Papa Perspective: Da Gear

I’m a guy. I write this on my deck, while enjoying a Swisher Sweet with my English Bulldog at my feet. My conceptions of child birth were machines that go “ping” and some cigars at the bar. I was to be as far removed from the process as possible. Afterwards, I would change disposable diapers at a marginally low rate and parade around with my child on weekends. I would occasionally feed him a bottle when mommy was predisposed, and was otherwise relegated to teaching him how to fish one day and have serious talks about “girls” somewhere down the road.  There would be copious conversations about throwing a curveball and catching a pass in double coverage during the interim.“Keep your powder dry,” and all that.

Unfortunately, I married Xza. Her views on birthing, et al., were quite contradictory to everything I’d been taught. She’s vibrant, well read, and painfully persuasive–not merely due to her station as my betrothed, but for her ability to appeal to what I believe in most: the health and well-being of my son.

Since I’m adamant about embracing science, she didn’t get the home birth she wanted, but respected my wishes and found a hospital that honored midwives and had a water birthing facility. She worked with our insurance to find a licensed doula, and we participated in a long series of Bradley classes that, although a serious intrusion on Monday Night Football, empowered me to support her in a birth she found logical, in a setting that afforded the standard supports and medical intervention I felt comfortable with at the ready.

The woman took one Tylenol in 10 months of gestation, endured three weeks of prodromal labor, and birthed us smoothly one of the most beautiful and giggly starting linebackers the NFC Central has ever seen.  Gentleman, we are not nearly as durable as a woman can be, and sitting first chair while she labored away bringing me my son made all the tattoos, scrapes, and scars I carry proudly seem insignificant. If you’re reading this and have a child, go give that woman a random hug, she earned it.

Maybe some flowers.

What I want to speak to today,however, is the MAN stuff, and that would be, obviously, the GEAR:

Diapers

I fucking hate diapers. My initial theory was: Ditch it, wipe it, rewrap it. Avoid it at all costs. Xza had many reasons why cloth diapering was THE way to go. Not wanting my progeny to have a landfill in Indiana named in his honor, I was open on this one, but toting bags of progeny poop around (we road trip A LOT) was a bit concerning. She showed me a variety of brands (Fuzzibunz, hell yes), and gave the low down on how a quick change and a simple plumbing spray attachment to the old throne could make the whole dirty business simple.

And I got to use my wrench, the Robogrip.

I liked this early on, it made me feel part of the team, and I got to use this weird little bidet kinda thing I installed often. Pull it, rinse it, and throw it in the “wet bag.” She does the laundry, so it was pretty simple. We had to replace my 1973 (literally) washer with this cheap ABT purchased floor model that regulates the amount of water, and I’m literally up about 130 bucks a year on saved water and gas expense. The calculator on what we saved so far on disposables is (no shit!) in the hundreds of dollars. Everything poops, but our baby isn’t crapping away nearly the rate of coin as others, and I’m learning to be pretty happy about that.

Food

Tit, for a year. Weaning, sure, but no dioxin baby food or any of that lab shit. It’s a baby, she’s got tits, it’svery simple. I’m no expert, but the CDC is, and they’re pretty clear on that whole baby/boob-for-a-year-at-least thing. If your kid’s eating, and someone gets shitty about it, punch them in the face. Then go punch their mother in the face. #punkrockerkickingyourassforbeingstupid.

Car Seat

We brought a Graco 35 as my rocker friends who have real money bought those, and it’s affordable even to us nonrock stars. Safe, easy to tote, and safe. I’m down with that. I had a 200 pound physicist and mother of three install mine, but it turns out your local fire department’s pretty awesome about making sure that shit’s tight, so put it in and drive on down to the local FD  and have ask CPST for an extra set of eyes.

(Tool opportunity: a level.)

We’re getting a Foonf to try as a convertible as our kid’s already friggin huge, looks awesome. She wants the “pretty green one;” I want the one that looks like a Death Star Strom Trooper. Hell yes. That debate continues, more later.

Point being:  SAFETY. I hear Britax is good. She has friends on this site this that I’m sure share their experiences. I live in a town with crazy people who text at 70 mph, I’ll pull an extra shift or side job for a good car seat; shit gets t-boned.

Stroller

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!!!!

Mygood friendPhillip told me to go to Target and get the carseat/stroller combo for about 200 bucks. Yes, OUCH, but I’m in. So to get a barometer, we went to a fancy store and of course I picked out the Stokke, cuz that is the most bad ass piece of hardware that a 6’4” thing like me could find. RING IT UP SALLY!!!!

As it turns out, however brilliant the Stokke is, the fucker is pushing about $1,500. So…back to Target. Try one of those cheap models somewhere outside the linoleum floor and it’s like pushing a drunk through a sand dune. We live in snow country, and the wife rides public transportation with the critter almost exclusively. Ain’t gonna work. The boy would have shaken baby syndrome and the tires would make it maybe a month or two. Plus, the whole thing looks like some sort of toxic lead paint dumping site. I never liked Yugos, so now I was in a conundrum.

I cannot stress this enough, and it was a hard lesson learned, a kick ass stroller is fucking vital. We split the difference, and with some baby shower help got an Uppababy Vista. That shit’s expensive as hell but here’s my thinking:

It’s cheaper than most of the fancy yuppie strollers w/similar design.

It has that cute bassinet thingy that served as his bed early on.

That bassinet stand is now as our hamper stand.

I can use my power washer on his seat.

He pretty much lives in the thing as we get out a lot.

We can tandem the seats when I knock her up again.

When he’s older there’s a running board, so I can duct tape him on and move the herd.

It destroys on dirt roads and broken cobblestone streets, and my boy doesn’t sound like Tyson in an interview.

Stroller “can’t stress this enough” #2: these things resale well as they’re factory guaranteed and durable as hell. Buy it on eBay, sell it on Craigslist!!!!! It’s the Craftsman Hammer of baby crap. Hell yes. My bulldog ate the tires one day, and they sent us brand new ones no questions asked. (Hint: keep your baby crap away from your dog.)

Carriers

Mine had “Let’s Start a Riot” on it, but when my baby was born larger than my William “Refrigerator” Perry autographed football, it wasn’t much use. Xza uses a variety of these “baby in a backpack” gizmos, and my boy is happy as hell in them.

 

When Slayer makes one, and it looks like something I can mountain climb in, I’m strapping him down and we’re going K2. He’s wearing my shoulder out, but I just think those “Hangover” looking things will break his hips, and open him up to head shots. Jury’s out on this one, but these crunchy broads have it down, so ask them.

Crib, Changing Table, and Other Room Stuff

Earlier mentioning my desire for the engineering, longevity and all around bad ass Porsche-like awesomeness of Stokke, I was totally stoked (NO PUN!) about their products. Downside, friggin price tag! Upsides:

Most of their products are designed to last an offspring from zygote to college.

Bad ass WOOD (I come from carpenters) design.

That whole SAFETY thing (they’re perfect).

Guarantees (again, think Craftsman, or Red Wing boots. If something breaks, you’ll have a part before sunrise).

Expanding our budget a little, and having a wife that scours the Internet for secondary markets, we have a ton of this Stokke stuff. We bought a new organic mattress, some bedding new, but got the rest of the gear on Craigslist and I either picked it up on a road trip or she had it shipped. These items will literally follow him to college the way they are designed. It was a lot of work, but our nursery is so tight, and I know my little duder will continue to be snug and sound while he makes use of these items for many, many years. They’re so durable, he may one day hand them off to his kids, or, if not, they hold their value so well we can sell them to someone with the same commitment we had, and mostly likely get back most of what we paid.

I’m not tied to a brand on anything, but durability, economy and longevity were values I wasn’t going to surrender for some quick fix box store crap I’d have to replace every three years. Shop smart, think long haul.

More money up front, but a good investment as far as I see it. Again, my job as papa is to go earn, and provide. It may not be brand new, but it’s solid, safe, and an extra weekend’s work now gives me weekends in future summers to get to do the things I mentioned at the beginning:

Baseball, swimming, fishing, making fart noise on his belly, bringing him a little sister, and knowing I gave my child the healthiest, happiest, shared wisdom start I could.  We get so far into what’s new, we sometimes forget the pearls of what was old, and worked for hundreds of years.

Thanks for reading to this point, sincerely, and leave a comment if you have any questions, we’re all in this together and I’m learning as I go.

-Kevin 

5 Comments

  1. Christina -  August 21, 2012 - 9:21 am

    This is awesome. Can’t wait to share it with my husband.

  2. Geneva -  August 21, 2012 - 10:29 am

    That was awesome, Kevin. This crunchy broad approves. But seriously. Homebirth is where it’s at. 😉

  3. Heather P. -  August 24, 2012 - 10:59 am

    Awesome! Thanks for a Papa perspective. My husband has/had much of the same view. I will be sharing this with him.

  4. Rebecca -  September 1, 2012 - 5:11 pm

    I like that we get a daddy perspective on a few topics. This is a great article. Also that is wonderful that you and Xza were able to compromise on the waterbirth. That shows you have a lot of love for eachother that you were able to actually pick something that makes both of you feel comfortable.

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