Before our daughter was born, I naively thought the thing I would miss the most after becoming a parent was sleep. (Wrong.) What I miss more than anything is time; time to use the bathroom in a manner that doesn't make me feel like I'm on the last leg of a physical challenge on Double Dare, time to learn how Lucious Lyon got out of prison, heck, I'd even sadly appreciate the time to do the dishes in one fell swoop, instead of pathetically washing a single dish before being summoned loudly and urgently by our tiny dictator. When you have a new baby at home, everything, even the most menial of tasks, takes infinitely longer.
Babies, on the other hand, have nothing but time; time to eat, time to ruin the freshly laundered onesie you just managed to wrangle on, and time to be as picky as Beyoncé's tour rider when it comes to which pacifier they want. The reason babies have all this time is because (duh) they take up all of yours. They're like Time Dementors, sucking precious minutes and seconds out of your day, which is ultimately why, aside from your partner, UPS and FedEx are your new best friends in the first weeks with your newborn.
With box after box being delivered, for us, almost every day was like Christmas that first month home from the hospital. And while 83.5 percent (yep, I did the math) of what was in them was for our daughter, the time it saved us in not having to run to the store made those packages just as valuable to us. In fact, it almost felt like parenting cheating. Instead of having to make constant bleary-eyed runs to the store for diapers, wipes, and coffee (for us, not her), I could take the half hour or hour we'd have otherwise spent walking to the store or hiding the 11th item in our cart so we could sneak into the express line, and put it to more useful things like washing that second, or, dare I dream, third dish I hadn't been able to get to earlier.
My partner and I quickly became drunk with power in hitting the "Place Your Order" button. We couldn't fathom how parents even parented before Amazon Prime, and it wasn't long before I wondered if it was possible to have whatever our baby needed delivered to our front door. Was it? Would we ever need to interact with humans again?
So I tried to order absolutely everything we'd need online, and sever ties once and for all with the outside world.
I wish I was one of those cloth diaper parents, but because we share three washers and two dryers with 67 other apartments, it simply isn't practical for us. Sure, we could hand wash, but if you recall, this experiment is based on my desire to be as lazy as possible, or, as my spouse reminded me after I read that last sentence to her, to afford us as much time as possible with our baby. Yeah, let's go with that.
Diapers, therefore, are now the single greatest necessity in our lives, with wipes coming in at a very close second. I live in constant fear of running out of both, which is why we actually subscribed to them on Amazon.
Ah, Amazon Subscribe and Save, you are the real reason the internet was invented. I don't even have to remember to open the Amazon app to order them!
Plus, there's the practical matter of weight. The boxes of wipes and diapers are neither small nor light, and because we are the types of New Yorkers who don't have a car, the fact that my back is saved by not having to lug 186 Swaddlers and 808 sensitive wipes from the store to our home makes the cost of the subscription worth its weight in gold.
Having that many wipes and diapers on hand at all times may seem excessive, but I guarantee all it takes is one middle-of-the-night, up-the-back blowout and three seconds of sheer panic to realize it's worth it to have them on hand all the time.
I'm a Virgo through and through, but pre-baby, I never needed to know how to remove bodily fluids from clothes because, well, we thankfully don't poop our pants ... yet. Post-baby, though, my chemical-free laundry game has been upped to levels that would impress even the domesticity doyenne herself, Martha Stewart.
Goodbye, dryer sheets. Hello, wool balls. And, while I trust Method laundry detergent for the grown folks in our house, I've only ever used Puracy Free and Clear on our baby's clothes and linens. On its own, it's highly effective, and when you use it in combination with some capfuls of hydrogen peroxide, there isn't any stain you can't get out. (Come at me, baby!)
But, while I've discovered the amazing power of Puracy, it has yet to find its way to my local Target or grocery store, which means I have to order it online. And, while you'd think finding big bottles of hydrogen peroxide wouldn't be difficult, on the week I tried this particular experiment, I swear I went to three major pharmacies, several bodegas, and Target, and either they only had the little skinny bottles that were ridiculously overpriced or they were completely sold out. I wound up with no choice but to order it online, and was so grateful when both the detergent and the hydrogen peroxide arrived that I took a picture of our delivery man.
As a Virgo, it's a source of pride for me that not only has a baby stain yet to get the better of me, but also that I can get those stains out quickly. As a parent, it's an even greater source of pride that I've managed to find the strongest and safest combination of stain-fighters for our girl's clothes, even if that means I have to wait for this guy to deliver them. I'll gladly sacrifice the convenience of an easy-to-find mass market brand detergent in favor of the most effective and non-toxic solution for the never ending pile of laundry created by my stain-maker.
My Daughter's Essentials
In her short life, my baby girl has already developed two great loves: food and her pacifier. My wife exclusively breastfeeds, however, our pediatrician recommended that since that's the case, we should also include a supplement because breast milk alone doesn't provide adequate vitamin D. As such the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all breastfed babies receive 400 IU of oral vitamin D drops.
Our baby does not agree with her, though, because the supplement smells disgusting, and so she'll express her disgust by screaming bloody murder every time we try to give it to her. Our pediatrician recommended we mix the vitamins in with formula since my partner is still finding it hard to find the time to pump. Luckily, our baby loves Similac enough that she somehow manages to ignore the still-faint metallic smell, and I don't mind the cost so much because buying formula online is still cheaper than buying in store.
The other great love in our daughter's life is her Wubbanub dinosaur pacifier, Jeff, so named for Jeff Goldblum's Oscar-robbed performance in Jurassic Park. When I found myself having to wash Jeff almost daily, I thought, Oh, I'll just Amazon another one. There are so many other Wubbanubs to choose from. Look, this little caterpillar is super cute.
This is what my daughter thought about Not Jeff:
So, after picking up the discarded caterpillar along with my pride, I immediately decided to make like the royals and have both an heir and a spare. Ordering a second Jeff made me extra appreciative of the greatness of online shopping because I couldn't imagine having to run from store to store looking for the exact Wubbanub my dictator demands.
I know this experiment is supposed to be about getting things that my baby needs, however, I think you'll all agree that sometimes things that parents need ultimately benefit your little one too.
For instance, every morning I wake up, look at our daughter, and immediately have two thoughts: 1. I love this child more than anything, and 2. Coffee. Because, in my addled brain, coffee will somehow magically negate the fact that even though I wrote "morning" just now, what I really meant was 3 a.m.
So when I realized we were running dangerously low and I was faced with the option to wake my partner up to alert her to the fact that I needed to make a pilgrimage to the grocery store in my pajamas or just simply add coffee (Pumpkin Spice for fall, natch) to another online order, I opted for the latter.
Besides caffeine, another essential that also greatly benefits our child is nursing pads, which not only help prevent irritation but also protect our baby's food source. And, TBH, food is one of our baby's greatest loves so we're all about ensuring her satiety.
Was I Able to Get Everything My Daughter Needs Delivered to Our Front Door?
Yes, and then some. My parents like to tell the story of how, when they went to Seoul, Korea, to complete my adoption, my dad had to go to several stores close to the hotel to find different bottles for me because I wasn't taking the one they had brought. My dad likes to act out how he stood in front of store displays, mouth agape, staring at all the options until he went cross-eyed. My mom always reminds him how long he was gone for. The idea of saving time and being able to find exactly what your baby needs and wants with just a few clicks of your mouse from the comfort of your home is something that can appeal to all parents everywhere, especially me and my spouse.
The first few weeks home for us were so stressful as it was that I can't even imagine adding a story like my parents' search for the right bottle to the mix. Aside from the care and attention, babies need so much stuff, and often you don't know what stuff will work best until you can actually try it out on your infant. Add sleep deprivation to this scenario, and what relationship wouldn't be helped by avoiding having to run from store to store in hopes of finding the right items for your baby?
Sure, when we started wearing out the left button on our mouse I began to worry that all the sanity and time we were saving by avoiding stores was depleting our bank account, but surprisingly, with Amazon Prime's free shipping it wasn't that much more than what we would have paid in-store, especially in Manhattan. Even the few items we did wind up paying a delivery fee for was worth the nominal cost because it gave us a wider availability of items. Plus, it gave us more quality time with our girl ... and Jeff.
Image: Beck Gusler/Flickr, Courtesy of Lacey Vorrasi-Banis