Friday, September 28, 2012

baby baby

ever since shosh was born, i've really tried to keep the amount of baby gear in our life down to a minimum.  this is partly out of financial necessity but mostly out of aesthetic necessity; i really didn't want our house to look like a plastic primary-colored explosion.  i've tried to keep the amount of stuff shoshanna has scaled down to some high-quality items and good art supplies, hoping that if she didn't have an entire floor of the house dedicated to plastic toys, she might be more likely to go outside and use her imagination to play.  (i was pretty heavily influenced by little house in the big woods during my pregnancy, specifically the ingalls girls' much-loved faceless doll made out of a cornhusk.  ah, those were the days.) anyway, i digress.
sho's been sleeping with a fan on in the background since last winter, in spite of my guilty feeling that probably having cold air blowing on you isn't the healthiest way to sleep.  it never occurred to me to buy a sleep sound machine until a week or so ago, when it started getting too cold to sleep with the fan on.  i used to nanny for a wealthy family who had a white noise machine in every room, and i think i just sort of subconsciously thought of them as a rich person's accessory or something?  who knows.  i peeped 'em out online, and ordered one with a projector on a whim.  whoa!  possibly the most fun twenty bucks i've ever spent?  sho calls it her "glowy machine" and has eagerly gone to bed and slept with it in her arms every single nap and bedtime since it arrived in the mail a couple days ago.  the projector is delightfully low-tech, with slowly circling images of jungle creatures or fish or sleepy planetary objects, and it also has the option of heartbeat (my favorite), ocean (sho's favorite), rain, white noise, and six lullabies.  this is starting to sound like a sponsored post, which it sure as heck isn't, so i'll shut up now.  but man, i do recommend this marvelous sleepytime accessory.  sleep machines: not just for rich folks, y'all!  you heard it here first.   

speaking of books that are fun to read when you have a baby on the way, i thought i'd share a few of my favorites.  reading has always been a huge part of my life, which is why it's strange i don't mention books here more often.  anyway, i have given or recommended all of these books to more friends than i can count, preggo or not.  and as a bonus, most can be found used on amazon for a few dollars!  (it's pretty much my favorite pasttime to send cheap used books to friends who might like them.)

waiting for birdy by catherine newman.  this was one of my favorites even before i had a kiddo on the way, a  funny, kind, slightly neurotic memoir of the pregnancy and new baby days of catherine newman, who blogs here.  i wish she had more books, because i would read them all.

operating instructions by anne lamott.  man, i love anne lamott, especially her fiction.  this is raw and honest and so funny, it's the kind of book that makes you feel less alone in your craziness.  she has a new book out, some assembly required, written with her son about the first year of his son's life.  i can't wait to check it out.

the blue jay's dance by louise erdrich.  my friend ash sent this to me along with some plantain salve and mother's milk tea when sho was born, and i read most of it aloud to my week-old girl as i nursed her endlessly in those dreamy and exhausting new-baby days.  it's beautifully written, a perfect antidote to the newborn days when you start to fear your brain might turn into a milky and exhausted puddle of mush.

our babies, ourselves by meredith small.  as someone who loves anthropology and sociology, this book was fascinating to me, and many of the things i learned from it have stuck with me and impacted how i've raised sho.  it's just a really interesting look at the way different cultures raise their babies, and how the traditional american way is just one tiny part of the many, many different ways to have a baby in this world.  man: i want to read this book again!

spiritual midwifery by ina mae gaskin.  probably the most famous book on natural childbirth, written in the 1970's and hippied out to the max.  a lot of the ideas in this book about childbirth -- to view pain as something to work with, not fight against, for example -- have helped me in many areas of my life beyond giving birth.

whew!  this was a long post.  if you're still here, thanks for stickin' around.  and if you have any books that were essential reading during your own baby days, please feel free to share in the comments!  i pretty much love reading about babies, any day o' the week.

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  1. Operating Instructions is total bad ass.

  2. Jeffery Eugenides' "Middlesex" has lots of infant-centric themes and centers on family. But only read it if you're child's father is not also your cousin.

  3. I've been wondering about one of those machines, Wilf never sleeps for more than 45 mins in a row but I kind of thought maybe they only work at the start? Thinking of investing now! x

    1. one cool part about the machine i got that i didn't mention, is that you can set it so it turns back on automatically (either the projector, the sound, or both) when your babe cries. there's something a little spooky about a machine comforting your baby back to sleep, but y'know, if it helps mama get some much-needed sleep, i'm all for it! poor mama, only getting a 45 minute break...good luck fritha, i'll be rooting for you! :)

  4. Thank you for the suggestions! I just came across your blog and was so happy to find this post. I'm 18 weeks pregnant with my first, and so far it's been a rough pregnancy. I have been on the lookout for good books to read that focus on pregnancy, babies, and the like. So far I've read It Sucked and Then I Cried by Heather Armstrong, Baby Laughs by Jenny McCarthy, and Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor. These are all humorous, but I'm looking forward to checking out your recommendations!