To get through the three months between getting matched with a birth-mom and flying from Kuwait to Los Angeles for the birth, my husband and I approached things a bit differently. The one thing we did agree on immediately was a temporary name. Saying the-baby-this and the-baby-that got tiring fairly quickly. So one morning I said, “We should call the baby something until we meet him or her.” “Bob,” said my husband. And so it was. My husband’s approach to impending parenthood was to do a lot of soul searching and musing. (I knew these were all just procrastination aids, he employs them for a lot of things, but at the time, I let him think that I actually believed he was pondering the ways of fatherhood.) One morning as we were having breakfast in the kitchen, Louie the kitten was sitting on a chair across from my husband and had that distinct look in his eye of planning an imminent hop onto the table. In my best “mother” voice I said, “Louie, no” and then I heard the softest of whisperings coming from my husband, “Do it. Do it.” I’m sensing there will be some disciplinary struggles in our future.
Whereas I spent months reading parenting books and soliciting reams of advice from any and everyone who would offer it, my husband seemed to utilize the osmosis method for the parenting books by diligently keeping them stacked on his nightstand. It hadn’t work for me in 10th grade Chemistry, and I even slept gripping that sucker all night, but maybe there was hope for the periodic table of swaddling and diapers.
I’d spent hours, and I mean tens upon tens of hours, researching all manners of baby items; from car seats to bottles, cribs to playpens, diapers to mobiles. I read through the advice in “Baby Bargains,” I reviewed the tests and recommendations on Consumer Reports, and I scoured the reviews on Amazon, figuring if 1,400 people felt compelled to write a favorable review for some particular baby item, then I’d take that as a strong recommendation (especially those with horrendous spelling errors; I sensed there was passion behind the typos). Compiling all of the data from various sources, I finally made decisions on what Bob needed to get started.
My husband’s primary duties, in addition to procrastination, were to write all the checks (for various adoption things), put together the crib (which he did all on his own), and fret about impending disasters (bankruptcy, revolutions, college funds, etc.). However, whenever I attempted to discuss whether we should go with an infant car seat or a convertible car seat, or review the merits of this crib versus that crib, or even try to plan out Bob’s sleeping arrangements for the first month while we we’re in the U.S., my husband would get this glazed look and would stare at me as if I was speaking the binary language of moisture vaporators. Well, in truth, he’d be more inclined to engage me if I were extemporizing on the benefits of the R2-X100 versus the older binary load lifters, but my geek-speak only reaches so far.
Now, I considered myself a relatively intelligent person. I always enjoy the periodic research project, whether it’s planning a vacation to a far-away land, deciding on a new SLR camera, or researching the history of Karnak Temple in Egypt. I like a good dig. But during my pre-Bob research phase, I came upon an impasse. It was an impenetrable wall of information that despite hours and hours of digging and clawing my way through websites and links and forums and blogs, I could not gain headway. I felt embarrassed to admit it, but the most difficult decision in our parent-prep came in the way of cloth diapers. The last time I studied a subject with that intensity, I was preparing for my “Drugs of Abuse” final for my Masters. I was hopeful that Bob would grade me higher than Dr. Bernard did.
My diaper research went in spurts (no pun intended). I would spend a few days reading and even taking notes on the benefits of all-in-ones versus pocket diapers versus prefolds, fitteds and contours. So, for one brief moment I’d feel like I had a handle on things and would have finally decided on one method. Then a few days would pass and I'd find I’d forgotten why I had chosen what I did. So the research began again. I did rely heavily on a friend who had been cloth diapering for over a year and she was even kind enough to write up a whole dictionary of terms and benefits list. It was a bit overwhelming, but the one thing I was able to comprehend was to buy a few different ones and see which worked best with Bob. So that’s what I did. Which basically meant I was merely procrastinating making the cloth diapering decision. (Score one for my husband's decision-making tactics.)
When not dealing with diaper dilemmas or preparing for bankruptcy, we did have some time to fill. My husband utilized the time-honored method of RPGs (role-playing games), in which he periodically announced things like, “Hey, I just became a stone golem!” That’s wonderful dear. Conversely, I found a new minor obsession in sewing. Frankly, I was a sewing maniac. I made two baby blankets, one quilt, and half of a second quilt. I sewed rail guards for the crib, two covers for a Boppy pillow (without actually owning a Boppy pillow), and I made several attempts at sewing my own cloth diapers (however, see previous paragraph for status).
When not sewing baby-related goods, I found myself sewing housey things. I made up a stack of quilted coasters (since our stoneware ones apparently jetted off to storage along with my bath gels during the last move), I made removable chair covers for our dining chairs (as white fabric and spontaneously-poopy kitten definitely don’t mix), I made tablecloths and placemats, and I made a clothespin carrier for our outdoor clothesline. I guess there were worse ways I could have fulfilled my nesting needs. My husband did complain, though, when yet another package of fabric arrived in the mail, muttering something about us never receiving anything fun (meaning electronic).
Regardless of our differing parenting-prep ways, I had a strong feeling most of the real learning would start once Bob was in our arms. But until that time came, I figured there was no harm in perfecting my overlock stitch and letting my husband strive for Grand Poobah stone golem. Bob's going to be so proud!