Baby Hog (#74)

Second Niece, clearly sizing up my dress.
Second Niece, sizing up my dress.

When Andy and I got married, I had two nephews and one niece that I adored. There was First Nephew, son of Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister. When I met First Nephew as a baby, I had him out of his carrier and in my arms in under two seconds. He repaid me with a massive diaper blowout (while his parents laughed for ten minutes), but all is forgiven when you are First Nephew.

First Niece was Big Brother’s six-month-old baby girl. Big Brother brought her to my co-ed Baby Shower. I carried her around while he kicked back mojitos.

Don’t get the idea that I am a Baby Hog. You know, one of those women who appear to be magnetically pulled toward every bald creature in diapers that smells like Johnson & Johnson’s? The kind of woman who salivates until she gets to hold the baby and glares at anyone who dares suggest she might give the baby up? (Never mind if the baby is screaming its head off and stretching its arms toward Mommy.) THAT is a Baby Hog.

No, I am not a Baby Hog. Any predisposition toward baby-hoggishness was crushed by my four baby siblings. Starting when I was ten, my parents knocked out a kid every year for four years. I changed a lot of diapers and quickly learned to wear a towel on my shoulder. I became an expert rocker, swayer, singer, soother, and burper. I made a ton of money babysitting as a teenager, but the ongoing onslaught of screaming kids and chocolate milk shampoos drove me out of neighborhood houses and into the mall.

I went to work in a snotty women’s clothing store for the rest of high school. The pay sucked. The hours sucked. The customers were entitled and bitchy.

So much better than babysitting.

When my first boss in the entertainment industry brought her newborn to the office, I gave her more than one lesson in childcare. And then I spent some unpaid overtime locating the ultimate nanny because I would rather have taken dictation until my fingers fell off than taken care of a baby again.

If friends with babies needed to eat, I held their babies. I made the babies giggle. And as soon as I could, I handed the babies back.

Screaming baby on a flight across a continent or ocean? Pah! There’s never been a baby I couldn’t entertain into silence on an airplane. One toddler hunted me down repeatedly – from First Class, no less – with a board book.

But I would never, ever, EVER ask to hold any baby.

Except for First Nephew and First Niece. They were special and I had to hold them. Maybe it’s the siren call of Ashbough DNA.

Maybe it’s because my late mother loved babies (obviously). Those two would have been her first grandchildren, and she would have been the Mother of All Baby Hoggers with them. But she was gone. So I baby-hogged them for her.

I made sure the photographer got pictures of me with First Nephew before the wedding. But First Niece napped after family pictures, then disappeared to nurse until after our wedding dance. As soon as I saw her, I pounced.

I scooped her out of my sister-in-law’s arms. “Oh, great! Where’s the photographer?”

My sister-in-law was dubious. “Are you sure you wanna take her? She just ate.”

I grabbed a napkin off a table and chucked it over my shoulder. “It’ll be fine.”

“Sometimes she spits up—”

I spotted the photographer on the other side of the room. “No problem!” I hoisted First Niece up to my shoulder, patted her on the back, and made a beeline for the photographer.

I made it about twenty feet. Then First Niece reared back in my arms, gave me a huge smile, and proceeded to throw up all down the front of my wedding dress.

I made a sharp about-face and took First Niece back to her mother. First Niece’s mother and Big Brother laughed until they realized that First Niece had coated herself as well. Still snickering, Big Brother went off to change his daughter’s outfit. I grabbed a napkin and wiped off my dress as best I could.

My sister-in-law continued to titter. “I did warn you she might spit up.”

“‘Spit up?’” I echoed incredulously. I rustled up yet another napkin and hoped it was Big Brother’s. “I’ve taken care of LOTS of babies, and that ain’t no little ‘spit up!’ No. You cannot call that anything but Exorcist-worthy projectile puke.”

“It’s not that bad—”

“It’s like a fireman aimed a hose of sour cottage cheese at me and sprayed. Repeatedly.”

Sister-in-law tittered again. “At least it’s the same color as your dress.”

It was, indeed. The true color of the silk was apparently “Baby Vomit.” Who knew? Within a few minutes the fabric was dry. There wasn’t even a water mark, on the supposedly “unsteamable” silk dress. A few more minutes, and I was used to the smell.

Big Brother returned. First Niece sported a cute new outfit.

He held her up. “Do you still want a picture?”

I backed away. “No, no. I think I’m good.” And I was. Any last glimmering flame of familial baby-hoggishness had been utterly extinguished by partially digested breast milk.

More Ashbough babies have been born since I got married.

I will hold them, if asked, so their parents can eat.

I will rock them, or walk them, if their parents make a request.

And I can still keep them from crying.

But I do not seek those babies out.

I doubt I ever will.

As for my wedding dress, I had it cleaned and vacuumed sealed for long-term storage. When I picked up the box, the man behind the counter smiled at me. “It’s all set for your daughter some day.”

I shook my head. “It’s not for my daughter. It’s for my niece.”

 After all, First Niece staked her claim very, very clearly.

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Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

27 thoughts on “Baby Hog (#74)”

  1. Hahahaha wooops! So now I know what to look out for when it finally comes my turn to step in front of the altar. But it is less likely gonna happen to me, as I normally don’t go near things that could kill me… No, joke! Nobody in my family our among our friends has, or plans to have a baby soon.

    By the way, it sounds like you really had a great wedding. It sounds like you had a wonderful day.

  2. Oh dear, projectile puke on your wedding dress on your special day. But what are the odds that it blended in so well with your outfit like a work of art 😀 Like I’m the kind who will never ask to hold a baby. When someone palms them off to me, I will hold them…and usually set them down immediately because my skinny arms can’t deal with the weight. And then they start crying – and I think it’s because they want Mommy back 😀

    1. Yeah, there are some of us who really don’t want to hold the baby, but Baby Hogs find this unfathomable. They think they are making such a sacrifice, offering the baby, and non-Baby Hogs just want to run.

        1. Well, some wonder, especially if their child has stranger anxiety.There are a few parents who say, “I would let you hold her BUT she’ll scream her head off.”

          And then there are the baby hog mamas, who use excuses like, “You flew in from South Africa last month! You might have contracted malaria! Don’t touch the baby!”

  3. There was a brief, very brief, moment in my younger days when I thought babies were wonderful. Enough plane rides sitting next to a screaming child cured me of that. I totally skipped the children part and married someone with adult kids. Now I have 2 wonderful 9-year old granddaughters (twins). They live cross country so it’s all good. I get to buy them girly clothes and take them to ethnic restaurants when they visit. I missed the puking and diaper part but I hear the teenage years will bring some interest (or so my mother always said about me).

  4. Lol. Totally understand NOT being a baby hog. Survived my own two babies. Enjoyed the process. BUT… happy to be past the diaper/burping/feeding/no sleep part. Teenage part here we come, that and the funding college part. Yay.

  5. Hey, at least the puke was the same color as the dress! If she ate beets or something then threw that up–ugh, that would have been truly awful!

    With your family situation, I can totally understand why you are not a baby hog. Although I’ve never had any younger siblings, I am so far from a baby hog as well. When someone brings in a newborn and asks me if I want to hold the baby, I step back with an awkward laugh and and say, “no… I shouldn’t…” yet they still put it in my arms. I’m definitely lacking the baby hog gene.

    Your wedding, btw, is so full of funny stories! It could be a 3 hour film features, haha.

    1. Thanks, Mary!

      I wish they would not put the babies in our non-hoggish arms. Yet they always do. Can they not comprehend that someone would not want the baby?

      On the other hand, I am a total kitten and dog hog. I LOVE it when a cat jumps in my lap or a big old dog wants to say hi. Or horses. Horse hog, right here. Or goats. Or sheep.

      Anything mammalian that ain’t a baby.

      1. Not goat, not sheep. What’s wrong with ship? It’s the poo one has to watch out for. Lots! They tell me dogs have their uses in the park; a good place to pick up a date.

        1. Oh, a dog will attract all kinds of attention. And it you like dogs, well, bingo.

          If you have a dog, you will definitely meet everyone in you neighborhood who has a dog. Dog parks, dog training, pet stores…

          You will also attract kids like mad. Especially latch key boys, they will forget about not talking to strangers and even show up at your house to play with your dog. 🙂

  6. Agghh! Of course Second Niece projectile vomited on your dress. Murphy’s Law or something like that. I don’t have children and there’s only 1 granddaughter between the four siblings (a little spoiled?). I’m definitely not a baby hogger. Maybe I haven’t had enough practice with the little darlings. When I’m in a restaurant I scope the place out and ask to be seated as far away from any screaming children as possible.

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