Thursday, July 11, 2013

Making room for baby, i.e. nesting Fairbanks style

Oh my gosh, the endless lists of "must haves" for Baby. Some of them are great, some of them are totally ridiculous. I'll never understand why a changing table is on so many "must have" lists. It's safer and, frankly, easier to change a kid on a mat on the floor or the bed or the couch or wherever you happen to be. Even more ridiculous, a "wipe warmer"--because you simply can't swab your baby's butt with wipes which haven't been heated up first.
However, there are, of course, necessities which Baby must have. Some of these things are even more urgent because of where we live and when she'll be born. A November baby in Fairbanks? I feel a little crazy for doing that. It could very well be -40 by the time she arrives. (Of course, being Fairbanks, it would probably warm up to near 0F soon after, then back down to -40, then hover around -15F, and all in under a week.) Some of the things I see on baby lists make me laugh. "You don't really need more than 3-4 sleeping outfits, and maybe 1-2 hats." HA! That's what Baby is going to LIVE in for the first few months! Onesies will strictly be under-clothes, as another layer to help keep her warm.
It might seem crazy, or paranoid, that I'm thinking so much about how to keep her warm. Keep her inside, you might be thinking. Well, in the winter our apartment doesn't stay that warm. It's old, it's very drafty. The thermostat might say 70F, but away from the thermometer who knows what the temp really is? Sometimes, probably closer to 60F in the bedrooms. So my biggest concern is how to keep Baby warm enough. She can't have blankets to sleep with at first, because they're a health hazard. I would let her sleep in our bed, but we have the pets who also sleep in our bed (and kicking them out now would cause other problems) plus all the blankets which we sleep with. (There was a case of SIDS in my family--not my generation, but a sibling of one of my parents--and it has always terrified me. So I've been reading as much as I can about it and risk factors for it. It helps me worry less.) Since babies can't really regulate their temperature well, keeping her warm is a priority.
So we have stuff that can be ignored, but some still needs to be obtained. That will be fine, we'll figure it all out. Then the problem is, where to put it? And, how do you do all of this on what is, essentially, a negative budget? (Money for this will have to come out of savings.) In a small apartment (I almost said "tiny", but that's not strictly true--our cabin was much smaller--but the bedrooms are tiny so it feels like less space) where will she fit? Accommodations will have to be made in some things, such as needing more storage space for all of the new stuff we'll have to have. I'm not even talking toys, I mean clothes and cloth diapers and such. Books. Bottles, when I go back to work. (And a freaking breast pump. Not looking forward to that.) Heck, even just toiletries (like baby nail clippers and diaper rash cream) and towel space in the (itty-bitty) bathroom. And, doing all of this in a rental where I'd really rather not put holes in the walls, where we can't change too much to suit us better.
So I've been looking around our apartment with a very critical eye. More decluttering! More cleanup! Finding space wherever possible and thinking about how we can rearrange things to work better for our new circumstances. As stupid as it sounds, Baby will be living out of our closet for a while. There are no doors on it (and, honestly, no space for doors) so we'll hang a couple of curtains for darkness (using sticky hooks and a long, thin dowel) and she'll be both easily accessible and we won't have to worry too much about doing things to wake her up, like turning on a lamp. (Most winter evenings, we hang out in the bedroom together anyway, so we'll be right there if she needs anything.)
This also means that we need to clean out our closet. The clothes are no problem, we've already done that. But our closet is stuffed with my craft supplies, mostly yarn. Half-finished projects abound. So one of my goals for the summer is to complete many of those half-finished projects, if only to get them out of the way. I've already started on a couple, and for some I need to buy a few other things before I can finish them, but it shouldn't cost too much.
I think I'm going to be buying a lot of those sticky hooks soon. In addition to the curtains over the closet, I was also going to get enough stuff to put curtains up over our back door (which we can actually feel the heat leaving through around the edges during the winters) and some for the bathroom, to utilize what is currently empty wall space. I have plans, and hopefully pictures will follow soon.
We're not doing much with the spare bedroom right now (other than continuing to declutter and organize--that's where Shane's crap is in boxes and he needs to clean them out) because we'll have family visiting a bunch during the first few months of Baby's life. My parents will be here for at least a week, Shane's parents (and possibly grandfather) will be here for a short time (although not staying with us, since the visits will coincide), and I'm hoping that my brother will come up for a bit toward the end of my maternity leave. After family visits, then we'll talk about turning it into a nursery. We'll sell the queen sized bed that's currently in it, get a better crib (more on what we've got now below), and it should be about that time (4-5 months?) that it's less urgent to have her in the room with us all the time.
I'm slowly identifying our "must haves" and narrowing down the list to specific products that I think will work for us. Because so many family members have asked about it, Shane and I are capitulating and coming up with a baby gift registry. (I'm sort of ambivalent about things like baby showers--not comfortable being the center of attention like that, but understanding that other people are excited as well and want to show their love for us and for Baby. And, honestly, a registry means less stuff for us to buy and it means we get what we need, not crazy crap that we don't have room for.) For instance, an Ergo Baby carrier, which my parents have generously (super generously) said that they wanted to get for us. I did a bunch of research about carriers and decided on this one because it's got the proper seating for Baby (some can cause hip dysplasia), because it has a nice hip strap so that Shane and I don't kill our backs using it, and because of the heavy weight limit, meaning that we'll use it for many years. I already know from my years as a nanny that I love baby carriers (so handy) and really, for our climate, it will be so much more useful than a stroller or even a jogger. Who wants to push one of those through the snow? And, it would be too cold for Baby to go out in one of those during the winter. With a carrier I can snuggle her up to me, under my coat (but with plenty of breathing room, don't worry--no zipping it all the way to the top or anything stupid like that) and take both her and the dog for walks. Even better, since carrying a baby burns more calories than pushing a stroller, it will help me get back in shape that much faster.
We already have a cradle (which my MIL bought for us, and which will fit nicely in the closet), and people have gifted us so many things already. J & L, who are having a boy this time around, gave us a whole load of baby clothes which they deemed too girly to re-use for #2. I sorted them into piles by size last night and we should have plenty of baby clothes up until about 6-9 months. Even then, one of my cousins recently had a baby girl and she has offered to send stuff up to us. At the very least, she's sending a few more maternity clothes and newborn cloth diapers which her little girl has already grown out of. Since her family lives in Texas she was worried that clothes for her girl probably wouldn't work for us (summer baby in Texas to winter baby in Fairbanks? probably not) but 6-9 months is probably about the size our two climates will converge so she'll send up those baby clothes. Because people have been so eager to buy things for us, and give away old baby things they don't need anymore, we haven't had to buy a single thing for baby so far except some of my maternity clothes. We even already have two sizes of snowsuits (courtesy of my MIL) so she'll stay nice and warm all winter when we go out. (Seriously, these remind me of the little brother in "A Christmas Story"'s suit. "I can't put my arms down!" And me being me, she'll probably have four layers on underneath anyway.) I am so, so grateful for everyone's generosity.
Lastly, I am, of course, trying to figure out what I can make that we will need. Things for the apartment (like an actual bumper under the door to keep the heat loss to a minimum, rather than just a towel), and things for baby (hats! sweaters! cloth butt wipes! changing pads so she doesn't pee all over the floor or bed!), and things for myself. And doing all of this on my $0 budget. I've got old sheets which I can cut up for some things (a flannel top sheet--the bottom sheet got torn to shreds years ago--which can be made into said butt wipes and part of the changing pads, a random pillow case which can be made into the door bumper, etc.) and for others I will have to stretch our budget to make room for a few (mostly used) materials. I have a bit of an idea on making a nursing top or two for myself, using parts of clothes I already have but can't really wear anymore. (Thanks, cat, for putting holes in the boobs of my t-shirts.) It's an experiment, so we'll see how it works out, but if not then it's not a loss anyway. What am I losing, a shirt which can't be worn and can't be donated? Oh no!
The one thing that I feel the most pressure about now is time. It's running out rapidly, and while in some ways I am starting to feel like being pregnant is taking forever, I do know that November is going to be here in what will later feel like the blink of an eye. I have so much to do between now and then! I'm starting to resent the time I have to be at work because it feels totally useless. There are so many more practical things I could be doing with my time, rather than sitting at a desk! As well as time, though, there's also my energy levels to think of. It's waaaay better than the first trimester, but I'm still needing more time to sleep than I normally do, and I tire easily. So we'll see how much I manage to get done. If I do get these projects completed, I might actually remember to take pictures to share. Hopefully.

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