I’ll preface this entire post by admitting outright that I can be a bit of a cheapskate. Call it frugal, minimalistic or any other nicely worded euphemism … I hate parting with my hard earned cash. In fact, at times, it offends me when OTHER people are too lackadaisical about finances. It’s a real problem, and I’m trying to become better about it, but the vendor hustling that comes along with being a new mom has re-ignited my fury for being ripped off. My first experience with this was during wedding planning. Every company knows that little girls dream about grandiose, elaborate celebrations for the big day, and if everyone’s really lucky, daddy is footing the bill. Each representative tried his hardest to push add-ons, extras and superfluous charges, all in the name of “your special day.” Even as the bride, it annoyed and offended me that these people would try to take advantage of a sentimental time of life to turn a buck. It’s a common complaint about this industry and unlikely to change any time soon.
Enter the next life milestone: procreation. Starting with miserably expensive maternity clothes and continuing on through excessive baby clothing, toys, accessories and gizmos that have all become necessary if you want your baby to have any shot at all of being happy. Marketers have honed in on the perfect way to tug at a mother’s heartstrings (not to mention those of her friends and relatives), making it possible for them to sell tiny pairs of pants that the child will PROBABLY only wear once or twice (and poop or pee on them at that) and charge exorbitant prices. New moms especially, exuberantly fork over the money, salivating at the thought of how adorable her child will look. Of course, I am no exception. I have shamelessly purchased more items in the past three months than I have in probably the last three years. Ridiculous buys include:
-a $200 humidifier for the bedroom to make sure Ella’s nose doesn’t get stuffy
-a portable swing, because this $240 Mamaroo apparently wasn’t enough
-a $400 crib mattress made from natural lamb’s wool because all other kinds contain flame retardants that have been linked to incidences of SID’s
-an absurd amount of toys, even though I’m pretty sure at this point, Ella would be just as happy to look at the grocery store circular
-countless pairs of PJ’s, leggings, onesies, headbands and the like that were just “too cute to pass up”
All of this is consumerism at its best/worst. I’m mildly ashamed of myself for participating, but the real problem I’ve experienced thus far in terms of baby hustling has come from a few folks touting themselves as experts in baby-related fields, but who ended up creating more problems for me than they fixed.
It started with a lactation consultant. The first weeks of nursing Ella were a bit tough for both of us, for a variety of reasons, and I thought that perhaps an outsider could offer a few suggestions for tweaks that might make the whole thing more stress-free. What I didn’t expect was for someone to show up and point out three new potential problems. We had already paid a fairly steep fee for this person to come to our home and not only did she not help in the manner I had hoped, but she pointed me toward another expert who wanted to charge me MORE money. At that point in time, I was sleep-deprived, hormonal and desperate to be the best new mom I could be. I felt that if I didn’t follow through with her advice, I was being selfish and prioritizing money over my child’s well-being, which I certainly didn’t want to do.
I dutifully made an appointment with the recommended craniosacral therapist. At our first appointment, she asked me questions about Ella, gave her what looked like a facial massage and then told me that one more session should take care of “the problem.” (At this point, I had sort of lost sight of what “the problem” was, but both the therapist and the LC had made it sound like the structure of Ella’s mouth was abnormal and could potentially be a fairly serious problem. They both diagnosed a “lip tie,” which when I got into the rabbit hole of the Internet, looked like it required surgery to correct. I cried and worried for five days, until I brought Ella back in for her second craniosacral therapy appointment.
My first clue that something was wrong was that the therapist didn’t remember us. It hadn’t even been a WEEK since we’d been in, and the first question she asked me was, “Have you been here before?” Then, within the first ten minutes of the appointment, she asked me how old Ella was THREE TIMES. It was all a little disturbing, but nothing set me off more than when she put Ella on her lap facing downward and Ella started screaming. After about ten minutes of Ella’s inconsolable wailing, the therapist turned to me and condescendingly asked, “Is she always like this?” No, b*tch, I thought, Actually she NEVER does anything like this. I paid my irrationally high bill, ignored the therapist’s “recommendation” that we come back for another session, and took my poor, traumatized baby back home.
After speaking with Ella’s pediatrician AND my uncle, who has been a pediatrician for about 40 years, I found that Ella’s “condition” was not really a big deal at all. (In fact, Dan has one and didn’t even KNOW it until this whole ordeal came about). Additionally, the lactation consultant who had told me that Ella NEEDED to gain an ounce of weight every day for the first 4 months or else something was SERIOUSLY WRONG was also in error as my uncle pointed out that all kids grow differently, and there are more factors to consider when determining an infant’s health other than weight gain. So as I sat, gazing at my smiley and delightfully chubby baby, I realized that these people had literally created a problem in order to get my money. It seems shameful and unbelievably cruel to prey on a new mom in that manner, knowing that she’ll likely do whatever she is told in order to “fix” something that she is told to be wrong with her baby. Unfortunately, I don’t think these people even realize they are doing it. It’s an obsessive, problem-oriented sect of “baby experts” that need there to be problems so they can make a living.
I’m not saying that there aren’t people out there who truly need these services and I fully believe that there are lactation consultants or craniosacral therapists that help people overcome obstacles and issues. But to me, right now, it still stings and feels like one of the most heinous cases of baby hustling I’ve ever seen.