For those of you who haven’t read this blog before, when I say I have OCD, I don’t mean that I think organization is super cool (though I do, because it is…) I mean that I experience intrusive, unwanted, and anxiety-producing thoughts about any number of things.
The thought of harm coming to those I love or care about is a huge trigger for me. The thought of harm coming to the children I love more than myself? It’s sometimes debilitating.
So what does this have to do with touching an adorable baby?
You think you won’t harm my sweet baby by just touching her. After all, you’re just touching those tiny little hands, not her face or anything…
You are touching the hands she will put in her mouth, and I (erroneously) believe that you will get her sick. Not just sick, deathly ill. I know this belief is irrational. I know the actual chances of you giving her more than a sniffle are minuscule, but I cannot help the primal, visceral fear that you and your germs are putting my beloved child at risk.
When my oldest was a newborn, I took him to the Jesuit retirement home to meet the priest who presided over my wedding. Those old priests, boy did they love seeing a precious new baby…
(I can’t blame them, I make cute kids.)
Then, one of them went to touch my son. I didn’t stop him–the Irish Catholic girl could never be rude to a priest–and then he coughed.
Long story short, I spent the next week in agony. I prayed to God to keep my baby safe. God, please–I was trying to do something nice–please don’t punish my baby for this–I’m so sorry for being so stupid, please spare him.
Some people will chalk that up to being a first-time mom, and at the time, I did, but the thing is it’s not new mom jitters, it’s OCD. How do I know? It’s not any better with baby #2. (Well, it’s getting better as I go through treatment, but without professional psychiatric help, I would be just as bad as I’ve always been).
Any time someone I don’t know touches my children I wonder if they’re vaccinated. I wonder if they’re an asymptomatic carrier of some horrible disease. I wonder if this is the big terrible thing I didn’t protect my child from.
Then, I spend whatever I think the incubation period is in wait with Schroedinger’s baby. It’s awful.
So please, please don’t touch my baby.
Or do, and make me deal with the exposure…
But whether you touch her or not, know that you touching her is hard for me. Please respect that.