The overhead cost of an unborn baby.
My first child was born when I was an intern. My husband had taken a hiatus in Canada and we had spent the first three years of our married life there. We didn’t save and didn’t plan. So of course we get pregnant right around the time I had residency interviews. And we had to move to the USA when I was seven months pregnant to start training. My husband couldn’t move with me because he was making sure to get his parental leave through Canada.
We couldn’t shop much. Firstly, because we didn’t have loads of money to get inspired by all that there was in stores and secondly, because we couldn’t load a lot in our Toyota Camry. That car was already on its last leg.
All we got for Minha was a blanket, six or seven items of clothing, and that’s it. My sister gave me some more clothes and a baby bottle set. My SILs threw me a baby shower and gave me a high chair, a bouncer and a bottle warmer.
This is all that Minha was born with. Minha is the first child of her maternal side. My mom and sisters couldn’t be with me when she was born. My ecstasy at motherhood minimized everything else.
After Minha was born we had to get a travel system. We invested in a very cheap one and used the car seat to bring her home when she was ready. I still have the stroller. It’s as sturdy as before.
I was given a diaper bag by the hospital with a six month diaper supply and a one month supply of prepared formula. I was offered a breast pump by the hospital which I hardly used. I was given ten white onesies by the hospital and a baby hat.
Before I came home, my husband surprised me with a crib that he had set up. It was so sweet. We are using that less than $100 crib today as well.
Minha grew up despite not having much. We got toys for her occasionally but what she played with more were kitchen utensils. I didn’t have a sterilizer and I hardly ever used the warmer. We never used the high chair. The only two things that we ever used consistently were the travel system and the crib.
For years, my only investment in Minha was for the clothes. I’m sure many girl moms can relate to that. Toys were more of my husband’s area.
Two years later I got pregnant again. We were fairly better off in terms of money. We did a ton of shopping for clothing and other baby things. We spent a fortune even though it was my first trimester. We found out it was boy through Harmony. I miscarried at nine weeks. I shut the clothes in suitcases. I didn’t open those suitcases until many years later.
Five years later I got pregnant again. We were so happy and started planning immediately. We went crazy with emotion. We had more money, a bigger house, my family lived closer now, and we were just so happy to have gotten pregnant so unexpectedly and without any real thought into it. The spontaneity of it was the best part.
I had a Panorama blood test at seven weeks. My OB said that she was screening me for risk of common congenital abnormalities and if I wanted she could also get the baby’s gender through it. I said yes I wanted to know the gender. I had the blood test done. Two weeks later I got a phone call from the OB’s office that I might’ve had a miscarriage. They couldn’t detect any fetal cells in my blood to run the test. I was devastated. I didn’t tell Adnan. For some reason, I am very protective of my non medical husband because he had a very hard time with the first miscarriage. My OB recommended that I either get the test drawn two weeks from then but before 13 weeks or just come to her office so she could throw a quick probe on me so we would know about the status of the pregnancy.
I went to her office after I gave my patients to my partner. She did the bedside Sono and confirmed that the heart beat was there and that she thought the baby had grown in size too. She told me to forego the Panorama but I insisted on doing it again. She warned me that insurance might not cover a second test. I said I’ll pay out of pocket. I did the Panorama again at 13 weeks. Two weeks later I got the phone call again while I was at work. They hadn’t detected any fetal cells and they were considering this to be a fetus with some unidentified chromosomal problem.
I think a death sentence seems like a nicer alternative to these type of news, right?
I drove home and as I was pulling in our garage I saw a GIANT teddy bear sitting on the porch. This teddy is about 6 feet tall. I looked at the tag and I had actually bought that teddy for my unborn child’s room.
I broke down. My mom and brother were home and I wanted to be in some shape before I entered. My mom can’t see us cry.
As I picked up the teddy, it seemed awfully heavy. Like the weight of the world. I carried it in. My mom saw it and immediately started to mentally picture its place in my baby’s room. I walked in the house and everywhere were baby items. I saw the Pack ‘n’ Play, the sterilizer (I insisted on Tommy Tippee so my sister got me that exact one), the many unopened packages of baby clothes that my sisters had been pouring in, the brand-new bouncer even though I had Minha’s in perfect condition in the basement, the swing that I didn’t really think I’d need because I’m so paranoid about putting a baby in anything that requires head control, the mountains of blankets and comforters and crib bumpers, the many vouchers that I was getting from baby stores just because I’d been shopping like a lunatic. I saw the brand-new bottle warmer, top grade, that I had bullied Adnan into buying even though I had barely used the last one that someone gave me for Minha. There was the crib mobile that Adnan had considered useless but all my friends had it so I should have it too, was my argument.
You guys can imagine the pain, right? I kept wondering what I had been preparing for? I had been preparing for a baby that wasn’t even born. A baby that my OB was expressing serious concerns for. A baby that really didn’t need any of this. And a baby whose needs could actually turn out to be completely different from what I had envisioned and what this junk load of stuff represented.
I felt that this was my moment of reckoning. I didn’t try to preemptively ward off any evil that might befall my child by donating money to people who needed it more than me. I didn’t try to realize that I didn’t need so much. That some of it could easily make another woman happy and hence we could have two happy women. My diaper bag that I had gotten so many years ago for free was lying next to everything. I had taken it out to show my mom how well it stood time and wear. It was flawless. But right next to it was my new diaper bag that had cost me a fortune. Did my baby need a new diaper bag? No. What my baby really needed and what my babies have actually ever needed is prayers. And love. And wholesomeness. And the tools to navigate life to the best of their potential.
Alhamdulillah Raahim was born and is every bit his mother’s son. He is cheeky, flamboyant, always ready with a smile and a laugh. What I don’t want him to ever be is a mindless consumer. That doesn’t help anyone.
My consumerism has seen its end or so I like to believe. It’s certainly better now. I let him wear Minha’s old clothes. What will happen if my boy wears his sister’s pink onesie? Is it going to interfere with his identity as a boy? No. Babies don’t know that they will be segregated into blues and pinks. They look good naked. They really don’t need a lot of clothes. And whatever they need, I have learned we already have for them.
The purpose of this post: don’t feel bad if you can’t financially afford something for your baby. All that your baby really needs is you and daddy to love him and for you and daddy to love each other. That’s really all that the baby needs. ❤️