I have a confession to make. Newborn babies scare me. Before having a child of my own, I was always the girl at the office who didn’t want to hold her colleague’s new baby when she’d bravely make her first trip out to introduce the baby. I used to make jokes about how it was bad for my biological clock to hold babies and add that holding a newborn would likely send me straight on maternity leave. But really, I was just terrified of holding and possibly breaking such a fragile little life.
My husband is quite the opposite and regularly holds tiny babies with natural ease, as they snuggle down comfortably in his large embrace. Before we had our own child I marvelled at his natural ability with babies.
Having my own newborn did not prove any better for me. As the mother of a colicky, fussy newborn, I sometimes swaddled and rocked my baby so hard I was sure I would give him whiplash. When the only thing that would silence his perpetual crying proved to be standing for hours with him under the noisy kitchen fan, I was sure I would damage his hearing permanently. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why he’s so loud to this day…
Anyway, my first few months as a mother were rough. Very rough. I was not a natural at motherhood. By the time we hit the three month mark I finally got my groove with him and only then did I start to feel a little confident. By then we were out of the scariest phase and my son had stopped crying so damn much all the time.
When my nephew was born two months ago, I was sure that as an experienced mother I would no longer have a phobia of holding newborns. I was wrong. It turns out I’m only really comfortable holding a newborn that belongs to me. And really, who are we kidding – even that’s a stretch.
I had all the best intentions of going over to visit and holding the baby for my sister-in-law while she took a nap or a shower. Nephew and I were going to bond from the beginning. I was gonna be the best aunt ever! As fate would have it, an extremely busy work and family schedule kept me from visiting as often as I would have liked. And anytime I would visit, I was usually accompanied by my overly excited two-year-old and I spent most of the time keeping my son from pawing at his baby cousin and repeatedly yelling “Gentle! GENTLE!!!”
So in the end, I didn’t get to spend much time overcoming my fear of newborns with my nephew and every time I would hold him, I’d be sweating so much I was afraid he’d slip out of my arms. Fortunately, my dear husband always seemed to swoop in just as Nephew would start to wail uncomfortably and cradle him in that big comfy embrace of his. Phew! Saved again.
Now that he’s a solid little two-and-a-half month old, I’m feeling much better about holding my nephew for awhile so his mom can eat dinner. Even if it means constantly elbowing away my eager son from his baby cousin. At least now I know I won’t break my nephew!