When I had my first baby, we were living in NYC. For some reason, the minute people walked in to my house to visit us, or when we met people who wanted to hold him in the street, my mind immediately created an inventory of all the gross things they’d probably touched before reaching for my child. Not only that, I was super apprehensive about people getting too close to him. I’ll chalk that up to new parent jitters, because basically the only requirement for holding my second child is that whoever does it is conscious.
I’m exaggerating a little. But not really.
There always seemed to be someone who wanted to bite my first baby’s fingers or kiss up on his face. It totally freaked me out. As far as holding him went, I brought anti-bacterial lotion with me everywhere so I could hand him to friends I met in the street. I imagined their hands on subway poles, or rifling through dirty copies of the Village Voice. I would torture myself with these scenarios. I didn’t want to seem like the paranoid mom, but I was not comfortable with too much interaction.
Baby number two? I have no recollection of even a single thought crossing my mind regarding not wanting someone to reach for her. From day one, I was perfectly content to hand her over to anyone who asked. If someone bit her little hands – meh. I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I wasn’t doing mental gymnastics to figure out how to get her out of their hands, either. There is no way my personality changed that much in the two years between my first and second child. It’s just that living with a baby for a few years can really mellow you out. Number two is just not as terrifying as number one in a lot of ways. For me, this was most obvious with the level of comfort I had with others holding her.
If you have a new baby and you’re freaking out about people getting a little too close, I’m not going to tell you to calm down; I’m going to tell you it’s totally normal. You’re not an over-protective germaphobe; you’re a new parent. It takes a while to be comfortable with that and it manifests itself in weird ways. Carry antibacterial lotion, say “no,” tell someone to take their fingers out of your kid’s mouth – do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable in your new role.
I promise you if there’s a baby number two – she’ll be licking the floor for five minutes before you are moved to stop her. And someone who wants to hold one of your kids for a while is an immediate ally.