In my new position as a mother, I have become especially acquainted with this phenomenon. I have always thought this idea of having to wash one's hands to hold a newborn baby unnecessary and a little insulting. Typically I only ask to hold newborns so the parent won't feel that I am not interested in their child; I don't have to hold such young babies. Then, for them to demand that I must go through extra effort to hold their child. . . that's okay. But now, each time I go to the NICU, I must scrub with soap and sponge. There's also a little pick that I must use in order to clean my fingernails. In addition, I have to put on a hospital gown over my own clothes. I do all of this with little thought and no bad feelings. I am actually quite glad to do it. The first time my sister-in-law went to visit our baby she jokingly said, "She didn't even want to wash her hands to hold our baby, but we practically have to take a shower and get dressed to see hers. I know what she has to do when we have another baby!" I suppose I will do so gladly.
The second change in thought also has to do with my baby. I was always ambivalent about breastfeeding. Although DH was insistent that I would (because HE has some say about what I do with MY body), I figured I would try and if it worked, okay, and if not, okay. To be honest, I wasn't that thrilled about the idea of a baby hanging from my breast. Plus, I was formula-fed and I am still intelligent and healthy and I have a good relationship with my mother. But now, while I am not actually nursing, I am providing breast milk for my daughter. Apparently, breast milk is the best thing for a premature baby. She is gaining weight and doing well with the milk and I couldn't be more ecstatic to provide it for her. Don't get me wrong--I'm still not a breastfeeding Nazi, but I'm pretty committed to the idea of doing it now.
Boy, how life can change. As one character in my favorite novel, Mama Day, says, "Just keep livin'."