The nurse placed my first child on my chest after he had been pulled from my body. My arms were still strapped down to the operating table, and the doctor was sewing up my Caesarean incision.
She looked down at me and said, “Here’s your baby boy!” My eyes looked in her direction. “And here is your endless supply of overthinking and questioning everything you do!”
Yeah ok, she didn’t say that last part. But she might as well have.
You know that’s what happens. You get a baby, and even if you were just going through life singing Every Little Thing Gonna Be Alright or living like one of those fat wrinkly puppies who sleeps in the sun all day, something changes. Call it hormones, call it your inner mama bear, call it whatever you want. It’s equal parts protective and equal parts bat shit crazy. And if you’re not really prepared for it, it could scare the daylights out of you.
Note: If you’re pregnant with your first child and reading this, I’m totally kidding. None of this happens. You will be fiiiiiiine.
I’ll never forget the night after we had brought our son home from the hospital. We were alone with the baby for the first time, and the hustle and bustle of all the care we had in the hospital was gone. It was quiet. We were in this house that we had just been living in baby-free. And now we were back in it with a baby, and everything felt happy and sad and strange.
I gently placed my sleeping baby in the swing and waddled into the bathroom. When I came out I was crying. My husband looked at me with fear in his eyes as if to say, Oh God, what do I do?
Through the tears I just said, “What if he gets bullied? He’s so wonderful I just couldn’t handle it.”
Again the look from my husband.
I would see that look from him a lot. The look of: I just want to make everything better, but I don’t know how. Can we just go back to the heartburn? I can handle the heartburn.
Little did we know that was just the beginning. For the first year of baby’s life, I must have questioned everything.
What if I forget when it’s time to feed him again?
I wonder if it’s okay that he’s still in that swing. I mean, if I don’t hold him enough, is he going to feel neglected?
Is he latched? What if I can’t tell if it’s a good latch?
Why do my boobs feel like bowling balls?
Are my nipples still supposed to hurt this much? What if they’re bleeding? Does that mean I’m doing this wrong? If he’s nursing while my nipples are bleeding, is it going to poison him? What does it mean if I’m hating this?
Is he breathing?
Why is he sleeping so much?
Why is he waking up so much?
He’s four weeks old and I haven’t read to him once. Am I really supposed to be reading to him?
Am I doing this swaddle thing right? Is he going to be too hot in this? Or is he going to be too cold?
Does some of this baby soap really contain dangerous toxins? I mean it says the word “baby” on it. How could it not be safe for a baby?
Why do some people hate pureed baby food? Am I not supposed to give him baby food?
Wait, so I’m supposed to just give the baby what I eat? What if I’m living on Easy Mac and Cheez-Its? That can’t be better than baby food.
I haven’t left the house in six weeks. Should I sign up for a Mommy-and-Me class? Wait, it’s how much??
Why am I so stressed every time I leave the house?
If I warm up breastmilk and he doesn’t want it, then what?
Should I try and find a babysitter so my husband and I can go out to dinner? How do I find a babysitter? She won’t know what to do. I don’t care if she’s been taking care of babies for 100 years. She’s never taken care of MY baby.
WHY is he still waking up every two hours?
Oh my gosh, he’s almost one. I haven’t finished his baby book, and I haven’t planned a birthday party. WHAT KIND OF MOTHER AM I?
Then he became a toddler and it all morphed into this:
Is he talking enough?
Should I be teaching him about shapes and colors and stuff?
Why is he sick all the time?
Should he know how to use a spoon? A fork? Write his name? Type 30 words a minute?
When am I supposed to potty train? What if I’m not ready to potty train? Am I lazy?
Am I giving him enough vegetables? He hates vegetables. Is it my fault that he hates vegetables?
Should I sign him up for preschool?
Should he be reading by now?
Does he watch too much TV?
What if I get really bored when he asks me to play with him?
Did I yell at him too much today? Am I just a huge control freak?
Why won’t he just listen?
Am I horrible because I just want him to get away from me for a second?
What am I doing wrongggggg???????
When I was pregnant with #2, people would say, “Your second one will chill you out. You won’t worry nearly as much because you’ll know what to expect.”
Um. Challenge Accepted.
When we brought baby #2 home from the hospital, my oldest was sick, and I was a wreck about it.
If the baby is around his brother, is he going to get sick and die?
How am I going to deal with my oldest when I’m up all night?
Why did I do this?
Have I eaten today?
Why can’t I stop eating?
Am I spending enough time with my oldest? Is he going to think I don’t love him anymore?
How am I going to make it until my husband comes home?
Have I had too much wine?
My three year old has watched TV all day. For three weeks. Is his brain going to rot?
I’m supposed to get this new baby on a routine? How the junk am I supposed to do that?
Why am I SOOO SADDDDD??????
I barely remember anything from last time. I thought this was supposed to be like riding a bike. Yeah right, my vagina will never let me ride a bike again.
Why do I hate my husband?* Why did he make me have these kids?**
And on… And on… And on…
So what do these questions mean? Well, I think it means that we care a shit-ton about our kids. We also want to feel like we’re doing a good job at something that we put so much of ourselves into. But let me ask you one more question; a question that I ask myself when all these feelings of inadequacy start to boil over:
Are you doing the best you can?
Well, guess what? That’s enough. And you’re enough.
Because Ur a Mom Now.
*I don’t hate my husband.
**He didn’t make me have kids. But it does feel good to blame him sometimes, am I right??