Why the Baby Registry Scares Me to Death

I didn’t know what to expect when my wife and I walked into Babies R Us last weekend. I didn’t expect it to scare the bejesus out of me, but that’s exactly what it did.

I’m familiar with the whole registry thing. I’m a big fan. Before our wedding, we loved taking the bar code scanner gun thing and zapping china and crystal and blenders maybe an item or two that we’d actually use on a daily basis, and let our adoring friends and family buy them for us.

So maybe I expected the same with the baby registry. My wife and I, with magical scanner gun in hand, twirling through the aisles and zapping everything in site. Stroller? Zap. Pirouette. BabyBjörn? Zap. Arabesque. Diapers? Zap-zap-zap. Plié.

There was zapping, but no dancing. Instead, a statuesque father-to-be gawking at a grand wall of Tommee Tippee baby bottles.

And They’re Off!
After we opened a registry account at the front desk and they handed us our welcome packet and a scanner, we turned the corner to the monitors. The top-of-the-line model includes a handheld touch-screen video unit so we can see how our boy is doing without even cracking the door. Ah, technology. The geek in me screams, Now we’re talking!

But those baby bottles. An entire wall of baby bottles. And binkies. And breast pumps. My pulse quickened.

At one point, maybe 90 minutes in, when we were choosing between like 15 different mattresses, a store employee swung by, maybe sensing my perplexity.

“Can I help you?”

“We, we don’t even know where to start,” I stammered, gesturing to Sealy’s impressive line of 2011 products.

“Uh, well, just let me know if you need anything, OK?”

Hmm. Do I need anything? Babies R Us graciously gave us a sheet of “must-haves” that included … everything in the store. That’s not helping. Pretty sure I don’t need a switch plate cover to match the crib bumper. I’m confident my boy will grow up just fine without a polka-dotted area rug, thanks.

No More Hypotheticals
Up until now, my baby has been “hypothetical” baby. “We’re expecting” baby. “Congratulations you’re having a baby” baby. In all the excitement leading up to being a dad, I hadn’t realized I needed no-scratch mittens. You mean my baby is going to have fingernails? And I have to trim them lest he cut his face (or mine)?! I can’t even cut my dog’s nails. I’m in big trouble.

Aisle by aisle, the size and scope of “daddy-dom” that lay before me grew. Ironically, thanks to the very products designed to make it all better, I saw lots of burping, pooing, peeing, crying, teething, crawling, walking and running in my future. Heavy stuff for someone who has never worked in these media.

Now that we have one baby registry experience under our belts (ahem, three, actually), I’m calming down. I’m beginning to think that baby registries are less about you telling people what you want them to buy for you; it’s more about getting frozen-with-fear expectant fathers used to the idea that all this stuff is imminent. I get that.

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