Not long ago I asked Ellen a question. More like a favor.
“I know this is premature, but, um, I need to ask you something,” I began. I explained that I am a little funny about my babies, particularly my newborns. When I have one, I want to hold it. All the time.
Here’s the deal; all week long I am having to put the baby down when I don’t want to, for completely meaningless and trivial tasks like eating, and feeding kids and showering. Then there are the dreaded two-to-three hour intervals when I have to sleep and miss watching the baby breathing and doing that little hiccup-sigh thing that they do. It is agony. So when I have a baby, I live for the one time a week when my world holds still, my children are plunked quietly on the church pew (because I have mastered the silent-snap,-point,-eyebrow-raise,-scowl that strikes fear in the hearts of all squirrly children), the music plays softly and I can stare into the sleeping face of an angel for three solid hours. Oh, the smell of them! And their gurgley breath and their tiny noses, their little pink fingernails to examine, their fuzzy heads to kiss and sniff over and over! Their crackley complaint to nurse, and their faint joyful gulping! And don't get me started about when they start to stare into your eyes and the corners of their tiny lips curl into a shiny little grin just for you!
I mean, me! I don't want to miss that. Not even for an hour.
Why, for the love of all that is breastfed, would someone think I need rescuing from that? Women, baby hungry ones in their 50’s whose own offspring have selfishly not yet produced a third generation, lurk around foyer corners and pop out of nowhere doing grabby hands in the air and saying “Let me take her for you.” For me? FOR ME? Have you lost your mind, woman?
That's like saying, "Here, let me take that seven-layer, chocolate-ganache and raspberry-cream filled cake off your hands for you." Utter madness.
The very first time I let tiny Ellie out of my arms at a church function, it was because I was in charge of a huge event and at one particular moment I was needed for something that I could not accomplish with a baby snug in a sling on my chest. So I asked a woman I knew well to hold her for me. About ten minutes later when I went back to get her, there was a perfect stranger with my baby in her arms! I imagined her having walked right out of the building with Ellie. I would not have even been able to describe the villainess. I hurried to her and asked for the baby back, trying to stay calm while she engaged in chit chat. Yes, she’s adorable, you baby-snatcher! I thought, That’s why you want to kidnap her and name her Cloris and raise her as your own child in a cabin in the woods of Tennessee!
Thus, when, (on rare and bladder-bursting occasion) I need to let the precious gem out of my arms, I actually like to have it all prearranged (yes, you can go back to the control post and see I’m a slow study).
I have designated baby-holders.
Ladies, just one or two, mind you, that will hold the babe whilst I teach a class or go piddle. It is not a simple job. The trick is, they can’t give the baby to anyone else. They must be as gentle and tender as a pit-bull. One germ infested, baby-napping hand gets within a foot of that baby's face, and the baby-holder must use evasive maneuvers with ninja-like stealth to protect the baby.
I finished my explanation to Ellen and made my unorthodox request. Would she be my baby-holder?
Kind Ellen, mother of 8 and kindred that she is, understood my neuroses. She would gladly take the job.
In chatting with Stephanie later I told her of my arrangement with Ellen. At first she thought it was my (not so) subtle way of letting her know that she fell into the “not-to-hold-baby” category.
I love Stephanie. She is one of my closest friends. She is one of the dear ones praying this pregnancy through to its full-bellied finale.
Besides, in case Ellen and I need to pee at the same time, I will need a back up.