I just want to make it clear that I’m very scared to hold babies. Like very, very scared. If you’re also scared to hold babies please raise your hand and don’t feel bad. I think it’s a completely normal thing.
Babies are so small! How do they even live?! As soon as they’re born, no longer protected by the fleshy cocoon of their mom’s body, it’s like the whole world is very dangerous.
The whole world IS very dangerous. And filled with peril. AND ALSO FILLED WITH TERRORS.
When I hold a baby it feels like I am tasked with protecting them from all of these worldly terrors and as their assigned protector for that moment I am solely responsible for their well-being and whether they live or die. The responsibility of this task is far too heavy to bear and I quickly become very panicked and stressed.
I have a method in place for holding babies and it involves me sitting in a large and very safe chair with both arms supported. I then assume a rigid cradling position with my arms and await the next step. It’s necessary for my mom or another responsible adult to then safely place the baby in my arms and then I will sit very still so as not to disturb them and/or inadvertently cause their demise.
Unfortunately babies, even if born yesterday, are certainly no fools and they quickly catch on to my vibe of general uneasiness and terror. I only ever hold them for like 5 minutes before they realize that I’m completely freaked out and inadequate and they start to cry. Once this occurs I call for my mom or other responsible adult on hand to come retrieve them so they can be calmed down by someone who knows what they’re doing.
It’s this aversion to holding babies that helped me arrive at my decision to never have one. Of course things can always change but it’s getting late in the game as far as the window to have a baby and I’m 98.7% sure I’m 100% not interested. And that’s okay! I feel great about it! I love being an aunt to babies related to me by blood and also babies related to me by friendship.
That’s as far as my interest in babies goes though. If I see an unrelated baby out in the world I’m definitely not interested in that baby at all. They don’t even go here! And they’re usually in the way or being annoying.
In one of the “Neapolitan novels” there’s a part where the main character Lenu holds some random baby and for a few paragraphs she describes the peace it brings her. How it feels natural and like a baby should have been there the whole time, or something along those lines. I remember reading this and my mind was blown, as the feeling described was the complete opposite of the feeling I feel while holding a baby. I feel panicked and unnatural, not calm and like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Again, this is okay with me. I’m not feeling bad about it. I’m just saying.
And this part of that book also made me think, “Having a baby is not for me. And I think it’s wise of me to realize that before I have one and stress it out and ruin its life with my neuroses.”
For a few years I let this really bother me a lot and felt like something was wrong with me. I felt like people were judging me when they gave me a baby to hold. As if it was a test to determine if my personality checked the boxes of maternity and femininity. And that I was going to be weighed, measured, and found wanting.
And maybe I AM wanting in the “capable of effortlessly keeping a baby alive” department, but I’m over it. It’s fine. It takes a village. I’m here for the fun stuff.
And before you’re like, “omg stay away from my baby,” just know that nothing bad has actually happened on my watch, and it’s likely nothing WILL. But just like every other thing in this world that triggers extreme anxiety for me, it’s more about the infinite possibility that it CAN. And that is why I must remain always vigilant.