Of all the emotions I anticipated feeling after the birth of my first daughter, fear had never made the list. Sure, there was a lot of intimidation, anxiety and uneasiness surrounding the transition itself, but never did I imagine I’d actually fear the baby itself. Yet here I was, on day two, holding this sweet baby with cold, shaky fingers… wondering how I’d ever survive this. Or better yet – how could she survive with a mother who was deathly afraid of her daughter?
I feared with every cry that she was in unbearable pain and that I didn’t know how to fix it. I feared she wasn’t eating enough, was spitting up too much… that her poop was too mustardy. With every sound she made, I hit Google to make sure this was normal. Does she have acid reflux? When will she outgrow jaundice? Baby acne or heat rash? Is her car seat strap choking her?
I drove myself crazy, begging my husband not to leave the house for fear that she’d wake up and I wouldn’t know how to soothe her. I stared at her while she slept, watching and waiting for a reaction that could or would cause alarm. I didn’t sleep, couldn’t eat. I worried about what I would do if she’d wake up, suddenly crying. How would I calm her if I didn’t know what the problem was?
I wish I could say that I turned the corner instantly, but at week two, I still get a bit overwhelmed at the thought of caring for this little child. She’s so tiny, so innocent. Surely I’ll do something that will scar her for life, right?
And that, I suppose is the reality of parenting. Whether caring for a newborn or teenager, the love for your child is so overwhelming that it reaches a level of madness. I would hope that someday, I’ll find my footing. But can you really ever find your footing when the terrain is uncharted?
There will be missteps. There will be stumbles. And there will certainly be detours along the way. But as I’m slowly learning to walk this new path (pushing a stroller, no less!), I’m reminding myself that, sometimes, the scariest roads lead to the most beautiful places.
So today, we’re taking, quite literally, baby steps. And someday we’ll reach a most wonderful destination together, my daughter and I. Until then? One [shaky] foot in front of another.