Green baby — an oxymoron?

Before we had our own little one, my husband always accused me of being baby-crazy.  Despite the reality of the planet’s limited carrying capacity, I never really considered not having children, and I scaled back my plans from 3 kids to 2 kids, to stay below the 2.2 children/woman average for not increasing the world population.  (I’m pretty sure this 2.2 is a legit figure, but I can’t find a reliable source for it at the moment.)

Sure, I would use green practices, like cloth diapering, avoiding unnecessary baby/kid “stuff,” and buying used, and I would raise my child(ren) to respect the earth and its resources.  Still, the reality is that a baby born in the United States, no matter how “green,” has a big carbon footprint that will almost certainly persist throughout the lifetime.

When I was five months pregnant, I read Beth Terry’s “I’m an Environmentalist and I’m Not Having Kids” post, and, despite the fact that she explicitly states that she made her decision to not have kids because of personal goals rather than environmental concerns, I started feeling a little guilty.  And then there were the quotes she shared from others about not wanting to bring new life into this mess of a world.  Gulp.  Did I mention I was already five months pregnant at this point?  Perhaps not the best reading material.

So, here I am, seven months later, with a three-month-old son.  The last three months have certainly seen increased resource use — water and energy washing diapers, trips made in the car that would have otherwise been made by bicycle — but at this stage, his needs, and therefore his eco-impact, are relatively minimal.  We’ve managed to purchase almost all large items second-hand (as well as keeping total purchases to a minimum), and he’s clothed mostly in hand-me-downs.  But still, having a baby is not exactly green.

As the years pass, his resource consumption will increase, but in some areas it may decrease, at least for awhile.  Once he’s just a bit older, we plan to travel by bike more than by car, and he won’t be in diapers forever.  As he grows, we’ll do our best to foster an appreciation for sustainable living and respect for the earth and its resources, values that we hope he will carry with him.  While I don’t buy the argument that this approach justifies having large numbers of children, it does offer some middle ground for raising a child, and sometimes, that’s as good as it gets.

Radio silence

We’re still alive here, despite Gabriel’s best efforts.  Turns out that taking care of a baby is HARD work.  We naively thought that our weeks of maternity/paternity leave together would be a lovely little vacation, some nice family bonding time for the three of us.  Ha!

Now we know what all those cryptic, “Your life will never be the same,” comments were about.  We reacted with annoyance and denial at the time, but perhaps it was unwarranted.

On the green front, we switched over to cloth diapers about four days after we got home, which was when the disposables from the hospital ran out.  I’m very glad I took all the disposable diapers that were in our hospital room, despite the nagging green voice in my head saying, “Oh, just leave them for the next person, you have all those cloth diapers at home.”   Anyway, more about the diapers in another post.

The continuing heat wave means A/C 24/7 (not green), and I’m so thankful we have it, not gonna lie.  We’re keeping it set right around 80° F, which means our little guy is pretty happy just in a diaper, or a diaper with a light swaddle for sleeping.  I’m a bit scared to see our electric bill, since we normally benefit from cranking the thermostat up to 90° F or so when we’re at work during the day.

Matthew’s been getting in some garden time, and we continue to eat extraordinarily well (though sometimes finding the TIME to eat is tricky).  I’ll try to post more regularly, but that’s definitely not taking precedence right now.  They say it gets easier . . . .

Mama-to-be’s reading list

It was over a year ago that I made this reading list, and a few of the books were on the, “I want to read eventually, but not relevant right now,” list.  Well, times have changed 😉

Your Best Birth, by Rikki Lake and Abby Epstein, was the first book I read post finding out that I was pregnant, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.  Even if you are not pregnant, have no plans to become pregnant, and can’t see any way this subject applies to you, I encourage you to read it, because current maternity practice in our country does affect us all in some way, and you may know someone who will be making choices about childbirth and could directly benefit from the information in this book.

I just finished reading The Diaper-Free Baby by Christine Gross-Loh, and I’m totally intrigued by the idea of Elimination Communication (EC).  Loh’s book makes the concept very accessible and straightforward.  Whether you’re using cloth or disposable diapers, using fewer diapers will be greener!

I also enjoyed Labor of Love: A Midwife’s Memoir, by Cara Muhlhahn, and I’m currently reading HypnoBirthing — The Mongan Method.

So, what’s still on my list?

  • The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp
  • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin
  • Diaper Free!: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene, by Ingrid Bauer
  • The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, La Leche League

I think this represents a decent balance between total information overload and being completely unprepared, although I’m sure there will be many moments for which I feel completely unprepared.  Now, if someone could just tell us what you do with that little flap on the corner of receiving blankets  — we’re split among it being a spot for baby’s head, baby’s feet, or neither (just decorative) 😉