Awash in Swaddling Material

swaddled babyI suspect I’ve told too many people these last several months that I have concerns about being able to create a quality swaddle for our baby once it’s been born, because now I have something on the order of a dozen swaddles. If the sage green velcro-fastening fleece doesn’t work, there’s a stretchable muslin swaddler with little bees on it that all of the Who’s Who in LA are using for their little ones. If that one isn’t a good fit for our baby Houdini, then I have a broad blanket I can use, or an inspired-by-NASA breathable swath of material that one friend swears by. The only piece of equipment I seem to be lacking is an auto-swaddler, but I suppose it’s not sitting in our nursery because it doesn’t exist. Maybe I should file for a patent. Patents are all the rage right now.

We had our second baby shower yesterday, and it was comforting to see so much support there. As we sat in the shade of a chestnut tree, we laughed about the clearly erroneous parenting advice from Susanne’s colleagues and friends. Stop the crawlers from getting into trouble with a staple gun. Tell the baby to prepare its own damn bottle. It got worse from there, and isn’t fit for public consumption, really. (Read: There’s a reason why the DIY Channel doesn’t have a show on  bris ceremonies.)

Armed with a long list of what to do and not do, we giggled as we unwrapped many presents, smiling with each new swaddler. I should have told people I was afraid I’d never learn how to earn a million dollars in my lifetime, but it’s my fault for not thinking big, I suppose. After all, the greatest expected expense for our children will be their college education, and since Susanne’s a professor, she’ll have some kind of tuition benefit available…

Oh, wait. Higher education is starting to pull away from offering those benefits, frustratingly enough. Although there is a history of women working low-paying secretarial jobs at colleges and universities across the country just so they could afford top-rate educations for their kids, well, this is the 21st Century economy, and those histories are suddenly unreasonable expectations for staff and faculty.

But this is about swaddling, darn it, not financial vanishing acts. I really think I am ready for swaddling. I have practiced on all manner of dolls, which I understand, don’t wriggle with the same capacity as a baby human. To date, I have succeeded in swaddling:

  • The doll from our baby class, which had a bad case of rigor mortis
  • Susanne’s old Cabbage Patch doll
  • A Hermey doll, the elf who dreams of being a dentist from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • My cat Willie, but he was a weak-willed feline who capitulated too easily to my 11-year-old self’s obsession with wrapping him up in a blanket

I’m sure that somehow, all of these experiences overlap into some kind of adequate swaddling prowess. Maybe.

Part of my confusion stems from the warm soft fact that everyone has a different method of swaddling, and some of these swaddles only work in certain configurations. There’s the Dr. Karp method of “up, down, up, down,” there’s the LA muslin half-diamond with the final tuck in front, the velcro simple-across-the-torso, and the so-called “Australian method,” where the legs are left free. It’s the new parent version of ways to tie a neck tie, which I also find rather confounding (I’m a half Windsor knot man, myself).

I’m sure my practicing and fretting over this issue will either be resolved in the first few days that our little one is on earth, or I’m going to invest in some ear plugs. I’ll just have to remember to procure some for Susanne, too.

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Categories: popular culture

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