When I was expecting our first, I spent so much time online researching the best of the best that I actually popped a blood vessel in my right eye. It was around midnight and I was still deep in the throes of Amazon reviews, checking to see which baby shampoos were made without harmful chemicals.
I looked up from my computer screen for the first time in hours to find a streak of red streaming across my pupil. That should have been my first sign that my quest for All The Answers was going a little too far.
Yet, I still didn’t stop, mainly because I didn’t know how to. I spent so much money on new baby literature and asked all my friends for advice every chance I could. On one hand, it was an incredible time of learning and I soaked it all up like a sponge.
I leaned on my own mama more than ever and she imparted tons of her wisdom to me during those sacred nine months. She taught me how to fold a swaddle blanket, put on a wrap sling as long as the Mississippi River and to stock up on vapor rub because even if my babies can’t use it yet, it could do wonders for my stretch marks.
By the time my daughter arrived that summer, I should have been well-versed in her care. After all, my husband and I had attended a week’s worth of “Baby 101” classes at our hospital. We’d taken an infant CPR course, had a stack of books on our bedside tables and had perfected our baby registry, expertly curated thanks to the 1.5 million mommy bloggers whose pages I stalked to find the top gear.
Yet, when that baby arrived and they placed her in my arms, everything I thought I knew flew out the window. You know back in the day when you were in school and you’d cram so hard for a test? Then, you’d arrive with your #2 pencils sharpened and your calculator out and suddenly as the papers are passed around you’d go absolutely blank? It was just like that, but on a much more significant scale.
Call it nerves or shock or maybe a little of both, but I just looked at that squishy pile of perfection on my chest and wondered, “How on Earth is this mine?” How in the world was I going to be responsible for this tiny, gorgeous munchkin? I felt inadequate and frankly very overwhelmed. It wasn’t until we got home from the hospital, when all those first-week meals were finished and my husband went back to work, that I truly got the chance to find out for myself what this was going to be like.
Suddenly, it was just us. I remember waking up that first morning alone and rolling over to the edge of the bed to check on her in her bassinet. I woke up at 5:00 a.m., a bundle of anxious energy. I checked on her every five minutes until around 8:00, when she finally woke up and her eyes met mine.
Since then, we’ve added another baby to the brood and it really is true that things are different the next time around. I was more relaxed with that pregnancy and didn’t go into the experience nearly as panic-ridden.
We changed the “five-second rule” to the “10-second rule” when he came along and I didn’t think twice when he picked up a big blob of sand and smashed it in his mouth as a 6-month old on the beach. I’m a more relaxed mama and I credit both of my babies for that transformation.
That isn’t to say I have all the answers. I don’t think I’ll ever get there and as time goes on I don’t think I want to. I love this journey of discovery that we go along together every day. There is something different to learn every time we’re together and I think leaning deeply into that is one of the keys of happy parenting.
For instance, we were all hit with the sinus bug pretty hard this winter. Last month, I took both of them to see their incredible pediatrician. They were feverish. I was disheveled, pretty scared and cried at the drop of a hat due to an immense lack of sleep.
“I don’t think I can do this,” I said to him as I passed the first baby off to be examined. “Sure you can,” he replied. “Just look at them. They’re under the weather right now but look at these beautiful kids. You’re doing just fine, mama.”
That’s the message I want to impart to you today. I know you’re stressed, overcommitted and likely pulled in a million different directions. I know you want the best for your family, but you second-guess every day if what you’re doing is going to get you there.
So you read the reviews for hours and you get five different medical opinions. You post questions in closed social media groups hoping that a bunch of strangers can shed light on an issue close to your mama heart. I’ve been there and I’m still there with you.
The good news? Looking for answers doesn’t make you weak. It means your heart is in the right place and when that’s in order, everything has a way of working out. You’re doing just fine mama. Just look at them.