I Am a Bad Mother.

Cutting Sophie’s nails was something I worried about before I even knew Sophie was going to be Sophie. Babies’ fingers are so small, their nails are even smaller, and the tools you use to cut them are so sharp. Yesterday, my worst nail-cutting fear happened: I cut Sophie.

Everything was going fine until I decided to trim her nails even shorter. Every time I trim her nails she still manages to scratch herself so I thought I was being too cautious, and that trimming them shorter would result in less scratches on her arms and legs, on my breasts while nursing and on Andy’s neck while carrying her around.

At first the cut was a curious thing—a small dent in the tip of her finger. That’s weird, I remember thinking. Then that small dent begin to fill with blood. And then the screaming began—Sophie from the pain, I for Andy.

Nothing calmed her as we tried to apply pressure to the wound—not the million I’m so sorry’s I kept uttering, not the songs I tried singing, not the bouncing up and down. So I nursed her (the wonder drug) as Andy applied pressure to the cut.

But it wouldn’t stop bleeding.

Andy left her with me and went online. He also found some product meant to stop bleeding that came with our dog’s nail-cutting kit, which I quickly vetoed. Finally, worried that she had some rare blood condition that kept her blood from clotting, we called the pediatrician.

He was quite friendly given the fact that it was a Sunday—a beautiful Sunday afternoon. He suggested ice. He suggested wrapping it in gauze. He said if it didn’t stop in a half hour to take her to Children’s Hospital. He calmed me down, telling me he had done the same thing to his baby once.


The ice helped. As did wrapping the finger in gauze. The bleeding seemed to have stopped and Sophie seemed happier. And then she tried to eat the gauze.


So we put on one of her newborn no-scratch mittens.


Which she chewed on all afternoon.


I know she’ll never remember this. But I always will. Funny how the pain of cutting my own finger in no way compares to the pain I felt when accidentally cutting hers.

“In spite of the six thousand manuals on child raising in the bookstores, child raising is still a dark continent and no one really knows anything. You just need a lot of love and luck—and, of course, courage.” —Bill Cosby