Everyone talks about the love, the sleep deprivation, and the total besottedness that comes with having a newborn. And those all happen: You’ll fall madly in love with your baby. You’ll feel more exhausted than you ever thought possible. You’ll count those eensy-weensy toes.
And, like every parent before you, you will be gripped by moments of complete and utter terror. These neuroses are filled with such love and horror in equal measure, they become embossed in your brain permanently, filed under this new sensation called parenthood. Some of these qualifying horrors are as follows:
1. Fear of the cord stump
You will be convinced that a horrible infection has set in. You’ll worry it’s still open to the inside of baby’s belly. You will call the pediatrician at 11 PM on a Saturday in terror, asking if you should head to the nearest ER. This is normal, and so is your baby’s mildly stinky belly button. Take some deep breaths, swab some alcohol on there, and then maybe take a swig of it yourself.
2. Fear they aren’t breathing
You will awaken, bolt-upright from a sound sleep convinced that your child has stopped breathing for no reason whatsoever. This fear will not go away until you actually, physically check — hopefully not waking the baby in the process. Don’t worry. This fear will calm down when your kid reaches the age of approximately … never.
3. Fear of cutting their fingernails
They’re soft and rip easily, but baby fingernails are so teensy-tiny. Do you use the nail clippers, risking a misaim that’ll make the baby scream and bleed, landing you squarely as the worst parent in the history of the world? Or do you take the well-trodden, grosser route, and bite baby’s fingers and toes? You’ll probably bite them until baby can walk, when the risk of hookworms sets in.
4. Fear of the soft spot
It’s up there. It’s unprotected. And your baby’s brain is under that. Sure, it’s necessary for the bones of the skull to grow, but sometimes when you look at it, you can see it pulse. And when you run your hand over baby’s head, it goes from firm bone to … nothing. Don’t worry, you won’t hurt it. You’ll feel like you will, especially in the early days when you’re less used to babies and the soft spot is the largest, but you much resist the urge to freak out. If it bothers you too much, hats are always an option!
5. Fear of meconium
That first poop is supposed to be oily and tarry and gross. You know that. But nothing prepares you for the sight of meconium coming out of your brand-new, perfect-pink baby. It came out. Now you have to clean it up, taking approximately an entire box of wipes, 20 minutes, and an old priest.
6. Fear that baby has a fever
Maybe he feels a touch warm. Maybe he just nursed, or just woke up. Whatever the cause, you’ll be convinced at some point that your baby has a fever. Your baby will not have a fever, but this will not stop you from trying multiple thermometers and calling the pediatrician anyway. Your long-suffering pediatrician will tell you to sit tight and wait. You will wait. The imaginary fever will seem to dissipate. Turns out the thermometers were right all along.
7. Fear that baby is too cold
There will be a voice in your head that sounds like the little old lady in the grocery store scolding you that the baby looks cold. You’ll bend to her whims and pack your infant in socks, a hat, and an extra sweater. You might put the baby’s clothes on over his pajamas. Then a blanket. Maybe two. Check the baby. Is he too hot now? Isn’t being hot a risk for SIDS? The cycle is never ending.
8. Fear that baby’ll suffocate
Like the fear that your baby will stop breathing, this one is eternal. You’ll find yourself constantly yanking blankets, sweaters, and other fabric from the front of your baby’s mouth. Then you’ll obsess over his sleeping space, be it a crib or a shared bed: can he get his face against that? If he does, will he be able to move out of the way? Can he wedge his head into that space? Ideally, you’ll want him to sleep in an empty field of mattress. You’ll feel the same way when he’s 8.
9. Fear of explosive poop
You’ll hear the noise, and you’ll know: that blew out the top of the diaper, possibly all the way up to the nape of baby’s neck. You’ll live in fear of the newborn’s especially explosive digestive system, with its ability to clear rooms and ruin outfits. It’ll always seem to happen just before you walk out the door, when you’re late, or before any church/fancy dress function. Because of course.
10. Fear of the overlong nap
Baby’s sleeping peacefully, but you’re on edge. Parents know too much sleep during the day gives you a baby party all night. It might be convenient for baby to sleep. It might be impossible to wake him up. But you go through the day with a sense of dread: you know you’re going to pay for that blissful sleep.
What terrified you about having a baby?More On