I didn't want to have children. I knew it from a young age. I've written about this many times. In September 2012 I met a 1-month-old preemie. When I held her in my arms during a Service in the Park, her mother said to me, "Oh my God, you're the Baby Whisperer. She's colicky and fussy, but she's so calm with you."
I offered to volunteer my baby whispering about once a month since her husband was working out of town, she also had a 2-year-old boy, and a full-time demanding leadership oriented career. Her hands were full. In the last 15 months my presence in their house has become a regular thing and the babies come running when I arrive.
Something happened this week that terrified me. It was the strongest moment of truth I've ever had. I want to share it because I think it will help a lot of women and men out there that might think about their times with babies, and little beings and even bigger beings and telling the truth when it is necessary.
The baby's new thing was loving to run from someone to see if they would follow her, but she'd return right back when they didn't. Her brother was in the bath and she kept running in to see how he was doing. After changing her into clean pajamas, I put the baby's legs up over my shoulders. I was holding her head in one hand and had my arm around her body.
When we got back into the bathroom her brother said, "She doesn't like that." I quickly exited and headed for the living room. I tried to lift her back up but her body was stiff and shaking. I got her to the couch, laid her down and noticed her face was completely red. She didn't start bawling, but quietly started to whimper. I picked her up and held her. What had I done? Her brother liked to be carried this way. I apologized to her. "I wish you could have said something to me, because I wouldn't have done this. I won't do it again." Right after this happened I told her brother he was right and thanked him for telling me she was upset. In that position, and because she had no words, I had no sense she was uncomfortable until he told me.
During the next hour I noticed she kept glaring at me and tried to close the door on me when we four moved from room to room after the bath, when changing into pajamas, and then during story telling time. She was particularly needy and clinging to her mother. I knew I'd done something wrong and was certain I could never tell anyone. I worried that what I'd done would become something as horrible as the shaken baby cases I'd heard about.
The mom got aggravated because both kids were fussy and rambunctious. Especially the baby because she was getting in the way of reading a story for the 3-year-old. She was walking the baby into her room to put her down. She said, "That's enough for tonight. I don't like it when you act this way. I know you're going to cry for a while."
My heart ripped open. I knew I was responsible. I'd worried ever since it happened. I followed her into the baby's room where the bassinet was and said, "I need to tell you something." I got scared because I knew I'd done something wrong. Both she and the baby had their eyes on me but I was choked up, afraid to admit my mistake that could have been dangerous. Finally I explained how I'd held the baby and what her reaction had been. How she'd been glaring at me ever since and trying to close the door on me. "I believe she's fussy because she's afraid of what happened between us and the pain or fear I caused her."
Suddenly both mother and daughter and even brother (who had been crying and needing many time outs) were completely quiet. One could hear a pin drop. I'd not wanted to admit what I'd so stupidly done, but I didn't want the baby punished for acting out on fears I caused her to feel.
The mother said, "Oh my God, look how calm she got. She's hearing every word you say. She understands and knows what you are talking about."
Then I talked to Sammy. "I'm so sorry. If I would have known that was going to hurt you or scare you, I would have never done it. But I will never do it again." Then Mommy asked little Sammy if she wanted to lean in and give me a kiss. In the next minute, the baby leaned in and gave me about seven wet kisses, right on my mouth. Muah. Muah. Muah. Muah. Muah. Muah. Muah. This baby was now quiet and happy. She was no longer uncomfortable.
"Are you going to be able to go to sleep now?" I asked her. "Can you look up at the stars and moon lights on the ceiling and fall asleep? I'm going to let you and Mommy be together now." I left the room.
The baby went down peacefully. When the mom came into the room she said, "That was the most profound moment I've ever had with her. She heard every single word you said and knew exactly what you were talking about. It's not what we do in life, it's how we come out of it. It was so amazing of you to share that. Anyone that says a baby doesn't know what's happening is plain wrong. She knew. Babies know. They see and hear everything." She also told me that the baby doesn't kiss anybody but the closest of family in that way that she indulged me.
Both kids were down by 8:11, the earliest they'd ever gone to bed. Both were peaceful. There was no crying. The 3-year-old didn't walk in bashfully and make excuses for not wanting to be in bed.
That little pixie face girl I fell in love with... I always knew I wasn't going to have kids. I knew there would be plenty of kids needing extra TLC and attention. I knew if I needed time with kids there would be kids I could connect with and learn from. I knew I had to say something to prevent mother and daughter from going to bed upset, over something I'd caused that neither could talk about. I'm so glad I could see beyond my own shame and embarrassment and admit what I'd done, not keep the dirty secret and watch others suffer because of my silence.
Have you ever let someone suffer because admitting your mistake was too scary?