Yesterday while in line at the grocery store I was behind a woman who was a very NEW mother.  Her baby was five days old (I heard her telling the clerks).

She was attempting to retrieve her wallet from her purse but couldn’t maneuver her hand in the right position to get it out.

She had a leash-like device attached to her hand and the stroller so it could not get away from her, resulting in the kidnapping her newborn child.  This was not a jogging stroller strap, it was something homemade.

As she was explaining her whole baby-stealing-conspiracy-theory to the very young and confused checker it reminded me of my own paranoid moments as a new, first-time, mother.

I was seven months pregnant with my first baby and we lived in a very nice guard-gated neighborhood.  It was almost impossible to get into that neighborhood if you did not live there.  It required a special card or a bar-code sticker on your car to get through the gate.  If you didn’t have the card and were in a different car you had to answer more questions than a bank would ask to get into your own account.

If a guest was visiting, as the home owner, you had to inform the gate of your guest’s impending arrival with a password.  If it was a group of people you had to fax a list prior to their arrival so security could prepare vehicle passes.  If a visitor just showed up, the gate would call your home and ask permission to let them in.  This was by far the most secure neighborhood ever.  No solicitors and no unexpected visitors.  It was very safe as it was also patrolled by security.  Geez, I miss that.

Anyway, here we were in our little kingdom of safety and I remember begging the Wild Boar to have bars installed on the windows before I had the baby.  I was totally serious.  

We lived in a one story house and even though the baby’s windows were behind another locked, courtyard gate, I convinced myself in my PARANOID maternal state of mind, that a kidnapper was going to steal my baby away in the middle of the night.

I felt it was only a matter of time before the kidnappers would see me and the baby out and about and swoop in and steal him.  I KNEW IT.

Of course the Wild Boar very much recognized and understood my very fragile state and kind of strung me along until the baby was born.  He would reassuringly tell me he was looking into the window bars. 

There was no way he could convince me my feelings were just ENORMOUS AMOUNTS OF HORMONES TALKING; that would have upset me more.

Needless to say we never put the bars up.  I can’t imagine what folks in that neighborhood would have thought if we did. 

Only for a short time after I had the baby, like a week, did I feel uneasy about the baby being taken away by pirates in the night.

Thank God I got over that.  Or perhaps I was just too tired to think about it anymore.  However, the protective nature of a new mother still amazes me to this day.  There is so much emotion wrapped up in it. 

That woman at the grocery store probably has about two more days with the hand-leash before realizing she probably doesn’t really need it.  Of course anything could happen but generally I think the world is a pretty safe place.

Am I the only one whose had those feelings?

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69 Comments and 2 Replies

  1. Paula 1

    I was paranoid that my newborn babies were going to be stolen at the hospital, or that my baby would be swapped with another baby at the hospital. Of course, I would then want to bring home both babies because I would have bonded with both. When we traveled, I used to dress them in bright colors and take a picture of them to keep with me just in case I needed to provide the police with a description. Yeah, I was a little bit on the nutso side.

    Or course my irrational fear then has only be replaced by a more real danger of them getting snatched out of the yard as they play. Once, a couple years ago, when my kids were in the front shooting hoops, a car stopped and asked my kids if they had seen a lost dog. My son, who was about 10 at the time, ignored the driver and quickly rounded up his two sisters and hustled them into the house. My neighbor saw the car stop, and came across the street and lectured the driver that in this day and age, you never stop and call kids over to your car, especially when you can drive another 20 feet and ask an adult. I live in a very nice neighborhood and know my neighbors, their kids, and vice versa. While I’m so proud of my son for keeping a cool head and remembering our safety rules, it’s kind of sad that those rules have to exist.

    • Lori E 2

      Paula, not so irrational… 32 years ago I was in the hospital being induced when a nurse brought me a baby in the middle of the night and said “your little girl is hungry”.
      I reached down to my belly and felt my own baby still snugly tucked inside of me and told her I hadn’t had my baby yet. Yikes. I was too out of it to complain later but I am sure if that baby’s momma found out she would have freaked right out.

  2. Alan 3

    There are times, now that my son is a teenager, when I wish someone had stolen him. It would have served them right!

  3. HoneyB 4

    No, your not alone. I had my paranoia when the kids were little and wanted to leave home to go down the street to play with their cousins. We lived in a very small rural area, but I was so paranoid about someone grabbing my kids that they were required to call me as soon as they got there and I was right out there watching for them when they were supposed to be home. I think that is a protective mother nature – and I believe MOST women feel that way!

  4. To a certain extent I am still that way. Darling Daughter is now 13 and wants to try out her independence. I will drop her and a friend off at the movies, or the mall, but I worry too much to let her do it alone. I’ve seen to many news clips from security cameras of young girls this age being grabbed.

    I was just thinking the other day, when she’s out of the house and off to college, will I worry more, or less?

  5. Katie 6

    I always remember those first crazy days of new motherhood and feel so sorry for other terrified new mothers. The sudden transition to total responsibility for another life is so difficult and emotional. Along with all the other post-partum issues she is dealing with. I am so glad that after three kids I am not completely comfortable with babies and mothering. I have enjoyed my last baby so much more because I have confidence in my ability to keep her safe and know what she needs. I want to take new mothers by the hand and tell them, I’ve been there, it’s going to be ok.

    Of course I still have three teenage girls ahead of me, so who knows what sort of insanity is lying in wait…

  6. Katie 7

    lol, NOW completely comfortable!
    Typo or freudian slip-you decide…

  7. Barbie with a T 8

    My babies were born in 1962 and 1965. I never worried about kidnapping back in the “old days”. Our neighborhood was perfectly safe, no bars, no gates, and we could even leave our doors unlocked most of the time. Children ran about the neighborhoods, in and out of the houses, and played outside until after dark. We never experienced an incidence like kidnapping. There may have been kidnapping of children of millionaires during those times, but ordinary folks did not have that problem. Kidnapping has become a sign of the times. I never thought that I would be saying that the 60’s were the “old days”. Having said that, these days I probably would worry about kidnapping, with so much of it going on now.

  8. You are SO not alone in your over-protective, new mom syndrome. I was the same way. Plus, I added hoarding to the mix. I was somehow convinced that something awful was going to happen, and I wasn’t going to be able to provide for my baby. I had an entire closet jam-packed with baby wipes, diapers (in an assortment of sizes) and formula. Later on, I started stashing bags of rice and dried legumes under the bed. The odd thing is, my hoarding really didn’t make me feel any more secure. And, don’t get me started on trying to protect my baby from wild Texas weather. As if…

  9. julenajo 10

    Alan, our three were all teenagers at the same time. I laughed aloud when I read your post. I wore a button that said, “Be kind to me. I have teenagers.” for a while. :)

  10. He screamed for the first four days he was home, it seems he wanted air conditioning as it stopped when we put one in a window.

    We thought about leaving him on the porch with a sign.

  11. Mike 12

    lol, I’m not quite at that stage of my family life yet, but its good to know about these things for when that day comes around…

  12. Cheryl 13

    SOOOO not alone! When the twins were newborns and I’d take ’em out, I remember clicking one careseat into the stroller and contorting my ankle into an inhuman rubber spiral around the back wheel while I leaned over to retrieve the other carseat from the back of the car. If I had thought of bars over windows, I’m sure I’d have asked for them too!

    Although true confessions, my twins are now six, and yesterday I saw a loose brick and wondered if some miscreant could toss it through our 10″ square basement windows and somehow weasel a la Cirque du Soleil into our home to harm the family somehow.

    Hormones still in effect, I suppose!

  13. bunny 14

    this is my second marriage and at 53 my husband and i are raising his 3 children from his 1st marriage. they’re ages are 11, 13 and 18. they live with us. i can tell you that it’s alot different the second time around than it was the first. i remember being in the hospital and worrying about whether the nurses would get the babies mixed up too! that was really my only fear. although my ex husband wouldn’t let me take my son out anywhere for a month. he had his own issues evidently. raising these 3 kids is alot different, our little town has so many sex offenders in it that we are scared to death to let our daughter who is 11 go anywhere! she has a cell phone (all 3 kids do) and has to call us for every move she makes. she told her dad “your smothering me” dad told her to get use to it! it’s just unbelieveable what you have to be worried about now.

  14. Leah Q 15

    Wow! a handmade leash? that’s scary….bars I can understand living in a city, I have seen children tithered to their guardian or parent in cases where the children were highly energetic or ‘walk awayers’ sort….

    heart goes out to all new mothers (and daddies too!)

  15. Nope. You gotta have faith or you’d quickly slide into complete paranoia/mental nuttiness.

  16. that is really funny!

  17. Misty 18

    Sheesh, that totally described me as a new mother. I felt the exact same way. I think paranoia/nervosness goes with 1st time motherhood!

  18. Amanda 19

    The only thing I was paranoid about was the 70lb’s I had packed on. Yikes. not pretty.

  19. My family and friends think I’m overprotective. But then something happens and proves that I was right and I’m glad I’m overprotective! Who cares what they think.

  20. ELRA 21

    Alan, Your comment made me LOL. You’re so funny!
    I have teenager son myself,but I am not ready for that yet!

  21. ELRA 22

    I didn’t recall any of those feeling, I am more worry now when I see girls all over him (he is 18)

  22. Alicia 23

    I too was/still am a worrier. In the hospital I wanted the girls in my room with me at all times. With my oldest I slept with her in my bed until she was three. With my now 2-year old I am still scared someone could snatch her while I am sleeping.
    I will not let the girls leave the yard and if a car approaches they run inside.
    It’s really sad how things have changed so much. When I was younger my parents wouldn’t see us all day but they didn’t have to worry.

  23. I was a VERY young first time mom and I think that some of those fears just never entered my head because of my age.

  24. Laura 25

    Less than a month after I had my first baby I read a story about something that happened in NYC: a nanny was walking a baby in a stroller when some psycho ran up and stabbed the baby and then ran off. Luckily it happen in full view of plenty of people and a patrol car was driving by, so the baby lived and the guy was caught. But…

    I think it was 6 months before I was able to walk my baby without our very large dog.

    Unfortunately when real life seems to confirm your hormone-induced paranoia it is hard to get over it. I’ve got 2 now though and we go everywhere, just the 3 of us (and they are still young) so I must have (gotten over it).

  25. Lol, Alan! As the mother of a teenaged girl who knows EVERYTHING, and is NEVER wrong, I have felt the same way at times!

  26. Right up to and during the time I was pregnant, there was a big baby-swapping case in our area that was making national headlines. Two babies had been switched at birth 10 years before. One died and the error was discovered. The biological parents of the surviving child wanted her back, and the resulting lawsuit dragged on for years.

    When my daughter was born, I made my husband swear never to let her out of his sight for even a minute! He stayed on her like white on rice. He drove those poor nurses crazy! Irrational? Yes, but after 7 years of trying to get pregnant, I wasn’t taking any chances!

  27. Stephanie 28

    I was never worried about someone taking my boys, however I would worry about forgetting them in the car.
    I did get yelled at for bringing my kids out when they were under a week old. People who I knew and thought were rational people told me I was insane for taking out of the house. My response was that they hadn’t built the tunnel from the hospital to my house yet. :)

  28. Claudia 29

    We planted rose bushes under the windows of both our childrens’ windows. You’re not the only one. Trust me.

  29. Well, since I’ve not had children yet…I’m not sure how I’ll be…but Mr. G. seems to think in his engineer wisdom that I’ll be totally paranoid, pregnant…as in, when baby kicks, that it might kick through the placenta and I will die of internal hemoragging! LOL I am a worry wart most of the time. We were just talking the other day of having babies…in the next year…so I guess I’ll let ya know!
    Great post!

  30. Alisa 31

    There is very little in life that is as sweet as a new mom. She’ll laugh back at that when the baby’s a toddler and she has a kid leash on it. I was *this* close to using one on The Boy when he was little.

  31. Liz C. 32

    I had not though about this in so long! When my first was born, my MIL arranged for me to have a Night Nurse when I came home from the hospital. She was supposed to be with us for two weeks, but I kept imagining that she wanted to steal my baby. I got so paranoid about it that I let her go after 3 nights, lol. Later, I regretted that decision.

  32. Daisy 33

    I’m such a paranoid person right now – if I get pregnant, I’m sure I’ll have to be committed!

  33. You know what? This feeling has gotten even worse now that my daughter is entering her teenage years. I refuse, I mean absolutely refuse to let her go anywhere alone with her friends. I have no idea who might be lurking around watching them and waiting to snag one of them. It really does scare me. Especially when you hear so many stories on the news of teenage girls who have been abducted.

  34. Mine weren’t as extreme, but they were definitely there. I think it makes sense, you know? Evolution and all? We get loaded up with extra hormones to make us mama tigers and ensure the survival of our species.

    And, not to sound like a total conspiracy theorist? But I read once that the youngest babies are the most vulnerable to kidnapping because the newer they are, the easier they are to pass off as your own.

    God, I can’t believe I just passed that awful information along. Eeew.

  35. Tipper 36

    When I was a new mom I worried about everything. Actually I still do.

  36. Oh the paranoia of new motherhood. My paranoias changed with each birth. By the fourth and LAST baby I was just scared to death that I was going to leave the baby behind. I was constantly asking my three year old – is the baby in the car? Is the baby in the car? Honey…honey… Is the baby in the car???

  37. Ruthanne (in Seattle) 38

    I remember those same thoughts I had when I had my first daughter in 1990. My mom and my sister(who had two children at the time) were over and in looking at my lovely sleeping baby and I heard them whispering over the baby monitor. I absolutely fell apart and yelled at them “what are you saying about my baby?” paranoia comes in all ways to those young new moms.. . Hopefully the lady at the store will release her extra grip on the stroller!

  38. Well, I was paranoid about everything with my first baby. Stranger Danger was on there, but since I went F#$*ing NOWHERE for my parnoid nightmare that invisible RSV germs would sicken or kill my baby, I knew few strangers would get the opportunity.
    In fact, I was even nervous about leaving Ridge with my mom or my mother in law. When I did, which was rare since I purposely work from home, I expected a full report of how many diapers were changed, why they were changed and how much pee and poo were in the before mentioned diapers. I wanted drink content, which was of course pumped out breast milk.
    I followed each dietary rule to a tee, nervous as hell that if I didn’t, the baby would inherit my allergies and big ass.
    When the second boy was born 18 months later, I still germex’d the shopping carts and then swaddled it in a cart cover before I took him to the store, but I wasn’t quite as C-R-A-Z-Y as with the first. I did let him have a piece of candy before he was 1, which I seriously didn’t with the oldest.

  39. It becomes too much. To live in fear all the time is not living at all.

  40. Lex the mom 41

    I’m thinking it’s a very natural thing to have those fears early in motherhood. I know I still possess some paranoia & I can no longer blame it on the hormones. At least not for another 10 or so years.

    I dunno – I’m thinking I’m just of the “I’d rather be safe then sorry” ilk. I keep my kids close, they aren’t allowed to have run of the neighborhood, my 13 yo has to check in every 2 hours, tell me where he’s going before he leaves, call if he’s going somewhere else, etc. While I was allowed to do that as a kid, he isn’t allowed to just go ride around on his bike. I don’t trust society – even if I do believe that most people are good, I fear the few that aren’t. No community is immune to them.

    We live in a very good small town community. I see other kids out playing often, I just don’t let mine (the younger 2) go out without me. Yeah, I think I’m paranoid more than most.

  41. I don’t think we ever worried about our kids. We would today but we didn’t then. we were too poor to have them kidnapped.
    When I was a kid my parents didn’t worry but I did. I listened to too many detective shoes on the radio. I was sure there was a crook out there coming to get me.

  42. I don’t think I worried about baby-napping but I was (and still kind of am) one that worried about the baby all night long–that s/he would stop breathing or something. I finally got one of those breathing detector monitors and I slept a lot better!

  43. Laura 44

    OK this made me Laugh OUT LOUD! I have a 20 yr old son who put us through hell and a 16 yr old daughter who is putting us through more than we ever dreamed possible … I have said this , begged folks to take her.. no takers of course… and to the person who wore the button I NEED ONE!!!!!!!
    Thanks for the giggle and laugh!

  44. Laura 45

    more just quietly!

  45. MizFit 46

    my daughter is almost 3 and Im still in ARE YOU BREATHING mode a few nights a week when I peek in & it’s too quiet.

    Ill be doing that until prom…

  46. Chuck 47

    Cathy, I have to agree with most everyone that comment. I think it’s natural for new parents to have those feeling. I know my wife and myself felt that way too. But, I have to say I never thought someone would take my child out of my hands. I always worried about someone sneaking in a night.

  47. Leslie 48

    I often say..if someone stole my children..they would beg me to let them return them to me!!!

  48. Yes, of course your the only one. i put a leash on Tigger in public when she was little, not because someone would steal her; so I wouldn’t loose her. She would just run off.

  49. I started with two … need I say more? WE STAYED HOME (and loved every minute of it). ; )

  50. WOW! This was hysterical. I think I am a pretty paranoid person, so I will probably be the lady in the grocery store…and everyone will stare….and the staring will result in me running out of the store with my baby clenched to my chest because I thought they were trying to steal my child.

    Hmmm… glad there are other paranoid people out there.
    link to

  51. Heck, I still have a little hint of paranoia now and again, but at least now I’m over it within a few minutes!

  52. You know what they say – “the best form of contraception is other people’s kids”… ;)

  53. barbara 54

    I never worried about my baby being stolen but when my mother talk the baby for a walk in the pushchair I made a big fuss about checking for traffic before crossing the road.

  54. grace 55

    i’m such a paranoid person as it is, so i know for a fact i’ll be a mess when i have a baby. i don’t even like to get more than ten feet away from my luggage at an airport… :)

  55. Marcy 56

    Nope you are not alone! Chris worked nights and so I was alone with nicole , with my mom sleeping in the next room, but i’d stay up all night looking at her making sure she was breathing and such. It was very cold out when she was born, so I didn’t take her out much at that time. When she was two weeks old.Thanksgiving roled around and off to the relatives house and EVERYONE wanted to hold her, thats when I freaked. I didn’t want anyone touching her. They finally persuaded me to put her down so that I could eat dinner, lol.

  56. I used to have these feelings now, I dare anyone to steal my 5 yr. old. They’d totally return her.

  57. For me it started when I was pregnant– logically, I knew this wasn’t likely, but I still spent a lot of time thinking about people who kidnap pregnant women to snatch their babies. Then, once baby was born I spent time thinking about men in vans who would swoop in to kidnap infants. I blame hormones AND those SVU shows.

  58. ALF 59

    I don’t have any children but I know that if I ever do I will do things like try to make my husband install bars on the windows.

  59. Egghead 60

    I never feared the kidnapping part of the new babies but I was a pretty over protective mom when they were small. They were never out of my sight unless I knew exactly where, when, how and on and on. I am still that way with the grandkids.

  60. Kim 61

    I was sure our baby was swapped in the nursery at the hospital. I was convinced for almost two years that Nina was not ours because she did not look at all like us. I kept asking my Husband if he watched the whole time and he was sure she was ours. I was so frightened that someone would come someday and take her away. Then when my husband returned from a vist from Iran he brought me a picture of his father who had long since passed away and wouldn’t you know it… Nina is the spitting image of her grandfather. She is 17 tomorrow I am still so happy I get to keep her!!!

  61. Erin 62

    I was totally paranoid about my children too. In some ways I think I still am. They’re five and three and I still have to go in during the night to be sure they’re breathing.

  62. I totally had those feelings. I wouldn’t even let anyone hold him until like 8 weeks.

  63. I also had those feelings. And they faded quickly – thank goodness! Who has that kind-of time?!

  64. giz 65

    As I read this post, it dawned on me that my thoughts of normalcy were probably just paranoia. Now that my kids are grown, I admit, I’m still paranoid (I’m sure I drive Psychgrad insane since walking alone at night is something that makes me entirely nuts), and suspect that at some point becoming a grandmother will enhance the paranoia several fold.

  65. no I am/was recovering paranoia freak too.

  66. Deborah 67

    Glad to hear I’m not alone! Even though I’m only almost 4 months along with my first, I won’t answer the door if I’m home alone. There are crazy people out there that would do anything for a baby, and I don’t want someone to kidnap me and hold me hostage until my baby is born!

  67. Shaye 68

    I was having a conversation about a very similar topic just this evening! My friend told me that her 5 year old had “inherited” her fear of fire. She said that ever since her daughter was a baby, she’s been scared to death that there would be a house fire that might hurt her baby. She said that now her daughter is scared to death of fire. (I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I’m sure I know where her daughter got the fear, and it has nothing to do with “inheriting” anything.)

  68. Lara 69

    I can definitely understand those paranoid feelings! The first time I stayed overnight with my niece and nephew, I became CONVINCED that they were going to stop breathing in their sleep….so much so that I couldn’t sleep, myself. I would lay there in a haze, then wake up to make sure they were breathing, then lay there some more, then check to see if they were breathing, and so on and so on. Oy.

  69. SallyMcGraw 70

    My husband traveled every week, four nights a week, so I was left alone with our newborn daughter, in a strange town we had recently moved to, hundreds of miles away from any family, so my paranoia ran pretty deep. On a stormy night, when winds were howling in Missouri and rain was pounding down in the middle of the night, I called my husband’s hotel room to tell him thieves were DRILLING THROUGH OUR ROOF with a chain saw – quiet, sneaky little burglars, huh? He did his best to calm me over the phone, but I still ended up pushing a loaded dresser in front of the bedroom door (AFTER I had safely put the baby in the room with me), and finally fell asleep when no one seemed to be making progress sawing through my roof. When I later told my husband what I’d done, his reply was something like “You thought someone was going to come through the roof of our bedroom to steal our daughter, so you barricaded yourself and our baby INSIDE that bedroom? Do you see the problem with this scenario?” He then took me outside and showed me the tree branches overhanging onto our roof – he tried his best to convince me the noises I heard were the tree branches being constantly dragged across the roof in the high winds of that night..but I’ve never forgotten that night and the fear that gripped me as a new mother!


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