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Sunday, November 15, 2015

The womanly art of having babies has changed

Well, I don’t think the essential art of having babies has changed much. But the culture around it certainly has. I walked into a baby-supply store yesterday and was completely overwhelmed by all the stuff the world says we need. I feel sorry for today’s expecting mom, trying to equip her layette and household with everything she will need when junior arrives. Where do you begin?
We have two babies in our family due on exactly the same date. Anastasia, our daughter, and Glorianna, our niece, are due December 31st. Gloria isn’t too concerned about the coming child. She has had a baby shower or two but she will likely give birth with just a bassinet for the baby to sleep in, a package of diapers and a car seat for the baby to come home in. She will get the rest of the items as she needs them. Daily trips to Babies R Us will keep the new daddy busy. Her baby registry is only about a dozen items long.
Anastasia’s gift registry is five pages long. She has worked as a nanny, and she used to run the infant program at the local Montessori school. She knows what she needs and what she wants. She is organized.
Both mamas-to-be have items on their registry lists that I have never heard of before. For example, what is a wiper warmer?? Gloria said she went into the baby store and just stood and stared at the wall of baby bottles. Then she turned around and walked back out. Gloria has a consultant advising her on what she will need. She also has a lactation consultant, a pre-natal consultant, and a doula. Anastasia doesn’t want to do any of that training-for-childbirth stuff. As with everything in life, she prefers to learn on her own. Thank goodness her doctor doesn’t seem concerned. She says she will teach Annie everything she needs to know when the time comes, about when to breathe deep, when to breathe shallow, when to hold her breath, and when to push.
When Gloria opened her gifts at her baby shower on Sunday, she got a little weepy. It’s part hormones, part anxiety about this whole new world she is entering. As an elementary school teacher, Gloria is very familiar with little kids. It’s the whole baby thing she has to get used to. She held up each little outfit, and imagined it filled up with fat baby boy. Her eyes welled up with tears. The little mamas have just over a month to go. The doctors tell them their babies are already four pounds.
I like that these young mothers have so many choices open to them. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, modern women were told they should bottle feed their babies formula. Certainly there were the earth mothers and the hippies who breastfed but most suburban moms felt the bottle was a sign of progress and independence. 
I was twenty-one years old with my first and I was determined I was going to breastfeed my baby. I had La Leche League on speed dial, and I called their experts day and night. I soon learned that making milk wasn’t going to be a problem if I learned to sit still long enough, drink enough water, and stop worrying so much. In just a few days I got the hang of it. And baby got enough milk. I fed her for a year, her sister for about eighteen months, and her other sister for nine months. I made their baby food by blending up unseasoned cooked meats and veggies, and I used cloth diapers unless we were going out of the house. Neither Gloria nor Anastasia have cloth diapers on their list.
I think I bought maybe one bottle of formula in the entire time I had babies in the house. I never bought a jar of baby food. I was proud of my ability to provide for my children, and to keep costs down while ensuring I was providing the most natural care and feeding possible.

But would I have used a Diaper Genie if offered one? You bet your buns I would.


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