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When Parenting Panic Attacks Strike

I had a bit of a revelation the other night. I know it sounds silly, but despite the fact that I’ve been housing this little dude in my insides for the past 8 months, it only just really hit me that we, as in, my husband and I, were going to have a baby. I realize that at 28 years old I should feel like an adult, but most days I feel like I’m playing dress up in someone else’s life and body. And now, with just a few weeks to go, it’s finally sinking in that this is actually happening.

And that I am woefully underprepared.

I have been around babies most of my life. I can’t get enough of them. I love the way they squirm, all the little squeaks they make when they’re brand new. I love their soft hair, their little tiny fingers. But I have no earthly idea what I’m supposed to do with one when I cannot return it to its owner.

I spend my days working with kids right now, including a large number of babies under 6 months old. I can tell you how to teach them to roll over, I can explain the benefits of tummy time. I can teach you creative ways to hold your baby and how to help them eat if they are born prematurely and cannot coordinate swallowing and breathing. I can educate the heck out of anyone about development of a baby. But raising one is a completely different story.

I mean, do I put ointment on the baby every night, or only if his skin looks like it needs it? Is baby powder really a no-no and if so, why do they still market it as baby powder? Do I have to touch and clean the umbilical cord stump or can I just pretend like I don’t see that grossness? What if I can’t swaddle the baby? What if he doesn’t like it? What if he doesn’t sleep? What if what if what if?

I think am officially freaking out.

I am so excited about this baby, but I am so concerned that he does not come with an instruction manual. I have a lot of wonderful mothers in my life, but many of them have strong and differing opinions on just about everything. I don’t necessarily believe that there’s a right or wrong way to do most things, but I also don’t know which to start with. Everytime I learn about a “must buy” or “must have” item, I get 6 other mothers telling me that it’s useless.

I assume that this panic is a normal part of pregnancy, but that does not make me feel much better about the next few weeks. Being unprepared is just not my style. I’m told that I should get used to this feeling of being totally out of control, since it’s likely going to be hanging around for the next 18+ years.

I guess I’m officially (almost) a parent.

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