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Monday
Jul122010

Bankrupt Before the Baby Comes!

Like most girls, I think I always envisioned myself as the glowing prego with the cutest clothes and an adorable basketball bump. I’m pretty happy with how things have turned out, but being pregnant, besides buying all the goodies for the baby when our baby girl actually arrives, has put a crunch on my wallet. Who knew maternity clothes were so expensive?! You’d think they were designer duds not the icky polyster moo moo outfits that look like they’d unravel into tiny shreds in the washer.

Luckily, I had some formerly prego friends more than eager to donate the few cute items they were able to find. But, I still needed enough clothes to get me the through two solid work weeks without wearing the same garb. I took my lean budget and put it to work, and wanted to share some wisdom I learned along the way.

1)      Jeans: One day early in my pregnancy, I skipped over to Pea in the Pod to purchase some maternity jeans. I nearly fell out on the floor though when I saw the $200 price tag.  Yikes! I ended up buying a pair – they really looked super cute on, but after two days of buyer’s remorse, I returned them. I just couldn’t swallow that price tag for the limited amount of time I was going to wear them. A friend shared a great tip on buying jeans a size or two up and just wearing belly bands, the elastic synthetic bands that you put over your jeans when you can no longer button them. I loved this idea and bought a pair of J. Crew skinny jeans for less than $100 and have been wearing them through the pregnancy.

2)      Leggings: Pregos are soooo lucky that leggings are back in style. Many prego friends rave about American Apparel, their jersey knitware and high-waist leggings. This is definitely something to check out. Unfortunately, the leggings just weren’t that comfortable for me so I returned them. Note to all: American Apparel doesn’t give refunds, just store credit. I did actually splurge on some Pea in the Pod high-waisted leggings. They are HEAVEN! I can’t even begin to explain how comfy I am in these pants. I’m actually going to buy a 2nd pair since they are great for work, play, working out, dressing up, etc.  

3)      Dresses: Dresses are super tough. I tried Pea in the Pod, but I’m not really sure who they are using as their dress models because the dresses are for super tall females and actually look like reproductions of hideous bridesmaid dresses you never wanted to wear but kept your trap shut because the bride was your bf. It’s as if they’re putting a sign on you that says, “yeah, I’m the glowing (sweaty), adorable (fat), off-the-market prego that will look cute in anything. I don’t care about the latest styles.” And, then charges $100 bucks for them! I had to quite a bit of looking elsewhere. I fell in love with maxie dresses from regular retailers like Banana Republic.

 

4)      Tanks: Buy these up when they are on sale. Gap and Destination Maternity’s tops are super soft and you can wear them to the gym, under tops you can’t button up anymore, under tops where you’re your new bust line would otherwise be bursting at the seams, etc. Can’t recommend them enough!

 

5)      Splurge on some core items: everyone says it I know, but it’s true. Buy a few pieces that will mix and match that you can dress up or down. American Apparel is a great store for basics. I love their Le Sak dress that you can tie in different ways. (See below with my favorite leggings.)

In my next post, I’ll share other great retailers and steals for pregos to take advantage of. In the meantime, if you’ve got great advice on basics or where to find cute maternity clothes, please share!

 

Monday
Jul122010

Choosing the Right Ride

I assigned my husband Josh to the daunting task of finding the perfect stroller. I was way overwhelmed with all of the different types of strollers to choose from. Seriously, why are there so many?? He compared his research to shopping for a new car. You have your Porsche (Bugaboo), your Range Rover (Bob), your Hybrid (City Mini), your Corvette (Uppa Baby), etc. Before we went "test driving" he asked me what I was looking for/what was most important to me. I knew immediately that the most important thing was that I'd be able to go on long urban walks up and down the steep streets of San Francisco.

After testing driving dozens of strollers I realized there were other things that were important to consider. Since the task of finding the right ride can be intimidating for expectant parents I here are some things to think about that helped me:

1) Use cases: When will you use the stroller most (i.e. walking around your neighborhood, traveling, hiking)?
2) Weight: How heavy is the stroller? Can you lift it in case you need to carry it up a few stair steps or take in and out of a car?
3) Height: Does the handle adjust up and down? Many do, however given that I'm not very tall (rather short actually) this ended up being the deciding factor in choosing a stroller. 
4) Collapsing: How easy is it to collapse/fold the stroller up?
5) Budget: There there so many strollers, with varying price points and features similar to cars. Have a budget in mind in addition to an idea of what the most important features are to you.

We ended up going with a Snap'n Go (a simple frame that your car seat snaps into) that we'll mainly use for traveling for the first six months or so. For the stroller we went with the Bugaboo Cameleon because it was light weight, easy to collapse, has front shocks, and the handle can be lowered to a good fit for me.

Happy test driving!


Sunday
Jul112010

Baby Wait and Baby Weight

Well this is not encouraging: Gwyneth Paltrow says losing her baby weight was the hardest thing she ever had to do. Really? The hardest thing? Doesn't she speak like five languages? 

Gwyneth says that all women can get the weight off, even if they don't work out two hours per day with a celebrity trainer. Okay, I agree, we can all make room in our lives for the things that are important to us. Then again, we don't all have nannies to watch the babies for two hours while we do lunges in our private in-home gyms. 

I'm not bitter or even trying to disparage Gwyneth. I do respect her for being candid about a time when she was not her normal perfect self. But I am feeling touchy and impatient waiting for baby and weighing in at higher and higher numbers at my weekly doctor appointment. I know I promised myself that I would try to be comfortable and patient but this wait and weight are both really starting to weigh on my nerves. All puns intended. 

Saturday
Jul102010

Urban Nursery...Or Lack Thereof

Nathalee's recent post about decorating her nursery makes me feel pitifully inadequate. My poor baby does not have a nursery. It has a corner of our New York City apartment and it is lucky to have even that. Space is at such a premium that we are glad that our little one doesn't have to sleep in a drawer! 

I am about 95% done setting up my baby gear in the baby nook. It didn't really start coming together until week 34 when I went into preterm labor and freaked that everything was still in boxes. Alex had already packed her hospital bag. I was woefully behind! 

Alex says that she got sucked into the baby industry, little by little, but I didn't have the luxury to do that. We simply do not have space. I was forced to keep my registry and buying habits to a minimum. I feel guilty not splurging on my little one but I'm sure that when s/he comes, there will be plenty of splurging and spoiling. 

Since I was forced to be so economical in my baby preparation, I figured I would see Nathalee's post about nursery decoration with one of my own about nook decoration. Here are the things I figured were essential and how I managed to wedge them into my urban high rise apartment:

  1. Crib: I registered for a crib but it was too big for our apartment. I thought about getting a bassinet instead but they outgrow those so quickly. In the end, I ended up with a Pack 'n Play with a fitted bassinet on top. I figured that I could purchase the crib when we get a 2-bedroom apartment at the end of the year. By that time, the baby will still be less than 6 months old so the Pack 'n Play should suffice until then. This isn't the beautiful infant furniture I had imagined but I made sure that it had a homey touch by knitting a baby blanket for the bassinet. 
  2. Changing table: Jennifer asked me if I bought baby hangers yesterday. My response: "For what?" Our baby doesn't have a closet. It has two drawers and three shelves that are underneath the changing table. Some friends who had their first baby in a small Boston apartment said that they went without a changing table because they changed her on the bed but I decided to go with the "luxury" of a changing table for the storage space. 
  3. Glider: I will want to sit somewhere while I feed this kid, right? I originally thought that our suede L-shaped couch would suffice until I visited Nathalee's son for the first time. He was a good eater but a lot of it ended up coming up as easily as it went down. I told my mom this and she goes, "The suede couch is history." So I splurged on the glider. 
  4. Car seat: Even though we don't have a car, we still need a car seat to get our little one around in cabs. Plus, we will rent cars to visit family and such. An obvious essential.
  5. Vibrating infant seat: I originally ordered a swing and a vibrating infant seat. I returned the swing, thinking that these two things serve the same function. Although Baby Daddy and I just watched The Happiest Baby On The Block DVD and Doctor Karp uses a swing. Baby Daddy got worried that we may have returned the swing prematurely. I hope my instincts were right on this one! 

 

 

Friday
Jul092010

Baby Industry: Getting Sucked In 

The wedding industry make so much money having brides-to-be fulfill their dream wedding. Ha! That's nothing compared to the baby industry.

Immediately after first finding out that I was pregnant I told my husband that we weren't going to get carried away with baby stuff. For example, we weren't going to paint our spare bedroom to turn it into a nursery, buy random baby products (most of which we didn't know their function) and we planned to borrow as many baby products from friends as we could.

Well, the baby industry isn't booming for nothing. The truth is that we got sucked in... big time! We even started out with a short list of absolute needs, which included diapers, wipes, car seat, some clothes, etc. We ended up painting our spare room a light pink (because what little girl can't have a pink room?), buying two diaper bags filled to the brim with the same items (because we both needed our own), buying a new baby furniture set (because we couldn't resist). That's not to say that we didn't borrow as well. We borrowed a bassinet, a swing and a few other items that we knew we'd only use for the first six moths or so.

With less than 10 days before my little girl's due date, I ask myself, "how did we let this happen?" My Mother successfully raised four kids by herself with less than a quarter of the amenities and baby products I'm equipped with and my three brothers and I turned out just fine, if I don't say so myself.

Expectant parents with some amount of disposable income find themselves "needing" more than they actually need because it's convenient. I'm guilty of this. Would I take it back? Not so far :) I've had a blast preparing for my little girls' arrival. Once she's born I'll plan to share a list of the top items I find most useful vs the items that are simply convenient to have. Hopefully this will help those expectant parents save $ they could otherwise spend on future date nights.

Until then I'm going to enjoy being a first time parent with more than enough conveniences. 

Some food for thought:

In a two-income family annual expenses for a child range from about $8,000 to more than $23,000 depending on household income according to The Agriculture Department, in its annual report published last month. These numbers reflect housing, food, transportation, clothing, health care, childcare and other miscellaneous expenses.