When we first found out I was pregnant, Mr. Mostafa and I immediately started thinking about things we would “need” for the baby. I suppose that all first-time parents fixate on these things to an extent. You don’t have other kids to take care of, so you have plenty of time to sweat the small stuff.
When I was a few months along, we test-drove strollers in Mothercare. Mr. Mostafa pushed a black Maclaren through the store so much that I think the other patrons wondered if he believed he already had a baby in it. We didn’t buy the stroller right then, but we noted the model number and planned to pick it up before the baby was born. (I wrote a little bit about our search for a stroller in this post.)
Later, I fell in love with a Fisher Price bouncer in Babies R Us. In Riyadh, it cost the equivalent of more than $100. I went home and looked it up on Amazon…and well, let’s just say that if I had been able to buy it in the States, it would have cost significantly less than $100 (try, like, $35). But I thought it was adorable, and I loved that its color scheme was truly gender neutral (I liked that about the Maclaren stroller, too. At the time, I was trying to avoid too much pink for my baby girl. I mean, some pink was okay–after all, I am obsessed with Hello Kitty–but I didn’t want my baby to spend even her earliest months being shoehorned into a gender role). We planned to pick up the bouncer before the baby was born.
I found an awesome baby swing on a Riyadh swap group on Facebook, barely used, and I snapped it up. I paid half of what it cost new in the stores here in Riyadh (new, it cost 1,000 riyals, around $265…we paid 500 riyals), and I considered it a bargain. Mr. Mostafa initially resisted the purchase, but once we got it home and spent some time watching it swing back and forth, realizing that in a few months a baby–our baby–would be in it, he was happy. (It too had a gender-neutral color scheme.)
Then our baby girl arrived.
She came nine days early, and she made her grand entrance the day after Mr. Mostafa finished his third and fourth exams for his Saudi CPA (SOCPA) certification (which we later found out that he passed, by the way…he credits Lavender for his good luck, even though he worked his butt off). He had spent the past two weeks completely immersed in studying, and we had planned to start our last-minute baby-prep shopping on the day that my water broke at four in the morning. We didn’t have our stroller or our bouncer yet.
While baby and I were in the hospital, Mr. Mostafa went shopping on his own. The Fisher Price bouncer was sold out, and so was the Maclaren stroller. The bouncer wasn’t a big deal, but he went to various Mothercare branches all over the city in search of The Stroller. No luck.
But by that point, I didn’t care. Before Lavender was born, I stressed about the bouncer. I stressed about the stroller. I wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted to put my baby in a safe, reasonably fancy stroller that was free of gender role pressures. I wanted to avoid too much pink. I wanted to avoid items that were not a well-known brand name, so that I would be informed in case of a recall. I overthought everything.
As I write this, I’m aware of how nuts I sound. But what can I say? I was worried, scared, nervous. The things we chose to bring home for Lavender seemed to be the only way I could feel like I had control over something, you know? Once she arrived and I held her in my arms, none of it mattered anymore. Once I got the kid home, I didn’t care what she wore, as long as she was clothed. I didn’t care what chair she sat in, as long as she was comfortable. I just wanted her to be a healthy, safe baby with a full tummy.
For the first few weeks, we didn’t really go anywhere. But when we did start venturing out and about, it became evident that we did need a stroller, even if we couldn’t find the Maclaren we originally wanted. So again, Mr. Mostafa went shopping. He came home with a brown Graco stroller.
It’s ugly. (And he knows I think it’s ugly.) But you know what? Again, I do not care. It’s easy to unfold and fold back up. It steers well. Lavender is happy to sit in it (sometimes), and when she’s not happy to sit in it (because she’s my little snugglebug and wants to be held most of the time), it does a fantastic job of carting around my handbag/diaper bag and our shopping bags. That’s all that matters. I am thrilled to have it. I am grateful that we have the means to go out and buy a stroller when we need it. I am grateful that we have a healthy baby to put in the stroller.
I don’t need the perfect stroller. I don’t need the perfect bouncer. I don’t need the perfect swing. As much as I wanted those things because I felt like making those choices gave me some kind of control, I now see how silly I was to ever think that. Being able to choose the perfect stroller doesn’t mean you’re not going to end up spending three extra days in the hospital.
And there’s no way to be predict what the “perfect” anything will be, anyway. Why didn’t it occur to me that my baby would have her own preferences? I love that my kid knows what she wants, even though it means that we wasted money. Lavender hates the awesome fancy swing we bought for her; she screams when we put her in it. It will probably get re-sold soon. She despises the adorable smaller swing that we received as a gift. Other than my arms, the only thing she will happily spend any time in at all is the bouncer that Saleh’s sweet aunt bought for her. And that bouncer is…wait for it…