The S-Mum this week details the most terrifying device of all - the dreaded baby nail clippers.
Being pregnant is scary.
You worry about everything; the pregnancy, the birth, how you’ll be as a Mammy. You think about the things that are frightening you already, even before Baby arrives; feeding, burping, sickness, temperatures, exhaustion, “doing the right thing” etc etc.
But one of the worst experiences of being a Mammy is one that you would never even consider during pregnancy. The true horror of this particular terror only enters your mind when you are faced with it for the first time.
I am of course referring to the “Cutting of the nails”.
The first time you realise that your minion’s nails might need trimmed, is a milestone. You remain calm. You pull out the little cute scissor and clipper set that came in a baby shower gift. It’s no big deal.
And then, you hold the little clipper, hovering over their little soft nails, wondering wtf to do…
It’s possibly one of the worst fears you’ll ever experience. What if she moves? What if your hand shakes? What if you cut him?
And yet, like every challenge you’ve faced in the past 10 months, you take a deep breath and go for it.
And most of the time, you are so careful that OF COURSE, you are successful and the little nails get trimmed.
And the fear might lessen, but it never goes away.
You grow confident. You get comfortable.
You stop thinking about it… and then it happens.
You nip his or her little finger, just ever so slightly, but enough to make them catch THEIR breath, start suddenly and then scream a cataclysmic howl that rips every shred of your being and soul to smithereens… It crushes you.
You drop the clippers. You instinctively pull the wee hand to your mouth. You kiss the fingers. You clutch the baby so close to you that you feel every molecule of her pain as you try in vain to sooth them.
You sob with them, trying so hard to calm them. You wish you could rewind 2 minutes. You curse yourself for being the worst Mammy in the world. You eventually find the baby settling a little, the screams gently easing to little wobbly lipped sobs.
You are afraid to look at the massacred finger, certain that there HAS to be blood everywhere and that you have scarred her for life.
But when you finally look at the little fingertip, chances are the nip is utterly tiny and simply a little more pink than usual. Ok, so there might be a little cut, but it will disappear as instantly as it happened.
The FEELING however remains in you. It never leaves. It’s guilt. It’s regret. It’s self loathing… and like all the other milestones, it happens to all of us and it’s perfectly normal.
The first time is the worst. If you’re lucky, it will not happen again.
But you WILL feel the same emotion again at some point, maybe when you step on her toe for the first time, or catch her finger in the drawer, of scratch her thigh with a ring while changing a poonami, or watch her fall right in front of you, but just out of your reach… the list is endless.
Unless you wrap your minions in bubblewrap, they are destined to get hurt. But when you know that the injury has been your fault, there is NOTHING that can make you feel worse.
(Unless you’re my sister, who recently sat a chair leg on Mini-Me’s toe. Mini-Me screamed for 15 minutes. My poor sister was devastated. I was rocking Mini-Me, soothing her while Granny held a cold cloth on her toe and simultaneously trying to convince the Aunty that it was absolutely fine and that she shouldn’t be upset, when Madam announced through her sobs “I…don’t…need….no….naunty….no….more!” ?? THAT made her feel worse I think! ??)
But I digress.
Yes, beware the Clippers.
But remember, that it’s just another Mammy milestone.