I am a new parent with a six month old baby. And boy, have these six months been an eye opener for me! I mean that in both the literal and metaphorical senses – as I definitely have not been able to shut my eyes too much in these months and also because becoming a parent has been completely life changing. Well, everyone tells you when you are planning a baby or are pregnant, that your life is going to be changed and you might try to do a bit of mental preparation for that as I did. But no amount of preparation is enough when you are finally hit with a ‘Wham!’.
The first few weeks were so hard. Oh I loved my tiny cute squirming baby but I was also scared of her in equal measures. I lived in fear that once again she would scrunch up her little face, make it all bright splotchy red and let out a soul-shattering scream. I would not have a single clue about how to handle her and set things right. Seriously I would never have made it through the first month without the invaluable support of my mother.
Gradually things started getting better. The baby quietened down a bit or maybe I skilled up. Though sketchy at best, still we got some sort of a routine going. I started enjoying parenting little-by-little. Soon my scary baby started bestowing sunny smiles on me. Oh, the bliss!
However one thing did not get any better – if anything it got worse with time. I am talking about the worries that just seize me at any moment of the day and render me incapable of rational thought. I have never been a big one to worry most of my life. My attitude was more ‘bring it on and then we’ll sort something out!’ But now I cannot seem to stop myself from being anxious about everything related to my baby.
Some typical worries are –
1) Is she eating too little? She doesn’t seem to have grown too much in the last couple of days! Why just look at the other babies. They seem so much healthier/plumper/taller.
2) Is she eating too much? I read online on some community that parents can actually make their baby obese for life by feeding them too much. They get used to a heavy feeling in their stomachs and that is what they consider normal.
3) Is she breathing? (This is especially at night ) To put my mind to rest, I go adjusting her crib blankets in order to ensure that there is nothing near her face or try turning her on to her back and then she gets up and we have to go into the ‘put baby to sleep’ routine all over again!
4) Most of the parents of 4 month old are saying online that their bubs sleep through the night or at least 5-6 hours at a stretch. Mine gets up every 2-3 hours. What’s wrong with her?
5) She doesn’t want to play alone. She wants to be carried around all the time. Are we giving her too much of attention? Is this going to spoil her? Well, they say you cannot spoil a baby but what do they know??? I can just imagine my being a slave to a brat and fetching and carrying for her all my life!
6) Is that her normal breathing or does she sound wheezy? Is her body too hot? Is her body too cold?
7) Am I going back to work too early? Or am I going back to work too late? My friend went back to work n months after the delivery.
8) Is going to childcare centre going to bad for her? I hear those places are hotbeds for germs. What if my poor baby gets sick? But then children who go to childcare centres are well disciplined and are good at sharing. So should I or shouldn’t I?
9) Wasn’t she supposed to be sitting/standing/cruising/walking/talking by now? Is she developing at the right pace?
10) Is she too young to go on a flight? Will take-offs and landings be too much for her to handle? Will our co-passengers hate us? (I wish I had been more tolerant of people with infants on planes earlier.)
And so on and so forth. Some worries are plain silly and I myself can laugh them off at a later time. Some are shot down by my very grounded and stable husband (oh, I do love him when he does that). Some worries are actually good – they keep me sharp and help me in preventing a number of incidents (well, at least I like to think they do!).
For better or for worse, it seems worries now have taken permanent residence in my head. I am officially a ‘worry wart’ now. I can just see myself worrying about homework, healthy/unhealthy lunches, make-up, boyfriends, and curfew timings in the days to come. I feel mortified now when I remember how I had told my mother so many times to ‘chill’ when I was a pre-teen/teenager. Guess I should buy her a big bunch of flowers and apologise. And yes while I am at it, might as well ask her for some tips on how to deal with the ‘voices’ in my head. Thank God for moms!