To say I was resistant toward creating my baby registry would be an understatement. Well into my eighth month of pregnancy, no nursery designs in sight, I realized the attention pregnant women usually reserve for picking out receiving blanket patterns and evaluating the toxicity levels of crib mattresses seemed instead to manifest itself as frenzied focus on my writing career, with a goal of getting myself financially prepared for maternity leave. Then once my bank account finally reached that goal number, I reluctantly turned my attention to tiny socks, nursery decor, and stockpiling diapers — which meant it was time to face the music and wobble my pregnant self down a staircase into a Manhattan baby superstore on a Saturday afternoon. This would turn out to be mistake number one.
Walking into the massive retail space filled with other expecting moms, I felt like I was descending onto a lunchroom catfight scene straight out of the movies. Red-faced toddlers dragged parents toward whatever toy they were forbidden from purchasing. Frustrated moms yelped as they pinched their fingers on convertible car seat buckles. The whole scene left me convinced that my husband and I had made a mistake. The world of baby products, parenting philosophies, lactation tips, and nursing techniques felt as unfamiliar as suddenly gaining a degree in a field neither of us had actually studied — and we were graduating in approximately six weeks! Knowing this was far from what I'd envisioned as the beginning of motherhood, I turned right back around and decided to approach my registry like my career goals: by breaking it down into manageable, measurable steps.
As a writer, I’d received feedback that I excelled at breaking down ambitious goals, like a novel, into smaller, achievable goals to measure my progress toward completion. It was this skill and focus that I realized I could use to my advantage in tackling my registry — and my resistance towards this monumental transition — one step at a time.
The first step on my road to baby registry success was to compartmentalize. Have you ever looked at a registry template? It’s overwhelming AF. Instead of jumping around between changing pad and stroller caddies, I zeroed in on one category at a time. Heck, I even eliminated entire sections I didn’t need to concern myself with just yet. Adios, toddler potty! I'll worry about you and your endless number of accessories later.
After narrowing my focus onto the most essential of the essential newborn products, I gave myself a realistic deadline, which conveniently happened to be my due date. When it came time to weigh the pros and cons of bigger purchases, I knew at the very least I needed a car seat to take my newborn home from the hospital, plus a stroller to get to the doctor the next day. Feeling pretty confident in my newfound baby registry abilities, I selected a sleek black travel system and ta-da! Two categories crossed off the list in one time-saving choice.
Once the bigger items were taken care of, my mind was free to circle back to the daily necessities. Do I need to register for frilly crib skirts? That’s not what I'll be most inclined to reach for in the dead of night when dealing with a blowout, so I quickly ran through my mental list of must-haves and added a changing table and a crib. One miss that I wish I could go back and correct? We didn't register for diapers and wipes, and my husband and I wished that we had. During that fog of the first few weeks at home with our new baby, we discovered that Pampers Swaddlers worked best for our child (it’s also the brand most hospitals use for newborns), and looking back I wish I'd registered for sizes 1 and 2, too — or even up through size 4, and be covered for baby’s first year.
With the addition of the last few crucial items to my registry, I was suddenly left to think about what motherhood would look like for me. In the same way I've approached everything from my freelance career to picking out baby clothes, I gave myself a guiding rule to follow throughout the end of my pregnancy and beginning of life with my baby: I needed to be kind to myself, and my hope is that all moms can practice a bit more kindness and self-love in those vulnerable early days. You’re about to embark on a lifelong journey of teaching your kid the ropes to this whole humanity thing, and surely, kindness will be at the top of the list. Might as well start with yourself, and check in with yourself now about how you feel. Maybe it turns out that you need a prenatal massage, or a new manicure, but it could also mean journaling, heart-to-heart conversations with friends (especially those with kids), or investing in personal therapy if that’s financially feasible.
For me, I think I was afraid of giving up my opportunity to be “selfish” about my craft and career (we can unpack that one later). I was afraid that pre-baby me, along with all her thoughts and dreams and creative ambitions, would cease to exist. The truth is that I did become someone new: I’m a mom now, but that's in addition to everyone else I was before. It’s another identity, another intersection, another language I’ve only recently become conversational in, at best. Parenthood is hard work, and the challenge to be kind to myself as I learn this new job is sometimes even harder, but it’s a challenge I’ve come to embrace one day at a time, diapers and all.
This post is sponsored by Pampers.