(To be fair, our stroller got much heavier use when we lived in the essentially pedestrian-only culture of Manhattan. Mack, on the other hand, child of suburbia, sat in a stroller maybe a grand total of 20 times in his life. The rest of the time we just lugged him around in our arms or, you know, shoved him in a duffle bag or something.)
OK, so out of no disrespect to Thing 3, one thing I told myself when we found out we were pregnant was that we were not getting a whole shitload of unecessary stuff this time. Mack was lucky enough to inherit a lot of stuff from Cal's tenure, but you'll remember that we basically liquidated all our baby gear after we moved here last Spring and so, with the exception of a few forgotten toys and some flannel receiving blankets that have since been turned into Absorbancy Rags of Unknown Origin, we're starting from scratch with the new kid. The new kid, who, despite receiving essentially no hand-me-downs from her brothers, will still be clothed in almost exclusively boys clothing for at least the first three months, simply because they were really, really, really on sale after Christmas.
However, there are a few things that I will shell out for again this time around, simply because they worked so well the first two times. Here is a partial list.
Mother's Milkmate Breast Milk Storage Rack and bottles
Sometime later, maybe when I'm actually on maternity leave and have some damn time, I'll do a more detailed post (Again? I feel like maybe I've done this already but people always ask me so maybe I haven't) about the logistics of pumping when you're working at a hospital full-time. But in any event, for those other of you who are contemplating breastfeeding your kids but need to, you know, not actually be present when your kid is eating, this little system works very well, particularly for keeping track of how much milk you have in your fridge and in what order it needs to be consumed. (Human breast milk lasts for about 8 days in the fridge, if recollection holds.) Each bottle holds 4 oz. as has both a stopper and a screw-on cap (so they're leak-proof), and ten bottles can be loaded into the rack, which dispenses from the bottom in the order in which you put them in. At full capacity (and I mean when the kids were eating like hogs but not yet slaking their appetites with solid foods) I was running two and a half to three racks, depending on pumping success. I also ordered a couple of packs of spare bottles, just to have some extras around.
The caveat is that this rack system does take up some more space in your fridge, so you essentially have to clear a shelf (whatever, half a shelf) to fit it in. But I never got into that whole plastic baggie system (something with how floppy and flimsy they were bugged me, I kept spilling stuff everywhere--also it just seemed like a tremendous amount of waste over the course of a year) and the way the rack is designed makes it much easier, I think, for whatever non-me person was feeding the baby to actually keep straight in what order the milk was to be consumed. Anyway, it worked well for the other two. We'll be getting this system again for Thing 3.
SPEAKING OF BOOBS...
Medela Symphony Breast Pump
This was the pump I used with Cal, at least for the first six months. I rented it from some lactationtrix in Manhattan who eventually moved to Westchester (necessitating the equipment return), and after that I bought the Medela Pump in Style, which I used for the rest of Cal's breastfeeding tenure (for whom I pumped for a year), and all of Mack's (for whom I pumped for 10 and a half months, because obviously I LOVE HIM LESS).
The Pump in Style was...well, it was fine. It got the job done. But in comparison, I do think the Symphony worked better. (I'm trying to phrase this in a way that won't squick out people who know me in person, but look, it just sucked out more milk, OK?) So this time around, I'll probably either rent the Symphony, or buy one and resell it afterwards. It's inadvisable, by the way to buy a used single-user pump like the Pump in Style or similar, but because the Symphony is a so-called "hospital grade pump," it's designed for multiple users and therefore is built with a closed system, meaning no human parts can mix with any of the machine parts. The downside of a hospital grade pump is that it is a tank. I know, I had to carry one back and forth to work on the subway for six months. Vertebral compression fractures, ho!
We had a ton of these lying around from Cal and Mack, and I think that they are great. They're basically big long muumuu-like gowns for newborns that don't have any zippers, buttons, snaps, nothing--just an elastic band that runs along the bottom seam that keeps the baby's legs semi-bundled. Diaper changes in the dark? So easy. Just pull up the bottom, and pull it back down. Also, they are adorable. The pair I showed above are Carter's brand, which seem to hold up the best (the quality of the cotton is very nice too), but a lot of brands make this kind of sleeper--Gerber makes the cheapest version, but they also have a cheaper fabric which means it's thinner and tends to shrink up quite a bit more. Anyway, it really doesn't matter, the baby's going to wear them for two months max and then they will bust out of them, Hulk-style. So by all means, get the cheap ones, just means you can have more lying around as extras for the inevitable GI spillage, above or below.
some of those cloth diaper covers are so damn cute I could plotz--but the fact of it is that given that I work full-time I'd feel pretty guilty about essentially inflicting the work and commitment of going cloth-diapers on someone else for most of the day. So we do disposable diapers. But we do have all these cloth diapers around, even to this day, almost seven years after Cal was born. Because they're very useful.
Look, I think I pretty much summed it up here: what you really, really need with a new baby is rags. Just, like, a pile of rags. And these are good rags. First of all, they're soft and smooth, so you can actually put them on or near the baby without worrying that they're too abrasive. Secondly, they're absorbant, owing to their original function. Third, they're small and stow neatly, so you can keep them in stacks everywhere. Lie one under the baby's head when they're sleeping in the crib. Or under they're butt when they're sitting in one of those chair bouncer things that necessitate all poop to shoot up from the top of the diaper. Stow a couple in your diaper bag to use as changing pads. Keep them in a basket in the living room near where you feed the kid. Boom, it's magical, turns potentially big laundry jobs into small ones. It's also great for cleaning regular things, like your kitchen counters and windows. Oh, and I guess maybe you could use them as diapers too, but I can't give you any advice on that, because I'm too busy killing the planet. Hats off to you cloth diaper parents out there, by the way. You're the real heros. (But! To be able to chuck that whole smelly poop diaper package away en bloc without having to scrape and rinse and soak anything! Priceless!)
How about you guys? What tried and true baby products--not necessarily expensive, but indispensable nonetheless--can you recommend?