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Calling Bullshit on: Must-have baby equipment

My first baby’s anticipated arrival activated a flurry of shopping.  “How were there so many pieces of baby equipment that I never knew I needed” I would wonder to myself as I lumbered around Mothercare?  Surely if someone went to the effort to create this magical feat of engineering, that meant mothers everywhere were screaming for it?  What sort of a parent would I be if I didn’t try to make sure I had what we would need?  Credit cards were duly swiped, loyalty schemes signed up for and large cardboard boxes lugged home.

Now I look back now on the lunacy of it all, but it was part of my journey into parenthood, buying shit made me feel more prepared.  Armed.  Equipped for the rapidly approaching uncertainty.  A bit of reassurance in a box.

When I think of all the crap my first born was bought it’s laughable.  She was equipped with enough paraphernalia to open a small shop.  So many unused items littered the tops of wardrobes, languished in boxes under beds and squatted in grandparents attics.  We lived in an apartment at the time and couldn’t offer all the useless pieces of plastic the storage they required.

Then my second baby was born!  All manner of equipment was dusted off and examined to see if it something I had ever used, or would use again.  Needless to say we made do with a lot less of baby number two, and not because it wasn’t to hand but because it was a waste of time.  I did some brisk business on sites like adverts and donedeal passing on items to (I presume) first hand parents desperately searching for their own suit of armour.  At least they were sensible enough to buy second hand.

So I have compiled a list of the items I procured in my quest to help my baby be the happiest baby they could be but turned out to be nothing more than yet another yoke taking up precious room in an ever-shrinking space.

I will add that of course what is one parent’s waste of time is someone else’s life-saver so I am not going to start campaigning for their mass destruction.

  1. Baby-swings.  Off we set to the shops with great enthusiasm when we thought the little velcro baby might enjoy the rocking motion of a swing!  Upon building the swing we quickly realised the model we had chosen took up more space than our kitchen so it was returned for a more stream-lined and modest version.  Baby 1 did tolerate it at times but Baby 2 held no truck with any sort of replacement for Mama’s arms.
  2. Slumber Bear.  The public health nurse suggested this one, so with an official stamp of approval off we set once again.  Slumber Bear is a bear with an audio device inside that can play sounds similar to those the baby heard in the womb.  It looked cute, that’s all I’ll say.  A white noise app would serve the same function these days.  Of course we didn’t really learn our lesson as in a fit of sleep deprivation and desperation with Baby 2 I signed up for one of those crowd funding schemes for a Lulla Doll in the hopes that time will have seen great advancements.  He did like it, it sounds like Darth Vader breathing and has an audible heart-beat.  But I keep forgetting to change the batteries so the effectiveness has worn off.
  3. Nappy bin.  We decided that given our residency in a first floor apartment and no access immediately to an outdoor bin that this was a fantastic idea!  We could hygienically shrink wrap the stinky nappies and they would be stored en-masse until such time as the bin was full and needed to be emptied.  This just created a stinky bin that would have us gagging as it was emptied.
  4. Doppler.  I know this pre-dates the actual arrival of Baby 1, but it was bought when I felt I could do with the reassurance of being able to listen in to baby’s heartbeat whenever I felt like it.  It was sweet but often caused moments of panic when I couldn’t locate the thundering hooves of her little heart immediately.  I don’t think I even tried it out once with Baby 2.
  5. Tens machine.  I bought my own… enough said.  I will say that I don’t know if things would have been worse if I wasn’t using it, and no way was I taking it off to test that out!  Fun for those who enjoy the sensation of being electrocuted.
  6. Cot bumpers.  They looked cute but basically had to come off as soon as the baby was big enough to sleep in the cot anyway.
  7. Electric breast pump.  I had a manual pump for Baby 1 and decided that an electric must surely be better so invested in one before Baby 2 arrived.  It seems to be a very personal issue and there’s no real way of knowing in advance which would suit you best.  But I will say I maybe used the electric one 2 or 3 times (I had the Medela Swing) and we were not well paired.  I turned back to my trusty manual pump for a quicker and more productive result.
  8. The Gummee Glove.  This was purchased for Baby 2 as I thought it sounded ingenious!  And in fact it does, if your baby will use it.  Mine was most dismissive.  So now it’s just yet another baby item that belongs to my daughter’s dolls.  Same goes for Sophie the Giraffe.  In my house anything intended for teething babies are of no interest to them.

So do you have any to add to the list?  Are you screaming at the screen in frustration that your baby is most content while chewing on their gummee glove and swinging in the swing with their slumber bear?  The triumph of optimism over experience has led me to make each purchase and I am no doubt will see me buy more.

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The parenting Jinx.

This morning the parenting jinx feels very real and very cruel. I look like an extra from The Walking Dead, I feel like crap and the atmosphere at home this morning was less than joyous. I was hit smack in the face with the worst type of the parenting jinx – the sleep one.

If you have a child who has not yet fully been convinced that sleep is something to welcome and enjoy, you know what I mean. You try anything and everything in the pursuit of a couple of hours of shut eye, and when miraculously your little darling does indeed bless you by sleeping a teeny bit better, you know to keep your mouth shut. The moment you deviate from this rule, you break the magic. Your little darling’s ears perk up, even when they are far, far away. They heard you, and they don’t like it. You dare to be PLEASED that you were denied a bit more of their wonderful awake presence?? Well little darling will correct that and things are right back to where they began. And the next time that friend asks you if whatever you did is still working, you are too tired to fully shake your head and hope the desperation in your eyes will answer for you.

My two-year old has been described by a lot of different words, among those of us who take care of him the following are very common – strong-willed, not-easy, determined, stubborn, strong, angry….. (and we’re being nice there). For the sake of balance I will of course say he is wonderfully cuddly, bright, engaging, loving and funny. When he’s in a good mood that is, and that isn’t always the case.

He doesn’t put his best side forward that often, and two years in we’re falling apart with the sleep deprivation. We have long since abandoned any hope of getting him to sleep in his own room and our bed is just his bed. In fact there isn’t even a cot or bed in his room anymore. We have given in and gone with what works (a little better) in the hopes that it will appease the toddler Gods. I listen to all suggestions of what I can try and recently embarked on a homeopathic remedy adventure with him.

Bazinga! It was working! It seemed like on the 1st January he just woke up happier in himself, he was more settled and content. He was just easier to mind, and he was sleeping better! No more waking every half hour in the evening, and the screaming fits that were a nightly occurrence vanished. We didn’t know ourselves! Not only were we getting more sleep but we were dealing with a more pleasant version on him too!

And then came the big mistake.

I told other people about it.

Big mistake.

Huge.

So now we are right back at 2016 levels of rage and sleep. Too much of one and not enough of the other. The parenting jinx doesn’t like smug parents being over excited about getting 4 hours of sleep in a row (in a row people!!! it was amazing) and it opened its jaws wide and bit me on the ass. The bite feels like something Jaws would have inflicted.

So read my tale of woe and consider yourself fore-warned. If it’s working, keep on doing it, but for the love of God don’t tell anyone else!

(Unless it really is working, then tell me because I could do with trying it……)