A lot of my friends have had babies over the past few months. There’s something about looking at those tiny little faces and chunky cheeks and wisps of hair that makes my ovaries smile and long for another baby. Maybe someday, but I’d prefer to have Charlotte out of diapers before that happens!
I have noticed a lot of friends with new babies have been talking about people touching their babies without their permission. This happened to me a few times, and it was upsetting. I understand that people are drawn to babies. I totally get that. But babies have little to no immune system and don’t need to be exposed to your germs. I think most modern moms agree that touching without permission is a big deal and that people need to know that it’s not okay.
What annoyed me even more than that is when people would not give me back my baby. Here’s the scenario: You go to a friend or family member’s house and everyone is waiting to hold your bundle of joy. You know that they’ve all washed their hands and are each patiently waiting their turn. Your little one starts making the rounds and by the fifth set of arms, they start to cry. The appropriate thing to do in this social setting is to pass baby back to mama. Look, I know everyone wants to be the baby whisperer but 99.999% of time, only mama can console a crying infant. So, do the right thing and hand the baby over and let mommy calm them down. Once babe is settled you’ll all get your turn again. Sounds fair, right?
Well, that’s how it should play out. But sometimes it doesn’t exactly follow that plan. Once, when my daughter was still really small and I was still measuring her age in weeks, I brought her to visit some friends. The crowd was large, a little more than twelve people. I knew that it was going to be hard on both me and Charlotte but I also knew that these friends really wanted some quality time with the both of us, so I put on my brave face and started passing her around.
Surprisingly, she did really well. She slept through most of it and even the few times she did wake, she cooed at everyone and batted her big eyes. It was going smoothly and by the time she got passed into the last set of arms it felt like we were on easy street.
The last person to hold her started with the ‘advice’ right away. It was cringe worthy. She told me all of the things that she did for her kids and how I should be doing those things for Charlotte. I grinded my teeth and smiled through the pain and tried to politely nod my head. Her advice was really not worth listening to and was nothing I would ever consider, but I was trying to be polite.
Just then, Charlotte woke up. She instantly began to howl and I knew it was her hungry cry. I reached to take her back and Miss Know-it-all stood up and began to walk in the opposite direction. I wasn’t even sure how to react because I could not believe what was happening. I bit my lip and searched for the right words and said “I think it’s time she comes back with me, she’s hungry and needs to be fed.” I wanted to yell “Give me back my baby!” but I knew that would sound super rude.
So, she turned and looked at me and I waited for her to pass her over but instead she said, “No, she’s not hungry. She’s tired and needs help going back to sleep. I got this.”
I started seeing red in that moment. Bitch, please. I have spent every hour of my child’s life by her side and I can decipher every one of her cries. She is hungry. Pass her over before I cut you.
I was so upset. I had no idea what to do. I wanted to yell at her but I also didn’t want to cause a scene. She had her back turned to me and was bouncing Charlotte, who was wailing at the top of her lungs. A few more seconds passed and I was on the verge of tears. Finally I said “I’m going to feed her now. Could you please pass her to me?” Miss Know-it-all passed her over but said, “I’m telling you, she’s not hungry. She’s still tired.”
I glared at her as I popped a bottle in Charlotte’s mouth and she anxiously began sucking. I was so angry in that moment. No one knows my baby as well as I do, and when she cries, I know the best way to fix it. How dare she question my motherly instincts?
I learned a lesson that day. I learned that it is perfectly okay for me to say “she needs mama right now” and to take her away from whoever has her. No one should ever try to keep your baby from you while they are crying. I know that everyone has good intentions and a lot of the time they think they are helping, but most of the time it’s just stressing mommy and baby out.
So the next time you’re out somewhere and someone won’t pass back your crying baby, be firm and polite. Tell them they can hold your baby once you’ve managed to soothe them. If you have a real gem on your hands (like I did with Miss Know-it-all) it might be better to get right to the point. They don’t get subtle cues. Say it loud and say it proud, “GIVE ME BACK MY BABY!”