It’s nearing the end of the sixth month, kid, and we’re suddenly feeling like we’re way behind on everything. There are showers to consider, interviews with pediatricians, rooms to outfit, college applications to file… Wisely, we decided to take on two of the more daunting tasks this Sunday, setting up a shower registry and looking for some decent maternity wear for your mother:
1. Baby Megastore
You’d think this would be a slam dunk, right? The only baby megastore on this side of town is only a short distance away from our house. We’ve been to this store before to buy shower gifts for other friends and come away unimpressed with both the selection and the staff. Yesterday we were greeted by a surly girl behind the registry desk who handed us off to a second, quieter girl, who struggled with a fleet of barcode scanners for a full ten minutes before giving up and sending us into the store weaponless. It was here we met up with our first major obstacle: bottles.
As we quickly learned, choosing a particular bottle brand and model is sort of like declaring a religion. There are so many things to consider: Does it contain Bisphenol A? Slow, medium, or fast flow? Silicone nipple or latex? Aerated or traditional? Does it fit with the breast pump model we like? Can it be used as a flotation device? Already overwhelmed, we turned the corner to find even more bottles and a rack of electric accessories—heaters, warmers, and cleaners; glass bottles, for the folks who don’t trust plastic at all, and some weird european-looking stuff that only barely resembled containers. Our sheaf of printouts from the Consumer Reports website didn’t cover any of this. What do we pick? Just then, the girl at the registry desk came up and handed us a barcode scanner she’d got working, which added another ten tons of pressure to make a decision. After a quick conference, we decided to punt on bottles and wade further inward. Set phasers on buy, Mr. Scott.
Car mirror, check. First aid kit, check. Baby washing tub, check. Did you know they have baby washing spas? Seriously, a little plastic clawfoot tub with jets and bubbles and a showerhead. Sorry, Cuke, you’re not getting a nicer bathtub than Mommy and Daddy—we’re one step above a washrag and a bucket. Three aisles in, we hit the stroller section, which I’d come prepared for. I found the one CR ranked their Best Buy and was about to grab a box off the shelf, when your mother turned me around by the shoulders, smacked me upside the head, and showed me a wall of car seat systems, where the seat snaps into and out of a car base, a stroller, a trebuchet, a hoverjet, and a Gundam mobile suit. And just like that, my printouts were worthless.
Further in, we came to diapers, another discussion topic, mainly focusing on the choice between helping save the environment vs. stuffing the landfill with mountains of Lockardugan poop bombs. Punting again, we waded through fields of ugly, overblown, and expensive baby furniture displays with price tags higher than our quarterly tax bill. By the time we made it over to the bedding and linen section, we were exhausted, and we only had ten things in our little phaser. Somewhere around the receiving blankets, we gave up on finding anything we liked, handed our scanner back to the girl, and fled the store.
2. Cheap Trendy Clothing Chain
The company website has a whole section of pretty maternity clothes. Unfortunately, nobody in their right mind would order clothing straight from the website, because the clothes are made so poorly it’s impossible to know if it will fit correctly without trying something on.
The brick-and-mortar store, where normal people have to go to try on the cheap clothes, has no maternity section. The bored employee your mother asked told her They’re? out? on the floor? mixed in with the clearance merchandise? in that annoying upwards cadence most teenagers have these days. She lied too. There was no maternity clothing anywhere in the store. There was a time when walking into this store meant being accosted by seventeen teenagers with those stupid headsets. Today, there were none to be seen anywhere. A badly managed location, or a sign of the economy’s current strength?
3. Wonderful Minnesota-Based Department Store, Local Version
Maternity clothing: Not so much. In fact, it’s sort of a joke. They take the trouble to hang a “maternity” sign from the ceiling, the same size as “shoes” or “toys”, and the section consists of three bombed-out racks with a bagful of merchandise, all size Small or XXXL. And it’s all stuff I wouldn’t give my grandmother.
We have found calm and peace. There is a wall of bottles here, but in some way it is less threatening, less confronting. At the Superstore, the display is monumental; its sheer size and breadth leave the first-time consumer gasping for air (or wishing for a stiff drink). Here there are eight or nine bottle systems, but they are contained, organized, and somehow friendlier. Everything we might need as new parents is here, contained in six or seven neat aisles, and the selection is better. The designs here speak to us immediately, where the $400 tulle/leopardskin/patchwork/shabby chic bedding sets at the Superstore made us run in horror.
The furniture is reasonable, the car seat system selection is strong, and they have prices that don’t make my wallet burst into flames. Sold!