Mary’s insane nesting instinct

Months ago, Mary was reading some pregnancy thing in bed, and warned me that she would likely “nest” during the third trimester. She described “nesting” as re-ordering the household and compulsively cleaning. It sounded like more pregnancy nonsense to me, and actually didn’t seem all that different from her usual behavior.

One day however, I came home and found her scrubbing the walls. Yes, the walls. This was only the beginning. During her insane nesting phase, she has:

  • Completely rearranged the bedroom, forcing me to work on a weekend.
  • Prematurely installed cabinet locks all over the apartment
  • Cleaned out the closet and bought three over-the-door hooks
  • Scrubbed the shower and toilet (she never cleans the bathroom, I always do)
  • Relegated my custom woodwork TV stand to a lowly “bench”
  • Replaced it with a “media center” with childproof-able doors
  • Hand-washed something like 30 cloth diapers
  • Forced me to clean out the whole kitchen and deal with the cockroaches under the sink at gunpoint
  • Prematurely installed stove knob covers (how am I supposed to cook now?)

Do I sound ungrateful? Maybe I do. But after a long day at work, the last thing you want to see when you come home is 30 half-washed cloth diapers in a bucket in the middle of the bathroom.

Instead, I think you’d rather see a cheeseburger ready for consumption.

Taking Advantage of your Wife’s Nesting Instinct

In seriousness, all of the above things are valuable, with the possible exception of the wall scrubbing. Everyone I’ve talked to has emphasized the value of having all of the above already done by the time your child arrives and your sanity leaves (or so I hear).

Here are some thoughts you can use to stay sane, and perhaps even happy, when your wife interrupts your gaming to ask for help:

  • Remember you have to do this stuff eventually. Might as well do it today. I guess.
  • She’s doing productive work. Celebrate. It’s another thing you don’t have to do.
  • If she asks for help, remember it could be worse. She could just straight-up ask you to do it yourself.

Finally, it’s perfectly normal to be frustrated with the timing (Do we really have to childproof the cabinets now? We literally have 5 months) even if you ultimately appreciate the effort. Set realistic standards for yourself. Think of all the fathers who aren’t even present. You’re still doing better than all of them, and that’s all anyone can ask.

How to pick a convertible carseat

TLDR: Just buy a Diono Rainier from Amazon. You’ll be making a fine choice at 1% of the effort.

Since we are getting ready to receive a newborn, I volunteered to look into carseats. Hospitals won’t discharge a baby to you until you have one installed and inspected, so this is a required task.

Infant vs. convertible

If you just Google “infant carseat”, you’ll get infant-only carseats. These do have benefits. They are cheaper, lightweight, and can double as a napper in a pinch. Unfortunately your baby will also outgrow these in a year.

I didn’t want to buy another one in a year, and I doubted we were going to remove the carseat very frequently (we live in a city with narrow parking spaces), so we decided to focus our search on convertible carseats.

These carseats are heavier, bigger, and more expensive, but are designed to take your child from infancy through early childhood.

Which convertible carseat?

There’s hundreds of different models, and hundreds of variables you could optimize. But there’s one factor that should make your choice very simple:

Rear facing is 5 times safer than forward facing. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends keeping children rear-facing until at least two years of age. In Sweden, children are kept rear facing until age 4 by law, and they have near zero fatality rates for 0-6  year old children.

Swedish carseats are designed to be rear-facing for much longer, and have weight limits of up to 55lbs. But the vast majority of convertible American carseats are only designed to carry a child up to 40lbs in rear-facing.

Even if you could import a Swedish carseat, they would not be legal to use in the U.S., since they have not passed the American NHTSA safety tests.

Extended Rear Facing in the U.S.

Thankfully there are two brands that make carseats for the American market with high rear facing weight limits. They are Clek and Diono, and they make a few models that allow rear-facing until 50lbs.

The Clek carseats are more expensive, made in Canada (a good thing), and require an expensive infant insert to work for newborns. They also have a lower upper weight limit (for eventual forward facing). If money no object I might buy that and also the infant insert.

The Diono carseats are more affordable, made in China (eh), but do fit newborns without any additional accessories. They also have a higher upper weight limit for eventual forward facing. It overall seemed to be a better compromise for us, and we bought that. Specifically, we got a purple one.

Did we make the right choice? I’m not sure. After all, you have to decide before your child is even born, and probably before you have any experience with children or carseats. But I can sleep at night knowing I did through research to prioritize my child’s safety.