Ever since I had my baby it seems that everywhere I go people want to hold her. I get it – people love babies but I’m going to be honest, I have a hard time letting people hold her. When it’s someone I know, I let them hold my baby but inside I’m just waiting for the moment I can grab her again. Before you think I’m crazy for feeling this way, hear me out.
When my baby was a newborn I didn’t what anyone to hold her. Anyone. She was this tiny, fragile human being and I wanted her by my side all the time. My instincts to protect her were very strong, it felt so primal. I’m sure I was also on a hormonal high that made me want to protect her even more.
I was fine with certain people holding her, my really close friends and family but not all the time and it really bothered me that people thought she had to cry before handing her back to me.
When you become a mom you know when your baby is hungry, uncomfortable or scared. You learn to recognize the specific sounds they make, which to most sound like baby babbling but to a mother they mean different things. When I heard my newborn making a distinct “eh” I knew it meant she was hungry, other times I knew she was uncomfortable or needed a diaper change. You develop an instinct that connects you with your baby. Many times when I wanted to take her back people would tell me “but she’s not crying”.
I want to let everyone that a baby crying is the last sign they give you to let you know they’re in distress, uncomfortable or hungry. Most of the time my baby would cry due to hunger. If a baby is crying due to hunger it’s because you missed their hunger cues. In other words, you realized too late the baby was hungry. When I told people to hand her over so I could feed her most of them told me “but she just ate”. Well she is a breastfed baby and breastfed babies nurse A LOT, especially at the beginning. Imagine you had a tiny stomach and was filling it only with liquids. You would be hungry pretty often.
As she got older, around 4 months, I started feeling more comfortable with people holding her to the point where I didn’t have to pretend that I was fine with it because I was really ok with some people holding her. Of course I wanted to be able to see her in case she needed something.
Then came the age where she started having a little separation anxiety, around 7-8 months, and again my instincts kicked in. I would always lean my baby towards the person that wanted to hold her but if she didn’t stretch her arms towards them I’d take it as if she didn’t want to be held by that person. I like to respect my baby’s wishes and since she couldn’t speak this was a great way for me to know what she felt and wanted. However, not all people respect this and I’ve had people just take her away from my arms. Most people that do this are not total strangers but I do not understand what makes someone think they have the right to grab someone else’s baby.
As my baby got older she got better at letting me know if she wanted to be held by someone or not. She was a pretty calm baby so there were times when others were holding her, she wouldn’t be crying but she would have a scared looked in her face. That, again, was not ok for me.
I also started hearing these phrases more and more “take a break” or “enjoy this break” while people would try to grab my baby away from me. To be honest, I don’t need a break. I love being a mom 24/7 and if I do need a break, believe, me I’ll let someone know. I might sound a little possessive but it is my job to protect my daughter. I am the one that takes care of her and if she’s scared or sick I am the one dealing with it, not anyone else.
There comes a time when moms feel more comfortable with others holding their baby, but this comes with time and as the baby grows older. We are our child’s protector, they can’t defend themselves nor speak nor walk on their own. Until she can communicate I will always feel like I have to make sure her wishes as well as my instincts are respected. If there is one thing I’ve learned in this journey is to trust my instincts, even if I don’t understand why I feel them.
Not all moms might feel the same way I do. I’m sure moms that have to work outside home get over this sooner because they have to work and have to learn to trust other people with their babies. Some others probably don’t feel it at all. Who knows! All I know is that I feel this way and I’m a little ashamed to admit it but I can’t help it.
Some moms, like me, struggle with setting boundaries or feel cornered and like they have to let family members be with the baby but if it doesn’t feel right to you, just don’t do it. Find the courage to honor your instincts, even if they don’t make sense to you.
My advice to everyone else is that if you have a friend or family member that just had a baby don’t ask if you can hold her baby. You can smile at the baby and play with the baby while the mom is holding her. Believe me, if the mom wants you to hold the baby she tell you.
Have you ever felt this way? How did you deal with others wanting to hold your baby?
Update #1: I wrote this post after a party where I was really uneasy with everyone holding my baby, yet I let them. Turns out she caught a virus from someone at the party and was sick for 5 days. It might not seem like a lot but even one day with a sick baby with a fever feels like an eternity. This was just a reminder for me that sometimes we don’t know why we feel the way we feel but there is a reason for it, so trust your mama instincts.
An edited version of this post appeared on the Huffington Post.