A phenomenon

Has anybody else noticed the phenomenon whereby new mothers seem to want other women to cuddle and/or engage with their babies?  I’d also be interested to know if this happens more frequently to infertile women.  It certaily feels like it does.  It’s as if, since we don’t have babies ourselves , we have to affirm the new mother’s right to have her baby and the only way to do this is to take care of it ourselves, while she is watching.  This has happened to me sooo many times that it can’t just be a coincidence. 

Yesterday I visited a new friend.  She is a lovely and highly intelligent woman who I met while she was pregnant. She manages to have conversations around topics other than babies for which I am deeply grateful.  However….when visited her yesterday for the first time since giving birth it somehow ended up that I was seated next to the baby lying on the lounge while she was removed from it in a chair opposite.  The baby started to cry and grizzle and she made no move to comfort it.    Obviously, since I was seated right next to the baby it was impossible for me not to engage with it.  I really didn’t want to be the one to reach over and pat it and soothe it.  I really wanted one of the parents to come and do that.  But seriously, how odd would it have been to just ignore it since it was right next to me.  I laid my hand gently on it’s chest and patted in a genlte rhythm.  The baby calmed a little.  Then the mother left the room.  So now I was alone with the baby.  She seemed gone for quite a long time and again, how could I not “look after” the baby when I was the only one with it.  When she came back in and saw me she smiled and said “Have you had much contact with babies?”.  I answered that I’d had a lot of contact actually, I am 12 years older than my sister and spent a lot of time looking after her as my Mum had postnatal depression when she was born.  I’ve also worked in a long daycare centre, so yes…quite a lot of experience looking after other people’s children.  I felt so uncomfortable patting and comforting her baby while she was watching but she seemed to want me to do this.  So I checked with her and sure enough she responded by saying , “Oh it’s good that he gets used to other people.”  Thing is…I am not just “other people”.  I am someone who cannot have children of her own.  I am someone for whom just visiting someone with a newborn baby is a hugely painful experience.  And the thing is…she knows this.  She knows my situation.  As do all of my friends who feel the need to get me to look after their children.  What’s going on?  It seems like I am a threat to them in some way…unless they can assure themselves that I like their children by getting me to look after them.  But realistically, although I like children in general…these babies are not attached to me, nor I to them.  How could they be? I am not their Mother. They are not my children.  There is no bond.  I am glad that my friends have this experience in their lives…but I cannot share this experience.   And they can’t understand that.  It’s just one painful phenomenon.


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