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A fantasy author confronts his personal nightmare: holding a baby he helped make.

By Addison HornerPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - January 2024
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I’m scared of holding babies.

For context, I’m great with kids. I teach music lessons for a living, with students ranging from four years old to retired (and I don’t ask their ages). I taught preschool music for three years and had a splendid time wrangling two-to-five year olds who could form rudimentary sentences and scream song lyrics back at me.

But when it’s a baby, I lose my resolve.

Why? Perhaps it’s because they can’t speak. I can’t tell exactly what they’re feeling, whether or not they’re crying. Or it could be the fear of failure wedged deep into my psyche that tells me I’m going to mess up the simple act of keeping a tiny potato of a human off the ground.

Then came 2023.

We always knew we wanted kids. The possibility of babies beckoned to us like those exit signs on the freeway. "Childbirth, 2 miles!" "Childbirth, 1 mile!" "Childbirth 2019 closed, detour childbirth 2021!" And so on.

Once upon a self-assured teenage fantasy, I'd made a plan. Attend college with a scholarship. Meet my future spouse in school. Marry her sometime after graduation. Start having kids by 25.

Three out of four ain't bad.

As our lives took the obligatory twisted path away from our expectations, we kept missing the exit. In six years of matrimony, we'd endured such euphoric highs and crushing lows as I never would have dreamed. If you're a human over 30, you probably know the feeling. Friends whose weddings we'd attended as a married couple were now bringing their babies to our houses—babies I politely declined to hold.

To my eternal chagrin, we were behind.

2023 arrived, and that ephemeral exit suddenly loomed in our windshield. It was time to start trying. We decided we'd try for several months, perhaps a year, before things inevitably went sideways. But we'd get through.

Three months later, we were pregnant. And, as if to prove he shares my genetics, my son arrived 12 weeks early to round out this live-taped season of 28 and Pregnant.

Then, it was time.

With my wife by my side, I took our two-pound-fourteen-ounce preemie from the nurse’s hands and cocooned him between my chest and my shirt. There he lay for an hour, sometimes squirming, mostly resting.

The fear didn’t go away. But the love was stronger.

I knew this was coming. Though Baby H had arrived twelve weeks early, he was going to be born at some point. I’d war-gamed every possible scenario, from outright refusing to hold my own son to accidentally punting him between the posts (three points!). The inevitable responsibility had weighed on my mind for months.

But he’s my son. He’s worth being afraid.

I’ll feel more emotions than I believe possible in the days, months, years to come. Because, despite my fear of committing to this child, I’ve chosen to love him. And the number of times I’ve cried in his NICU pod [ERROR: value not found] tells me how deep that love goes.

The song "Daughter" by Ben Rector, one of my favorite songwriters, sums up the emotions quite nicely:

And if I'm honest I love it

I wear dumb clothes now and I'm like what of it

There are innumerable things that I'm no longer above

That’s more than fine with me, yeah

If that jar is stuck hand it here I can handle it

If that knee's scraped baby I can examine it

Judge me till you walk a mile in my socks and my sandals, kid

I've been a dad for three weeks. I never want to go back.


If you want to read more musings from a musician/author/brand-new dad, follow me on Vocal or get my newsletter in your inbox.

Here's another piece I wrote:

And here's one of my Top Stories that won runner-up in a challenge a while back:


About the Creator

Addison Horner

I love fantasy epics, action thrillers, and those blurbs about farmers on boxes of organic mac and cheese. MARROW AND SOUL (YA fantasy) available February 5, 2024.

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Comments (10)

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  • Martina Marriott2 months ago

    congrats hun

  • Congratulations, Addison! You have now embarked upon the scariest ride you will never want to end. Blessings to you & all yours.

  • Rachel Deeming2 months ago

    As a mum of a premature baby, I can relate. It is scary. You can't shy away from it. But what an experience it will be!

  • Adam 2 months ago

    Exceptional work! congratulations!❤️

  • Elaine Sihera2 months ago

    Beautiful piece! I love this line: "The fear didn’t go away. But the love was stronger." It is always a magical moment when there is a new arrival! Well deserved top story. Happy New Year!

  • Caroline Craven2 months ago

    What a fantastic piece! Congratulations to you and your wife.

  • Grz Colm2 months ago

    Have you seen Eraserhead? 😅 I don’t like holding babies either ..although I don’t have my own. I enjoyed your warm arch here though. Kudos and congrats! 😊👏

  • The Dani Writer2 months ago

    Heartfelt and beautiful sharing! Well done on becoming a father. Wishing you every joy!

  • Babs Iverson2 months ago

    Awesome!!! Congratulations & congrats on Top Story too!!!💕❤️❤️

  • Congratulations! I was terrified when my first was born. Completely terrified! I can relate. Xx

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