I always knew I wanted to have children, but the thought of being pregnant freaked me out. My body changing in ways that are out of my control? Cool. Milk leaking without warning from my nipples? Sick. Peeing a little when I laugh postpartum? Fun!
Yet many moms told me that being pregnant was the happiest time of their life. I figured it must not be as scary as I was making it out to be.
Fast-forward to today — I'm 21 weeks pregnant, and my husband and I are expecting a baby boy in August. I'm either very lucky, or I set my expectations so low that I'm pleasantly surprised by the experience so far. I feel totally normal besides the fact that my boobs literally doubled in size overnight and my belly is getting in the way during yoga. Not to mention that working from home during the pandemic means I can wear sweatpants every day. I'm still not sure if it's been the happiest time of my life. I mean, I've walked through the halls of Hogwarts at Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And I freaking love Harry Potter.
I've also been uncharacteristically chill throughout most of my pregnancy. As a type-A personality who finds it nearly impossible to go with the flow, I'm miraculously taking it day by day and trying not to get overwhelmed by the vast amount of information on the internet. I have had moments of weakness. Just yesterday, I googled, "Do stretch marks appear out of nowhere?" And then I realized I had just scratched myself on something. Insert face-palm emoji.
Oddly enough, I attribute this newfound chill to the pandemic. This past year has taught me that there will always be things out of your control and you just have to deal with them the best you can.
One thing that recently made me lose my chill a little, though, was when my sister asked me to create a baby registry last month. My initial reaction: How am I supposed to build a comprehensive list when I don't even know what I need? I decided to turn to experienced parents for advice. I innocently solicited registry recs on Facebook, expecting a few responses. What I ended up with was more than 100 thoughtful comments and messages from friends and family from every part of my life. Most people left bulleted lists of suggestions or entire paragraphs that might as well have been in another language. What's a NoseFrida, a DockATot and a travel system?, I wondered.
Others gave advice. One colleague told me to "stock up on patience — the 5-gallon drum is good." My uncle said, "Happy baby, happy parents. Do your best to carry on with your own schedule." I think my favorite piece of wisdom was "more onesies than you think is reasonable." I also learned that people feel very strongly about zippers being far superior to snaps.
After consuming the information, I felt more overwhelmed than when I started. I knew the only way to handle this situation was to take a deep breath, eat an ice cream bar or two, and start a spreadsheet. I'm an event planner; aggressive spreadsheets have always kept me sane. And nothing brings me more joy than crossing something off my to-do list.
One by one, I plugged the Facebook suggestions into different rows. Next, I went down the list and googled what the heck everything was and added category tags. Once everything was categorized, I sorted the spreadsheet and removed duplicate suggestions.
Suddenly, the list went from about 75 rows to 20 and felt much more manageable. I started to research the remaining items on the list and zeroed in on products I liked. I used a website called Babylist to build my registry. It allows you to add products from anywhere on the internet. Here's what I narrowed it down to:
- A "travel system" stroller. This is a style of stroller that comes with a car seat that can detach from its base and lock into the stroller.
- Bassinet or side sleeper
- A baby tub
- A bouncy seat to occupy your baby while you do other things
- DockATot. This is a brand that many parents recommended. It's essentially a cushion with walls that you can place the baby in while you are folding laundry, etc.
- A hands-free baby carrier. Can be sporty or stretchy, depending on your needs.
- A white noise machine
- A baby monitor
- FridaBaby Windi the Gaspasser and NoseFrida
- Infant Tylenol
- Diaper cream
- Burp cloths
- Zutano booties. Apparently they are amazing and stay on the baby's feet.
- Baby bottles, bottle brush, bottle drying rack
- Car seat cover
- Onesies (with zippers!)
- Swaddle blankets
- Changing pad liners
- Diaper caddy
- Diapers of all sizes
- A diaper bag — one that you and your partner will like to carry.
I'm sure there will be items on the list that I'll love and items I'll never use, and things not on the list that I'll need. And that's OK. I'll likely be losing plenty of sleep when my baby arrives; there's no need to lose sleep over his gear. If you are expecting a little one in the near future, though, maybe this list will save you a little anxiety.
I'm certain that plenty of other baby-related things will test me in ways I didn't think possible. I'll just try to go easy on myself and remember that nobody's perfect. And that someday, when our baby is old enough, we can take him to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.