We all have some fears lying under the surface when we find out we’re going to become parents. It’s a scary jump, to go from being someone else’s child to someone else's parent. Suddenly, you’re the person that has to have the answers. This itty, bitty human is going to rely on you for all of their needs. Frankly, it’s a lot of pressure. And that pressure can be felt immediately as intrusive thoughts creep in the moment you see your spouse hold your baby for the first time.
My becoming-a-parent story is anything but uneventful. In fact, it was downright traumatic. My first child was born extremely prematurely and passed away after birth. And when I decided to have my son, and attempted a home birth late in the game, we had to be rushed to the hospital to, well, finish the job. He was born at 40 weeks and two days, so I thought that would mean he'd have a guaranteed easy entry into the world. Instead, he had persistent pulmonary hypertension and had to spend two months in the NICU. So, yeah: my journey to motherhood? Not a walk in the park, my friends.
When my son was born, all I can really remember is my husband grabbing him from the doctor and then bringing him close to me to place on my chest. Considering everything I had already endured up until that point, you can imagine the kinds of terrifying thoughts I had while my husband held our son for the first time, including the following:
"Holy Sh*t, We’re Parents!"
Being pregnant is scary, yes, but once you have the baby and they’re right in front of you? Well, that level of scary goes way past 11. My husband held our son first, and watching him bring our son over to me was definitely one of the most terrifying moments of my life.
"What If My Husband Accidentally Drops Him?"
This is likely a common thought. We all worry that babies will slip out from our arms, no matter how careful we try to be. But seeing as my husband and I didn’t have a whole lot of baby-holding experience, I feel like this fear was actually somewhat justified.
"Is Our Baby Breathing?"
Because I was rushed to the hospital, my husband and I were scared that we might lose our son in utero as he was being born. So when he finally made his entrance into the world, the first thing I wanted to know was that he was breathing OK. Unfortunately, he had aspirated meconium, so while he was breathing, he was having a lot of trouble.
"What If They Cut The Cord Too Quickly?"
I had read in a number of “natural birthing” books before giving birth myself, and they all said cord cutting should be delayed. My husband and I had agreed he would be in charge of this particular post-birth moment, and that he’d do his best to delay the doctors from cutting the cord quickly. Before our son’s birth, we were terrified that this could harm him. But after he was born we were just happy and grateful he was with us, and safe, even if he did have a rough start.
"Is There Anything Wrong With Our Baby?"
Again, because of the nature of how our son was born, I was terrified something was wrong with him (and there was — he had persistent pulmonary hypertension). I was also fearful of anything else that might be wrong, because we lost his sister shortly after she was born. To say that fear was present at this crucial and incredible moment in my life is a severe understatement.
"What If Something Does Go Wrong?"
While I knew we were in the best possible place for an emergency (a hospital), I was still scared out of my mind that something would happen to my son. What if they couldn’t “fix” him? What if he got worse? What if the doctors couldn't diagnose him properly? I'm telling you, those "what if" questions are brutal.
"What if This Is The Only Time I See My Baby Alive?"
I never got to see my daughter alive without a bunch of tubes stuck to her tiny body. She was born premature and while I saw her being carried away from me while I was in a haze of demerol, I never once got to see her face before she was placed in the NICU. I only saw her alive once while she was in there, and hours later when I was to return, she had already passed away. My heart ached so badly when my son was taken to the NICU, too, and as I wondered whether I’d get to see him again.
"I Hope He Remembers To Stay With The Baby First, No Matter What"
I told my husband prior to having our baby that once our son was born, he was to go stay by his side no matter what. Because I felt so guilty about not spending more of those precious few hours with my daughter, I wanted our son to know that at least someone was there for him. Fortunately, my husband did just that.
"What If We Suck At This Parenting Thing?"
This is another fairly common thought. We’re all terrified of “failing” as parents. But it’s actually pretty difficult to “fail” at this if you care about your child and provide them with what they need. While I might not be the best mom— the one that only serves homemade organic meals, the one that places him in extracurriculars from birth, the one that puts him in the fanciest school, or whatever yardstick it is we use to measure success — I know that I’m the right mama, the only mama, for my son. No one loves him like I love him, and that’s more than enough.
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