The Fear Factor

Posted on | February 1, 2010 | No Comments

When I was pregnant, all I thought about was what it would be like when J got here. The first six months or so I was scared and excited but mostly excited. I daydreamed about all these wonderful things I would do with him like decorate sugar cookies at Christmas and dye Easter Eggs at, well, Easter, obviously. I thought about soccer games and arts and crafts and Santa Claus. I most definitely did not think about daycare bills and magical mystery poops.

The last three months were spent scared and excited but mostly scared. I wasn’t actually scared about J getting here… I was scared about HOW he was arriving. He was a breech baby so I had a scheduled c-section and although my mother had a c-section back in (mumble mumble) when I was born, I had an inclination that things had changed a little since then. My super-human sister birthed two babies au naturale in the comfort of first a birthing center and second her own bathroom so knowing that made me feel a little like a failure at the process of birthing J. My OB, who is perhaps the most fabulous man I know outside of my immediate family, discouraged External Manipulation because he said it just wasn’t 100% and there was no real need to go through the stress. I wish I’d kept that in mind when I actually went into labor a week before my scheduled c-section. The actual birth story is a post for another day. The point of this is that I was terrified about the process of giving birth. I never made it past that to the actual process of being a parent.

Being a parent is a thousand times scarier than giving birth, let me tell you. I wish I could say I was prepared, but I just wasn’t. I didn’t have a clue. But I really don’t think it’s possible for any new parent to understand what they’ve gotten themselves into. Who knewit was possible to function on this level of fear every day. When I stop and think about things, I realize that I am actually terrified 99% of every day. The only time I’m not afraid is that 1% of the time when I’m so tired at night and J won’t stop crying and I just don’t care WHAT happens to him.

I think about things that no one should think about. When I see stories on the news or internet about some of the horrible things that happen to kids, I just want to tuck J right back in my uterus and let him stay there until he’s over thirty and can make smart choices. Stories that were always nice have now become stories that make me cry… like “I Love You Forever” and the story of the Nativity. And to top everything off, as if I don’t have enough to worry about with all the horrible things that could happen to J when I’m not looking… I have all the horrible things that I could accidentally do to him without even knowing.

For example? I got two Baby Einstein videos as gifts for J when he was born. When he hit 3 months, I plugged them in and cracked up laughing at how much he loved them. Then I took him to his 4 month check up and heard my pediatrician say that TV or movies before the age of 2 could cause learning disabilities or ADD.

WHAT?! Why isn’t that something they tell you at the hospital? Seriously… there should be a take-home guide. It should tell you about the Television thing and about the importance of taking pre-natals so your kid gets all the necessary vitamins (if breastfeeding) and blankets are a “no no” in the crib. The list goes on and on. How was I supposed to know that when I use baby powder or even mix Crystal Light that if I am not careful the little dry particles can get into baby lungs and cause all types of problems? Why did no one tell me that the backseat mirrors are dangerous because they can fly off and bean the baby in an accident?

These little things would have been helpful. Instead, the hospital sends you home with seven different types of formula, nipple shields that will ruin your life after 3 months when your son is traumatized by an MRI and decides to go for the REAL deal with powerful three month sucking, and a shit ton of pacifiers — none of which your child will actually like. And then you get home, with your useless packet of information, and you find out that you don’t know shit about taking care of a baby.

The first night without full-time nursing support is your first taste of the rest of your life. I have been in a state of constant fear ever since. I’m afraid that I’ll teach him bad words before I realize he’s listening. I’m afraid I’ll hinder his development by not forcing more tummy time on him. Hell, I’m still afraid that if I’m not watching him he’s going to stop breathing! I have never before felt this type of constant terror. I keep thinking maybe it will stop because if it gets any worse, I’m going to quit my job and lock J and I in a padded room until I feel safe… whenever that may be.

What gets me through these days is a lot of alcohol. Judge away. I do breastfeed, so I refrain from drinking during the day (yes, it’s the breastfeeding that keeps me sober all day… don’t think for a minute it’s the job), but at night after J goes to bed I NEED alcohol like Joanie needed Chachi. If I don’t have a glass of wine or a beer at night I go to bed pissed as hell and scared to boot. I’m hoping this is just a passing phase because I’d like to remember J’s first birthday without having to watch it on video. Who knows. Parenting is a tough gig and it takes a lot of courage. I guess if you don’t have what it takes programmed in, you have to get your courage where you can. Mine comes in a pretty bottle with a cork in it.

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
    Based on a work at http://www.law-momma.com.
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