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  1. emjaybee
    emjaybee August 28, 2009 at 11:27 am |

    First: congratulations! And second: you can exercise choice here, too, and definitely should! If you really want to throw a spanner in the works, don’t disclose the sex to anyone should you find it out. It will keep you from being overwhelmed by pink dresses and blue sports-themed toys. Sadly. The other stuff is just supplies: diapers, clothes, strollers. And aside from showing up at showers, you actually have to do less work than with a wedding, which is nice.

    (apologies if you already know all this part below)

    Third: know your rights in pregnancy, labor, and birth–deciding how and where and with whom (doctor, midwife, doula, etc) to birth is a big decision. Labor and birth is like running a marathon or climbing a mountain; you need planning, flexibility, and a determination to insist on what you know is right for you. Many practitioners in the American system have some serious issues, bordering on abuse, with overuse of interventions and c/section that are not in the best interests of the woman or her baby. You need to protect yourself.

    I highly recommend both the movie “The Business of Being Born” and the book “Your Best Birth” by Ricki Lake, but there are many other books–Jennifer Block and Henci Goer are both excellent resources too.

    (if you want to know more, email me; this is something I do a lot of education work on, after surviving a birth experience that was way too painful and upsetting because of how I was treated, not because of anything wrong w/ me or my son.)

  2. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz August 28, 2009 at 12:21 pm |

    The amount of THINGS I am told that I need exhausts me.

    [August 2009: “A baby wipes warmer? Do I look like the type of person to warm up my own toilet paper?!”]

    This made me laugh so hard. My daughter is now 8 weeks old and my husband and I went through this exactly. (I consider it a victory to match my sheet sets. I’m now supposed to match sheets, blankets, a diaper caddy, paint, curtains, and decorations not just in color but in a theme?!) We finally decided that we needed a crib, a carseat, diapers, wipes, a changing pad, clothes for the baby, and blankets. Beyond that, everything was completely and totally superfluous, except for maybe the stroller and the highchair we haven’t needed yet.

    I think that for me, the baby industrial complex is worse than the one for weddings. I’m only cheap if I don’t spend exorbitant sums on wedding favors. I’m a bad mom if I don’t buy the wipe warmer.

  3. Stephanie - Green SAHM
    Stephanie - Green SAHM August 28, 2009 at 2:10 pm |

    I’m with you on the wipe warmer and other junk they claim you need for babies. It’s pretty wild. I’ve never painted a room special for baby either, or picked out a theme for it, unless “hey, I like that” is a theme.

    And I was utterly pissed when everyone except my mother-in-law ignored my college graduation because I was pregnant with my first and that was all they wanted to talk about. My husband got reamed for that oversight one night.

  4. Shinobi
    Shinobi August 28, 2009 at 2:25 pm |

    As someone who has no intentions to either get married or produce offspring I am totally one of those people who says “everyone is getting married/pregnant these days” (This is usually preceeded by either a heavy sigh or the word “Ugh”)

    And the reason I hate that everyone is doing this is for precisely the same reason you felt alone and isolated in your choices.

    I DON”T want to spend the bulk of my time with a friend guessing what the gender of your child may be, looking at ultrasound photos, talking about baby stuff, going to showers, talking about what color the baby’s room should be so on and so forth. I DON”T want to spend the bulk of my time with my bride friends picking out veils, talking about favours, discussing the finer points of seating arrangements. I am not interested.

    I think I need to do a better job telling my friends that if they want to have real conversations about the major events happening in their lives that I am happy to listen and be there for them but a three hour color scheme analysis does not interest me for any reason.

  5. Alexis
    Alexis August 28, 2009 at 2:38 pm |

    My wedding was two weeks ago, and getting on facebook for the past year has infuriated me. As soon as I changed my status to engaged, the onslaught of wedding ads started. Despite the fact that I tagged every “get rid of your flub! wedding crash diets!” ads as offensive, they still came. I too didn’t have this planned out of the womb like everyone assumed, and I honestly didn’t give a shit about flowers or decorations or gravy boats. I just wanted a rad dress, a place for my friends to dance, and a honeymoon. But people were shocked – shocked, I say – at my audacity to not micromanage an enchanted princess wedding.

  6. auktastic
    auktastic August 28, 2009 at 3:36 pm |

    Thank you for this post.

    I’m engaged to be married next summer, and it’s terrifying. I’m entering my incredibly busy senior year of college and dealing with the complete uncertainty of my future – my fiance has spent the summer applying to med schools all over the country, and there’s a very real chance that we’ll be moving half-way across the country, far away from our families. It doesn’t help that my parents got married really young (mostly because I was on the way), and they split up almost right away; I spend a lot of time worrying about the divorce rate and whether or not our relationship, which is the most important and grounding thing in my world right now, will end up as another statistic. At this point, a lot of the little details seem like distractions, and they seem like all anyone wants to focus on.

    Reading this post and seeing that I’m not the only one to have approached my wedding with these feelings was more heartening than I can say.

  7. grouchygardens
    grouchygardens August 28, 2009 at 3:44 pm |

    Hell, I don’t know, we liked the wipe warmer, but we’re in Chicago. Of course we turned it off when it got warmer again.

    I had a lot of trouble at first navigating all of the crap that we were being urged to purchase for the baby, and people’s expectations about it. We don’t have a separate room for the baby – she sleeps on the floor-level futon with us and will have it no other way–and so when people asked me if I’d finished the baby’s room and I told them that about 40%ish were horrified. We don’t have color-coordinated anything, and we have extremely limited space.

    We had a very small, inexpensive wedding and have tried to do the baby thing as low key as we can.

  8. Adrienne
    Adrienne August 28, 2009 at 4:46 pm |

    when we lay on our sides and talk about how uncertain the future is, how our expectations are creeping in our consciousness even when we try to keep them at bay, how this person coming to us will be nothing like what we think or imagine. We laugh at our crazy inadequacies to be in control. We laugh at the idea of making a will when we don’t have much, financially or materialistically, to pass on. We struggle through naming guardians in case my partner and I die. We smoothed through bumpy parts of our interracial marriage. Now we will have an multi-cultured/-racial/-everything child.

    This brought a tear to my eye, though that may be the pregancy hormones talking. My partner and I are currently expecting, and we have these same conversations, and I also find they bring a sense of peace. We’re also having a multi-racial child, though the cultural divide isn’t that wide, merely urban Canadian vs rural Canadian.

    I’m bemused by the “stuff you need” thing, though I’ve been somewhat insulated from it; I haven’t gotten reams of catalogs and magazines thrust upon me, thank goodness. I have had to put the brakes on one friend who’s wonderful and loving, but really wants to buy *stuff* – her first question was “oh! so what theme are we doing for the nursery?”… “uh.. theme? no. I’ll paint it and get a crib.. and what’s this ‘we’ thing?” ::sighs:: She means well, even if she doesn’t really get (or, sadly, completely respect) my desire not to put my kid in princess stuff.

    And I hear you completely about the lack of understanding about fear. I’m terrified about an upcoming conversation I’m going to have to have with my family about their white priviledge-based response to casually racist jokes by non-casually racist in-laws. But I have to have that conversation, and it’s way more important than making sure I have GAP baby onesies. Fortunately, I do have friends who’ll listen to me working out *that* conversation, rather than asking me what games I want at the baby shower.

    I have faith that I’ll muddle my way through this thing.. but it’s scary as all hell and I don’t have a problem admitting that.

    Thanks for the post.

  9. Laurie in Mpls.
    Laurie in Mpls. August 28, 2009 at 5:26 pm |

    I am honestly amazed that generations and generations of babies grew up properly without baby wipe warmers and totally coordinated bedroom sets.

    Wait…. no I’m not. Because they are BABIES. They need a place to sleep safely and someone to take care of them (feeding and bathing and such). Clothes are even pretty optional, at least for part of the year. And they DON’T CARE if their nursery furniture is handed down from someone else or picked up at a thrift store, because by the time it matters to them at all, they’ve outgrown it. Same with clothing, and strollers, and car seats, and…everything.

    Rampant consumerism frustrates me. *Targeted* rampant consumerism makes me furious. Yes, it’s nice to have a list of the stuff that you need for taking care of baby. I’m sure there is stuff I’d miss, not being a mom. But a *wipes warmer*?!?

    (Disclaimer: I’m impatient with most advertising anyway, but getting bombarded with it because you’ve gotten engaged or pregnant is downright irritating. Bleah.)

    Lisa: I’m so very sorry that your family and acquaintances couldn’t seem to focus on the events in your life without bringing in the rest of the world. Getting married and getting pregnant *are* important and life changing things — it would be nice if at least those closest to you could share that joy just as joy, and not compare your experiences to others. Congratulations on your first child — may the experience totally belie your fears. You are a braver woman than I. :)

  10. sadie
    sadie August 28, 2009 at 7:54 pm |

    Not having a baby and not getting married is also fraught and overwhelming when ‘everyone is doing it’. With no ‘our’ or ‘we’ there is no ‘only time’ space when it comes to ‘sharing how expectations’ may be ‘encroaching on consciousness’.

    What you talk about is not only anxiety inducing and undermining for those who are choosing to get married and to reproduce but it is equally undermining and distressing for those who are excluded because they are not choosing and/or do not have the choice of marrying or choosing to reproduce.

  11. Gina
    Gina August 28, 2009 at 9:12 pm |

    “How is it that more people are interested in the date of the ultrasound that will announce gender than the date I get a nuchal translucency screening that tests for Down Syndrome? ”
    Really? how many newly pregnant people have you congratulated and then asked when their Nuchal Trans Scan is scheduled and if they were going to abort if their NTS showed a ‘marker’ for downs or spina bifida. Or how many have you quizzed on whether they would abort, adopt etc if they didn’t get a perfect child… God forbid a child is born with 9 fingers and 9 toes. Isn’t that a personal area between the parents of the unborn child, would you really want to deal with peoples polarising opinions on that when you don’t even want to deal with opinions on cribs or sheets?
    Being interested about gender is ‘safe’ and less personal than asking about choices people will make if they think their unborn child might have a disability.
    Why fear life, why not embrace the uncertainty – no matter what turn it takes there is always an adventure to be had if you want it, might not be the one you had in the grand plan… so what – welcome to life.

  12. jess
    jess August 28, 2009 at 11:20 pm |

    I remember during the 15 month engagement period any time I kvetched to my best friend about anything going on in my life (I couldn’t find a job and my mother had major boundary issues when it came to wedding planning) she kept saying “but Jessica be happy! You’re a bride”) This was so frustrating.

    I have to wonder if our divorce rate is so high in some part because people spend so much time focusing on the having that perfect wedding as marketed to us by the wedding industry.

  13. HellfireLover
    HellfireLover August 29, 2009 at 5:04 am |

    Great piece! I’ve been through the wedding industry mill. I married quietly, abroad, in a slinky black and silver dress with feathers in my hair – oh, horrors! All my mother-in-law wanted to do for months beforehand was take me shopping for tiaras and those white meringue-type dresses. She burst into tears when I told her that I hadn’t organized the flowers or specified decorations for the cake, and that she hadn’t been consulted. Everyone except my mother was shocked when I chose not to have my hair ‘done’ in typical bridal style (I styled it myself, when the day came). But for me, it was never about a dress or a cake or the whole charade of being a ‘princess’. It was about me and the person I love committing to each other, with eyes wide open and not blinkered by our own expectations. We could both have been barefoot and dressed in tattie sacks, and it would not have mattered. The bridal industry makes the whole thing about that one day and the lead-up to it. No-one seems to ask, ‘What then?’ Because marriage is not always easy, it takes work and compromise, and that gets glossed over so much.

    I’ve not experienced the baby industry yet, but from the outside looking in, it looks even worse, because not only are your decisions no longer your own, your body isn’t your own, either. My husband wants children, in an abstract way (he is pretty horrified by actual children) and I’m not ready for them yet, if I ever will be. Because I’m married and approaching thirty, it seems like the question du jour is ‘when are you going to have children?’ and then look askance when you say that you’re not ready. People drop casual statistics about birth defects and infertility rates, in an attempt to hurry you up. Something like that, though, is not something you approach in a casual way. It’s not a lifestyle choice, like getting whether or not you have a PS3 or buy a new Volvo. This thing will change you, irrevocably, and you will never be truly your own ever again – you are a parent – and that scares the hell out of me. Again, this seems to be something which is glossed over in all the talk of feel-good babies and cute and dress-up. No-one tells you how much hard work babies are. You’re not supposed to be scared of having babies, or bringing them up. You’re supposed to be ecstatic and high on hormones and never, ever complain or be tired or simply want a break from this demanding little person. You are, from the moment you fall pregnant, no longer relevant – you are secondary to your child-in-potentia. (All merely from observations with friends and family, mark you!)

    I hope things work out for you, and that you are very happy. But don’t buy into the hype. Approach these things realistically, and I think you’ll be okay – success as a mother isn’t about buying stuff, no matter what you’re told. And seriously, wipe warmers? Is that for real? The moment I see one of those advertised on UK TV, I’m out of this country.

  14. blessed
    blessed August 29, 2009 at 5:57 am |

    What I find most concerning of all is how little most of us know about birth politics, the surgical hegemony, models of care, our rights, that birth is a normal physiological function and that the safest place to give birth is at home. Most of us put way more energy into researching prams than birth and yet birth is the experience that kicks off the next phase of parenting and when it’s a violent and traumatic experience as is common in the hospital system, this totally screws with everything about us and our new families.

    Knowledge=power. Birth=normal. Not a medical emergency. Birth – just do it.
    http://www.joyousbirth.info/

  15. Julie
    Julie August 29, 2009 at 10:07 am |

    I think the baby industry is worse. I got married for roughly 2000 dollars- and the main bulk of that was food, renting a union hall for the reception and the DJ. It certainly didn’t get me the wedding of the year, but most people understood that we were broke and it was more important to us to be married than to go into debt to do so. I never heard anything about my lack of photographer, my cheap wedding favors, the fact the my SIL did my hair, etc… When I got pregnant though, everything changed. Everyone had an opinion on what you needed, what you should do, how you should act. I heard about what I ate and drank when I was pregnant, my work schedule,you name it. When I had them, the none of your business comments just got worse. It was beyond frustrating. Especially when I got pregnant for my son! God forbid the boy wear anything outside the acceptable colors or themes.

  16. ChibiK629
    ChibiK629 August 29, 2009 at 10:44 am |

    What I had to deal with surrounding my pregnancy was far worse than what I’m getting now that I am to be married in 3 weeks. I feel a lot more in control of the process of being married than having a baby. Maybe because when someone tells you that buying such and such is necessary for baby then you tend to believe it since you care about the welfare of your unborn child. You do realize how much of it is crap- they’re infants, they hardly require anything but milk and clothes. I was lucky enough to have mostly everything bought or handed down to me so there hasn’t been that much unnecessary crap, thankfully.

    I suppose that for me, I was far more annoyed at people who completely threw out everything I was as a person because I was pregnant. Everytime I saw someone it was “how’s the baby?” as though the baby was doing much in my uterus at the time. My college graduation was also completely the last thing on everyone’s minds. Even people that I hardly knew really wanted to know the sex of my baby and I couldn’t understand why people I hardly even knew were so keen on making it a guessing game. I just kept it a secret because it was boring me. I hated that “mom” was becoming my most important title in some people’s eyes when even labour was easier than the three years I stuck through living in Miami to earn my Bachelor’s degree.

    I’m much more enjoying planning for my wedding because I feel like I don’t have to buy into making it a fairytale dream wedding. It’s incredibly personal, with both my partner and I making decisions on everything and taking part equally. My favorite part of the planning have been designing the stationery, menus, and favor boxes because I graduated with an art degree and I’m glad that I get to put it into use for my own wedding. I feel lucky to also be the designer for the look of our wedding. I’ve also loved being super frugal and saving money where ever we can lol! I literally spent 20 pounds on my dress and it looks gorgeous and along with the money we’ve saved by designing the stationary ourselves, I just feel so proud of how much money we’re saving lol. I definitely feel like we’re making our ceremony about us- it’s going to be a “less is more” type of affair and most importantly, there’s been hardly any pressure on us to do it any other way but our own.

  17. Comrade PhysioProf
    Comrade PhysioProf August 30, 2009 at 2:41 pm |

    How dare you deprive your baby’s ass of warm wipes? Decades later, my ass still suffers the after-effects of chilly wipes. For god sakes, will no one think about the children’s asses!?

  18. Bridal Chick
    Bridal Chick August 31, 2009 at 9:54 am |

    I totally agree that the wedding industry has run amuck! And I am a wedding planner. I spend my time telling my brides not to overspend, to choose three things that are most important to them and put their effort and their money there. I try to be the calming force between brides and moms. I tell them that if their wedding day is the most important day of their lives what are they going to look forward to for the next 50 years?! I feel like I am the lone voice of reason in a sea of “everything must be over the top” world of weddings. P.S. I did have a wipes warmer–my son peed on me every time I touched him with a cold wipe, I had to do something! The wipes warmer helped.

  19. Elizabeth Oakes, National Wedding Examiner

    Thanks for a terrific article Lisa, and @Bridal Chick: I got your back. I also tell people not to overspend and I just wrote an article recently about wedding websites and stealth marketing–if you sign up with a wedding website you will forever receive pitches for not only wedding gear, but baby and household products too. (@ Alexis–thanks for the tip on the Facebook status, I’ll update my article with that information.)

    I’m glad to see so many people here prioritizing their human experience in a world where profound life events are cynically commodified and marketed back to us, and I wish you all the sweetest and most extraordinary love/engagement/wedding/baby experiences, no matter what the budget.

    As for thermal controls and products for infants, I live in So. California and we’re in the midst of heat waves and fires here–baby wipes coolers, anyone? :)

  20. darleene
    darleene August 31, 2009 at 1:32 pm |

    I didn’t have a large wedding myself, but I was a florist’s daughter turned decorator myself, so I knew from the get go I didn’t want a big wedding. I know the craziness of which you speak. Also expecting a multiracial child myself, but I don’t feel so crazy — even though my mom died last year, I’ve been blessed with amazing surrogate moms at my church, who keep me sane, yet are protective of me. I wouldn’t care to worry about stuff like warmers, but I wouldn’t mind knowing how to make baby food from scratch, heheh.

    People would be shocked at how lax I’ve been — in the four months I’ve been pregnant, I’ve mostly done work for a non-profit I’m involved in and found a new place for us to live. That’s it. But who cares? The new place is how WE’RE preparing.

  21. MomTFH
    MomTFH September 1, 2009 at 9:56 am |

    Congrats!

    Can I give you advice about advice? Or a judgment about judgment?

    It doesn’t get any better. If you think people have unwanted, unwarranted, conflicting, rude advice about your pregnancy, wait until your birth. And then wait until you have a baby, then a kid.

    On the one hand, you don’t have to listen to anyone whose advice doesn’t jive with you. On the other hand, listening to others is one of the best ways to find out about pregnancy, birth, and parenting. Hope you find the best balance of absorbing the wisdom and discarding the crap.

  22. charlotte
    charlotte September 1, 2009 at 5:41 pm |

    One piece of advice I give everybody who’s pregnant these days:

    DON’T EVER buy anything new immediately–check out Craigslist first. Seriously, baby items are overpriced and underused these days, and you can totally get a used swing (assuming you check the recall rosters first) that looks and feels almost brand new. Saved us thousands of dollars right there.

    Now, imagine yourself with a used wedding cake … nah.

  23. Elizabeth Ball
    Elizabeth Ball September 2, 2009 at 3:36 am |

    You hit the nail on the head.
    It is consumerism gone mad. If you have to have a wedding gift registry (because your mother said, “you simply MUST”), then why not put it to good use – who cares about gravy boats?
    Why not ask for stuff you can really use? Like hardware tools for DIY, for example? Or beat them at their own game and ask for the kids’ stuff ie cribs, prams, heated wiper sets (that was hilarious!) straight up BEFORE you’re even pregnant so you can slyly say “we’re already trying” at the wedding (because they’ll ask you if you are).
    And since all this stuff costs so much, you might seriously want to add a few restaurant gift certificates to it so you and your partner/baby daddy can actually have a nice dinner out once you’re married/pregnant/given birth.

  24. Anji
    Anji September 4, 2009 at 5:03 am |

    Married, pregnant female seeks presence and companionship, not advice. Experienced and gentle minds to converse with and a community that loves honesty and facing unprecedented transformation are desirous. Above all, seeks wisdom, not distractions.

    Come on over to Mothers For Women’s Lib or our relatively new MFWL Forum, we could be just what you’re looking for. :o)

  25. Salome
    Salome September 7, 2009 at 1:17 am |

    darleene – I feel you. I’m a pastor’s kid and I’ve seen my dad abused by too many high-maintenance brides to want to be one myself. He also does funerals and I think it says something significant about the wedding industrial complex that he prefers those to weddings.

    On another note, I’m not Lisa but I find it a little insulting that so many people have popped in for the sole purpose of just giving her more unsolicited advice about birth or baby care. (I’m not talking about people sharing their own experiences or telling her to know her options; I’m talking about the commenters using this *purely* as a chance to jump on a soapbox about home birth, etc.) Using a post like this just to push your baby-related agenda seems rather insensitive.

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