First Issue of Fretful Mother Magazine

“If you have a problem that can be fixed, then there is no use in worrying. If you have a problem that cannot be fixed, then there is no use in worrying.” – Buddhist proverb

“If the problem has a solution, worrying is pointless, in the end the problem will be solved. If the problem has no solution, there is no reason to worry, because it can’t be solved.” – Zen saying

If you’ve watched the Simpsons as much as I have you’ll get the reference. Marge subscribes to Fretful Mother Magazine. In reality, I think all mothers actually subscribe to FMM in a virtual sense. I think it starts in pregnancy. Despite my midwife saying I was the most relaxed mom she knew I had my share of pregnancy worries. The first worry I had was that something would go wrong with the pregnancy. It wasn’t a huge worry, but knowing that my grandmother had difficulty bringing a child to term and having friends who had recently lost babies, it was a fresh worry in my mind.

I had a worry that something would go wrong in labor and delivery and I would need a cesarean section because I’ve never had any type of surgery and I didn’t want all the complications I’d read about c-sections. I worried about being able to breastfeed, because I had no clue if I would be able to do it, and despite all the worrying, we survived that ordeal.

After I delivered and things were seemingly fine (let’s not dredge up all the NICU business,) I started to worry about new things. Thoughts would cross my mind to which I pay more attention. The first, and probably the most worrisome to me currently, is SIDS (or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.) SIDS has no truly known cause and as the name implies, it’s sudden. How, as a mother, can I possibly protect my child against something with no known cause and happens suddenly? In true Hip Mama fashion, I read as much as I could, I follow all the advice (co-sleep vs having Bean in a crib in another room, no bumpers, no loose blankets/pillows/stuffed toys,) but it still doesn’t completely assuage my worry. It’s a more salient worry to me because I have a friend who lost her son to SIDS, so it’s not some thing that happens to “some one else.” It happened to someone I know. I still find myself checking to see if Bean is breathing, though it is less often than it was.

Another thing that I worry about-choking. I’m sure to check and have a bulb near everywhere Bean sleeps because spit-up happens (though it’s much less now that he’s not getting formula anymore) and I have a hefty fear of him spitting up and gagging.

Having a child brings you into a whole new arena of thinking, and by extension, worry. I try not to think too much into the future because I know that I’ll start worrying about all the things I can think of worrying about now that I have a child. It is very difficult to be zen about motherhood, especially with your first child. I’d like to think that I’m a little better than others, having experience working with infants and toddlers. There are times when I read questions posted on the babyboards and roll my eyes about how someone is worrying about something so benign, but I’m not immune to mama worry. Once you are responsible for an entity as dependent as an infant, it’s very easy to worry about things.

All new parents will have their crazy worry moments. I remember calling the doctor because my previously regular little Bean hadn’t had a bowel movement in over 24 hours and seemed to have gastrointestinal distress (you don’t need to worry about lack of BMs until it’s been 72 hours or more, by the way.) I remember both my husband and I freaking out a bit over Bean’s umbilical cord when it started to ooze a bit of pus and blood. Apparently this is common (but not something they tell you when you leave the hospital.) Just dab the area with alcohol, keep it dry/accessible to air, and don’t pull the stump off. Later that day the whole thing fell off and I had no clue where it fell off, so I spent a while looking for it, sure the dog had made a snack of the stump or the cats found a new toy. I found it safe by the bassinet. I haven’t a clue why I was so worried about that.

I really try not to worry excessively. Knowledge and experience helps a lot in this endeavor, but it’s not foolproof. Moms will always find something to worry about. Even though I try to minimize my worry, I don’t consider worry to be an altogether bad thing. Worry can make you just a little more aware of your surroundings and therefore more attune to safety and security. Excessive worry, though, can be detrimental. It’s stressful, and moms don’t need additional stress. Excessive worry can impede progress. My goal as a parent is to create a happy, healthy, well-adjusted person. One that I hope votes liberally and accepts all persons as equal. I don’t want to raise a child who is afraid of his own shadow or who can’t effectively function in the world without his parents. I don’t want to be a helicopter mom, I want Bean to explore and be independent, but also safe.

It’s a balance. In all things in life, including parenting, one should strive for balance. Sometimes I’ll err a little too much on the side of caution, and that’s OK. But overall, I aim to have balance. I’m also sure that this won’t be my only issue of Fretful Mother Magazine.


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