I Refused to Wear My Baby, and Thanks to Postpartum Anxiety, I Felt Guilty for Months

What was wrong with me? Was I just selfish?
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Kathleen Sullivan
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What was wrong with me? Was I just selfish?

The minute I strapped my baby daughter to my chest, I had an uneasy feeling. My husband was helping me adjust the carrier's straps, and I became more and more uncomfortable. At first, I blamed the baby. She was a big girl — easily 10 pounds and only a week old. That is a lot of weight to carry around.

Then I started to blame my bad back. Didn’t my mom always tell me to quit slouching? Did I listen? No. Because of these issues, I didn’t feel quite up to the task.

It also didn’t help that the contraption seemed like something only MacGyver could figure out. How am I going to do this every day by myself? What am I doing wrong?

I was full of excuses and a little bit ashamed, but I had to admit it: I just didn’t like babywearing.

According to friends, babywearing was the best thing ever. Not only would it provide us more bonding time, but I could actually get things done while I was wearing her. What’s better than that?

Instead, I chose to cradle the little princess in my own arms, without the help of a carrier. Initially, I was OK with that, but then I quickly started to question my decision.

As moms, we constantly question ourselves. I am no stranger to the process — as a mom who chose to formula feed, I am familiar with the guilt that goes along with controversial decisions.

I was also struggling with postpartum anxiety, and the second-guessing about wearing my baby kept me awake at night. When I looked around at other babywearing moms, they seemed so content. What was wrong with me? Was I just selfish?

After the birth of our next child, my son, I swore to do it right this time. Partially because of the guilt I felt the first time around, but also for practical reasons. I live in a city, so babywearing is definitely convenient. I could go in and out of stores easily, I thought. I could hop on the bus and take my baby to the museum. The sky was the limit.

My son.

My son.

And I did feel like I was missing out. I was missing out on being attached to my baby at all times. I wouldn’t always have this opportunity.

I consulted a local babywearing expert. She said my problem lay in the brand of carrier that I was using and that I needed to switch right away. One hundred dollars later, I did just that. I watched all the YouTube tutorials, too — the videos couldn’t have been clearer. They showed me exactly how to babywear properly.

I made myself a promise to be dedicated this time.

Soon after that, my apartment building’s elevator stopped working, but I had to go pick up my daughter at school. There was no way I could walk down all those flights of stairs with a baby in a stroller.

I had the perfect opportunity — I was going to get to break in the carrier! I strapped him in and walked down the stairs. I got mid-block and started crying. These weren’t tears of joy; I was physically uncomfortable and tired.

I called my husband who happened to be in the area. He was able to get out of work early and pick up our daughter.

I was saved. That’s when I started crying tears of joy.

I walked back to my apartment, unstrapped my baby, and put the carrier in the closet. That was the last time I would use it.

Every once in a while, feel a twinge of emotion at the sight of a babywearing mom. Since I will not be having any more children, I would never know the experience. But I’m confident in my decision to stop. It was just not for me. And you know what? That is perfectly fine.

With or without babywearing, my children will always be loved.

With or without babywearing, my children will always be loved.

When I took my babies out for walks or errands, I enjoyed pushing them in the stroller. In fact, I found it very relaxing. I liked the freedom it gave me. I liked the break. It was also the best of both of worlds; I could continue to interact with them while giving myself a rest from having them physically attached to me. Taking the kids for walks remains one of my favorite memories. I looked forward to them. I also held both my children a lot and always felt that I got ample bonding time.

It also became a good example of a mantra that I have learned to live with: “We make plans, and God laughs.”

I think, regarding parenthood, that could not be truer, and, for me, it continues to be proven each day.

Christmas 2012: my son, always ready for a cuddle.

Christmas 2012: my son, always ready for a cuddle.

When I was struggling with babywearing, I wasn’t giving myself enough credit. Parenthood is very hard. It is very draining. In order to ease a lot of the stress, sometimes it is necessary to let a lot of our toxic thoughts go.

All moms make different choices. I thought about it this way: Would I judge a friend for doing something different than me? Especially if her child was happy and safe? The answer was no.

This was a key component in fighting my battle with postpartum anxiety. I may not always make the “popular” decisions, but I do know that everything I do is in the best interest of my children, and that’s all that matters. For me, that is more than enough and always will be.