Hey ladies. Have I got a secret for you! Did you know that there’s a foolproof way to go through parenthood without having any ounce of fear? It’s called "NO THERE’S NOT EVERYTHING IS TERRIFYING AND I’M ALWAYS AFRAID." OK, maybe not everything, but the fact remains that are plenty of things that all moms are scared of. I would know because I am a mom, and I've been scared of...basically everything since the moment I found out I was pregnant (and to be honest, even a bit before that too).
Having kids can make you feel vulnerable in this gritty, scary world. Case in point: I was sensitive to news and current events before becoming a mom, but now I have to be really careful about how much I consume, or I’ll end up frozen with fear at the thought of my child out and about in the horrifying world where there are a zillion ways he could die or be made to feel sad at any given moment. There’s a reason that pretty, typographical images of that quote about how having parenting is like "having your heart go walking around outside your body" are floating around Pinterest. It's annoyingly true (mostly annoying because I hate admitting that any sentimental quote that often appears in flowery script on a poster is ever true). So much can happen to kids, good and bad, and it's hard to get into motherhood without some of that fear seeping into your brain and taking hold.
For me, the nerves started even before pregnancy. When my partner and I were considering kids, I started imagining all the intense scenarios that could come during pregnancy, labor, and beyond. I wanted to believe that once a (hopefully healthy) baby arrived, my fears would subside, but even I knew that it just wasn’t the case.
Thankfully, parenthood isn’t just fear but still it’s a pretty significant piece, at least for me. Join me as we consider the common things that cause us worry:
I was terribly afraid of most things that had to do with pregnancy (especially morning sickness, of all things) before I was ever pregnant. Something about how there was no way to really know how I was going to handle it before actually doing it was so unnerving, much like those spinning rides at the state fair that you can't see from the outside.
When I was, oh, 30-ish weeks pregnant and realized that the light was at the end of the tunnel.
I think I sat in shock for like, 20 minutes, after I learned that this was even a possibility. As if there’s not enough to concern oneself with during pregnancy, now this too?
The exact second you poo during labor and realize you don't care even a little.
I totally cried during my childbirth class. As sweet and spunky as our instructor was, her lessons had me believing that I was going to lose my mind, that my head was going to spin 360 degrees around and that I’d be screaming verbal assaults at my loved ones while my body turned itself inside out (so maybe I have an overactive imagination. Still, giving birth is a scary thought).
When they told me to start pushing, and I was so close to the end I could taste it (ew, not really though).
Does this one really need any further discussion?
Hahahahahahaha. I'm guessing never.
I mean, maybe I should have offered to babysit for some of my friends before having a child of my own so I knew what I was getting into.
When I realized that my newborn was no longer a newborn.
I mean, I know that true friends will be there through thick and thin and all that jazz. But I was still a little nervous that I'd be too distracted and they'd be too busy living their own lives for us to stay connected.
When the baby arrived and they returned my text messages
I felt so vulnerable to this one that if you’d told me that one-in-10 women grow a third eye after pregnancy, I would have probably believed you (but later Googled it, just to be sure).
When I was able to leave the hospital by walking (very, very slowly) out the front door. Survived! Nailed it!
I mean, I'm still trying to get my sweatpants situation under control, but we were able to resist buying a mini-van so one out of two isn't the worst.
When we had the car seat installed in a car that had no stick figure bumper stickers on it.
With so much talk out there about how motherhood changes you, I had serious concerns that I’d become a completely different person.
When I realized that I was still listening to '90s pop, and that I was reading celebrity gossip while nursing. Nope. Still me.
I mean, there's a reason that it's common courtesy to offer a gift receipt with a baby shower gift. You just never know what's going to work for a little one.
When I thought about the millions of babies in the world who do not have access to things like electronic swings and wipe warmers, and other super-specific gear that I thought we needed. Maybe I shouldn't sweat the specifics of my privilege.
No one likes feeling judged, unless you are a flawless gymnast who just nailed your floor routine.
The first time I actually was mom-shamed, and I didn't even realize it until after it happened.
I was cautiously optimistic about breastfeeding, which was a good thing because my own reality turned out worse than I imagined. BUT WAIT! I don't say that to make it sound scary, I say it because there's no way to know until you try. So, if you are concerned about breastfeeding, please accept my Internet-hugs, and know that it could actually be super easy for you.
When the lactation consultant worked her voodoo magic and finally WE HAD LIFT-OFF. And also when I realized that formula is a thing, and my kid would be fed either way, and that's kinda the only point that matters.
I’m still coming to terms with what my definition of “good” is when it comes to motherhood. To be continued, I suppose. In the meantime, I'm giving myself permission to consider motherhood an ongoing work-in-progress.
I will let you know.
Are you sitting down? I hate to break it to you, but this one will probably come true. The good news, however, is that just because your body is different, it doesn't mean that it's not awesome. Just the opposite, actually.
When it realized that I GAVE BIRTH. TO A BABY. A HUMAN BABY. My body was clearly to be respected and taken care of, not put under pressure to look a certain way.