I miss being pregnant with my baby boy because that was the last time that I felt absolutely confident in my ability to care for him.
Pregnancy was the golden time for me. I was good at being pregnant.
I traveled to California, Connecticut, Texas, South Carolina, and France during my pregnancy. I kept up with my kickboxing conditioning classes and was weightlifting and squatting until 2 hours before my contractions started. Most importantly – I did it all with absolute confidence in myself and my ability to know what was best for me and my future baby.
While pregnant, I wasn’t constantly questioning myself or rushing to Google for every ailment. Even though pregnancy was new to me, it all happened in the body that I’d known my whole life. I knew when something was simply ‘off’ versus when there was a larger issue at hand, and I could read my body’s response to each new day of pregnancy to understand what my body needed. I spoke with my doctor about any concerns that I had, but otherwise, I trusted myself to put her guidelines into place successfully.
That feeling of confidence and trust in myself vanished the second that my baby boy was outside of my body, because I was suddenly experiencing a whole new life for the first time.
And now that I’m a mom, I question myself on everything.
Why is my now-6-month old crying? Is he crying because the sky is blue, or is he finally teething and in pain?
What foods do I need to avoid so that he doesn’t get constipated again? Why isn’t he finishing his bottles anymore? He’s already on the skinnier side – is he eating enough? His pediatrician advised that he drink more fluids, but what if he won’t drink his regular formula, let alone additional fluids?
How do I tell if a circumcision is healing correctly? It’s not infected, but it had reattached at the last appointment – under my watch – and I’d had no idea. What did I do wrong?
I second-guess myself because I’ve seen the consequences of my mistakes.
I didn’t realize that my baby was becoming constipated because I attributed his changing diapers to the addition of solid foods. By the time that I realized it, there was no time to correct the mistake before my baby was screaming in pain in my arms as we both cried.
I thought that his circumcision was perfectly healed when we visited his pediatrician. I had no idea that the healthy-looking circumcision I was monitoring had actually partially reattached. So, again, my baby cried – this time, because the pediatrician needed to correct the reattachment – and again, it was my fault.
The first child is always a learning experience, and I know that I’m going to make mistakes along the way that (hopefully) won’t lead to any real and lasting damage.
But I absolutely understand now why first time parents worry about everything – they have to worry about everything, because they don’t know anything.
Is the baby crying because he’s in real pain, or because he’s tired? Those cries actually sound nearly identical from my little guy, so it’s hard to tell.
Is he getting a fever, or is it just 80 degrees outside and he’s pink all over because he inherited my inability to handle Florida weather? He can’t talk to me about what’s wrong, so I have to guess.
And according to the baby books and websites, he either isn’t finishing all of his bottles because he’s entering a slower time of growth and simply doesn’t need the additional calories, or he’s malnourished and might have developmental delays as a result. He’s either fine, or I need to take him to his pediatrician right away because I’m causing lasting harm and my baby isn’t going to be the next Elon Musk like I’d hoped.
So, new moms (and dads) who never know if they’re doing something right or wrong: I get it.
We know that everything will turn out fine in the end, but we also don’t want to cause our babies any harm along the way. We’ll worry that we aren’t even worried enough, because that one time that we didn’t take something seriously was of course the one time that it was serious, and now we second-guess ourselves at every turn.
But by the second baby, I bet that we’ll be experts. We’ll know all about newborn circumcision care, constipation, lactose or milk intolerance, infant eczema, the whole gamut. We’ll try to calm the newest wave of first-time parents and reassure them that everything is going to be okay, but they won’t be able to listen because they won’t have our hindsight yet and because there are some things that you just need to experience firsthand.
Or maybe – and I don’t want to jinx myself here – the second baby will have none of the issues of the first, and will instead come with her own slew of baby mysteries for us to decode. The universe works in mysterious ways…