VIDEO: Queer Mama for Autostraddle Episode Eight — The Baby Shower

I didn’t want to have a baby shower. I didn’t have a bachelorette party or a bridal shower. I know this is going to sound odd coming from someone who is currently vlogging the most intimate parts of her life on camera, but I feel sort of awkward being the center of attention. Unless I’m doing something I feel is worth watching, I guess, since I do love being on stage. But being the center of attention for something as mundane as growing a baby? And asking people for presents for it?

I didn’t think we needed a baby shower. Simone and I both have older siblings with kids who were handing down a fair amount of baby stuff, and so I was sure we didn’t really need anything else. I am pretty horrified by the amount of junk that accumulates around small children, all those expensive pieces of plastic that will eventually end up in a landfill. The anti-consumerist in me cringed at the idea of people buying us all these things. Where would we even put them in our 800 square foot apartment that also houses our business?

And what does the baby really need? A car seat, diapers, a place to sleep. Unfettered access to my boobs for food. We decided not to have a baby shower. Then, when I was 4 or 5 months pregnant, people started asking when our baby shower was. I realized people like celebrating babies, like celebrating the people they love embarking on a new chapter of their lives, and, let’s be real, a lot of people like buying tiny adorable baby things. So when a most generous friend of ours offered to host a baby shower for us, we said yes.

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I started looking at lists of what a baby “needs,” and, despite my supposed desire to raise my children with nothing more than a bearskin rug and my bare breasts, I started thinking maybe there were just a few things that might come in handy once the baby arrives… I started making my own lists, and it started fairly simply. A baby bathtub did sound convenient, and a bassinet for the first few months. A crib, too, for later. Probably something to carry the baby around in.

My list quickly grew from there, as I consulted every corner of the internet I could find to decipher what we actually needed or wanted. Sure, we could change the baby wherever, on the floor, but maybe a changing station would be nice? Simone reminded me how many diapers we’d change a day. I knew I wanted to try cloth diapers. It’s (arguably, I know) better for the environment, but also it’s a whole heck of a lot cheaper. Over time that is – buying the initial stash can be kind of pricy.

Then there were the small practical things, like a snotsucker, baby first aid kit, a sunhat. There were also some things for the nursery (currently an office) we could use, like a dresser and blackout curtains. Bottles. A travel crib. Swaddle blankets. A diaper pail with reusable liners. What about a white noise machine?

I’m Type A, and an avid researcher, and when I decide to buy things I want the highest quality, most eco-friendly thing I can afford (“can afford” being a seriously subjective designation.) I spent the next three months looking at the reviews for baby products in every single category. Turns out there are a lot of rabbit holes to fall down in the world of baby stuff. People, you’ll be surprised to learn, have opinions about these things.

There isn’t just one best baby carrying device, there’s a whole community around “baby wearing.” Baby wearing, I learned, is a sort of religion, or perhaps a sub-sect of attachment parenting. It appeals to me because it seems so much more convenient than hauling a bulky stroller everywhere, and also it’s just so darn sweet. So what to get? There are ring slings and soft structured carriers, stretchy wraps and linen fabrics. There are things that can carry floppy infants and carriers meant for toddlers, all in dozens of different brands.

The baby wearers told me I should wait until my baby is here to decide what to get, come to a meeting (there are meetings!) and try a few of them on, but I didn’t want to wait. These things are expensive, and so I wanted to register for them. I decided on a ring sling because they are great for infants, my yoga teacher loves them, and they are easy to get on and off. My community of twitter mamas helped me solidify this decision and pick a brand, Sakura Bloom. I also decided on a Tula soft structured carrier for when the baby gets a bit bigger. Later we were handed down an Ergo and a Baby Bjorn. I’ll probably also buy a used Moby for $20 at my local kid’s resale store. Baby wearing here I come! I will report back.

For cloth diapers, there were even more choices. Flats or prefolds with covers? Something with inserts? All-in-ones? There are the easiest cloth diapers (all-in-ones), which are the most similar to disposables and the easiest for people unaccustomed to cloth. But they are also by far the most expensive, and they take the most time to wash and dry. Did I mention we don’t have our own washer and dryer? There are dozens of different brands of all these things. I decided to get mostly flats and some prefolds with covers from a couple brands, plus a few all-in-ones for ease for other caretakers, like her grandparents.

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As I went into the depths of baby product internet review land I was nearly seduced by things like an adorable wooden baby “play gym”, but I just could not imagine asking someone to pay $135 for something I could probably make for $20. On the other hand, I had no problem asking for the $60 bathtub when the $15 one would have done the job. But we have a tiny apartment! And plan to have at least two kids! My choices were very carefully considered and yet of course also somewhat capricious, I admit this.

I could detail every decision for every product I put on our registry like this, but I imagine it might be somewhat boring other than to people who are about to make these decisions themselves. The big decisions, for you other soon-to-be-parents out there are as follows:

1. The Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib
More expensive than other brands, but the only travel crib free of flame retardants and very well reviewed by moms.

2. The Halo Bassinest
Not the prettiest bassinet (see this hot little luxury number) but well made and convenient and really darn nice compared to a lot of the options (not cheap though, so we better use it at least twice).

3. Glass bottles

I’ll stop there, but feel free to ask me questions in the comments if you want to know more or geek out on baby products or cloth diapers or whatever with me. And tell me your favorite baby items! Though I really probably don’t need to buy too much more at this point. I still have a too long list of items to get, things like diapers and detergent, a drying line, maybe the white noise machine.

The shower itself was incredibly dreamy, and of course not really about all this stuff at all. Simone and I wanted to make our marriage legal before the baby came, and we surprised our guests with a little wedding ceremony at our shower.

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We renewed our vows to each other and said new ones to our sweet little baby, and we signed the paperwork that made our marriage legal in California. And then, just about a week later, it became legal everywhere. Our hostess surprised us with the most awesome hot pink wedding cake I’ve ever seen, which we ate amidst mountains of other delicious food.

We played no games, thank goodness, but we did ask guests to write little letters to us and to our baby. I love real letters, these tangible expressions of love and support that I can re-discover time and time again, and I’m so glad we did this. You should watch the video to hear some of the incredibly generous, funny, and thoughtful messages our friends left us and our daughter. She is so lucky to grow up surrounded by such a caring group of friends and family, and so are we.

I felt so grateful, then, at our baby shower, and I feel so grateful now still, to be transitioning into this next phase of our lives as parents with all this community around us. I know all these decisions about stuff I probably spent way too much time on are really the tiniest, most meaningless decisions we will make in the life of this child. We are going to have so many more and harder decisions to make. I will rely on the internet, my online parent communities (including you fine folks here!), and all these wonderful people as we make our way. Just a month to go!!

haley has written 12 articles for us.

33 Comments

  1. I LOVE that flower dress, I kind of just want to own it now? Also I warn anyone who is going to watch the wedding/baby shower video that you will probably cry a whole lot. I caught up on the videos I hadn’t seen on youtube the other week(so many amazing ones!) and it ended up being a lot of cathartic crying about how beautiful your life is.

    No baby’s here(yet) but my sister used the Moby wrap and really liked it. I’m super pumped about the next video!

    • thank you!! great find at the maternity store, right?! I’m never going back to normal clothes…

      and that is so sweet!!! I’m sorry but happy I made you cry, as it sounds like it was a good kind of cry 🙂

      good to hear about the moby. stay in touch!! oh and subscribe on youtube if you want to get notified of new vids 🙂 tiny.cc/queermamasubscribe

  2. I was wondering where the video was for today and actually went scoping out your YouTube channel, so glad I did because there are even more videos!

    My partner was pretty freaked out to walk by and see me with like five tabs open for baby products. I can’t help but look, it’s all so cute and pragmatic and reassuring-looking, especially that baby bathtub/mini-spaceship!

    • yeah! and more and more videos all the time. subscribe on youtube if you haven’t as this column is getting close to it’s end (as is this pregnancy, omg!) tiny.cc/queermamasubscribe

      also, that’s hilarious about your partner. and isn’t that bathtub cute?! can’t wait to put my little muffin in it

  3. I LOVE this series so much! My best friend is due to have a baby girl in like, 2 months, so it’s so great to be able to squee over more baby cuteness. A++ for that amazing wedding cake!

  4. I’m no where near having a baby of my own, but I’m LOVING watching and reading about your journey and your thoughts and decisions. Thanks so much for sharing your sweet family with us.

  5. Baby stuff is so much fun. I love buying cute clothes for my nieces and nephews (or niblings, as I call them).

    Side note, Haley, I’m kind of obsessed with your hair! I’m growing mine out after years of it short, and I love how yours is longer but still looks really queer. Is it short in the back? Would it be weird to ask you to show us a back view of your cut in the next video?

    • cute baby clothes are the best!!

      and haha, not at all! happy to show off the cut. and yes, it’s short in the back except for the little side rat tail thing. will make sure to get a shot in the next vid

  6. I use an ergo with the kiddos i take care of and I LOVE IT. I used it with the baby from the time he was about 2 months old, and still use it now with him (he’s two next month) usually in a back carry, and I occasionally will use it with his brother too and he is 3.5 and a chunk of a kid. I have heard such great things about Tulas though, and definitely want to try one when i have my own kids. Are you considering co-sleeping at all? That totally seems like it would be your jam.

    • aw, yay! I want to carry my baby as long as possible!! we were out with my 3.5 year old nephew the other day, and it would have been so useful to have a carrier. instead Simone zipped him up into her jacket, haha, which was adorable but only worked for about 15 minutes before neither of them could really breathe! 😀

      definitely will be co-sleeping in the early days and lots of naps and morning / weekend snuggles forever I hope!

  7. I saw your wedding video when you initially released it so it’s nice to see the complementary video here! Those letters are really beautiful, especially the one from Aunt Georgia(?)

    Reading through your list of products, I was nodding along, like everything makes sense, until I got to the sentence where you say you don’t have a washer/dryer in the home??? Ohhhhh, I cannot imagine having a newborn with no ensuite washer O__O Good luck!!

  8. You guys are a delight. I have loved your updates and, for someone who is famously terrible with kids, find myself feeling almost broody??!! HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE??!!! Anyhow, congratulations on having the cutest family ever 🙂

  9. I am obsessed with baby things and this post made me so happy!!! Also congrats on your legal wedding and awesome pink cake and BABY GIRL!!! I love this column, it makes me so happy every single time.

  10. It makes me so happy that you found a way to celebrate your growing queer family that worked for you and the ones you love! Sending positive thoughts regarding your imminent delivery!

  11. Love following all the updates!!

    I have a question about one of your other vids (your to-do list)… Can I ask why Simone has to adopt your baby if it’s “biologically” hers? And you don’t have to adopt the baby because you carried her, right?

    Hope this isn’t an ignorant question! Perhaps I just missed something.

  12. I would just have put a washer and a dryer on that registry because NOTHING beats having your own washing machine. I mean, besides having your own baby, that is.

    On a totally unrelated note, congrats on getting married (again)!

  13. I’m so excited for you guys, and I can’t believe that the baby is due in like a month??? Ahh!!! Speaking as someone who’s probably a little too emotionally invested in Tiny and as someone who one day hopes to become a part of a two-Mom household, do you think you will continue posting videos after the birth and everything? Obviously you will be swamped, but is this video series just about the pregnancy, or do you think it will include your motherhood as well?

  14. Also also, how is the process of finding a name for tiny going?
    I just wrote a colleague who works for another publisher and who is a wonderful and very funny (british) person and realized she has the best name ever: Rosalind. (She goes by Rosie)

  15. The best baby item I’ve ever had the joy to give: a specially designed, multi-coloured, hand knit baby blanket that I made. My friends’ son was wrapped in his immediately after birth and has grown with it ever since – and I have so many adorable pictures!

    The best baby item to buy: Aden + Anais muslins. They are a fabulous size, have amazing prints and get softer the more they are washed. The quality is outstanding.

  16. This column makes me so happy! Your wedding video… I was holding it together ’til you both said your vows to Tiny and now I’m just crying everywhere. Thanks so much for sharing.

  17. I didn’t want a baby shower either! My family tried to throw me a surprise one at a Christmas gathering but thankfully an aunt tipped me off so I was prepared. Then I had to throw one for the other side of the family. Pro tip: if you haven’t done thank you notes, do them right now! Don’t wait!

    Cloth diapers for the win. Flats and prefolds really are great for no washer and are very adaptable as they grow. I got a $20 drying rack and it has worked great. Also, box fan aimed at it speeds drying and doubles as white noise. I had a white noise machine and it broke. Now I just stick to box fans.

    Baby bathtub turned out to be an anxiety inducing annoyance. I got one handed down at least. I found just bathing with him was so much more relaxing. I was scared of him falling over in the baby tub and it was hard on my body to kneel by the tub, reaching in. It also got in the way in our little bathroom, constantly having to move it and work around it.

    You will find what works for you guys as you go. You will get more hand me downs and you can either hand down things you don’t need anymore or find a way to recoup a little money. Have fun!

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