“What if I drop the baby?”

I was being ushered down a hospital corridor in a wheelchair, flanked by hospital personnel. Behind me a nurse was pushing my wheelchair. My husband oscillated between my side and over my shoulder. Or maybe he didn’t. I can’t remember if he was actually there or if he had gone to get food for me. On my other side was another nurse carrying my bags.

They had the easy job –  opening doors, turning corners, pushing elevator buttons – moving us through the hospital labyrinth. I, on the other hand, was responsible for the just barely 8 pound baby in my arms who had taken his first breath just a short hour ago.

My arms encircled him in a hold somewhere between clutching and cradling. As the nurses moved us along, I was frozen. Paralyzed by the thought: what if I drop him? or was it: what would happen if I drop him?

This was my third child. I should be more confident in this journey down the gauntlet from the labor and delivery room to the postpartum room. But here, with my third, getting to partake in this activity that was a luxury to me after birthing a preemie, I was consumed by fear. Paralyzed by the awareness of the fragility of the life that rest in my arms along with the great responsibility.

Sure, we had roomed together for the last 9 months. We had the intimacy yet separateness that comes with that unique roommate relationship. Even though we had just officially met, this baby trusted me unquestionably.

Maybe that was the root of my fear. That the responsibility to break that unconditional trust laid on me. The trust this little hour old baby gave me the minute he set-up camp in my womb. My fear was not only of breaking that trust with him, but also with the two other boys who called me mom.

That was two years ago this week.

I no longer hold him tight for fear of dropping him. Now I hold him tight for fear that he’ll soon to be too big for me to hold tight.

Even though I no longer fear actually dropping my baby, the concept, what if I drop my baby, stays with me for all of my kids: What if I let them down? What if I have to work late? What if I hurt them? What if I miss a swim meet? What if I don’t give them the best upbringing that I can give them? What happens if I have dinner out with girlfriends? What if I don’t do what I’m supposed to do as a mom?

I didn’t drop him at the hospital. I try every day not to drop him or his brothers. It’s hard at moments, but so easy at the same time. Here’s to working every day and many more years to not drop him or his brothers.



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