I was a sophomore in college.
My best friend David from high school had dropped out of Bible college after freshman year to marry his girlfriend he met at said college. My boyfriend at the time was up visiting me over Christmas break when we stopped by to see their new baby, Eleanor, who was less than a week old.
She was so little with a lot of black hair. We oohed and ahhed over her. David’s wife offered to let me to hold Eleanor and I said yes. I should mention my only experience with a newborn was my sister and I was four years old at the time.
I picked the baby up under the arms, much like picking up a cat. Her little head snapped back and she screamed.
“Gah, what do I do?” I said as I held this poor unhappy infant mid-air. I sat down and put her on my lap. I had no idea how to cradle a baby in my arms. She fit perfectly on my lap from knee to hip and stopped crying after a moment.
I couldn’t get over how cute she was and her tiny features. I looked at my boyfriend with those gooey eyes. “I want one someday.” He grinned. I was pretty sure I was going to marry this perfect guy after graduation. Our kids would be cuter than this one.
As Eleanor was in my lap, her belly button stump fell off. Of course it did. “Okay, you can take the baby back now,” I said. “I’ve done enough damage for one night.”
Boyfriend turned out to be a rat and I haven’t held a baby since (Eleanor will graduate high school in the spring).
Part of it was my complete inexperience. The other part was, I said to myself, that the next baby I would hold would be my own.
I managed to avoid babies and then decided I wasn’t cut out to be a mom. I had a nephew born a few months after our marriage, and when we went to see the baby at a few weeks old, I declined to hold him. My husband held him and even got him to stop crying when his mother couldn’t. I was in awe. My husband tried to shuffle the baby into my arms at one point but I jumped back. We weren’t having kids, this was not something I could handle, especially after the Eleanor debacle.
My rule was I’ll pick up babies if they’re older than 13 months. They’re sturdier and could run away if they so chose by that age.
And then I wanted kids and convinced my husband to try. And then there were the infertility doctors and they suggested a specialist or adoption. My husband said no.
And it’s taken me about three hard, long years to be okay without having kids.
This summer I learned my sister is pregnant with a little boy. They’re naming him Conrad because all the other awkward names were taken.
I’m at a crossroads: do I hold this baby?
On one hand, this kid and I share a genetic code, unlike my other nieces and nephews by marriage. Someday, Conrad may be the only direct bloodline family I have. Like those couples who wait for their first kiss to be shared at the altar, there’s no use in waiting to hold my own baby first. That ship sailed and sank on her maiden voyage, taking the dream with her to the ocean floor.
I don’t want to ache with want, now that I am fully recovered from the baby fever syndrome; yet I don’t want to miss out on something so special because I’m being a complete stick in the mud (Principles! Honor! All that stuff in my head!)
I have a few more months to figure it out. I’m already dreading flying up there for the sole purpose of meeting him. I should also add that my family has no clue I ever wanted children or that I can’t clinically have any. I wanted to avoid the pity and the censorship; very few people knew, it was a battle I faced mostly alone.
Any suggestions for someone with a baby-sized hole in the heart that has overgrown with scar tissue on what to do?