My Greatest Fear #24: Dropping a Baby

This is Claire. She's sideways because the photo won't rotate. Despite this, she's still adorable.

Over Christmas break, I went to see my good friend Bryce, his wife Jody, and their adorable baby Claire. At least, I think their baby is named Claire. At my age, everyone has a baby, and their names all run together. Let’s go with Claire, but it could just as easily be Felicity, Emily, or Rick.

Claire is pretty adorable. I mean, most babies are adorable. But Claire has one of those angelic faces that says, “I dare you to not adore me.” In fact, that was her first sentence.

So I was hanging out with Bryce, Jody, and Claire, and I remembered that holding babies is one of my favorite things. Seriously. Even though I don’t know if I want to have kids, there is no peace like that of holding a baby. I could guarantee you that I could achieve world peace if you gave me a billion babies to hand out to all of the bullies, dictators, and Community haters of the world (okay, maybe I’ll need 6.9 billion babies).

It’s even better than holding cats. There. I said it. Good thing Biddy doesn’t read this blog.

So I asked Bryce if I could hold Claire for a minute. I had just washed my hands, so I was free of all the toxins that curse us adults (did I mention on the blog that the vast majority of grocery store cart handles are awash with fecal matter? Yeah. Think about that the next time you shop). Bryce held the baby out to me…

[I want to pause here, because it is in this moment that my greatest fear happens. The fear that I am not going to receive the baby properly and that I’m going to drop this perfect little being and it’s going to break and I’m going to be responsible for killing an angel. It is a terrible, terrible fear. It isn’t helped by the fact that you can’t grab a baby like a football. Babies are squishy and dainty. So you are faced with the impossible task of gently receiving this squirming, fragile bundle in a firm grip so you don’t drop it.]

…and I successfully received Claire and brought her to my shoulder. Success. Touchdown. No dropped baby.

Mothers will confide in you, “Oh, I’ve dropped babies before. It’s fine.” But that doesn’t fly in my world. I mean, if you’re a mother, you’ve picked up or received babies thousands of times. One drop and you’re still essentially batting 1.000. Me? I’ve picked up/received maybe 20 babies. One drop and I’m out of the game.

Does anyone else share this fear? Does any father not share this fear at some point?

You can see my other greatest fears here.

20 thoughts on “My Greatest Fear #24: Dropping a Baby”

  1. My sister brought my two nieces into town last year to go to the zoo. The youngest was two years old, and her stroller was my responsibility. When we got to the wolves, she was crying. My sister said I could get her out of the stroller, so I picked her up high enough to see over the fence and into the wolf exhibit, which was about 20 feet below.

    Suddenly, I felt myself overcome with the urge to hurl my own niece into the exhibit. I have no idea why. I just felt like I was going to do it whether I wanted to or not. Just throw her to the wolves, literally. I quickly rushed to my sister, handed her over and refused to touch her the rest of the day. To this day, my niece will not go near me. It’s like she knows what I was thinking, even though I didn’t want to think it.

    I have the same feeling when I’m on a tall building. I have this incredible desire to run and jump off it, even though I’m terrified of heights. I’ve heard that’s common. Please tell me it’s common.

    Have I overshared?

    • We were at the zoo, in case you can’t pick up on the context clues. Obviously, the event still terrifies me enough to prevent me from communicating it clearly.

    • Oh man. The first sentence of the second paragraph made me laugh and laugh. I know the feeling. That is hilarious. I’ll edit it so the zoo part is clear for other readers.

    • Brad–I know what you mean about having an intense, incontrollable feeling to jump off cliffs, buildings, etc. You can see it happening so clearly that it feels like an inevitability. Just to be safe, everyone should take note of this and not hand me babies near wild animals, cliffs, open windows in tall buildings, swimming pools, or vats of pudding.

    • I’ve never felt this way when holding my own child, but I’ve wanted to throw my share of non-blood related nieces and nephews into places such as the stingray exhibit at the zoo and the off the top of the slide at the McDonald’s Play Place. I’m certain it has an evolutionary tie to propagating my blood line/weeding out my child’s competition for food and resources.

  2. I had this fear for a loooong time! The hand off seems to be one of those situations that can be pretty dangerous if everyone isn’t paying attention. Even now, I hold newborns so infrequently that it still makes me worried for a second that I’ll zig when the parents zag and the baby will end up on the floor. Or that I’ll forget to cradle the head and her floppy neck will loll around until it just snaps off. The key is to do a seated hand off. Worst case scenario there is that you fumble the baby, but she gently falls in your lap and erupts into delighted giggles, having no idea how close she came to certain death.

    Before I was a mom, I hated the hand off, but the soft spot on top of a baby’s head always freaked me out too. From what I could tell, even the slightest pressure of my gentle breath wafting over the soft spot would cause both significant brain damage and a lifetime of guilt.

    • I’m petrified of the floppy neck thing too! And the soft spot! There should be a horror movie about holding babies. Apparently it’s the scariest thing ever.

      • (Adds that script to my list)

        My biggest fear is being arrested in a foreign country, but holding a baby is in the top 5 fears for certain. It’s just like… I just KNOW I will drop it. I ONLY hold babies when I’m sitting on a couch. In fact, when reading your entry all I could think was, “Why didn’t you just sit down for the hand off, Jamey?”

        • What about being arrested in a foreign country for dropping a baby?

          I actually was sitting down for the handoff! But I can still drop the baby! I’ll find a way! 🙂

  3. Lorena-

    That is my number one fear. I’m terrified of foreign countries. I’ve only left the Confederacy for one week of my life. I’m actually terrified of jail, period, but I honestly believe I would keep a cyanide tablet in my pocket if I ever visited a foreign country. No way I’m getting locked up with a one eyed, stringy haired cellmate with a cackling laugh and eating porridge out of a metal bowl.

  4. A very cute baby maybe could be cutter than Jamey 31 years ago. Happy birthday to Jamey. Your post made me smile thinking of you gingerly holding this baby

  5. The only time I can remember holding a baby during my adult years is when I worked in the ER doing patient registration in college. A woman had come in to be seen and needed to sign her paperwork, but was holding her baby daughter who I’m guessing was about 8 months old? I honestly have no idea. Since she didn’t have anyone with her, she asked me if I could hold her while she signed. My response: “Um….. sure, yeah… though I’ve never held a-.” And at this point she holds out her daughter to me and I take her – and hold her at arm’s length while she signs her forms. It was as if I was holding a stinking bag of poo or something. I didn’t pull her to me or support her in any way. I’m sure the lady thought I was nuts.

  6. I have this fear of dropping babies, mainly because at the age of 10, I dropped my 3 month old baby sister. To this day, I think she wiggled out of my arms, but there will
    always be that little question of doubt if it was an accident or some unconscious jealousy caused me to let go of her.


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