Friday, November 19, 2010

For Your Information... Keep It In Check

I've recently wondered if raising a child in the Information Age is a detriment to both the child and their parents.  
We all know that information is a good thing and that too much information is a bad thing.
But when it comes to parenting, TMI is a really bad thing.
For Doug and I it all started with my 20-week ultrasound appointment.

Instead of being super excited to find out we were having a girl, I spent hours sobbing over the technician's discovery that I had mild placenta previa.  My doctor assured me that this condition was very common in the second trimester and usually disappeared by the time the baby arrived.  But according to countless Internet searches I conducted as soon as we got home from the ob/gyn's office, I could either hemorrhage to death or lose my baby during delivery. 
This was the first of many Google visits that would haunt me throughout my pregnancy. 
Every little fetal movement I experienced was an excuse to visit a Yahoo q & a forum on prenatal complications. After awhile I drove myself crazy.  But even now, with Mackenzie nearly six months old, I still resort to the Web for answers, because it's just so easy.
And it doesn't stop there. 
I've read every single book about getting your baby to sleep through the night, and each one contradicts the other.
I've searched countless blogs about when and how to start your child on solid foods and they're all filled with different opinions.  My pediatrician said I should absolutely NOT serve Mackenzie carrots that are self-prepared because of some concerns over nitrates, and that the jarred kind are best.  But the homemade baby food book I spent nearly 20 bucks on lists pureed carrots as its first recipe.  
The doctor INSISTED I couldn't give Mackenzie cow's milk before her first birthday, but several nurse friends of mine tell me I can start giving it to her when she's ten months old.  Hell, my mother gave me cow's milk before I turned one and I ended up just fine. 
But the information overload isn't limited to the stuff you read in books and on the Internet.  
Take for example the somewhat helpful but completely annoying baby registry lists provided by mass market retailers.  When I registered for shower gifts no stone was left unturned.  I had five, yes FIVE, lists telling me what was essential to purchase or receive as a gift before my child was born.  On that list was a $200 baby monitor that boasted so many safety and convenience benefits I was convinced I couldn't live without it.  For the record, I've used it a whopping two times.  We first turned it on when Mackenzie was 3 weeks old and we moved her from the bassinet, which was in our bedroom, to her crib across the hall.  Doug and I heard every breath, sniffle, and sigh until I broke down and turned off the power button.  Freakin' Helen Keller could've heard our child cry from a mile away without that overpriced gizmo.  The second time we used the monitor was during our first visit to see my parents.  This time it actually came in handy, because if you're spending the night in New Jersey with a family that's half Irish, half Italian, you can't hear the person across the dinner table let alone a three-month-old upstairs in her crib. 
I'm just glad we didn't spring for the $300 VIDEO monitor the sales associate at Buy Buy Baby tried to convince us we just had to have.  It's called prying yourself away from the TV, getting off your ass, and periodically checking on your child... duh.  I don't need to be watching Jersey Shore and the baby monitor at the same time, do I?
I may sound like an old fuddy duddy, but there's just too much access to information these days.
Top that with the fact that there are too many bells and whistles attached to everything I buy as a mother and the pressure to keep up with the latest trends in baby gear is overwhelming.  
Everyone has to have the Lexus in strollers, the Burberry dress for baby's first Christmas, the top-of-the-line infant food processor to concoct organic peas for a kid who's just going to smear them across her face anyway.
The other morning Doug told me we forgot to close our garage door and left it open overnight.  My first thought wasn't that our cars had been stolen, that a rat had infested the mounds of nonperishable groceries I'd bought in bulk at BJ's, or that a hobo had set up shop there rent free.  My initial concern was that my $400 BOB stroller had been stolen and that its parts had been sold on the black market for chump change.  It occurred to me that I'd fallen victim to the hype and that I needed a reality check.  But in all honesty I kept thinking about how I would cope without a smooth ride at Stroller Strides the next day.  
Similarly my Baby Bjorn infant carrier has seen better days but it does the trick when I want to take Mackenzie out and not subject her to the confines of an overpriced but oh-so-luxurious jogging stroller.  The Bjorn is great, except for the fact that the Ergo is the latest and greatest in baby wear and has blown the humble Bjorn out of the water.  Mothers swear that the Ergo will make your baby feel utterly weightless and will annihilate any back pain you would have felt with the Bjorn.  The only problem is that the Ergo doesn't allow you to carry your baby on the front of your body, so he or she inevitably rides on your back which you may or may not want.  
So again I find myself in a bit of a pickle.  Do I buy into the hype and get the "it" baby gear just to join the masses? Or do I settle for what I have, which truthfully works just fine for the amount of time I use it? 
And don't even get me started on "toy envy." Every book, blog, and magazine tells me that I have to buy the latest Baby Einstein toy so that my daughter is up to speed on her cognitive development.  As a good friend of mine just informed me, infants can occupy themselves for hours on end with a cardboard toilet paper roll and the coupon inserts that come with the Sunday paper. 
It's called imagination, people... remember that? 
At this rate, if I allow myself to believe all that I read and buy all that I see I'll drive myself insane and spend every penny of Mackenzie's college fund on things she's bound to outgrow in the time it takes to change her diaper.
I think for now I'll take it all with a grain of salt and keep things in perspective.  Because by the time I'm done publishing this post, the FDA will declare carrots toxic and NASA will be offering stroller rides to the moon. 

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