy cows. I think it'll be years before we reclaim any vestiges of our former selves. (ha, too bleak?)

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  9. Josey pointed me over to your blog- I love it! Hilarious- can't wait to read more!

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    1. thanks for stopping by - I'll try not to disappoint!

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  10. I'm sorry to be the one to inform you that you do need a Sophie. I was skeptical too, but then I saw one, and read the story behind it... yeah. You need one.

    I've seen less-scary breast pumps than whatever the hell that thing is. Now imagine pumping at the office with that thing, 1985 cell phone in hand, and having a colleague accidentally walk in on you... oh, the horror.

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    1. Read the story behind the beloved Sophie? Do tell!

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    2. Ok so I found this: http://www.vulli.fr/en/the-sophie-la-girafe-story.html, but honestly the little rhyming story that is on the actual tag is much cuter in the way it's told. I'm probably biased because I'm a total Francophile. But one look into that happy little face... oh, it's impossible to resist.

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  11. Amazon love: I spend so many hours (okay...probably adds up to actual DAYS) perusing Amazon incessantly. Being on bed rest for 11 weeks encouraged this obsession. But seriously, great deals and you can spend hours reading reviews on each item.

    Diapering: We are three weeks into this living with crazy newborn baby, and we're splitting our time between disposable diapers (at night because they seem easier when you're brain dead and have slept exactly 7 minutes in the last 3 days) and "tiny pants" gDiapers with both the biodegradable inserts and Green Mountain Diapers (GMD) organic prefold inserts with disposable liners (something we quickly found to be a must-have!) When she gets older we'll transition into the "stash" of diapers I've been buying and hoarding off of ebay, GMD, and other various diapering sites.

    Sophie the Giraffe: Apparently awesome. I got mine for free so I am a big fan already! We haven't introduced it to her yet, but I guess I'll need to do so soon!

    Breast Pumping: I think we're all horrified by that photo. My father saw a worse one at Target the other day when picking up some emergency Pampers for little one because I was too tired to do do laundry (for cloth diapers)--he said the photo on the pumping "bustier" featured a woman double pumping in a 1980's-era office smiling like a crazed lady and using ancient electronics. He said it stopped him in his tracks! Two weeks into pumping, however, I will say I am sick of hunching over and holding that darn pump up to me. If you tilt it any other way than *just so* then the suction is lost and pumping ends. Fail. So I may be buying one of these stupid contraptions in the near future!

    Love the blog. Keep it up!

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    1. hey diana, thanks! I may have slipped into the vortex of amazon baby gear this afternoon for a solid 2 hours. it's a dangerous world out there! anyway, thanks for the tips and good luck with the pumping - maybe the torture device ain't so bad after all?

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  12. Unfortunately, Amazon is just too expensive for me here...thankfully there are many second hand stores/co-workers/FB groups from which I have purchased most everything we've needed so far. It has saved a huge amount of money, even on the totally awesome stroller we have!

    I think I've seen the giraffe, but we don't have one. We do have other giraffes, however.

    As for potty training..I started with my guy when he was 4 months old and was able to sit with help. I'm not a nazi about him using the toilet, but I do put him on it several times throughout the day (when he wakes up in the morning, after eating, before/after naps, before bed, and if we happen to be upstairs and it has been a while). If he goes, Yay!, if he doesn't, no worries, it'll happen next time. He's only 10 months (next week), but he knows what the potty is, doesn't hate it and actually enjoys sitting there (more so if he can play with a toy or himself). I think this will help in the long run and it has saved some on disposable diapers because I just couldn't be bothered with cloth, even though I thought I wanted to do it.

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