I Don’t Want a Hot Dog. I Want My Baby Back

Posted by: , July 25, 2012 in 1:59 pm

Frogs in my formulaMy friend Rachel was a mess. She had her first baby a few months ago, and she’s kind of freaking out about it. To make matters worse, she’s freaking out about the fact that she’s freaking out. When she called me, I told her what one of my wise friends had told me when I first had Junior: “Don’t even try to get your shit together until, like, week 16. Just don’t.” (She also bought me “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood” which I highly recommend.)

It’s true. You’re a wad of hormones and responsibility. You feel guilty because you secretly wish the hospital would take your baby back so you can get some sleep and try to figure out what the fuck you did to your life.

You need some time to let the dust settle.

Poor Rachel—in the midst of all that settling dust, breast feeding and sleep deprivation—had taken her baby to a family picnic. Innocuous enough, yes, but she’d had a full-blown panic attack when her husband’s aunt asked to hold the baby, then told Rachel to “go get a hot dog” and to “stop hovering.”

“I didn’t want a hot dog!” Rachel had sniveled. “I wanted to gauge her eyes out. I wanted my baby back.”

Rachel’s story hit a nerve with me because I had a similar experience with Chuck’s mother at a party. Junior was three months old. We’d been nervous new parents, and so we hadn’t taken him out much (i.e., ever). I knew Chuck’s mom wanted to see Junior, but when I say that the woman was standing at the front door with her arms outstretched, I mean she didn’t even give me a chance to get through the entryway before she grabbed him.

Then she planted herself on the couch and declared that she wasn’t giving him back. Every time Chuck or I went over to retrieve him, she said no (!) and told us to relax/beat it/leave her alone. (It’s true: I blogged about it.)

I ended up sitting outside on the stairs with Chuck’s sister, who hugged me and told me it was okay to cry, even though I:

a) was the one taking Junior home with me and

b) had only been physically separated from him for about 30 minutes.

That conversation still strikes me as one of the kindest I’ve ever had. I sobbed snot on her shoulder for Pete’s sake.

I told Rachel a lot of what Chuck’s sister told me:

You just had a baby. That’s a big deal. You love your baby. You want to hold your baby. There’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe you don’t want to share your baby. There’s nothing wrong with that either. The person who is holding your baby will have to give him/her back eventually (I finally got Junior back from Chuck’s mom when her bladder all but burst on the couch). If you don’t feel up for sharing, set boundaries. Don’t go out. Lock your door if you have to. Do what’s right for you.

Most important, you shouldn’t ever feel badly for putting your baby in the tub as soon as you get home because she reeks of your mother-in-law’s/husband’s aunt’s rank perfume or because her forehead is covered in red lipstick/pieces of hot dog.

You didn’t spend nine months caring for your belly to have it all effed up by Jean Nate and Oscar Mayer, right?



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