On finding a balance

Chloe Avery, born 09 July 2016. 6lbs, 18in, 2 weeks early and the joy of my life.

Hi! I'm back after being away for a year from blogging with a renewed sense of purpose. Those of you who follow my Instagram already know that I had been busy gestating  a little chest-burster since last October, and she finally arrived two weeks ahead of schedule. Late night feedings, the inevitable two-week old fussiness and sleep deprivation coupled with dun-dun-dun Chinese confinement practices has left me feeling really cranky and bored out of my skull. There's only so much reading and screwing around on the laptop one can do while housebound for a month. I'll revisit this whole confinement thing later when I'm not as annoyed or tired. Anyway... 

I know most people probably can't be arsed about my shitting out a kid or about babies for that matter. In fact if anything, it's a one-way ticket to hauling ass away from this blog. But here's the thing - there's no other time like the quiet hours of the crack of dawn to think about spending habits, mindful consumption and general state of affairs. In fact, I've been thinking so much about these things that I feel a rambling post is overdue. Long time readers will know that I've suffer from a slew of existential fears particularly ones of a dystopian future marred by climate change, in that uneasy Cormac McCarthy way. In fact, the recent news of the triumph of Trumpian politics, the alarming bouts of terrorism, the random, uncanny shootings, and the fact that it's again the hottest year on record, goes to show that I may unfortunately not be that far off base.

I've had some qualms about bringing a kid into this world and being a bane to the already stressed terrestrial resources. Having kids is apparently the worst thing you can do for the environment, right up there along with sitting in business class and flying around the world twice. With that in mind, I decided that I wanted to really cut down on as much waste as possible while saving as much as I could. After all, why spend too much on clothing that I wouldn't really need after 9 months. I started off wearing my baggiest tops and getting a couple pairs of used jeans from an office mate. I also picked up two pairs of black denims from The Gap for $10 each and a couple of loose, long-sleeved supima tees from Lands' End. The denims lasted me at till I was about 6 months pregnant and the tees lasted the whole pregnancy. Then for the last few months, I lived in a pair of full panel maternity jeans from The Gap, the aforementioned supima tees and my mom's Arc'teryx fleece jacket. I was lucky in that my feet never got swollen or bigger so I could pretty much still wear the all the shoes I owned. My pregnancy wardrobe added up to less than $100 overall for the entire 9 months- something I guess only achievable if you lived in the Pacific Northwest and worked at a place with no dress code. I did cave in in the last month and bought a pair of sandals, a top and a couple of nursing bras during the sales at Nordstrom and The Line.

The Lands' End tees were and still are one of the best purchases I've made. They were each $8 a piece when I bought them but look and wash better than tees that are 10 times more expensive. Ethically made? I'm not sure - but then again, are James Perse and Alexander Wang tees ethically made? The best quality t-shirts in my opinion are the Japanese made ones from Comme des Garçons, but I'm not sure they're ethically made either. After tallying the amount I needed to spend decorating a nursery, building my cloth diaper stash and saving for the 529, I felt that I couldn't justify anything more than $20 on a t-shirt.

As for spending on baby clothing, we received A LOT of hand-me-downs from friends for which I'm grateful, it's a bit of a relief to see clothes being recycled. I ended up not really using much of what was given though because (a) it's 80 degrees these days and the baby only wears her diapers and a top and (b) I hate onesies (whoever thought pulling a top over a yowling, squirming baby in the middle of night is a good thing needs to be shot), the baby hates onesies and I ended up buying a bunch of cheap side snap tops that are god-sent. The tees are made by Gerber in Bangladesh though, so ethics be damned.

It was, however, a little disconcerting the sheer amount of used clothing I received; I have literally 7 or 8 gigantic boxes of clothing from 4 different people sitting in my basement and none of which I will be using mostly because I came to realize that 6 or 7 of those side-snap tees, a few footed pants and a bunch of Green Mountain Diapers Workhorse cloth diapers would suffice for the baby. If anything, having less clothing meant I didn't have to sort through as much laundry in general and it just made bleary-eyed diaper changes much easier to deal with. I guess having a uniform system works equally well for babies. Obviously different strokes for different people.

What I've been finding really hard to balance though is the little frivolous clothing purchases for the wee one. I find myself constantly browsing for baby clothing when I'm bored. My focus has shifted from Lemaire to Makie, from Mill Mercantile to Fawn Shoppe. I realize I probably shouldn't be buying terribly expensive clothing that the baby will outgrow in a couple of months, so I end up shopping for cheaper alternatives at The Gap and Zara. And so the entire story of trying to be a conscientious shopper begins again. I'm still working through trying to close the browser instead of forking over money and to start the kid off on the right foot of buying only what she really needs.

Over the next few months, I'm going to try to put together more frequent posts about trying to balance a finite amount of money with extravagant desires - no longer just for myself but for my living vicariously through another being. I'm also trying to find a balance between budgeting prudently and leaving behind smaller carbon footprints. I do this in part because this blog has been an interesting catalog of my transition from carefree grad student, to a jaded researcher to a (still jaded) working mom, and in part because soliciting advice from an online community of strong and successful women and mothers has always been an upside to Assembled Hazardly.