You wake up with a jerk! Your heart is pounding out of your chest and your pulse is racing! The nightmare that you have just had causes you to leap from your bed like Superman and race faster than a speeding bullet down the hall to your child’s room. You immediately check to make sure your child is breathing. Sighing with relief that once again all is well, you tell yourself that you are acting irrational. So what if in your dream your house had just collapsed into the river and your child was screaming for help. You don’t live on a river! You know that this is not possible, but there’s no way you can go back to sleep without walking through the house and checking that all is well. The fears and worries that a Mom go through change somewhat as their child’s age changes; but you will have as many irrational fears as you do rational ones.
Mothers have both rational and irrational fears for their child’s safety and health. They change somewhat as the child goes through the different stages of development, in utero, as an infant, a toddler, a preteen, a teenager, a young adult, and finally as an adult. Rational is defined as sensible or sane, of or based on reason; while irrational is defined as senseless, unreasonable or absurd. Welcome to motherhood, where the rational person becomes irrational at the drop of a hat. You start to have these fears as soon as you begin to consider the possibility of becoming a mother: life as you once knew it will never be the same again.
As soon as you discover that you are pregnant, the fears will begin to gnaw at you unconsciously while you celebrate the happy news with your spouse. You will rationally worry about how your own health, both physical and mental will have an impact on the baby’s growth. You will cease to have a Whopper for lunch and instead convince yourself you really want that salad with just a little low-fat dressing. You will ask yourself, “Can I be a good Mom? Am I capable of being responsible for another person’s life and well-being? Can we afford a baby?” One thing you will soon realize is if you wait until you can afford a baby, you will probably never have one. If you are an older Mom, you tend to worry more that the baby could have developmental problems than a younger Mom does. If the doctor recommends an ameno, you worry that the test could cause a miscarriage. The pros and cons of this decision are important as they would enable the doctors to perform early surgery in utero if necessary. The love and support of your spouse helps keep the fears at a reasonably controlled level. The irrational fears are usually based on things you have read or horror stories that you have heard from other women who were pregnant. Discussing labor and delivery with other mothers is only helpful if they have the sense not to relate any tragedies that they know of. You don’t need to hear that they were in intense labor for thirty-six hours and that the doctors still had to do a C-section because the baby was breech. The picture on Yahoo showing the twins conjoined at the head should be banned from front page news and inaccessible to the pregnant woman at any and all times!
As a result of any horror stories you’ve listened to, the first thing you do when they lay that tiny bundle in your arms is count fingers and toes. You will quickly turn the baby right and left to check that the head is nice and rounded as you know all that pushing had to squish the poor thing flat. The nurse will assure you that, “Yes, she’s the most beautiful baby, I’ve ever seen!” while you secretly wonder if she doesn’t look just a little like a dried up little old man. No hair, red and wrinkled skin, big old ears and drool dripping out of that toothless mouth that only a mother could love. At that same instance, your heart swells with more love that you imagined possible and you realize that your days will never again be worry free. Your fears and worries will compile of things you can control, like whether or not to breast feed or whether to use cloth or disposable diapers. The irrational fears such as crib death and a baby smothering in their blankets take on giant proportions. The first time the baby sleeps all night, you will break a leg trying to get to her bedroom quick enough to check on her. Anytime your precious infant is a tad slower at rolling over or crawling, you will immediately pull out the books that you have on babies and check and see if she is developing “normally”. A key to sanity is quickly realizing that normal is different from baby to baby.
Your grip on sanity will be sorely tested as she reaches the toddler stage. She seems to quickly progress from being a lurching, hand-holding toddler to a running, climbing toddler that resists your effort to keep her firmly on the ground. She will climb bookcases with the ease of a mountain goat and you will constantly worry that the bookcases will fall on her or she will fall and break a limb or two. If you have gone back to work the decision of whether to use a day care or an individual to care for this ball of energy was fraught with worries and fears. Rationally you fear that she will catch colds more frequently in a day care but know that there are trained individuals to look after her. Irrationally you may worry that someone will steal her from the daycare while you work. Even at this early age you begin worry if she can cope with peer pressure and whether she will fit in. Hopefully, the hair has grown enough that people realize that “No, you don’t dress your little boy in pink!” If you are smart, you soon realize that lots of the little girls have wispy hair, while the little boys have ringlets that Shirley Temple would have died for. The worries at this stage while many, are still things that you can control and low key.
PART 2 on 4/1