KatieKatie Katie Parsons is the creator of Mumbling Mommy and is a freelance writer, editor and communications specialist. She works from her home office on the east coast of Florida. Most often she writes about life in a combined family of five children and what it's like being a full time work-from-home parent. Feel free to pitch guest post ideas or just drop her a line at katie@mumblingmommy.com.

Hello Readers —

This is the third week of “Memoir Monday.” For those of you dropping in for the first time, I have decided to post pieces of my memoir-in-progress on Mondays about my first pregnancy as a single mom. If you want to read past weeks, click on the tag “Memoir Monday” at the bottom of this post. As always, thanks for reading!

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Every mother thinks she knows the gender of her baby

long before an ultrasound technician confirms it. Though no woman will admit it, I believe the gender she suspects is the one that she desires. Pregnant women will say that they think they are having a boy because they have heart burn, or having a girl because they have the hiccups. Some will claim that a soothsayer colleague swung a pocket watch over her pregnant bump and declared the baby to be a girl because it swung side to side, or that the baby is “sitting low” in her belly so must be a boy.

It’s all crap, really. Whatever explanation a woman gives for her baby’s sex is just a cover so she doesn’t actually have to say “A mini-me at fifteen years old is too terrifying a thought. I really hope this baby is a boy.”

In fact, I believed my baby was a boy. I said it was because I had a “gut feeling” – which was true. I had a gut feeling that this baby better not come out with girly parts or I was going to have to marry the first bodybuilding jock that crossed my path, lay a rifle in his hand and put him on porch duty on date night.

I had started shopping at the Salvation Army near 192 and Orange Blossom Trail on Wednesdays toward the end of my first trimester. That was 50 percent off clothing day. I liked looking through the racks of secondhand onesies and baby jeans. The sale meant a cart full of baby clothes cost me about $10 per visit. Financially, I was doing okay. My day job at the paper paid my bills and my waitress moonlighting was cash in hand and money for savings. With my medical insurance, I still owed close to $900 to my obstetrician’s office that was due by the time I reached 30 weeks. When I had a checkup, I took some waitressing cash and paid a little toward what I owed. I had been warned that bill didn’t include my hospital stay, possible anesthesia or my financial responsibility if surgery was necessary. I also knew that waiting tables would be out of the question once the baby came, so I was trying to stash away as much money as I could. I could have spent my hard-earned cash on new baby clothes, but what was the point if my baby was just going to do all forms of vileness to his clothing the first time he wore it?

The ever-popular Graco Pack N’ Play (not what I bought… at all)

 

If a secondhand onesie was pink, lacey, or contained rhinestones and/or kittens I passed it over. Totally not neutral. If a onesie was blue, green, yellow or had puppies on the tummy, it was placed in the cart. Sure, it may have been manufactured for a boy but girls liked puppies too. I told myself my puppy purchases were neutral and that any girl of mine wouldn’t be wearing a teeny-tiny T that was bedazzled to say “Diva” anyway.

On one visit I found a first-edition (no joke) popular brand of playpen. It was sage green with zoo animals and a detachable changing table. I put the whole thing together in the middle of the Salvation Army to be sure all the parts were included. This took a really, really long time.

I questioned if it was even safe to buy a used playpen. At my last doctor’s visit I had read an article shaming parents into buying certain items new, and giving the “okay” on which things were safe secondhand.

Shoot. Which list was a 15-year-old playpen on? I seemed to remember used car seats were on the naughty list. And recalled high chairs. I asked a woman who worked there.

“Excuse me, hi. Has this playpen been on any recall lists?”

The red-vested customer service agent looked at the fully-assembled playpen and the bins of toys I had pushed into the aisle way to make room for my experiment. She sighed.

“Lady, we have no way to know that. If you’re worried about it, maybe you should write the model number down and do a little research yourself.”

I sensed my question was beyond her pay grade. I stood there examining my handiwork for another ten minutes or so. My special little guy could start his journey to becoming a world-renowned scientist by learning the names of the animals on this playpen. His first word would be “zebra” or “antelope.” When he was writing his memoirs at the end of his well-traveled life, he would discuss in great detail the way a lioness hunting jungle breakfast for her cubs at sunrise reminded him of his coffee guzzling, scrambled-egg-making single mother. I hoped he would talk about how the morning sunlight through the kitchen window danced on my hair and how no other woman would ever be as beautiful as his fantastic mother was in those bacon-scented moments. Maybe he would talk about how my unconventional maternal instinct laid the foundation for his successes. The book dedication would read: To Mom – My biggest fan.

Tears were streaming down my cheeks and into the cardboard bottom of the playpen. It occurred to me that making a connection between this $8 used playpen and its influence on my son’s 80-year-old memories was probably a bit pathetic. This made me cry even more. Damn hormones. They were turning me into a ridiculous person.

I made an executive decision to fork over the cash and lug this thing home. I debated strapping it to the roof of my small SUV as opposed to trying to disassemble it. Nah. It probably couldn’t squeeze through the store doors.

A nice elderly man helped me take the playpen down and wrap it up to carry. It was heavier than it looked. He offered to carry it for me but I couldn’t have this sweet old man’s thrown-out back muscles on my conscious. So I lied.

“Oh, it’s not for me. My sister is having a baby. I can carry it.”I was a horrible liar and he didn’t believe me. He didn’t argue though. Perhaps he had a strong-willed mother and saw the pointlessness.

“Okay dear. You take care of yourself.”

And with that I took home my first official piece of baby gear. I hoped that every swing, bouncy seat and pacifier decision wouldn’t be fraught with such difficulty. I set the green plastic contraption in the corner of my one-bedroom apartment where I intended to store all of the baby must-have items and vowed not to open it again until absolutely necessary.

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Category: Babies

Tags: baby gear