Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hold your own baby

Somehow, because I'm pregnant, people think I want to hold their babies.

People learn that I'm pregnant, and if they have a baby in hand, they assume I'll want to hold it.

I don't.

Honestly, if they were handing me their baby seals, I'd be totally excited. How fucking adorable are they? But human babies? Not as enticing.

I don't suddenly want to hold your baby just because I'm going to have one.

I'm going to love mine because it's mine, but seriously. Unless you are an ooh, a baby! person, babies, before they get all smiley and you actually have some sense that they can see you - they are not all that interesting. And even after they smile, for me their appeal is limited until they can do stuff.

Everyone says that I'm going to find everything about mine all fascinating from minute one, and maybe that's true. But I'll see. With mine.

We were having lunch on Sunday with Nick's sister and her husband. Their baby woke up from his nap and started looking around.

I could see it coming. I knew what was next. They were looking for a holder.

"Do you want to hold him?"

I've recently started saying no, rather than just letting people thrust their baby into my arms.

So I said, "Ah, no thanks. I held a baby yesterday."

Which was true. We'd gone up to visit Raj and Tejal and their new baby, who is gorgeous. And I think this helps. She's a lot cuter than Nick's nephew, who the parents refer to as "our 45-year-old accountant" - an accurate description.

Tej's daughter has this lovely brown skin and big, chubby cheeks and a ton of black hair. She has so much hair at two months she looks like she has that Asian rock star hairdo. You know the one I mean - with the shaggy layers and the long spiky sides.

She's the kind of baby that I was competing with in the nursery all those years ago in Delhi. When my parents looked around and contemplated taking home one of the cute brown babies, rather than their little pink bald one who looked like Khrushchev.

In the end, paternal love won out. Thank goodness.

So it was really fun to see Tej and Raj and the baby, and I did do some voluntary baby holding, which was easy and nice until she started fussing. At which point I panicked and handed her back.

But Tej knows me. She knows I'm never going to be all, "Yippee, a baby!"

So back to Sunday.

I think I surprised them, so I explained. "Everyone hands me their babies now that I'm pregnant. And I'm really not a baby person."

His sister agreed. "I'm not really either. But it's different when it's yours."

Fine with me. I'll see with mine.

So she handed him to Nick. Who I knew wasn't dying to hold him either. But it's his sister.

And then she said, "Well, we should have you change his diaper. For practice."

There was no fucking way I was changing a diaper.

"Um, no thanks."

"But you know how to change a diaper, right?"

"I don't, actually."

"You should learn."

"Listen. I saw diarrhea shoot out of a kid's ass mid-diaper change yesterday. And I have no intention of changing a diaper until I absolutely fucking have to."

"Oh, those nurses in the hospital are going to be frustrated with you. They're going to be all, you take the newbie!"

"They can say whatever they want about me."

I stood my ground.

I wanted to say, "Look, I do like you. I'm probably going to realy like your kid. But seriously. Hold your own baby."


  1. Like it's such a thrill: Do you want to hold the baby?!

    Good for you for saying "No."

    Reminds me of that Seinfeld episode: You gotta see the BAAAY-BEE!!

  2. Ahh, I haven't seen that one. You know, the closer I am to the person, the more attached I feel to the baby - but still. They're not my thing.

  3. With cute babies, it seems natural to me. Less-than-cute ones make it seem like an obligation.

  4. Ooh, I remember changing my first poo-ey diaper when I was babysitting. Not pretty.

    They act like they want to teach you, but really, who *wouldn't* pass on a dirty diaper?

  5. Just wait until you hit the point where everyone thinks it's alright to TOUCH you. When will people learn that it's not OK to reach out and touch a woman's belly, ever, without her permission? (and with permission, in my opinion).

  6. One of the more famous stories my aunt tells is her friend offering me her baby and me saying "No thanks dude" and just walking away. Just bc I have a vagina doesn't mean I love babies!

  7. Ditto on the touching the belly thing. Someone I know dealt with that by reciprocating. Every time someone--especially a stranger--reached out and touched her stomach while she was pregnant, she instantly reached out and put her hand on their stomach. Often the stranger's reaction involved shock, stammering, and a fair amount of recoiling. Then she would look at the person pointedly and say, "Oh, sorry. Did that bother you? I thought that since you did it, it must be Touch Strangers' Stomachs Day." :)

  8. My mom tells me all the time (in an effort to convince me it's time to start having kids even though I don't get mushy about babies) that she hated other people's kids and didn't ever care about holding babies. Yes, she immediately loved us, but to this day, she's still not gooey about children who aren't her flesh and blood.

    And she's the most maternal mom ever. She's proof that you can be a good mom and be completely grossed out by other peoples' slobbery babies.

  9. Once you have your baby you're still not going to want to hold other babies.

    Mine is 4 months old and if I'm at work and someone brings in their baby, the automatically assume I want to hold their. Um, no. I have my own to hold when I get home thank you very much. And I have a hard enough time dealing with his poop diapers and spitting up all over the place and I'm his mother. I don't want some other kid doing that shit all over me - especially at work.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm very maternal with my son. I love him to death. But like you said, when it's yours it's different.

  10. I LOVE Karen's reciprocal belly-touching idea! I think it's so rude to just touch without asking. And I can totally understand why you wouldn't want to hold every person's kid.
    I did my share of diaper changing when I babysat, I think that might have been part of what put me off having kids.

  11. hahaha my best friend called her first baby Peter Boyle for it's first year of life... he was the spitting image (luckily he's grown into being a cutie).

    i babysat a TON growing up, i've changed a million diapers but as soon as my sister and bestfriend had their babies they were all "it probably need a diaper change" while i was holding it, in which case i immediately hand the baby back. i refuse to change any diapers until they're my own kids... whenever i'm asked, WHY? simply put, because i don't Have To
    i'm even resistant to holding my godchildren, etc. when i have something nice on... they spit up on EVERYTHING!

    in summation... i'm with you on this stance.

  12. "I held a baby yesterday": awesome.

  13. Jo - I'm glad to hear that. I do feel like unfair as it is, cute definitely helps.

    Liebchen - I know! Who wouldn't pass one on? Gross.

    Fearless in Toronto - I have totally heard this is coming and that it's unavoidable. And completely random stranges will do it. Yikes.

    Lemmonex - "No thanks dude" is just awesome!

    Karen - That is hilarious, truly. I don't know that I have the balls to do that, but maybe I will get to an irritation point where it just comes out.

    Peace Turkey - I believe it. And I think it's a fine way to be a mom. I loved our dog like crazy but it doesn't mean I want to pick someone else's up.

    SM - I can see that. I have no doubt that I'll be all kinds of crazy about my kid. But I also believe that it's not automatically going to open up this whole world of strangers' kids suddenly becoming appealing.

    J - It is a pretty hilarious idea. We'll see how it goes.

    notsojenny - Yes - not just the diapers but the spitting up! I know parents become inured to it, but ick ick ick! I so don't want to be spit on before I have to.

    Arjewtino - Thanks. It was true!

  14. Also, umm, how to put this?


    Really. It's not hard.

    It was just an excuse to try to get of changing one. Not that I blame her, really.

  15. People are so weird about babies.

    You will certainly love your baby, but not every single thing he or she does will be fascinating, at least in my experience. Sometimes you will be mesmerized by them, sometimes not. There are definitely times when I'll look at Zeke and think, "Look at his little chubby elbows. So freaking cute." And other times I look at him and think, "Jesus, is it bedtime yet?"

    But other people's babies will never be as interesting, and the notion that you would want to change someone else's kid's diaper is just downright weird.

  16. Changing diapers is easy. Do yourself a big favor - and keep your baby healthiest - avoid formula for the nasty chemical brew that it is (just ask those Chinese babies) - formula poo is TOXIC and reeks to high heaven. Add in perfumed diapers... no no no, the combo is as close to fatal as you can legally get without actually killing anyone. Unscented diapers and breastmilk, your nose, and all neighbors within a 5 block radius will thank you. This public service broadcast brought to you by a mother of two, who is shuddering at the mere thought of formula stench - and my kids never used it. I'll hold your baby, and even change the nappy, but not willingly if formula has been added...gag..

  17. Mommy Writes - Yah, I'm sure it's not rocket science. And I can't blame her. Maybe she was even trying to punish me for the lack of interest in baby.

    Wendy - I love your totally candid assessment of your life with baby. I can see myself feeling similar. And yes, people are weird about babies.

    Connie - I'll have to see how it goes. I plan to breastfeed, but who knows. And I'd never heard of scented diapers, but the idea of that is up there with scented tampons or pads. Ick ick ick.

  18. Oh, that seal!! I am ded on account of teh kyoot.

    I don't think I've EVER held a baby. And I think I'm going to keep it that way until I absolutely have to... i.e., the doctor hands me something that just came out of me. End of story.

  19. I love how you were like, um no thanks. I'll wait till I have my own.

    I'd totally hold that baby seal too. It's so snuggly looking!

  20. Wow, that's pushy. And I think it's totally okay to learn and love with your baby and no one else's. So what if you frustrate the nurses? It'll be your baby, so you'll get it.

    Good luck until then!

  21. I'm totally going to start using that (even though I'm not prego), "Uh, no thanks, I held one yesterday."

    But I'm going to use it for EVERYTHING I don't want to do! I love it!!

  22. It never even occurred to me that you're allowed to say "no" when someone is thrusting their child at you. I'm totally employing this from now on!

  23. Yeah, what I really like is to look and make silly faces at babies. Maybe tickle their feet. But hold them? nah, I'm all set.

  24. So...objectively speaking, it sounds like you're not exactly, uh, straddling the fence on this matter.

  25. I'll hold 'em and I'll even feed 'em once in a while. But, since my sister had her first 16 years ago down through my brother's 2-month-old twin girls, I've changed nary a diaper on my seven nieces and three nephews. A streak I plan to continue until actual parental duty requires it to end.

  26. You know, I feel so much better after reading this post. I'm frowned on as the Unnatural Aunt who does not dive into the scrum with my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law and grab for the babies at family gatherings.

  27. I loved to hold babies - my babies that is (neices and nephews). I was all about it b/c I considered them mine. But my oldest sister thought she was clever and tried (still tries, really) to get everyone to change diapers for her b/c 'you love to hold the baby?!' Lem, I'm w/you. Change your own baby! Trust me. Diapers are not that hard to master.

  28. Lisa -

    For what it's worth, I've been a happy reader of your blog for the last two years or so now. But since you have gotten pregnant, you have totally lost me. And no, I'm not some single guy who doesn't want to hear about pregnancy and babies. I am a 35 year old woman with a 3 year old and currently 5 months pregnant. But your constant whining about how fat you feel (my stomach is ALWAYS larger than your tiny one) is really hard to swallow. And how other babies aren't interesting to hold (maybe try and open your mind up on this one!), how you won't change diapers, etc. is just so petty and juvenile. Ever think that maybe it would give a break to the other parents to hold their baby? Or change a diaper? Or make them feel good that you are interested in their child, or that they might have something to teach you about raising a kid?

    I know that your blog is a place to vent and be honest, but perhaps consider that these thoughts aren't ones to so proud of and keep repeating here. Just a thought from someone who is pretty close to being an ex-reader.


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