Before becoming a mother, I always thought of guilt very simply as a yes or no scenario:
Do I feel guilty for eating that third donut? Yes. Therefore, next time Dana brings donuts to work, I will only eat a half, err, one full serving size (which I believe is two donuts). Then I won’t feel guilty. Simple.
But only a mother can feel guilty for something whether she does it or not.
The question of when to hold the baby seems simple enough. When I was pregnant I dreamed about holding my baby and rocking him forever and ever. I would never want to put him down.
Then the baby arrived, and my arms got tired – quickly. Why, oh why didn’t I do that Michelle Obama arms workout for the past 9 months that I saved on Pinterest? The second day after my son was born, my biceps actually hurt so bad, I thought one of the nurses snuck in and gave me a shot while I was asleep. Once we got home, I was hoisting him and myself in and out of a rocking chair 10 times a day, positioning him for feedings and holding him still for 30 minutes straight, I discovered just exactly how Mrs. Obama did get those amazing arms – Sasha and Malia.
My baby was one of those who only liked to sleep while in motion in my arms. And even that took forever to calm him down. I should have felt grateful to have a baby at all, and a baby who only wanted me. But I just felt tired, and guilty. Eventually I had to put him down. But how? Where?
Enter Amazon, with all the great apparatuses you can buy to set your baby down in while feeling guilty and not guilty at the same time. And all with free shipping!
At 3 in the morning, buying things on Amazon really feels like problem solving. Before having the baby, my husband and I agreed we were not going to waste money on a bunch of extra baby furniture that we would only use for 3 months.
And then we heard our son cry.
About five days after bringing the baby home, we knew the name of the UPS delivery man, and I no longer felt embarrassed answering the door with wild hair, wielding a box cutter, and ripping open the boxes on my porch before he could run back to his van.
Here’s what we bought and the advantages/disadvantages and guilt level of using each:
Baby Bjorn: Strap yourself to your screaming baby and learn to resent him early. You may hate him a little, but you’re in this together! Also, your arms get a break.
Guilt level equal to: Pretending you don’t see your child eating cheerios off the floor because it’s just easier right now.
Bouncer Seat: Let a monkey-shaped microfiber cloth cradle your baby like those rhesus monkeys in the experiment who learned to cling to a towel as their surrogate mother.
Guilt level equal to: Forgetting to go to the grocery store, and serving your family tortilla chips with ketchup as tonight’s “veggie side.”
Swing: Distract your baby with a soothing, rocking motion that will either lull him to sleep (this happened a total of 1 time) or almost definitely make him puke all over himself (this happened every other time).
Guilt level equal to: Having to clean up puke that you know you caused.
Bumbo Seat: Your baby can sit up on his own, and he loves it! Everyone on the internet says it will give your baby scoliosis and you’re a terrible parent for wanting him to sit in it for 5 minutes so you can wash your hands.
Guilt level equal to: Letting your husband believe you’re in the bathroom doing your business, but you’re actually sitting on the closed toilet wasting time on your phone.
Exersaucer: Your baby can stand up on his own and play, and he loves it! Everyone on the internet says your baby will never learn to crawl or walk if you let him use one, do you really need your hands free to load the dishwasher?…why don’t you just switch to paper plates you cold, heartless jerk? Also, our exersaucer became known as “The Puke Blaster” because the angle of it caused our baby to hurl longer and farther than at any other time in his young life before or since.
Guilt level equal to: Forgetting your Dad’s birthday until 2 days later when you saw everyone’s Facebook comments to him.
My conclusion, I completely support the use of any and all new baby technology if it works for me and my baby. That goes double if it comes in a cute color with a chevron print.
And, If I want to feel less guilty about strapping my baby into one of these contraptions just to get a break from him, I simply picture a baby in the 1800s riding around in the back of a horse-drawn buggy on unpaved roads, without a 5-point harness carseat, and remember that those babies grew up to build the U.S.A.. You can also picture a baby from the 1950s whose mother smoked and drank while pregnant, and after the baby was born, and remember those babies grew up to give us psychedelic rock music. After that, I usually feel much better about my baby’s bouncer seat which he loves, and which also plays Mozart.