Jessica Florio month 7 of pregnancy

Learning to Let Go of Perfectionist Ideals While Pregnant

“Oh no,” I cried to myself disappointedly, “This is all wrong.” I was seven months pregnant with my first, staring at the brand-new custom rocking chair that had just been placed awkwardly in the middle of my nursery. It took up way more space than expected in my New York City apartment; the footprint was enormous. The fabric (while pretty) felt rough to the touch, and the color of the wooden legs looked nothing like the pictures. Most importantly—it wasn’t even comfortable! I tried not to panic. Maybe I could make this work? 

This rocking chair was the final nursery piece that I had been waiting for, and one of the most important. It would be where I would spend multiple hours of the day rocking, feeding, and snuggling with my child. So of course, it had to be perfect: beautiful, comfortable, compact, and non-toxic. 

Yes, non-toxic. By my third trimester, nesting was in full swing, and that was all I could think about. Somewhere in my research and prepping for the baby’s arrival, I had stumbled upon this corner of the crunchy mom universe, and it swallowed me whole. I’m not even really sure I knew what “non-toxic” meant, but I was convinced that it at least meant I was doing the best for my baby, and I didn’t care what anyone else thought. 

I’m not even really sure I knew what 'non-toxic' meant, but I was convinced that it at least meant I was doing the best for my baby, and I didn’t care what anyone else thought. 

My fixation with all things “green” had begun a few months prior, when I was putting together the registry for my shower. I like to buy organic cotton basics for myself; so I reasoned—why not for my child, too?

I started off slowly, focusing on the basics like organic clothes, diapers and wipes, and keeping plastic items to a minimum (wood, silicone, and glass are great substitutes for toys and bottles)! But during this process, one of the best tips I learned was to put everything you could ever possibly need on the registry—no matter how unlikely it is to be given as a gift. Websites often offer what’s called a “completion discount” on the remaining registry items (this is especially useful for purchasing big-ticket items that seem to never go on sale)! Of course, I wanted to take advantage of this hack.

My stance on keeping the registry simple changed—instead of focusing on the basics, I wanted to go all out. And I needed to find the organic/chemical-free version of every little thing I put on it, to the best of my ability. I poured over the tons of mommy blogs dedicated to helping parents find non-toxic baby items. It was overwhelming, but I took it all on happily.

I created a detailed excel sheet to help keep me organized when it came to what brands were "acceptable." There were sections for toys, clothes, baby gear, bedding, and more—all filled with my new favorite buzzwords like organic, all-natural, BPA-free, and OEKO-TEX certified.

Green Terms

Organic: Food or farming methods that are produced or involve production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents.

All-natural: Composed of ingredients that are from nature and not artificial.

BPA:  Short for bisphenol A; a chemical primarily used in the production of polycarbonate plastics, like eyewear, water bottles, and more.

GREENGUARD Certified: Products that have achieved GREENGUARD Certification are scientifically proven to have low chemical emissions.

OEKO-TEX Certified: OEKO-TEX Certified products are tested for harmful substances, and proven to be safe from a human and ecological perspective.

GOTS Certified: The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is a worldwide processing standard for organic fibers. A GOTS certification means that the entire textile supply chain meets strict ecological and social criteria.

At first, I found comfort in choosing all of the perfect items that I would need to care for my child. I was proud of myself for taking the extra steps to find the "clean" baby brands. 

Then, I started to get a little anxious and began questioning it all. Many of these brands were expensive; would it be too much money? If the item was 100% cotton, but not organic, was that still OK? What if my baby hated the version of what we chose, and I needed to get one I didn’t want anyway? Despite my doubts, I tried to stick to my plan as best I could. 

When it came to buying a chair for the nursery, this proved to be especially difficult. Due to the layout of the nursery and my concerns over possible chemicals in the materials, the selection of gliders and recliners to choose from was pretty small. And since many of the models I liked weren’t available to try out in a store, I would have to order online and hope it worked out for the best. 

After lots of measuring, and visualizing, I thought I found the perfect one. It was sleek, modern, and boasted all of the non-toxic qualities I was looking for. I could customize the fabric, color, and wood frame. It was even on sale for Memorial Day! The only hitch was: it was non-returnable. 

So when the chair arrived, very much not meeting my expectations, I had to work hard not to completely freak out. I had to make this work. This was my perfect dream chair, right?

I tried closing the nursery door for a few hours and then took a look at it with fresh eyes. Okay, not so terrible. Then I grabbed some differently sized throw pillows from around the apartment to try and make myself more comfortable. Nope, still pretty bad. 

I cried to my husband, feeling defeated that I didn’t get it right. I was convinced that we would be stuck with this hideous, ill-fitting chair forever, or at the very least, lose a lot of money. In my mind, there were no good options. So, my husband, thinking a bit more clearly than I at the time, did the best he could to pull me out of the funk and sprang into action. We called the company to try and negotiate a return or even store credit. They wouldn’t budge. I felt worse.

Then, the lawyer in him found a way. (I am always thankful for my husband's career choice when I need a little help getting out of a tricky situation!) He noticed that the wood frame was not a match to the online photos. My husband got back on the phone and argued that the chair was misrepresented, and we did not receive the product that we ordered. Finally, they agreed to take it back.   

After all of this stress, I finally admitted to myself that I had gone overboard. It’s easy to get caught up in what’s "best," but what’s best doesn’t always mean what you think it does. In the fervent search for getting baby gear that was non-toxic, I had taken on the toxicity of perfectionism. It was time to let go of this ideal.

In the fervent search for getting baby gear that was non-toxic, I had taken on the toxicity of perfectionism. It was time to let go of this ideal.

The reality is, when my baby left the protective bubble of my womb, he was going to be exposed to a whole world of things that I couldn’t control. I could try my best to protect him on the outside, but not at the expense of simply enjoying life and being comfortable. 

Of course, we all just want to do what's best for ourselves and our babies. But when I pivoted my focus a bit, I realized that what I thought was best, maybe wasn't the best at all. We have to find the balance. For example, I learned this firsthand when the all-natural wipes I had been gifted a huge case of gave my newborn a diaper rash! So we turned to regular wipes, with all of the added chemicals, which worked out just fine.

Later that week, I ordered another chair. There was absolutely nothing in the description to suggest that it fit the so-called non-toxic standards that I had in my head. It was just a regular chair. But I sure do love it! Not only does it look great in our nursery, but it’s also plush, cozy, and feels like home. It has taken us from the middle-of-the-night newborn nursing sessions to reading stacks of “just one more” bedtime books with my toddler. In other words, it’s absolutely perfect.

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4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Bisphenol A (BPA).

  2. UL. What does "GREENGUARD Certified" mean?

  3. OEKO-TEX. Our standards.

  4. Global Organic Textile Standard. The standard.

By Jessica Florio
Jessica Florio is a blogger and freelance writer as well as a stay-at-home mom.