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How do I get around the Jewish tradition that says no shopping before the baby’s born? On Babble.com’s Parental Advisory.

I read your list of essential baby needs, and it was really helpful. I have a related question. I can’t quite get my head around the whole Jewish superstition thing (the one that says don’t buy anything AT ALL before the baby’s born). My husband is really serious about it, but I’m so worried about how we’re going to manage without getting anything in advance. What if I have a hard birth? I can’t imagine I’m going to want to shop! And then I’ve heard that you need to order some of the stuff way in advance. I’ve gone so far as to consider buying things and hiding them around the house, but that seems a little crazy, not to mention that my husband would kill me if he found them. Is he being ridiculous for caring about this or am I being a jerk for wanting to ignore it? – Not Counting Eggs

Dear Not Counting,

Pregnancy can be a superstitious time, even for those who are usually immune. This particular one is pretty well-established. The original idea was that by bringing baby stuff into the house, you’d alert evil spirits to the impending miracle in your midst, and give them an easy target. A more modern reading is that you don’t want to take a happy outcome for granted or, as you suggest, count your babies before they’re hatched. In the absence of any controlled studies of the evil eye, we’d generally suggest that you do whatever feels right. But in this case, that’s something very different for you and your husband. So the challenge is to figure out how to make both of you feel okay about the situation.

We strongly discourage the surreptitious purchasing and stashing option. You two need to trust each other. You also need to respect each other, even when you don’t necessarily agree, and even when you think the thing the other person finds crucially important is irrelevant, inconvenient or just plain dumb. You’re two different people with different backgrounds. How could your beliefs always be coherent?

Managing the differing beliefs and anxieties that come with having a child is one of the more challenging parts of the process. Though it may seem like you and your husband are coming at this from different places, you’re both just trying to get some control over something unknown and scary. Your husband’s heeding this superstition because it’s his way of dealing. Your own approach may involve a craving for order or preparedness (formally known as “nesting”). Ideally, you’ll find a way to recognize and accept his mindset and he’ll do the same for yours. You can help him by waiting to bring stuff home. He can help you feel secure by planning for a smooth transition once the baby is born. If you keep in mind that you’re both coming from the same place, you might feel less at odds throughout.

As this superstition has been honored for generations, there are plenty of practical solutions to the very concerns you raise. The most important thing you can do is get organized; plan ahead, and think about what you’ll need right away vs. a little later down the line. If you give birth in a hospital, you’ll have at least a day or two before you come home and need your gear (more if you have a c-section).

Here are some ways you can set things up without messing with tradition.

“WINDOW SHOP”

If you have an opinion about what you end up with, check out what’s available beforehand. Browse, compare, and make lists that include all the relevant info. Look closely at the shipping options, availability and how willing you are to be flexible about specifics. Then you can decide how to go about getting them (ideas below).

BUY AND HOLD

You’re not the first person to hold to the no-stuff-in-the-house rule, and if you ask a salesperson whether you can delay baby-stuff delivery until after the baby-delivery, they will very likely have a plan in place. However, most stores will only do this if you pay for items in advance. If this concept is okay with you and your husband, make a plan about who can receive and even install the merch before you get home. This plan can be especially helpful for large, long-lead items like nursery furniture. Cribs and other furniture sometimes require weeks (or more) for shipping even when purchased at a local store. IKEA is one potentially convenient exception, if you have one nearby.

STORE STUFF ELSEWHERE

You could ask a local friend or relative if they wouldn’t mind offering their home as a temporary storage space. You can have items sent to them and they can bring them over to you soon after the birth. This can be especially great for clothing and other fabric items that you want to wash before using if the storage space happens to come with laundry facilities!

GET FRIENDS TO SHOP

You can make a list of everything you want and where it can be bought and dispatch family and/or friends to be your personal shopper(s) once the baby’s born. If you go this route, the more detailed you are, the better. You probably don’t want to be receiving calls about which brand of maxi-pads you’d prefer while learning to breastfeed/recovering from birth/trying to catch up on sleep/all of the above. This works well for piles of small stuff like diapers, bottles and other things that can be found readily. It’s also only logical for gear that can be purchased locally.

AND REMEMBER: the items you really, really need are relatively few, and relatively easy to come by. As we mentioned in our previous baby stuff post, you’ll need a car seat in order to leave the hospital but otherwise most immediately necessary items are waiting for you at the drugstore or IKEA. Amazon and other major online outlets have express shipping, too. If you add a little thought and flexibility to your husband’s respect for the superstitious tradition, you should both be able to rest easy. Or easy-ish. At least until the baby comes!

Have a question? Email parentaladvisory@babble.com


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