Before the birth of my partners’ and my child in early February this year, I had exactly zero experience with taking care of a baby. Because of fear of how fragile babies are combined with a few anxiety disorders, I had never even held a baby.

I was very apprehensive about things that have turned out to be the easiest things about taking care of a baby. And the things I do worry about are things I never expected to worry about.

I was initially afraid to hold the baby, because of an irrational fear of dropping her. I have since held her so often that while I sometimes have intrusive thoughts about it, I am very confident about my ability to hold her.

Early on, I was nervous about diaper changes, since I’d never changed a diaper before she was born. I wasn’t nervous about any particular aspect of diaper changing. I think my nervousness might have been a generalized “you will definitely do it wrong” anxiety. Now that I’ve changed a few hundred diapers, I can say that it’s extremely easy. The only challenging thing is when the baby starts peeing or pooping in the middle of a diaper change, but even then, all you have to do is get out a new diaper and do some extra cleanup. (Fun fact: It’s widely said that babies with penises will pee during diaper changes if you’re not fast enough, and there are a bunch of products you can buy for such an event, but in reality, all babies do this regardless of what genitals they have. If you frequently change a baby’s diapers, it’s inevitable that sometimes you’ll be peed on.)

One thing I wasn’t expecting is that I now occasionally have nightmares about bad things happening to the baby. Other parents we know with a new baby (who also have older children) have informed us that it’s normal to have those kinds of nightmares. I can’t actually recall any particular nightmares of bad things happening to the baby offhand, which I think is good evidence that the fear in them doesn’t stay with me in waking life.

Robot Hugs

Enjoy the cold, emotionless embrace of Robot Hugs.

Talia C. Johnson

Sensitivity Editor, Educator, Coach, Facilitator, Spiritual Leader, and Activist

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