Bringing home your first baby is one of the most intimidating, stressful things you'll ever do. If you're anything like me, you felt like you were in over your head and had no idea what to do about anything. Between the sleepless nights and the hormones and the significant life change, there were a ton of things that scared me as a new mom that, in the end and honestly, were and are no big deal.
I had pretty intense postpartum depression and anxiety, so everything was a colossal struggle and everything was exceptionally scary. The first time I took my baby with me to the grocery store, I just knew he would contract some deadly disease or end up kidnapped or taken from me by the authorities as soon as someone realized I was new to this whole mom thing. Then, of course, there was the terrifying thought that I hadn't installed his carseat correctly and he would die in an inevitable car crash I would be powerless to avoid. In other words, motherhood isn't for the faint of heart.
I worried about everything when my son was a baby. With my second baby, however, things were much more laid back and I realized that most of the things that caused me so much stress were really and truly, no big deal. It took a while for me to understand that it's scary because it's new, but once you've been doing it for a while you'll realize that whatever you're facing is something you can handle.
Cutting Baby Fingernails
If it had been left up to me, my son's nails would've been six feet long before I even attempted to cut them. The idea of using something so sharp on something so small and so close to my baby's perfect an unmarred skin, gave me fits. I just couldn't.
Finally, my partner had to step in and handle the first fingernail cutting. My second baby, though? Yeah, I have no fears. It's only stressful if the kid decides to wiggle.
Bathing The Baby
Here's a great idea: take a tiny baby, cover them in slippery soap and water, then put them in a tub of water. What could possibly go wrong, right? Nope. Just nope. That bathtub insert my baby had to lie down on made me insanely nervous. How are you supposed to rinse their back? I decided I would hit the dirty spots with wipes every day and save baths (and stress) for special occasions.
With my second baby, I didn't bathe him much either, but it was thanks to an increase in knowledge (babies don't need baths very often) and a decrease in motivation (he's not dirty, so I'm not doing it).
The first time I saw that funk on my perfect angel's head I freaked out. I had zero idea what it was and in the two minutes it took me to Google it, I had convinced myself it was some horrible skin disease that would leave him crusty and flaky for the rest of his life. The horror.
The minute I saw a spot on my second baby's head, I pulled out the dandruff shampoo and took care of it. None of that coconut oil and combing nonsense; I called in the big guns and handled it.
I was totally that mom. I had an app that alerted me to every upcoming milestone and I would obsess over whether or not my baby was "on track." I spent countless hours scouring the internet for information on how to help your baby hit benchmarks and what it meant if he wasn't doing something by a certain time.
I don't even remember how old my second was when he walked, or talked, or did pretty much anything. It's not that I've somehow turned into a "bad mom," I just realized that he'll get there eventually and stressing over it doesn't help him get there faster.
That Soft Spot, Because OMG That's A Brain
That soft spot, I'm not gonna lie, still freaks me out. I mean, their brain is right there and you can see it pulse and that's not normal. I mean, it is. However, I definitely don't think it should be. Yikes.
The Umbilical Stump
I spent far too much time concerned with my first son's umbilical stump. I looked at it, studied it, watched it for infection, and I even smelled it in the name of "concerned motherhood." When it fell off, I was both amazed and horrified.
Second baby? Meh.
Whether Or Not My Baby Was Breathing
Until I finally caved and put my baby in my bed, I would sleep (not really sleep) with my hand on his belly so I could feel him breathe in the moses basket beside my bed. I was convinced he would stop breathing. I just knew it. It was in large part to my postpartum anxiety and my typical "new mom fear," but I never slept.
Second baby got a less intense version, but I still worried. He just ended up beside me in bed much earlier than his brother, so my sense of profound worry was considerably less.
Using A Thermometer
Oh hell no. Why are rectal thermometers even a thing? What if I poke a hole in his large intestine?!
Second baby? Yeah, if the second baby feels warm, he just gets a stick in his armpit.
My Baby's Coughs
He has croup or whooping cough or yellow fever, clearly.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a very real concern, especially with babies under a year old, so I still get worked up and call the pediatrician for pretty innocuous things. However, I lay claim to the age-old adage, "It's better safe than sorry."
Carrying My Baby On Stairs
There is nothing more intimidating than carrying a baby down a flight of stairs. Nothing. You want to use both arms to hold him, but you want to cling to the railing for dear life. Tip: avoid stairs.
Of course, you can always purchase a carrier and wear the baby, which is what saved my sanity with baby number one and has since a routine part of my days caring for baby number one and two.
Feeding The Baby
I did baby-lead weaning with both of my babies. I did my research and my reading and new the benefits to allowing my kids to decide when they were ready for solid foods, but I was wholly unprepared for all that gagging. Honestly, there is nothing more terrifying. I was convinced my older son was choking to death pretty much every time he had some food.
So, if you're wondering why mothers are so strong and capable, know that it's because they have to live their life in a constant, semi-panicked state. #Respect