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Fear Removed


Fears are within all of us. Sometimes they disappear fast, and other times, they take decades. For me, it was one of my biggest hauntings that had held on for many years.

When I was seven, I remember a friend of my neighbours' had a baby. They said I could  hold him. He wriggled, which I wasn't prepared for. He rolled off my lap, his head bumped the pavement. His mother ran over to check him. While I don't remember his name, I never forgot that little boy. His mother was kind, telling me it wasn't my fault, but that moment stuck with me my entire life.

I reflected on it for years. Was I really that irresponsible? No, I was seven. But sometimes our own conscience plays tricks on us. Throughout my life, any time someone tried to hand me a child, I would stop dead in my tracks. No, don't. Please don't! I'd flash back to that moment when his head had bumped the pavement and his screams were audible the other side of the suburb. Babies were so vulnerable and delicate and I felt I should never be trusted. The idea of one squirming in my arms terrified me. Never would I hold one again.

I was overwhelmed with joy when my friend of 24 years told me he and his wife were pregnant. They had been trying for quite some time, using IVF and every other method possible to conceive. It was out of luck that they did without IVF implanting needed. They were excited about their coming baby and I was estatic for them. There was going to be this little human being that would be a blend of both these dear friends, a lucky dip on which attributes the child got from which parent. Biology was fascinating when you think of the millions of combinations that could have occurred.

Yesterday, I finally met their baby. I had told them of my fears, but that I was curious to hold Ollie to face my long-term haunting. When they got to the cafe, they immediately offered me to hold him while they ordered their food. I wanted to run, hide, or do anything to avoid this risky move. Before I could even reconsider, my friend unlatched Ollie from his capsule and held him over my lap. Oh, my word! He's going to trust me to hold him. Oh, please, baby, don't wriggle!

As my friend transferred Oliver from his hands to mine, I panicked. 'Support the head,' I chanted to myself multiple times. Oliver was curious about me, staring up at me with his new blue eyes. It was like he was fascinated by this new stranger. His head sat in my curled palm, his body across my lap. He was safe -- I was safe. Instead of panic, I inspected all of his tiny features, trying to determine which friend had contributed them. I was actually doing it. . . I had a baby in my arms.

As Ollie inspected me, I wondered if life had been different if I would have had a child of my own. Could I handle a tiny little being like this? Would I have the patience for their crying, mopping up their messes, and best of all, watching them morph into whoever they were intended to be? God had made humans marvellous. Our developments was truly a masterpiece.

Before my friends and I parted ways, they asked if I wanted to hold him again. It was then I found out what a baby fart felt like against your leg. Wow, life was funny too. Ollie began to cry, feeling uncomfortable as his milk was digesting. He really needed his actual parents who knew how to cope, not an imposter who had no idea how to relieve him.

Fear overcome. I'm not saying I want to cuddle every baby I meet, nor am I considering one of my own, but I wouldn't hesitate to hold Ollie again. He scared me a little the second time when he did start to wriggle, but I believe practice would prepare me for that in future.

I feel ecstatic that I got to hold him and consider what life could have been for me. And I have this inner excitement that I'll be lucky enough to watch him grow up, sharing in all the updates my friends give. One day he's going to be a beautiful little boy who will be going to school, making friends, becoming a teenager, and possibly asking all those awkward questions as children do. Their job is to make us uncomfortable so that we are forced to reflect on ourselves -- that's my theory.

I still won't have children of my own, but I look foward to contributing as a future babysitter.

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