Monday, March 28, 2016

Why I Don't Pass Around My Kid...

Before my son was born, I did so much research and had my crazy list of things I would and would not do as a parent. Three months in, most of my "nevers" have gone out the window, but I have held on to one... I generally don't hand my kid to people unless they expressly ask to hold him.

Why? I mean, babies are squishy and cuddly and people want to hold them, right? Well, it's not because I am a germophobe or harbor hopes of turning him into a cute little Norman Bates by never letting anyone else touch him. It's actually out of consideration for the would-be holders, for three very specific reasons:

Because you don't know how someone is feeling...

I really love snuggling with little people, but when I was pregnant, I had an aversion to being touched.  After all, I was sharing my personal space in a very big way already, so giving up what little space I had left made me feel extremely claustrophobic.

A friend walked into my baby shower with her brand new, gorgeous daughter, and handed her to me. I was in a roomful of people there to celebrate my own child, and so was extremely aware that handing her back and saying "I don't like being touched right now" was a social faux pas. But man, did I count the seconds until I could fake a bladder attack and hand her back. And then I felt massively guilty and spent hours wondering if this was a sign that I would be a terrible mother.

The touch aversion ended as soon as my son was born. Hormones, man.

Because you don't know what happened yesterday...

About two months before we conceived my son, I thought I was pregnant... and then I wasn't. I am generally pretty stoic (or at least try to be), but this experience was devastating and I holed up in my house and cried for several days before emerging back into normal life.

As soon as I did emerge, I ran into a friend that had just had a beautiful little boy, a child that I would have been absolutely desperate to hold at any other time. However, on that day, as she shoved him into my arms, holding him felt like a punch in the gut. I faked a smile as I cooed at her kid, because you can't nicely say "no, holding your baby will make me sad."

When I got home that night, the crying began anew.

Because you don't know what my day has been like... 

When my son was about six weeks old, we met some friends at a restaurant to celebrate the birthday of a fellow new mom. Unfortunately, the night before had been rough and my kid refused to sleep unless he was being held, and so I had held him for nearly 12 hours instead of sleeping myself.

When my kid passed out in his car seat, I felt so much relief. We walked into brunch and set him down and I delighted in one gleeful moment of freedom... but one moment was all I got until my friend's husband handed me his daughter. I love this kid. She is beautiful and happy and wonderful... but I also knew I had about five minutes until mine woke up and really wanted a break from holding a baby.

But it makes things awkward when you hand someone's kid back and say "not right now."

In general...

When I see friends with babies, 90% of the time, I want to hold them. In fact, my issue is usually not wanting to give them back. Nonetheless, there are a lot of extremely valid reasons why people might not want to hold a baby at any given point in time. But think about this: while it is very easy to ask someone if you can hold their kid, it is very awkward to tell someone you don't want to.

So I never hand my baby to people, and try not to ask people to hold him if they haven't expressed an interest in doing so... unless I desperately need to pee, and then all bets are off.


  1. This is just wonderful, and I'll be sharing the heck out of it! (Only in part because it gives me permission to say, "Oo! Baby! Can I hold him!?")

    1. Thanks for the share! It is actually really hard to not hand him off... I happen to think he is perfect and wonderful and delight in watching him interact with other people.

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  3. This are excellent things to think about, Shauna. Loving this post.