I had no idea I'd be such a paranoid first-time mom. Some women have that baby and just take to motherhood like they were born to do it. But I was totally overwhelmed by the full weight of responsibility for keeping this tiny, helpless, fragile little human being alive. It's not like my son was born with a condition or disability that put him at risk. He was a perfectly healthy, alert newborn with all the promise you'd want your baby to have. Plus I was the oldest of five kids and had plenty of experience with babies. So why was I so afraid he wouldn't survive?
Maybe it's my overactive imagination -- I could picture my son dying in so many different ways.
1. What if I drop him and he breaks? Did I mention I was the oldest of five kids? I'd actually caused head injuries to all four of my siblings. I threw a bench at a sister's head (I was a toddler!), watched a brother squeeze through a banister railing and fall to the tile floor below, dropped my other brother on the basement floor when he was a newborn, and fumbled my youngest sister as well. They all survived, though ... more or less.
2. What if his big head snaps off that little neck? Seriously, guarding that giant melon stressed me out. No neck control is a freaky thing.
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3. OMG, SIDS. Yes, I was one of those parents who checked to see if her baby was still breathing several times a night. He's 9 now, and I still occasionally peek in on him while he's sleeping because WHY IS HE SO QUIET?
4. What if he starves to death? Actually, this was a legitimate concern my first pediatrician plunked into my head. He wasn't gaining as fast as she wanted him to and blamed my less-than-ample milk supply. I supplemented with formula for a while, though, and it turned out all right. But that leads to the next fear ...
5. What if formula really is evil? Whatever, I kept nursing until he was almost 3. It was fine.
6. What if a random dog jumps up and tries to eat him? Where did I get these ideas?
7. What if he freezes to death? My son was born during a cold snap in January. We hibernated through most of the winter, and when we went out for doctor's visits, we'd bundle him up. But he was still breathing in that terrible chilly air.
8. What if the gods take him away because he's too perfect? By the way, I have no idea which gods would do this, but I was sure it was going to happen because he really was the most exquisite creature ever found on Earth and you know what happens when ordinary mortals find themselves in possession of something perfect.
9. What if someone breathes a horrible virus into his face? I live in New York City. It's crowded here. It could happen.
10. What if someone kidnaps my baby and I never see him again? (Not technically death, but it would feel that way to me.) Actually, my baby was kidnapped -- but by time. Happens to every baby. And I do wish sometimes I could hold my newborn again, just for a minute.
I just remember my son reaching his third month and thinking, "Phew! We made it. It's probably going to be okay."
Did you have paranoid fears about your first baby?
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