Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Baby Market

I am a birth story junkie. I hang on every word when women share their story of how their child made  their entrance earth side. I feel it is empowering for women to not only share their stories but also, to listen to other's birth stories as well. No one has the same story. Not one single story I have heard, read, or watched has been exactly like mine. That's the way life is. No one is exactly like me or you.

I have moved on from my own desires of baby birthing yet, somehow I found myself at a premiere baby/parent conference last fall. I had been psyching myself up thinking I would really, absolutely, without a doubt want another baby after attending. I miss breastfeeding. I miss baby wearing. I miss having a baby. I really do.

Spring of 2010 when J was new. 

Imagine how surprised I was when I was unmoved by fondling a newborn size cloth diaper.  I am so glad to have graduated to independent potty users. My breasts didn't ache at the cries of babies around me, no more let-downs. I didn't look at the latest Ergo Baby carrier and want to own it immediately and put a new baby in it just so I could kiss it's little sweet head as I go about my day. I was in shock. I felt no attachment to any of these items. These "hot," "new," "latest," "safest," and "most expensive" items on the market. Ok, I really want a Sophie Giraffe!

Even though I wasn't having let-down anymore in the milk sense, I felt an overwhelming sense of let down at the conference. I listened to the stories, I listened to the speakers, I listened to the Q & A sessions. I was completely awe stuck. That somehow having ________ makes a better parent not only that but the more ___________ a parent has the better. People would begin their comment or question with "I have the newest model of the _________ for my child and I was just wondering...." They didn't really have a question, they just wanted to share that they had the latest _____________. Lots of parent posturing was happening and it was really uncomfortable.

One speaker talked about birth. I was completely engrossed. Hospital births, home births, VBACs.....moms were sharing it was great. I love birth stories, I should have been a midwife! One thing that was common in every story was fear. Fear of failing at birth. Fear of a c-section. Fear of the baby not latching on. Fear of dying. Fear that your doctor will force you to have this, that, or the other for fear of your baby dying. FEAR! I had all those fears too, with both births.

The next session was to promote the best, most awesomely, wonderful, new, most expensive, and safest stuff parents NEED for their babies. Diapers, highchairs, bouncy seats, breast pumps, baby wearing contraptions, strollers, and carseats.

Carseats. The most safest model with the highest possible stars available was there and it was marketed this way: parents, you must get this seat because it is safer than any seat out there and without it your baby is at risk and could possibly die in an accident. Not in those words exactly but the message was there: FEAR. This carseat, which is rated the safest and happens to be the most expensive carseat on the market today was being marketed with FEAR.

It is the fear peddling by doctors that people complained most about when sharing their birth stories and it is fear that baby product companies are peddling to sale their stuff.

I get it. I want the best, safest, newest, most awesome stuff for my own children. I can't afford it. Does this make me a terrible parent because I don't have _____________. No. I also should not be told to be scared for my child's life if I don't have ______________.

I left the conference with this: if this carseat is the highest rated carseat, then all car seats should be as safe as that one no matter where a parent can afford to shop. That, the top rated safety carseat should be the standard.  The carseat is the most important item a parent buys but safety shouldn't dictate the price. I left the conference feeling like there shouldn't be this much polarization; that products don't make a better parent. All babies need to be in the safest, most secure carseat on the market not just the babies with parents who can afford it. There shouldn't be a middle or low standard when it comes to baby safety for any baby product out there. Period.

I miss having a baby. I really do. I don't miss baby product marketing. In my newborn exhaustion of sleepless nights and engorgement, I shed a lot of tears over not having the best most expensive ___________ for my baby but so far,  P & J are turning out great.