Following our standard Wednesday morning card game, Robin, Carol, Claire and I had gone to lunch at Bake Chop. We were led to the back table against the wall. I took the seat in the back corner facing the restaurant and Carol was sitting on my left. Robin sat across from me with her back to the café and Claire across from Carol. As we were waiting for our meals to be served, Carol leaned over and said, “look at that adorable baby. Cuteness overload!”
My immediate response was to back away and cross my index fingers in front of me as if the baby were a vampire.
Carol, naturally, was shocked. “Why are you doing that??”
I didn’t know how to answer beyond, “Ugg, babies! Noooo!”
Robin chimed in, “Tell Carol why you are scared of babies.”
I was confused for a few seconds.
“Oh my goodness. I told you about that?? I’d completely forgotten about that little incident. Some memoirist I am!” I didn’t even remember the reason for my being terrified of babies!
This is what I told Carol:
OK, way back when I was in high school, I’d never before been anywhere near a baby, never mind touched or held one. My brother Alan had come to visit with his girlfriend Marla and their baby Vana. Vana must have been just a few months old at that time. At some point during the visit, I had come home and found the house totally silent. I had no idea where anyone was, but Vana was on the kitchen table, lying face down in her little carrier bed. I edged over and peered into the basket. Vana must have been asleep. I don’t remember what I was thinking. I just know I reached into the basket wanting to pick up the baby and hold her – because that’s what you do with babies, right? As I grasped her around her middle and slowly lifted her a few inches, the pressure on her stomach must have squeezed out a little fart. I heard this soft crack sound and immediately thought, Oh god. I’ve broken her back!!! I’ve killed the baby!!!
I eased her back down as she was and ran into my bedroom and hid in a corner, literally shaking, waiting for the screams and cries when someone came in and found the baby dead.
For several hours the house remained silent as the grave. And I stayed in my room in utter panic mode prepared to deny ever touching or going anywhere near the baby.
Finally, my parents must have come home with pizzas or something and called me in for dinner. Still in terror of having murdered the baby, I emerged slowly into the kitchen and saw Marla breast feeding the very much alive and well Vana at the table.
I was dizzy with relief but remained silent regarding going anywhere near the baby. To this day have maintained a fear bordering on terror where babies are concerned.
Claire pointed out that my silence at the time exposed just how dysfunctional my family life was. Well yeah. There were great reasons for my never wanting babies or husbands for that matter.
Although, at the ripe old age of 66, in my new role as Guardian ad Litem (advocate for children in the foster care system), I finally held a baby. I was nervous as all heck but since the care giver needed to do something and thought nothing of handing the baby to me (a certified child advocate after all!!), I had no choice but to take her. For a brief moment, the new experience was quite enjoyable. Then the scent of her dirty diaper wafted up to my nose and I gently placed her onto the floor to crawl away. Now that Tabby is 14 months old, I actually enjoy holding her (when she’s clean) and truly delight in her smiles. This poor unsuspecting baby has no idea what she’s dealing with. Nevertheless, she obviously trusts me and wants me to hold her whenever I visit. I guess she is the boss here and I have no choice but to let her train me to deal with babies!