I think they put a little phobia juice in my epidural cocktail. Babyface must’ve consumed some through the umbilical cord because she’s a little cuckoo, too. [Whenever I hear the word “cuckoo”, I picture Jack Black referring to a fat Gwyneth Paltrow in Shallow Hal.]
After Babyface was born and she cried for the first time, I was overcome with surreality, familiarity (after all, we were like pen pals for 9+ months) and paedophobia, fear of infants. She was all slick and slippery from all the vernix. My first thought, “someone take her before I drop her and I’ll pretend I’m super excited and not the least bit terrified.”
Tears were falling down my face, in part because her tongue looked strange (she was tongue-tied, but we had it clipped at 5 weeks), and a very little bit because this stranger didn’t seem so strange. Maybe like 10%. The other 90% was shear fear.
There was NO instant bond. If it wasn’t for the epidural and the fact that I couldn’t feel my legs, I would have walked right out of there, bare butt and all, and headed to the nearest watering hole, bar or liquor store to take a shot and soothe my nerves. Heck, I would’ve walked up to a bum and taken a swig of his Night Train to calm myself down (opposing my germophobia completely). I was T-E-R-R-I-F-I-E-D. And, yes, the phobia was so intense that I had to spell this out for you to show the magnitude of my stress.
I got an hour reprieve, when the doctor had to stitch up the mess that this little thing made when she tore out of me. Yes, it was that bad. It was an hour and the doctor stopped counting at 60 stitches. I couldn’t feel it though, so I just sat back and thanked God that my husband is the calm one. He would figure out how to move forth with this…mess.
Could we put her back in, just for another week or maybe a month? I could step into my time machine and remember the fear I had now and prepare myself better. Why was I complaining last week when all I did was lay in bed and eat? Why did I keep screaming that I wanted her out? Acid reflux and fainting were a five star vacation compared to this fear.
Please. Someone just put her back in! Wait, that could be painful, so maybe not. Why couldn’t we be rich like Bethenny from The Real Housewives stardom and have a funny, baby nurse who always walks around naked and wakes up at noon, all while we sip on Skinny Girl cocktails? At least she could carry the kid, give it a bath and change its diapers. I could just sit there and stare at the kid for a couple of months, until she reached ten pounds. That way, if I dropped her, at least her neck would be formed.
After they rolled us into our room with the bassinet and baby in tow, we ordered some room service (yes, our hospital had room service for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mind you, it was still hospital food. We were lucky to be on a PPO, so it was a private hospital and so was the room). I was in labor for 34 hours and hadn’t eaten for about 38, but I was far from hungry.
Then, came the moment of truth. My husband and I both looked at each other like we usually do when someone deals out a doozy of a stinker, one hand pinching the nose and the other waving the smell away. Usually, we imitate Pepe Le pew, but this time, just silence and staring at each other with bug eyes. Ruh roh. We rang for the nurse, but she was nowhere in sight (Babyface made her first appearance on 8/8/08, which is an auspicious day for some cultures and the hospital was at capacity, so the staff was pretty scarce).
My husband took a breadth, winced in realization that he could now smell what the tiny one dealt again and walked over to take care of the stinky business. The diapers were the equivalent of Band-Aids; they were so small. He took it like a real trooper; like a real champion. I’m pretty sure we both had We Are the Champions echoing in our minds. At least I did.
I commended him, but also pretended that the epidural was the sole reason for my just sitting there and watching him put out the funk. I was so proud of him. Now, all we had to do was figure out how he could go on sabbatical for the next few months. That way, he could carry her and change diapers, while I sipped on Skinny Girl cocktails. I would be heading back in to work in December and she’d be attending daycare, so he could go back to work then. What a wonderful plan. Unfortunately, when I asked him two weeks later, my husband wasn’t on board. Stick in the mud!
When he did go back to work, I would sit in a pool of spit up and stare at the clock waiting for him. I was in pain and frankly I had what I think every new mother has, unless she has super powers, a bit of post-partum. We just weren’t bonding and if the kid didn’t look just like me, you would have thought she wasn’t mine.
One day, about two months into my strife, Babyface was swaddled in her baby swing, when I realized it was time for her to feed. I picked her up, but she didn’t wake up. I laid her on the couch and unwrapped her. Still no movement. I even gave her a little tickle, hoping she would at least flinch. Still no movement. I noticed she was a bit blue and I FREAKED OUT!
I shook her a bit, which you’re told never to do, but there was no time for reason here. Suddenly, I got a grip, grabbed the phone to dial 9-1-1 and tried to remember how to do baby mouth-to-mouth resus….and there it was. She stretched her arms out and let out an enormous yawn.
At that moment, I thought of my husband and how he can sleep just about anywhere. He’s literally a lump on a log. My first reaction was, “damn him and his genes!” My second reaction was, “I didn’t pass out, when all of this went down. Hey! I didn’t pass out! I didn’t pass out!”
At this point I was letting out a psychotic giggle from PTSD and Babyface opened her eyes and looked up at me. That was my first, real tear of joy without fear. A two month wait for our bonding moment, but not too little and definitely not too late. That was the day I truly welcomed my best friend into the world.
I’m not sure what the moral of the story is here. I think it may be that you must get scared s$%*less in order to cure the paedophobia that you may have when you first become a parent.
I went from T-E-R-R-I-F-I-E-D to t-e-r-r-i-f-i-e-d to terrified to just damn worried all of the time. I think I’ve made some pretty good progress. Stay tuned for more, when Phobia Week continues…