08 March 2012

How much does a baby cost?

Wow.  According to Yahoo! I should be in a total panic, because I absolutely cannot afford to have children.  No way.  I had no idea that children are actually a luxury item for the wealthy, but according to this article a baby costs $10,000 in the first year of its life alone. 

That covers maternity care, formula, diapers, child care...you know, just the basics.  Now, I realize those things aren't optional for some people.  Some people cannot nurse, for example, so formula becomes a necessary expense.  But I really have to wonder about an article that presents that more as a minimum figure than an absolute worst-case scenario.  Especially when a key piece of advice for dealing with the financial burden is "Don't forget to throw a big big baby shower!" 

Yeah.  Give your family and friends your shopping list, and let THEM pay for your foolishness!  Great advice.  That's so tacky I don't even want to think about it.

Not to mention that probably 95% percent of the stuff they're saying you MUST HAVE for your child is actually completely superfluous.  In case you're wondering, here is my list of essentials for having a baby:

A good midwife and a healthy diet.  This will save you tons of money on maternity care.  There are rare exceptions, of course, but I do wonder a lot why insurance companies don't encourage this more.  My prenatal care, delivery, and post-partum care (and the care was excellent!) for my first child cost me $1800.  Read that again, it's not a typo.

A way to feed the baby.  If you simply cannot nurse then you'll have to buy formula.  And that is fine.  But if you're on a budget and your breasts are in good working order, get a membership to La Leche League or find a good Lactation Consultant.  "Natural" doesn't equal "Intuitive", but with a bit of help, most women do just fine.  And it's nowhere near the cost of formula and baby food.

A good supply of basic cloth diapers.  I've seen the cost break-downs, and water for washing doesn't cost anywhere near what you'll pay for disposables.  You can go all high-end with cloth diapers, just like anything else, but decent prefolds (Please don't buy the birds-eye ones from Wal-Mart.  They're terrible and they don't work.) and basic covers will only set you back a few hundred dollars.  Bonus?  You can use them for the next baby, too.  Mine are heading for baby #4 now, and still working just fine.  (The covers did give out after Benjamin, but even if I couldn't make my own, I could get half a dozen for a hundred dollars, and be good to go.)

Somewhere for the baby to sleep.  This doesn't have to be a $1000 crib!  I use a bassinet I bought at the thrift store for the first few months, and a pack and play once the baby starts to get more mobile.  No point, in my opinion, in having a pack and play and crib both, and the pack and play is much more multi-function.

A car seat.  This is a big expense, but even here, you can save a lot by going basic.  AAA has car seats that don't cost an arm and a leg, and they'll even help you get it installed correctly.

A sling or other type of infant carrier.  Others may disagree, and I suppose this isn't actually a necessity, but it makes my life so much easier I would never EVER want to have a baby without one.  I use a ring sling until the baby hits about 10 pounds (for Benjamin, that was when he was two weeks old), and then switch to my Ergo.  (Whew!  They've gotten fancy in the years since I bought mine!)  I love my Ergo with a passion and devotion completely incomprehensible to those who have never tried to sooth a small child and make dinner at the same time.  I used my Ergo with Audrey every. single. day. Until my belly got so big (with Benjamin) that I couldn't buckle the thing anymore.  If you can't afford to buy something like that, find a strip of fabric about six yards long and use it as a wrap sling.  It isn't quite as simple, but it works just as well.  There are plenty of great videos on Youtube for how to tie the things.  Just make sure you also look up safety precautions.  These carriers are great, when used correctly, but like anything else you need to know what you're doing.

Some type of clothing for the baby, appropriate to your climate and the time of year. This, also, can be as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it. And if someone does decide to give a shower in your honor, you'll probably be all set.

Ummm...I'm pretty sure that's it!  Of course there's a few extra things, but the key here is differentiating between necessities and "things that are nice to have".  I love a lambskin for my babies, but it's not a necessity.  A bouncy seat is nice, because really, eventually you do want to put the baby down even if only to wash your hair, but again, it's not a necessity.  (You could use the car seat, if you bought a removable carrier type, or lay them on a blanket.)  A changing table is great to have for saving your back.  (I use an old dresser with a folded towel on top.) But you can also just change them on the floor.  Diaper pail?  Five gallon plastic bucket I got from the bakery in my grocery store.  It was free.

So you see why I have a hard time buying the "You can't afford to have a baby!!" mantra.  It's mostly spread by those who want to sell you lots of junk you don't need, or those who firmly believe no one should be having babies anyway.  For most people, it simply isn't true.

04 March 2012

Blather

Miss Manners defines blather as those things people say when they're looking for words, but not wanting to use conventional phrases, that usually are totally inappropriate. ( Hint:  We have conventional phrases for a reason.  They keep feet out of mouths.)
Prime example of blather:  (to a woman you don't know, or don't know well)  "Oh!  When are you due?!"  Your foot goes into your mouth when she replies, frostily, "I'm not." or "The baby was born last month."  See how much trouble being creative can cause?  Pro tip:  If you're close enough to her to know about an immanent baby, she'll have already told you.  Don't ask.

I have been experiencing a LOT of blather recently, so as a public service I am offering this list of Things That Should Never Be Said To a Pregnant Woman.  If they confuse you, refer to the translation of What She Actually Heard.  Or just take my word for it.

1)  "Oh! You must be due any day now!"  (What She Heard:  "You're enormous!")  Your foot goes in your mouth when she replies "No, actually, not for another two months."  I started getting this comment at least two months before my actual due date.  If you don't know when the baby is due, do everyone a favour and don't try to guess.

2) "Wow, are you having twins?"  (What She Heard: "Really, you're ENORMOUS!")  This is especially bad as a follow-up to the previous question, after you've discovered that she isn't due for weeks.  A restaurant server said this to me just last week, after trying #1 first.  Fortunately, one of us knows how to behave in public, or it could have gotten really ugly.

3)  "You're huge!"  There is no way to rectify this.  You may as well just go about with a bag over your head from then on.   You're simply doomed to social failure, unless it is obviously a cultural misunderstanding.  Even then, you're on shaky ground.  (Want to know why pregnant women don't like being told they're huge?  They already know this, it isn't flattering, and they're tired of hearing about it.)

4) "You look really uncomfortable."  You think you're being so empathetic, but What She Heard was "You look enormous, and miserable to boot." 

To summarize:  If what you're about to say gives any indication that you have noticed a woman's belly is a bit larger than normal, shut your mouth quickly.  When you've recovered from your glance into The Pit of Doom, open your mouth again and state, in your most sincere voice "You look lovely today."  (If there's no way that would be believable, just keep your mouth closed.)  It's so much easier than trying to be original, and it will taste lots better than your feet would.

02 March 2012

Naming

You may have noticed the posting in these parts has been pretty sparse...I was going to say "of late", but let's call it like it is:  It's been a while.  With all the miscarriages it was hard to find things to sound peppy and upbeat about.  Maybe it would have helped if I had tried a little harder, but that's not where I was at.  I didn't want to inflict my issues on all of you, so I just didn't post at all.

Then I found out we were expecting again, and I didn't want to talk about it.  It was too hard to have to say, again, "Nevermind, no baby this time either."  So I didn't post for a while about that, either.

Since we passed the end of the first trimester, and it appears that this baby will, in fact, be joining us, I've thought periodically about posting again.  I'm running into a roadblock there too, which is this:  Names. 

Names are pretty powerful things.  When you name something, you give it an identity, almost create a new piece of its being.  Or identify one that already exists, and bring it out into the open.  It's no trivial matter, calling a name and hanging it on something, out there for the world to see.  We see that in the Bible, where names are so frequently explained, where God makes Himself known to us, a bit more each time, with a new name.  When Jacob changes his youngest son's name, from Ben-Oni, Son of my Sorrow, to Benjamin, Son of my Right Hand - Son of my Joy.  Names are serious business.

I have never shared my children's names on this blog because I worried about the wrong people finding them and using them for harm.  I know lots of bloggers that talk about their children, some who use names, some who don't.  That's where my comfort level was at the time, so I called them by nickname, all my Monkeys, and number in order from birth.

Which brings us to my difficulty:  What do I call this newest little one on the way?  I couldn't call it Monkey4; that felt like a denial of the three I lost, as though somehow in not being born, they had never actually existed.  But calling this baby Monkey7 felt... a bit too raw.  Too personal.  Too much information to throw at someone who stopped by to find out how I blend a smoothie up, or organize my days.  So I've decided it's time to use names.


This is my oldest, Monkey1.  His name is Brynning.  It comes from Norwegian, an old family name, and means Protector, Defender, something that protects the most vulnerable.  He is my constantly curious explorer, artist, and scientist.  His current hero is Leonardo Da Vinci, and I'd say he has a fair shot at replicating, if not Da Vinci's multiple talents, at least his constant and broad curiousity.  He has a way of looking at life with just a bit of a twist, that constantly makes me smile.

This is my sweet girl, Monkey2, whose name is Audrey.  Her name means Noble Strength, a quality that I hope and pray will grow in her day-by-day.  She loves helping me and loves playing with her brothers, loves her daddy.  She has a generous, gentle heart...and a temper that can raise your hair.  As she continues to learn how to combine and direct all her compassion, caring, and passion, I expect to see great things from her.

My sweet Monkey3, who keeps me on my toes every minute.  Passionate, impetuous, and into everything, with the sweetest nature you can imagine, he is full-steam ahead every moment of every day.  He is truly the Son of my Joy - my Benjamin.  If we both survive 'til he reaches manhood, I will know it was the grace of God.

My own Mad Scientist, David my Beloved.  I can't imagine this journey without him and I'm grateful for him each and every day.

Those are the people who fill up my hours, my home, and my heart.  Pretty soon we'll add another little one to the mix.  I can't wait.