More or less what happened.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022


 

A little over a week ago, for the first time in a while, I took a break from both blogging and social media. I have to say it felt really good and was much needed, but probably deserves some explanation. We have had some really high highs and some pretty abysmal lows the last few months, some of which I'm ready to talk about (and, unfortunately, feels like something that needs to be said given the current mood these days.) 

I'm going to at least make an attempt at brevity by rolling this up into a timeline of sorts, starting in December of last year.

December: two things happened at once. One, we found out a home would be available on my parents' street, right across from them, and we had a chance to buy it off market. This was a very big deal for us, because homes don't often become available in my parents neighborhood, the market's been crazy tough, and even if we'd wanted to buy we would likely be outbid. We began the long, slow process of purchasing a home off market. 

At the same time, we found out some news that was both exciting and scary- I was pregnant. We were excited because we wanted a second child, and scared because we just hadn't expected it to happen this soon- I still had a thesis to finish and have been working really difficult hours. Nevertheless we were thrilled- I immediately bought E big sister t-shirt to break the news to our immediate family, made a list of things to look out for secondhand for baby #2, and began revisiting our old baby name google document and debating whether we'd be having a baby boy or baby girl.

February: we had just gotten back from traveling to Liberia as a family and I had my 13 week scan. As usual, I was friendly and chatty with the ultrasound tech, while sort of side-eyeing the numbers on the screen. Because I work in child health, I knew a little bit about the scan I was getting, but not quite enough to be sure if what I was seeing was abnormal. 

I'll cut to the chase- it was. My baby had increased nuchal thickness, which can be a marker for major genetic disorders. Within minutes I was placed on the phone with an MFM doctor, and together we decided I'd get a CVS (basically a needle inserted into my placenta to test the cells for different genetic disorders) that day. I called Peter and panic-power-walked through freezing rain to the nearby hospital. 

After that very tumultuous and scary day, things sort of...got quiet. We waited as test results trickled back bit by bit. The first test came back normal. Then the next one. Slowly, we allowed ourselves to breathe and I started to get excited about the baby again. Our 16 week scan appeared normal, apart from the nuchal thickness that had been diagnosed at 13 weeks. The doctor told me our risk was similar to other pregnancies. I told friends and coworkers we were expecting, as my belly was showing.

March: the day before I turned 20 weeks, Peter and I walked into my anatomy scan excited to take a peek at our baby again. The same tech was there, and after just a few minutes mumbled something about confirming she was getting the right measurements. I didn't pick up on the weirdness of that, but I probably should have. Minutes later, an MFM doctor came in, this time in person, and essentially told us the most crushing news I've ever received: our baby had severe fetal hydrops, it could affect my health if we continued the pregnancy, and even if we waited to deliver, our baby would probably not survive. They recommended terminating the pregnancy.

I won't go into the details of this here, but it was easily the most devastating experience of my life. I was just beginning to feel my baby kicking, and E had started giving my belly kisses just a day or two before. I wanted a miracle so, so badly- but I am also a realist, and I knew enough about fetal hydrops to know it was not going to get better. I actually had a case as a resident in the NICU- and I didn't want our little one to go through what I had witnessed. Thankfully, I live in a state where abortion has not been criminalized. In early April, at 21 weeks, I had surgery to terminate the pregnancy. 

May: The rest of April was a blur of crying in the shower, trying to keep up with the absolute minimum at my job and at school, and a bout of Covid-19 at the worst possible timing (we spent our third Easter home alone, thank you Covid.) 

On May 2nd, after a lot of legal and financial nightmares, we closed on our home. A home that hasn't been updated in nearly fifty years, and that we have never once set foot in. But it's ours. We didn't have a chance to celebrate since I had to prepare for my thesis presentation and the dive into a month of working nearly every weekend, but we are incredibly thankful for the chance to raise our daughter in the town I grew up in, with the same lovely neighbors who I visited and house-sat for growing up, just across the street from her grandparents. 

I don't have the space yet to talk more about the loss we experienced last month. It still feels very raw. The leak from the US supreme court didn't help either- hearing that news felt like a punch in the gut, and it makes me sick to think that women and birthing persons, especially those who are from historically excluded groups, may no longer have access to safe abortions in so many parts of this country. I am thankful that I was able to choose what happened to my child and my body. I am scared and angry about what may happen in the coming months. I am happy to be done with graduate school and cutting back my work hours in a month. In short, I am feeling a lot of different feelings.

If you read this far, thank you so much for being here. Truly. I imagine this space will soon go through a shift yet again, and I appreciate you sticking around to see where it ends up. If you're going through something similar, feel free to reach out. I don't wish this experience on anyone. Below are two online resources that you may find helpful if you are going through pregnancy loss. Wishing you the best. xx.

Time to Talk TFMR- a great podcast that gave me so much comfort in the last month as I went through this.

Online yoga course for pregnancy loss- I haven't had time to start this course, but it came highly recommended by my OB.

It also goes without saying, if you're angry and scared like me, you can donate to non-profits that help women with limited resources or access to safe abortions- I chose to support Indigenous Women Rising, but there are plenty of other options too.

Lastly, because, as always, music stepped in to save the day, here's what I've been listening to the last month.

Hi, I am bad at blogging consistently.

Friday, May 6, 2022







Just popping in to share some last photos and recommendations from our trip to South Dakota...A WHOLE YEAR LATER. Guys, idk what to say. In my defense I was kind of busy this year...had a lot going on that I'll share in a later post. For now, enjoy some great views of the American West, and see below for some of our recommendations from our time in South Dakota.

First off, the parks. We absolutely loved driving through Badlands National Park on the loop road and the unfortunately named Custer State Park. We drove through Badlands and didn't do any hiking, and ended up in Wall, SD- a cute but kind of touristy town that I think I'd skip next visit. Also, don't do as I do and speed through the park (in my defense, I had no idea what the speed limit was...insert embarrassed face here.) 

Custer State Park, which is historically located on land belonging to the Cheyenne people, was by far my favorite spot. While I wish we had been able to do more hiking, I was really happy to be able to explore some of the trails with our daughter. We hit a lot of the highlights, including the Needles Highway, Cathedral Spires trail, seeing buffalo, prairie dogs and wild donkeys on the wildlife loop road, and an easy but beautiful walk around the Sylvan lake. We also made sure to see the Crazy Horse Memorial on the way out (we skipped the other one.) Since we didn't have a ton of time off because it was a work trip for me, we stayed in the park at one of the cabins, which was a little pricey but worth it to be so close by to everything the park has to offer. 

In future visits (either sans kiddo or when E is a bit older,) I'd definitely want to do some longer hikes and possibly some backpacking or camping. I also want to return in the summer, as that's when traditional Lakota powwows, or 'wacipi' take place. There are also opportunities to support local indigenous businesses through tipi stays; you can find more information on that here at the Lakota Youth Stay website.
 

That time we went to South Dakota

Wednesday, August 25, 2021


I never mean to take as much time off as I end up doing when I get busy with life and school and other things. I had every intention of making a nice, curated travel guide for visiting South Dakota. Instead please accept these unedited photos from our travels. I'll make a short list of things to do as well. One thing I do want to say is the mark of white colonizers on what was once indigenous land runs deep in this state. Anywhere we travel in the U.S., it's important to know the often damaging history and impacts of white folks on the land, and even more important to understand who the original custodians are and were.

Any trip you take I would strongly encourage you to visit native-land.ca to learn more about the original tribes of indigenous peoples who originally occupied these spaces. During our time, we spent time on Sicangu Lakota Oyate land as well as on the land of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. You can find more information about the 18 tribal nations of South Dakota here.


We spent most of our times on the plains as I was working at a small hospital there, but we spent a couple of weekends in the Black Hills and it was gorgeous. We only did a few short hikes with the little one (Silver Lake trail and Cathedral Spires were both fantastic) and really enjoyed some scenic drives in the area. We used an Osprey Poco carrier my parents generously gifted to us and it worked great. Next time we go we also plan to stay in a traditional tipi like this one, which helps raise funds for local Lakota Youth Programming. 






Johnny Cash actually visited Lakota country at one point in his life. This guitar on display at a museum was part of a local performance.



One thing I fell in love with in South Dakota was the beading art. Pieces like the ones above are incredibly intricate and would have taken hours for the maker to complete. It wasn't uncommon at the hospital to see the clerk working on beading baby moccasins in her down time, and a local youth development programs often teach beading to teenage tribal members as a meditative and calming practice. I was lucky enough to have the stethoscope below made by an incredibly talented member of the local Lakota tribe. This museum shop carries some pieces of his and other local makers.



One of my favorite days was this one, when I had the chance to teach kids from a Lakota language immersion school about health and doctors' visits! Kindergarten is such an awesome age. Loved working with these kids.


We spent one of our last weekends visiting Wounded Knee, the site of one of the worst massacres in our country's history. 150 Native Americans were killed here in 1890. It was later the site of a protest against mistreatment of indigenous peoples by the U.S. government in the 1970s. 


As I mentioned above, our trip was related to my work and while I wasn't expecting much, we were blown away by the natural beauty and history of South Dakota. We're looking forward to heading back when we can, and hopefully doing some of the stuff we didn't get the chance to see on this trip. If you want to learn more about the Lakota people and this part of the country, I've listed a few resources below: 

An Indigenous People's History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz 
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by David Treuer (Ojibwe)
The Rider film by Chloe Zhao
Lakota Youth Stay Cultural Tourism Opportunities 

If you have more please share! And please- support indigenous writers, artists and makers. There is a ton of work out there that plagiarizes, manipulates and capitalizes on Native American traditions for mainstream/fast fashion, which is not ok. 

Songs to Drive to.

Friday, May 28, 2021

 


I used to be a big curator of playlists. I think in another life I would have loved to be a radio DJ (I know that is a very weird alternate career, but it works. haha!) 

I haven't had the bandwidth to do this in a while but I enjoy it and it makes me happy. So one of the afternoons when my Mom had E I threw something together for our trip to South Dakota. To be honest I was really intimidated by the idea of being on our own out there with no help or support and hours of driving to get around with a young infant. Obviously many folks do all of this and more alone, so no complaining here- but I was nervous!

She did great, and we had an amazing time. And this is some of the music we listened to driving those country roads winding their way through the plains. Hope you enjoy :) Will drop a little summary of what we got up to later when I have some more down time!

Travel with a baby (hi, we have a baby!)

Thursday, May 20, 2021

 Um, hi, hello! I always tell myself I will never take a month off from writing...and then life hits. And to be honest, I don't think I've ever had a bigger distraction than the one we've got right now...


In November I became a mom, maybe a couple days after that last post (and a few days early, to my shock and disbelief!) It has been a wild ride but suffice it to say we are so incredibly happy to have little E in our lives.

I'm not up for sharing the birth story just yet (may never be, to be honest) but I did want to pop on here and share how our travels went and what we learned. We traveled a lot before E came into our lives, and since her birth we've lived in 3 different places(!) Some days I felt really awesome managing to continue working in global health and travel with a baby in tow. And some (many) days I felt like I was drowning and life was irrevocably changed and I was failing at both my career and being a good mother. I think both are true to an extent (that's a story for another day.) So without further ado, here's some general advice and things we found that made traveling with a baby easier. 

Have a loose routine. Like it or not, your life will change when a baby arrives. When E first came (aka before reality hit,) I was very motivated to keep life as unchanged as possible. I tried to get her to sleep anywhere, with normal daily life buzzing in the background, in hopes that she'd learn to sleep on the go. HA. ha. Did you know that babies are actual humans? (note the sarcasm here.) And sure, some humans can literally sleep anywhere...Others need pitch black, total silence, Abby the bear and a lavender diffuser in the room to sleep well. Once we were exhausted into submission, we found a happy medium that worked for us by tracking and identifying our kiddo's wake windows/sleepy times and establishing a flexible schedule and sleep routine that worked for us. We loved the Huckleberry app for this (side note: none of these shares are sponsored.)

Obviously we didn't want something too complicated so it would be easy to implement in a bunch of different places (in the last month alone we have put her down for naps/bedtime in 2 houses and 3 different hotel rooms plus the occasional car or lap on the airplane.) So I'd argue for something really simple/loose- for us it's change diaper, sleep sack, books, bed with the sound machine on/lights out for naps (we just add a bath for bedtime, which can be skipped in a pinch) and naps around 9 am, 1 pm and 5 pm +/- 30 minutes. It really did work wonders for us. E is a different kid when she's able to sleep well, and this simple routine goes a long way in helping her get the rest she needs.

...And be willing to break it. Ok so I know I just went on and on about how amazing routines are...but hear me out. If you've got limited time somewhere (whether a few days or a few weeks,) you're not going to want to spend 5 hours of your vacation sitting in a hotel room in the dark, texting your significant other because you can't actually speak since the little one is sleeping two feet away. Peter and I agonized over this for a long time. Ultimately what worked for us was prioritizing naps in the first parts of the day, and either skipping or pushing off the later nap to do things as a family, since the third nap is hit or miss for her anyways. Sometimes we ended up with a grumpier baby. Sometimes it ended with E excitedly flailing her arms at the sighting of her first ever bison, a truly sweet and hilarious thing to see. 

We really tried not to do this every day, but on weekends or special occasions we wanted E to see or do something with us as a family, we made it work. It ended up giving us some sweet family moments that we would have missed out on if we were nap-trapped in our hotel room. 

Have an on the go routine option. I guess this is an extension of having a routine. South Dakota is pretty rural and spread out, so we spent many 3 hour chunks of time driving with E having a meltdown because she was so tired and couldn't sleep more than 10 minutes. That was until we stumbled on the magic of mimicry- in an act of desperation I flung my nursing cover over the car seat, we blasted the AC to make some white noise and just kept driving in total silence. While I wouldn't recommend using this method routinely, it did work for us and could prove useful if you're in a bind. 

Modify your expectations. When we first arrived in South Dakota one of the first websites I found had a list of '15 things to do in a day in the Black Hills.' Being a realist with a 5 month old, I cut the list down to 8 or 9 things that were realistic with an infant and sounded like fun. In the span of 4-ish days in the area we did 4-5 of them. Some of that was weather and not baby-related, but the reality is time just disappears with an infant. The days of driving for 8 or 9 hours straight are gone- instead, every 2-3ish hours we were stopping to check a diaper and feed. When we visited the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre I ended up stuck in the car nursing and didn't get to climb the hilltop to pay my respects. 

The first weekend I was super disappointed that my 7-item to do list went so terribly. By the last weekend there, we'd figured out that for stuff we were trying to do (mostly scenic drives, sight-seeing and short hikes) a list of 3 felt less daunting- 2 things we would definitely get done and one that was a maybe, depending on how well the day had gone. You can probably adjust this based on driving time, how long it takes to do something, your child's age, etc. But the more laidback schedule definitely made for a more enjoyable time for all of us.

Stay close to the action. I wish we had learned this sooner! Our first weekend out exploring we booked a hotel that we knew was kid friendly but was also an hour away from the hikes and parks. With a small infant often the timeframe that they're awake and happy is pretty short- in our case at most 3 hours on a good day. Staying somewhere we could walk or quickly drive to the spots we wanted to check out made a huge difference! Less time driving = more time to do things you enjoy as a family. It's that simple :) If you do one thing differently on your travels, I'd say this should be it, even if it means paying a little more for that convenience.

Come up with your packing list. Having moved to two states in E's first 6 months, I now have a good sense of what we do and don't use for her in the span of a couple days, a couple weeks, etc. This will definitely look different for everyone, but in general we realized we should have packed more clothes and fewer toys. E went through multiple outfits a day some days thanks to spit up, drool, and blow outs, and babies are often down to play with just about anything (just make sure it's safe/not a choking hazard.) They also LOVE repetition- she ended up playing with the same 1-2 toys every car ride, and we read her 4 of the same books over the span of of that month we were gone. I would also add that it is helpful to calculate how many diapers your kid goes through in 24 hours, then figure out how many you should bring for your travel day from there and maybe multiply by 1.2- just for peace of mind :) then you can buy as many diapers as you need once you arrive. We always purchased more than we needed and ended up donating what was left over to a local organization. 

As far as large items, a few things to know before you go: if you're renting a car you can also rent a car seat, and most hotels have pack and plays/cribs you can use- just ask! If you've got a mobile little one I'd also think about if there's a safe space to put the baby down, if you can make a space up by moving stuff around, or if it's worth it to try and buy an exer-saucer or playpen secondhand. I'd also add if your kiddo is taking some solids a high chair would be useful if you're going to be somewhere long term. We had some pretty comical dinners where we'd sit E on our laps in a diaper with a towel to keep things clean. A high chair would definitely have made life easier!

Stroll (or carry? or...) So this is less of a recommendation than a call for advice...do you bring your stroller or carry your little one through the airport? We've done both- it was super useful to have in Boston when we flew to Florida with all our stuff- but once we arrived at our hosuing in South Dakota we didn't touch the stroller as Peter carries E in our Lille carrier (linked, no commission.) I imagine once the family grows the stroller is kind of a must. But with one baby and a backpack diaper bag we found it much easier to navigate travel with our Sakura Bloom or the Lille. We also found the more stuff we could check or gate check to the final destination, the easier life was. And the less sore and exhausted we were by the time we made it to our lodging.

If you're a parent let me know what you find to be the best way to travel with your little one! Would love to hear more tips/advice. :)

Photo by the insanely talented Lyndsay Hannah. Definitely check her out if you are in the Boston area and in need of a family photographer.


Schlepping into the last trimester.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020


Hi! How are you holding up? Like much of the world, I’m pretty anxious about today. I voted early to avoid having to stand in line at the polls too close to my due date, and since I suspect there won’t be a clear winner tonight maybe even for a couple of days, I have a pretty hefty to-do list to try and distract myself from doom-scrolling. First off: a 3rd trimester check-in, because why the hell not? :) 

Currently: I’m 39 weeks, so the baby could come any day, or hang out awhile. I am definitely in a semi-denial state; for several weeks I’ve been telling people the baby will come after their due date, that first babies never come on time(I even looked up data on this to corroborate my conviction because, well, have you met me?)…but it is entirely possible I’m kidding myself! Babies come when they want to! I need to get over that fact. Clearly I am not great at being out of control of things. 

Feeling: Ready and not ready. I work with children so I know enough to know this is going to be a shock to the system. On paper, we’re ‘ready’- hospital bag packed except for last-minute toiletries, car seat base installed, bassinet assembled, birth classes read and reviewed… but the truth is, you’re never fully prepared. You just can’t be. One day you’re living your life, barely feeling like an adult, and the next you’re responsible for keeping this tiny, complex being alive, warm, fed and safe. Not to say I’m not excited- both P and I are so stoked to meet this kid. But I’m trying mentally to be prepared to feel unprepared.  

Physically, I overall still feel pretty ok. I am wishing I’d been better about actual exercise, but I’ve managed to keep walking throughout the pregnancy and we’ve even hiked quite a bit, so I haven’t done too bad. Funnily enough after being so worried about getting certain symptoms, the worst one has been one I didn’t expect- reflux! Majority of pregnant women get it and it. Has. Been. A. nightmare. Luckily I’ve gotten away with smaller, more frequent meals and popping tums like there’s no tomorrow. But I really can’t wait for that symptom to settle down.

Craving: Confession time: I never had any major cravings or aversions. I wanted more of the stuff I usually like- sweets/desserts, and spicy foods (I could probably eat buffalo chicken on a bed of greens every day if you let me!), but there was nothing I was absolutely desperate for. Same with the aversions- the smell of eggs threw me off very briefly, but since the second trimester I haven’t had any problems with food intolerance or nausea, which I’m super thankful for.

Wearing: Down to pretty much 1 pair of maternity leggings from Pact (thanks sis!) and 2 hand-me-down maternity jeans. Luckily since I'm done with work pants are mostly optional and I pretty much live in sweats and loose t-shirts these days. When I do go out, more often than not I'm wearing one of my husband's sweaters and a North Face coat I bought second-hand for my Mom's stay, since mine is way too tight and currently on loan to my sister. Considering how much new stuff we bought and received as gifts for the baby, it feels good that I haven't had to invest in too many new pieces for myself. Not spending or buying too much is also a big motivator to get back into my pre-baby clothes, but I'm going to give myself a year and a lot of grace since growing a baby is hard work and I want to go easy on myself and my body as it recuperates. 


Listening: Ok so I may have put together a playlist for our little one already, and it *may* be well over 6 hours of songs and music (linked here). Other than that I’m definitely not mad that Fleetwood Mac made a surprise comeback thanks to tik tok, but I wouldn’t be mad if the world decided to obsess over another song of theirs eventually (so many great options to choose from!) P has been playing guitar for our little one  every bedtime- he’s nailed Country Roads, which my Mom used to sing to me and my siblings, and I’m convinced the baby loves it since they start kicking when they hear the first chords 😊 

Reading: Mostly for class- on wildfires and climate change- this article was a good read, on psychology and the Covid-19 response, on healthcare systems and supply chains in different parts of the world- fascinating stuff and I have to pinch myself every day that my job is paying me to learn about these things. I’m also trudging my way through a book on breastfeeding (you can find it here on the AAP website.) It’s a little hard tp get into because there’s so much about breastfeeding technique that is hands on and nuanced- how to hold the breast to help your baby latch, positioning their body against yours, how their mouth fits over the breast- that it can be a little dry and hard to follow. Luckily there are some great resources online, including free info from board-certified lactation consultants on Instagram (I know, proceed with caution on social media!) If I have time I may try this $20 course thisweekend. We’ll have to see.

Making: mostly just drafting work for school- papers, project proposals to submit to our IRB- I haven’t felt up for drawing recently, which is fine. We did do some tie-dying at my baby shower, which was really fun and has left me with an excessive number of hippy-style baby outfits (not that mad about it, TBH, but this kid will stick out at the playground.) I’m also baking a TON, which is a first-ever for me (these were delicious and a big step up from my usual funfetti from the box cookies)… I’ve found writing here and in my journal to the baby to be really cathartic as well.

Hoping: we get good news on election night, though if history repeats itself we’ll be stuck with the current president for 4 more years. Heartbreaking, especially knowing how much work we need to do to make this country a safe place for Black families, migrants, minorities, and so many others.

Dipping our toes into low-waste parenting.

Thursday, October 22, 2020


Hey friends! Hope everyone is doing ok. It’s been insanely busy around here and I’m REALLY looking forward to being done with clinical duties (after this weekend! So close!) The husband and I have meanwhile been trying to wrap up a few last minute tasks before baby’s imminent arrival- installing our car seat base, packing the last odds and ends into our hospital bag, and squeezing in quality time whenever we can. After all, we’re not going to be a twosome much longer :) 

I’ve been wanting to write about low-waste parenting throughout this pregnancy. Reducing our impact on the environment is something I’ve been interested in since learning about how my fast fashion habits were impacting the planet, and since raising kids inevitably requires that you increase your consumption, we’ve been thinking and reading about this quite a bit lately and wanted to share some of what I’ve learned. This may or may not be inspired by the zero/low-waste parenting panel (link) we attended last night :) But for real, we have been making a LOT of purchases we normally wouldn’t and also reading a ton on this topic. So it's definitely been on my mind quite a bit.


Before we dive in I wanted to raise a couple caveats to the low-waste parenting movement. I think talking about any aspect of parenting gets tricky - there can be a lot of emotions and criticism of the ‘other way’ of doing things when it comes to parenting, and I want to say off the bat - there are very few wrong ways to raise a child. I’m not a parent yet, but from my experience as a pediatrician, this is 110% true. Do what works for your family. A lot (but not all) of zero-waste lifestyle choices are time-consuming and costly. Even considering cloth diapering as an option is a privilege. For that and plenty of other reasons, I think shaming families for choosing to do things a different way is unacceptable and not what this post is about.


Secondly, a big criticism of the consumer side of low-waste/zero-waste movements is that big corporations generate a LOT more waste and play a bigger role in squandering our natural resources, so what’s the point of ditching plastic straws? My response to that is I agree that we need to hold large, powerful corporations responsible for how their actions impact all of us- we can do this through advocacy and political activism, as flawed as the process is. But I don’t think that negates the importance of individual choices, and if I have the privilege to choose a more sustainable option, I’m certainly going to try and do that.


Lastly, in total and complete transparency, I am not a perfect consumer. I’m really lucky to have the time and resources to consider some of these options as a parent. I also work nights, attend grad school part-time, and have a not-great debt-to-income ratio. While we haven’t fully decided, we are definitely going to at least start this kiddo out on disposable diapers. We also received a really generous gift card to Amazon from family, so we’re going to be making some purchases from Bezos. I guess my point is I don’t want this post to come off as holier than thou. I’ve learned a good amount the last few months and want to share in case another parent finds it helpful. So with that in mind, here’s a few of the big take-home points we’ve gathered the last few months.



Get items used or second-hand if you can. This spring I learned about the buy nothing movement and it has honestly been a life-changer. I received some unused breast pump parts and a bottle rack for free, and plenty of strollers, baby clothes, toys and gear have been posted since I joined. If you live in a larger town, I can almost guarantee there’s also a parenting listserv you can join where people will be giving items away or selling them at low costs. I also really like buying clothes second hand when I can (Poshmark is my favorite so I can search specific brands but there’s literally dozens of sites and of course in-person stores if its safe in your area.)


One caveat to this that parents should be aware of is car seats. Because the plastic decays in heat, most infant car seats aren’t safety approved beyond about 6-10 years. Believe it or not, they have an expiration date you can check on their label or manual if its still around. There’s also a risk of a car seat that’s been in a crash being unsafe, even if it looks ok. So keep this in mind when scouring second hand sites and groups.


Get on top of gift giving. It’s no secret that Americans own a lot of stuff, and yes, you can actually have too many toys. Kids tend to play better if they just have a handful to choose from. In addition to this, while the jury’s still out on the human health impacts of microplastics, they definitely aren’t great for the environment, especially marine life. One option we’re considering to curb excess and unwanted plastic toys is a gift moratorium - outside of immediate family, requesting no gifts for your kid at holidays and birthdays. Instead, you can ask for donations to a favorite nonprofit, or for people to contribute to a college fund if they’re able- or nothing! A mom on a recent panel also suggested guiding grandparents towards second-hand gift options, preferably plastic free, which I think is a great option.


Another parent at the panel we watched recently emphasized experiences over stuff, so if you’re in an area where it’s safe to do so, having an aunt take your child for a day of fun together can also be a really special gift option that doesn’t have to generate waste.


Repurpose for play. This is one we probably all grew up doing- our paper towel rolls became castle towers, cardboard shipping boxes were anything from boats to houses to planes, and we raided the garage as kids for junk to make into robots, costumes, and pretty much anything you can think of. Sure there’s plenty of sparkly, colorful, fancy kits you can buy to add to your arts and crafts box, but looking around at home first can yield a lot of great options! Side note: did anyone else grow up playing with home-made playdough? Here’s an easy recipe .


Alternatives to diapering. this is one P and I are still scratching our heads on. Wirecutter has a really great article that briefly addresses the environmental impact cloth to disposable diapers (link), and unfortunately, the term biodegradable diaper is somewhat misleading as well (see this post). Another option, elimination communication (explained in detail here), involves monitoring your child’s behavior to figure out when they void and stool and offering them the toilet when they give you these cues, but requires a lot of time and attention (also I’ve heard from a personal account it gets quite messy.) 


I’m going to be honest here- we’re not sure what we’re going to do in terms of diapering just yet. We really want to find the lowest impact option that works for us as a home with two working parents and a limited budget. I’ll keep you posted on this one (and if you have any advice or experience, I’d love to hear!) 


Consider your feeding options. Another sensitive subject that comes with a lot of emotions packed into it, so I will start by saying, in all caps letters, while pulling my pediatrician card: FED IS BEST. If your baby is developing and growing on target, great job Mom! (and Dad :)


Now that that’s out of the way, breastfeeding (whether breastfeeding or pumping and giving breastmilk) is the most low-waste option, if it works for you and your baby, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways that formula can’t be lower waste, too. The most wasteful option is unfortunately the most convenient- pre-mixed bottles that just need a nipple attachment, and can then be tossed or recycled once the baby has emptied the bottle. Obviously re-using bottles by mixing your own formula is a better option, and should only take a little more work. Just follow the instructions on the can...I am not 100% sure, but I believe this option is a lot cheaper, too. 


Once you hit around 5-6 months, and have been cleared by your child’s doctor to start introducing solids, a whole new fun challenge arises- pre-packaged baby food! If you do have the time to make your own veg and fruit purees at home, this is just another small area to reduce single use items in your home and life. To be clear, it IS extra work- remember that babies have immature kidneys and can’t handle the salt and seasoning that you have in your own food, so even that pureed spinach needs to be prepped separately. If you can manage to prep some baby-friendly solids at home, even a couple times a week, its a great option to reduce your use of single-use plastics. 


That’s all for now! The reality here is we are first-time parents, and are in for the ride of our lives. That’s partly why I wanted to post now, pre-baby, when I’m not sleep-deprived and can be a total optimist; I am sure this list will look totally different in reality once the baby comes, and I will try to post a follow up so we can see what worked and didn’t work for us in a few months’ time. I’ll leave you with a few resources we’ve used to gather information on low-waste parenting these last few months. Have a great week!


Babylist - this isn’t a low-waste resource per se, but using a babylist registry allowed us to register for more items from smaller businesses and fair trade/sustainable companies over Amazon, when we could find them. You can still register from bigger sites like Amazon and Target, but also include these smaller companies, or even a cash fund, so it's pretty flexible, which is nice.


ZeroWasteNYC: While their focus is NYC, we really appreciated the low-waste parenting panel they hosted. We found it through Instagram, and they were able to sponsor some free tickets as well to make the event more accessible. I also appreciate their honesty about the privilege behind whole zero/low-waste parenting and importance of advocating for policy change as well as individual lifestyle changes to tackle climate change.


Veronica Milsom/Zero Waste Baby: She was a panelist on the ZeroWaste talk we attended last night, and I really appreciated her candor on a lot of subjects, including the cloth versus disposable nappy debate. She has a low-waste parenting podcast I’ll definitely be following :)


TheGoodTrade: A site I’ve loved for a long time, mostly because they post great lists of organic and fair trade companies for all sorts of things, from baby products to thrift stores to home goods. 


Any sites or resources I’ve missed? Any personal experience or advice with living low-waste with a baby or kids? Would love to hear!