pregnancy - 7 month bump - on the horizon line blog - brianna randall - can you put a baby in a drawer?

Can you keep a baby in a drawer?

Posted on Posted in Pregnancy

Drawing the line between what’s important and what’s irrelevant

It’s starting to sink in that pregnancy actually ends with a new person in our lives. And that the new little human is gonna need some things. This is a frustrating realization when accumulating things is a source of anxiety for two people who had very few things for a very long time. I denied it for as long as possible. I ignored the friends who told me to “never say no” when a mom offered me hand-me-downs. I pretended we would be those people who only needed a sling and some diapers. I convinced myself that we could keep the baby in a padded drawer and wrap him in Rob’s old t-shirts. I watched moms in Myanmar do just that with their babies – well, minus Rob’s shirts. Babies in Polynesia and Southeast Asia didn’t have copious gear. Or any gear, really. And there were plenty of healthy older kids running around, no worse for wear after forsaking vibrating chairs, Baby Bjorns, bouncy swings or embroidered onesies in their infancy.Bri with Shan family in Myanmar village - Brianna and Rob - On the Horizon Line Travel Blog I know, rationally, that our baby only needs us and some breast milk to get by. But after living in the States again for a couple of months, I’ve realized that Rob and I probably need a little more to survive his infancy. So I’ve stopped saying “no, thanks” to all the first-world gear that makes new parents’ lives easier. The problem is that I don’t know how to close the Pandora’s Box now that it’s open. Do we really need 4 hats for little dude? 12 puzzles? 6 stuffed bears? Boxes of toys and baby clothes have started to appear on our front step, generous gifts from friends. But instead of sorting through it, I’m paralyzed by dreams of being buried alive in an avalanche of baby gear, tiny mismatched booties choking me as I tread water in a sea of noisy plastic gadgets. I’m overreacting. It’s true. But I want to know how to draw the line between necessity and frivolity. Between what’s important and what’s irrelevant. These are lines that extend beyond baby gear, obviously. In fact, perhaps our struggle with accepting baby things is simply a metaphor for our simultaneous struggle to settle back down after a year that changed everything. As I grow this baby, Rob and I are also growing our own identities to make sure they include who we were before we left as well as who we are after traveling. What do we choose to keep from past lives and adventures that’s important and what do we toss that’s irrelevant? Everything is about to change again. Two months from today (give or take), a new person enters our household. We probably need more than a drawer to help us help him. Any suggestions about (or donations of) essential baby-raising items would be much appreciated. And, of course, we always welcome discussions about the line between what’s necessary and what’s frivolous in everyday life. pregnancy - 7 month bump - on the horizon line blog - brianna randall

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9 thoughts on “Can you keep a baby in a drawer?

  1. The sense of humor is going to come in handy – what a grand adventure it all is! Love the gdad comment. 🙂

  2. you have to have a clown-holding-colored-balloons lamp or baby will grow weak, be easily bullied, and will reject you and everything you stand for when he reaches his late teens

  3. Thanks, China. What a wonderful post. So much information and richness here. I appreciate you sharing!

  4. Hi Brianna, I met you briefly at Kipp and Christine’s wedding a couple of years ago — I am Kipp’s Aunt and have two grown boys aged 26 and 28. My vision for having children: natural childbirth. So no pitocion, no mercury drops in the eyes, no electronic monitoingr belts on me during labor which inhibit moving, and no being forced to lie down when I knew full well that taking advantage of gravity was the best gift ever (and so was yoga!) Even after planning and successfully dodging “protocol” by knowing exactly what I wanted and why and staying firm in my belief in myself and the reading and talking I had done to educate myself as much as possible — even then there are curve balls that the hospitals can throw at you although I hear they are much better in some cases today.

    One of the best books I read was “Spiritual Midwifery” which was written in the 70’s I think and by a midwife in a commune. Many, many women of diverse backgrounds recommended it to me and after reading four times or more I learned why. There is more information in that one book than most others and it takes more than one reading to absorb it. Luckily it reads almost like a novel or biography with photographs so it’s a pleasure to read!

    Our second child was born at home. We had wanted to have a home birth with our first but we were new to Sacramento and I didn’t know any mom in town and had no relatives in town and our birth coach (who had had five home birth and six children) advised us to wait until we had a community of friends here before we embarked on the home birth journey and I have to say she was right. We had hardly moved into our house when Henry was born so that alone was stressful. I applaud you and your husband that you came home to roost so to speak where you have such a good base of friends. Women who have had kids especially will become more important than you can ever imagine. Not that men can’t be great but in my experience and my friends’, the moment you give birth you have crossed over immediately into a hidden realm called motherhood.

    Everything you are and have been doing thus far has been preparing you for it: deciding to have a baby (planned or not), growing a baby for nine months, planning for the birth and all that entails (as you recent post presents), giving birth AND holding your baby for the first time (hopefully not wrapped up in a towel all cleaned up but immediately placed on your chest and THEN a blanket placed on top of both of you so you can bond skin to skin right away. This one thing I did with both kids without planning but was instinctive was the most mind altering, physically powerful, emotional and spiritually powerful “moments” in my entire life.

    As for “things” you are quite right. You don’t need much right away, especially if you plan to breast feed on demand and not on a “schedule.” People can be VERY opinionated about this so be prepared to explore this before and after and don’t let the outside world cloud your instincts. Mothering instincts are like no other instincts you will have ever experienced…. especially for the first 5 then 10 then 18 and so one years!!! Motherhood is a state of mind and a state of being you will continually learn and become “proficient” at and as soon as you feel like you have “mastered” one stage of your child’s early life, they will morph into the next stage so don’t beat yourself up for “not knowing what to do!”

    Again, see how pregnancy prepares you for motherhood? Somehow you are growing a baby but it’s just sort of happening and you are this amazing vehicle and vessel for all this to happen. You try and get enough sleep, rest, and reduce as much stress as possible because the first year is usually the hardest and you need to learn to listen to your baby’s and YOUR needs first and foremost. The old “rest when your baby is resting/sleeping” is TRUE believe me. The dishes can wait. Friends and family are to be trusted to not feel impinged upon when you ask them if they could do a load of laundry for you, help you fold it, do the dishes, vacuum, and even make you meals when you need rest.

    The more you trust that this is the beginning of the “it takes a village” thing the better off you will feel and be and so with the baby also and Dad also.

    As for stuff (sorry, I get detoured easily!) – hats will be given and use the ones that fit and keep having one or two on hand as they grow. Keeping a baby’s head covered is very important to help protect them. The soft spot on the top of their heads is not supposed to close until they are about a year but you will see many newborn and young babies being carried around or pushed in something with very little clothing and no hat. I noticed that kids who weren’t dressed with soft, stretchy hats from the very beginning tended to have a hard mons way too early. So, I’d worry more about learning how a child’s brain develops than matching their socks! Who cares if she or he is wearing a striped blue one on the left food and an all red sock on the right? You’ll lose about half their socks in just a short amount of time as they are always either falling off or the baby eventually “finds” their feet and pull them off!

    I agree with the pillow thing and also a good, comfortable rocking chair that supports your head and doesn’t creak! Those slider rockers are great — I wish I had had one. Mine was beautiful and old mission style but the back was too short and it creaked so loudly it constantly woke Henry up. I had bought it at a garage sale for cheap and was so excited…. and I just sold it three weeks ago to a very happy man for the same price. It was hard to see it go but I don’t see my guys getting married for a while and it’s not a good baby rocker anyway.

    Sorry this is so long. I wish I had had a blog to ask questions way back when! My mom wasn’t much into talking about it and we were of different minds about most stuff when we did talk. I am as tired now as you are but please feel free to email me anytime if you have found any of this helpful. I have been a mentor to many mothers since my kids became old enough to to to school… I wrote articles for a local mothering group’s newsletter for 12 years, and was asked to come talk and share stories at their meetings. I am and have always been interested in children, child psychology, child development, etc. I worked in a Waldorf school for 12 years (not as a teacher but many other roles) and my husband has been a Waldorf teacher for 20 years.

    Their expertise is understanding child development especially in relation to learning. For instance, many children today have developmental problems and often people blame it on vaccines, pesticides, or pollution. Well, I have to agree that we bought as much organic food as we could afford which not that hard here in California and pollutions and GMO’s are the reason we did this and why we spent so much time camping in the mountains or going to the beach.

    But you might be surprised to know that because of all the equipment, contraptions, etc. that they make for kids today to move without effort (think: baby bounces, walkers, tiny bikes they get push on or learn to push themselves which is really a substitute for learning to balance on their own. If you really want to assure your child’s development stays on track, play, hang out and learn to love being on the floor with your baby and toddler. Crawling and how they learn to do it is one of the most important developmental stages of a child’s life and the statistics for how little children crawl now is awful.

    Our oldest son walked at nine months — for all the reasons I mentioned above — too much helping him walk by holding him on his feet, having to put him in a roller table type gismo for a month when he was five months old because I had to have a rather large ovarian dermoid tumor removed surgically and wasn’t supposed to lift Henry for three weeks. In hindsight, I should have hired someone to help me. In the end, the his wonderful Waldorf teacher recognized signs of a developmental problems he was having as early as second grade with holding a crayon or pencil.

    We had noted his fine motor skills in his hands were less than other also but figured it was just something he would out grow. Instead, it just got worse. Solution? Horse back riding lessons and crawling games! Hide and seek on all fours, find the hidden object on all fours, race from the beach towels into the surf on all fours! We just made up game after game to keep it interesting and he loved riding horses. Long story short: it worked. His fine motor skills improved significantly: in fact for the past two years he’s been working as a staff reporter for a newspaper and has his own blog.

    Lastly, for now, I’m with you on “less is more” with toys. Some plastic is okay if you are sure it is BPA free like teething rings but try and find something made from natural materials whenever possible. Children today lack sensory integration. This is a complicated subject to go into here but if I could just say a couple of things they would be: the first five years of a child’s life is all about their senses. Smells, Sounds, Touch, Sight, Energetic forces around them. Taste. So the less “fragrances” which are man made and the more natural odors of flowers, home cooked food, the smell of you and others who often hold and play with your child, essential oils in moderation…

    Touch: natural fibers like wool, cotton, linen… and later rocks, twine, wooden toys like a few hand carved animals or blocks made from fallen birch branches in addition to regular blocks….

    Etc. Etc. All these are the real gifts you can make available to you and your family. The simple life you lived on your boat doesn’t have to be entirely abandoned living on land… You will naturally bring your child into the world you love so much because that is your nature. You love nature and natural things and a down to earth life. Even if you get a lot of stuff, now you’ve gotten some great advice as to how to handle it. Store it away for future use or give it away. Find ways to keep clutter down just the way you did on the boats. Got too many stuffed animals? Put most in a basket and as time goes by, donate what your child is not drawn to.

    One thing one can never have enough of though is what another person said: wash cloths and cloths for protecting clothes when they are burped and tend to spit up! And one thing my mom did know… she gave me about 12 to 15 nighties that just slip over the baby head and arms but have no feet. They are like soft, cotton sacks with drawstrings at the bottom. They were so great for easy changing of diapers or taking of when they got soiled because babies poop a lot! And even the best diaper just won’t hold a big one! So don’t refuse those cotton nighties and later the onesies.

    Good night and good luck. Email me anytime.

  5. I second the boppy! It’s great to sit on too after delivery if you’ve got stitches! For one child I loved the bumbo (she sat and we got ready for work), the other not so much (too wiggly). A lingerie bag for socks helps keep them together in the wash – just hang the bag on your hamper or near where you dress baby. Or better yet buy socks all in one color like white so there’s always a match! As for a stroller I didn’t think I needed one of the fancy or expensive ones but after using/owning several I say go straight for the bob. I have a single and a double – they’re great for outdoor activities like jogging or even a dirt trail. I bought both used on Craigslist. Well worth it and in our area you can totally resell it on Craigslist when you are done with it for a fair amount…or donate! Any mom would love to have it. I’ve owned a lot of gear – some I loved, some I didn’t, some I probably didn’t need but it made life easier. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by stuff – especially if you save some for a second baby. If you take hand me downs or buy secondhand it’s not as hard to part with if you (or baby) don’t love it. You’ll find a rhythm once baby arrives and know if 4 hats is too much or just enough 🙂

  6. I think a boppy, or a similar pillow, is nice for nursing, propping up baby, etc. Otherwise, lots of washcloths and a few thin stretchy blankets.

  7. Thanks, ‘Ailina! Good advice. I definitely don’t want good gear to go to waste, and will donate what I don’t use to friends or a local shelter.

  8. Hi, Brianna. New follower here. When our #6 was born, we had quite an accumulation of “stuff,” but by then, I already determined to take a more organic approach to parenting. I also decided to limit my gear to a sling and some diapers. We didn’t get rid of everything else. As a matter of fact, I ended up using a few gadgets here and there, but the only crucial items were my breasts. 🙂 We weren’t worse off for the items we didn’t use. I just kept them aside, and when my littlest ones outgrew their use (or non-use), I donated the whole lot to the local womens’ shelter. Everybody wins. I encourage you to keep the stuff through the duration; if you need it and use it, great! If not, someone in need somewhere will eventually be able to benefit from your overabundance. Enjoy!

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