For some reason people seem to think that because I am female I have some overwhelming desire to hold babies, nothing could be farther from the truth. I have a rule, I don’t hold them at all until they can hold their own heads up, and after that it’s pretty much only if I have to.
In fact, in my adult life I have held exactly one newborn baby (I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a photo of me holding my newborn brother in 1989). I had been dating this guy for a little more than a year and I was at his parents’ house for Thanksgiving, his sister had given birth the day before and I was trying to be nice and not offend anyone (in hindsight it was a futile effort). So when someone asked if I wanted to hold the baby I froze, I got kind of a blank stare on my face and the next thing I knew I was sitting stock still with a newborn hoping someone would take it from me. Fortunately after a few minutes it started crying and, since I didn’t dare try to stand up while holding it, someone came and took it from me.
Since that instance I’ve become better at enforcing my rules, in fact by the time my boyfriend’s other sister gave birth I had come to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth trying not to offed his family, and I refused when his mother asked me to hold the baby while everyone else played cards (I had also learned about her guilt trips by then – no one needed to be holding the baby, it was perfectly content to sleep in its carrier).
So, while I don’t really have to give a reason, these are the reasons I won’t hold your baby, particularly if it can’t hold its own head up yet.
1. It smells bad. I’ve heard people talk about that “new baby smell” like it’s the most wonderful thing in the world, but to me it just smells like milk and talcum powder with a hint of poo. I’m not a fan of any of those smells, maybe it’s one of those hormonal things that switches on when you get knocked up, I don’t know.
2. It’s really squishy and delicate and I might drop it. This one is really the fault of evolution, as humans evolved to walk upright our pelvises, and therefore birth canals became narrower. The result of this is that humans are born extremely prematurely, so their heads are all squishy and they’re extremely small and helpless. I don’t want to be responsible for that! What if I trip and drop it or something? No thanks.
3. Somebody will say something stupid. Invariably, if I am seen holding an infant, someone will decide to comment on how “cute” it is, or how I would make “a wonderful mother,” or they’ll ask when I’m having one of my own. And frankly I get enough of that shit anyway, I don’t feel the need to add fuel to the fire. For the record I would be a terrible mother, I have no patience for children and, as you might be able to tell from this post, I don’t even like babies.
4. Your baby won’t like it. I don’t smell like you, I don’t feel like you, I don’t sound like you, I don’t have giant lunch dispensers on my chest, and your baby knows it. It also knows I’m uncomfortable and tense and so it becomes tense and uncomfortable. And, because it is an infant and has only one response, it will cry, which will just make me more tense and uncomfortable which will make the baby more tense and uncomfortable … you can see where this is going, and it doesn’t end with anyone being happy.
5. Babies like to yank on things. Babies have very little motor control and only a few reactions. Beyond crying and sucking the next thing they do (at least so far as I can tell) is close their fists and pull. I have long hair and I wear long earrings, this makes for a bad combination. I am not a fan of having my hair pulled or my earrings yanked on, and I can’t exactly blame a baby for doing one of the few things it is actually capable of doing, so the best solution is simple avoidance.
6. It leaks. Babies are always leaking out of one orifice or another. If it’s not pooping or peeing on me it’s got snot bubbles and it’s drooling or it’s spitting up. I really have no desire to be exposed to anyone’s bodily fluids other than my own. I know parents become immune to baby fluids, but I just don’t think poop is less disgusting when it’s coming out of a tiny person. I wouldn’t be okay with holding you while you blew snot bubbles at me either.
7. I’m bad at pretending I think it’s cute. I know that all parents think their baby is the cutest thing on the planet, and I know the polite thing is to agree with this falsehood. I do most of the time, I answer in the affirmative when I’m asked how cute it is, I smile and nod when you’re staring adoringly into it’s smushed face. But if I have to hold it, and look at it, and smell it while it’s leaking – I’m not going to talk in a high pitched voice and use nonsense words to tell it how adorable it is (I only do that to cats), I’m going to look uncomfortable and disgusted, you’ll notice and get upset that I don’t think your genes have created the most glorious, radiant beauteous creation in the known world.
Now this doesn’t mean I hate all children, I’m certainly not a big fan, and I don’t want to be around them, but I understand that not everyone feels this way. Different people want different things out of life – some people will be ecstatic to see the 298,485 photos of your 3-month-old you have stored on your phone and they will want to hold it while it yanks and leaks on them, others will sigh and then go bitch on the internet because people are always shoving babies at them.
So do the world a favor and don’t just assume that everyone in the world is as into your offspring as you are, or at least find somebody who is before you go shoving it at them.