I have a distinct memory of watching an episode of Friends in which Rachel had just given birth and was trying to cope with being a new mom. She managed to lose her pediatrician (and anger his wife) after calling him at 3AM, for the 20th time that day, because Emma had the hiccups. Good for a laugh, I thought at the time, but it had no basis in reality. As it turns out, I was wrong.
I pride myself in being a pretty laidback person, so I figured that my parenting style would naturally reflect that. But just like the nesting phenomenon that drives an extremely pregnant woman to wash onesies five times to get them clean enough or scrub the grout in her bathroom floor with bleach and q-tip, worrying about your child is a force of nature that no mother can escape.
Every strange sound, smaller than usual feeding or change in her appearance sets my mind on fire right now. And itís exhausting considering she is literally changing every day; she gets a little more round, her coloring evens out and her feeding has ups and downs depending on where Baby K sits in her growth spurts. While my husband sleeps easy at night, I listen to her stuffy breathing and make a mental note that we need a humidifier or wonder if she is really warm enough with just that receiving blanket. I watch how she lays all awkward in one of our laps and adjust her to make sure sheís comfortable. I scrub her bottles in water so hot my hands are red and dry and I cycle her legs anytime I think she may have a tummy ache or a little bit of gas.
Worry just comes naturally when youíre a mom.
At least we have the advantage of information now. I swear, my doctor gets a lot more sleep thanks to Google because I would totally be pulling a Rachel if I didnít have answers at my fingertips 24/7. But it has left me to wonder, what did my mother do as she tried to navigate this confusing and worrisome role?
My search history includes questions ranging from whether or not green poop is normal to what a normal temperature range is to how to establish good sleep habits. I can read an expertís opinion on one of many parenting websites, take in a blog article on a topic or peruse a message board to see what the general consensus is among other moms. I can quickly figure out what is nothing to worry about and what may actually require a quick visit to the doctor. I can also connect with other moms in the Fort St. John area and ask my weirdest questions and quickly get advice and validation that my concerns are normal. The internet is an invaluable resource for moms.
So what did our moms do before it existed? Well, they figured it out.
My mom agrees that the internet is a good resource, but she argues that it may also be a hinderance that takes a passing thought and turns it in to sheer terror for a learning mom. She was here when I thought Baby K may be slightly dehydrated, and her point was proven. Over half of the indicators that the various articles I read on it were also things that mean nothing on their own. Cold hands and feet? Common in newborns. Sunken fontanels? Well, soft spots are always a little sunken in for newborns and the information doesnít explain how sunken it needs to be before itís a problem. Sleepiness? Ha! Baby K sleeps like 20 hours a day. Thatís just normal for her. But these articles had me questioning whether or not it really was normal.
Like everything else, Iím starting to see that itís a balancing act. Information is essential for someone like me- I research EVERYTHING to death. But, I also have pretty good instincts that I need to learn to trust. Theyíre the same instincts that my mother had when I was little, and the same ones her mother had before that.
These instincts are pretty powerful things when you consider that mothers have been raising children using nothing but their hunches for the past 2000 plus years.
So my challenge is this. Instead of taking every little possible worrisome thing and googling it until I find an answer I like, Iím going to take that time to get to know my child. Iím going to take a cue from what sheís telling me and take the time to learn the difference between a hungry cry and a cuddle me cry. Iím going to remember that Baby K is growing and developing at a rapid pace and allow for those changes in what we know to be ďnormalĒ for her. And when something really seems not quite right, I will take my online research with a grain of salt and appreciate it for what it is- a little extra information I didnít have two minutes ago. But when those mom alarms are actually going off, Iíll go see a doctor because they can look at Baby K a little more objectively than I can when worry has taken over. And Iím going to trust the big picture; Sheís healthy, happy and has two parents that love her. Sheís going to be just fine.