It’s been a while since my last “Pregnant in Charlotte” article. But fear not, the kiddo is still kicking and all is well. I am 32+ weeks pregnant, and the nightmares of delivering tomorrow haunt me nightly. In spite of this, I couldn’t be more excited about what’s in store for the coming weeks and if you’re going through a pregnancy of your own, or will be soon, I hope you feel the same way.
Next up on the must-dos for anyone expecting a child seems to be the all-important experience of registering. Registering can be both the most exciting and most terrifying experience during the nine-month pregnancy period.
The idea that those who are “expecting” have people in their lives who care enough about them that they will actually visit stores on their behalf and help purchase the things that are both essential and desired to help ease the pain of the overwhelming financial burden that can be childbirth is amazing. Whoever dreamed up this process should be sainted.
What can be terrifying has to do with the fact that those of us who register have never actually had children. So, rather than walking into stores with confidence and knowledge of what we need, we enter stores looking like deer in headlights where we’re handed a registering device that gives us far too much power and then set loose with very little direction at all about what we actually need or what things are the best or safest. We are left fearful that one wrong decision could leave us bankrupt, or, far worse, leave our soon-to-be newborn child at risk.
Having been through this experience already, here are some thoughts I have about ways to make this process a bit easier and hopefully a little less terrifying.
(1) Pick a store, or maybe two, and call it a day.
Let’s be honest: there is no shortage of children’s stores these days, each claiming better merchandise, better prices, and/or more convenient avenues for shopping. The truth of the matter is that amongst the big-box style stores, there is actually very little difference in merchandise or price, and depending on where you and your kind, gift-giving friends live, convenience may not matter all the much. (Online shopping, anyone?)
I recommend choosing one big-box store for all of your essentials, and maybe one specialty/local store for some additional odds and ends. Personally, I went with Buy Buy Baby. I can’t really say why other than the feeling I got walking into that store (as opposed to, say, Target, Babies ‘R Us, or Wal-Mart) was that they were all about baby and clean, friendly, and easy to access both in town and on-line.
I didn’t add any additional specialty stores to my registry, primarily because once I had tackled BBB I was too exhausted and frankly didn’t think I’d need it. (Only time will tell if this was a good decision or not.)
(2) Do at least a little research.
I don’t like research. Not one little bit. However, when it comes to having a baby, I have accepted that at least a little research is a good thing. So, do your research. Talk to your friends, those that have kiddos, at least. However, don’t talk to all of your friends. If you’re pregnant, you probably know that the “too many cooks in the kitchen” saying is never more true than when discussing pregnancy/childbirth advice-giving.
Two of my best friends both recently had babies, so I did what I could to limit my hard-core questioning to those two. I trust them, their kids are healthy and happy, and they have similar tastes to my own. Additionally, they’re both a little details-obsessed like I am, so they’re great at keeping records of everything they bought and did throughout their own pregnancy processes. This meant it was easy to get those records for my own shopping needs.
Before hitting BBB, I pulled together a handful of spreadsheets about what they bought, I checked out some of the big-ticket items (strollers, carriers, car seats, etc) online, and I started to get a feel for which brands were cute, safe and in my price range. Additionally, and this was key, when I showed up at BBB with my hubby that fateful Saturday afternoon, I requested they print an actual hard copy of one of my friend’s registries so I could follow along with that. This was a life-saver.
(3) Don’t do your registering on Saturday afternoon.
I’m not kidding. Choosing to tackle our first day of registering on a Saturday afternoon felt like choosing to go to Disney World on the first day of summer. No. Just, no. For some of us, Saturday afternoon feels like the only time we can make it to a store, and if that is truly the case for you, I merely caution you to hydrate, take frequent breaks (they have rockers and gliders in one corner of the store, I’m convinced, for this very reason), take deep breaths and think happy thoughts.
If you have any other time available to you during the week, or even early Saturday or Sunday morning, do yourself a favor and use that time. You will be happy you did, as will your partner, and probably your unborn child.
(4) Make a plan, and stick to it.
The first time my hubby and I went registering, we did not do this. The result was three hours of anxiety and stress which culminated in the stroller section. There, my hubby and I struggled together to figure out what was what while attempting to avoid the mass of other customers who looked equally overwhelmed. NOT GOOD.
Having learned from this experience, I recommend beginning your tour of the store with the big-ticket items you know you’ll need (strollers, carriers, car seats, etc), and a time-limit in mind. This will help you to steer clear of the situation my hubby and I ended up in, and ya know what, if you under-register for a few bibs and blankets, no biggie. However, not registering for a stroller or car seat is not good for anyone, so again, make a plan, and stick to it.
(5) Ask your store for any additional resources they might have to help with the registering process.
Now, here’s where I tell you something that I’m sure BBB will not be thrilled I’m telling you. We’re friends though, you and I, so here it is. At the end of your registry tour, at least at BBB, you will be handed a most delightful gift bag full of coupons and gifts to thank you for choosing them as your registry headquarters. This is great.
What isn’t great is that tucked away inside this bag of magic is a brochure that literally has inside it a REGISTRY CHECKLIST. That’s right, you’ve just spent hours wandering aimlessly through a store you’re largely unfamiliar with, walking miles on tired, (and in my case, swollen) feet, pretending you know what you’re doing and at the END of it all they give you a list of what you should be looking for. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
So, do yourself a favor, even if you have some spreadsheets and friends’ registries to reference, and go ahead and ask for that bag of goodies, or at least the checklist inside it, before you go registering. It’s broken up by category, and using this as your roadmap will, I have to assume, save you not only your time, but your sanity too.
Remember that for those of us lucky enough to register, this actually can be a wonderful experience. And when you start to feel the stress, walk away. Remember, there’s always online, and no matter what happens, I have faith in you that you’ll be just as lost and confused as the rest of us when that little bundle of joy arrives. Whether or not you have the right onesie will matter very little once the precious little one is in your arms. The rest will work itself out. (Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.)
P.S., if you head to Buy Buy Baby to complete your registry, feel free to give them my name as your reference, and if you feel so inclined, use my registry as inspiration. I won’t be able to tell you for another 8 weeks if that’s a good idea or not, but I offer it to you nonetheless.