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I won't ever forget the night, early in my son's life, when I woke up to the sound of a crying baby.
"Why won't somebody quiet that baby?" I thought. "Where is his mother?"
It took me a long minute to realize the mother was me. I was supposed to be soothing this screaming child.
In that moment, it confirmed everything I feared – I wasn't fit for this. I didn't know how to be a mom. My child deserved better.
Those thoughts had also plagued my pregnancy, which was unexpected because there was nothing I wanted more than to become a mom. I knew it on a rational level, and I accepted it in my heart. Having fertility issues and pushing through pregnancy loss confirmed how much I wanted to have a child. But that didn't stop the nagging fear that cast shadows over those early days of parenting.
I was reminded of that time when I saw this our site Community post: "Emotional … terrified to be a mom."
Poster Kamles wrote, "I'm so scared. I'm excited for my sweet baby. But I feel so unprepared, and so overwhelmed!! I want my baby to have a happy healthy life, and that's our responsibility! It's all happening so fast, and I cannot believe I'm going to actually be a mom. I feel like I have no clue how to care for a baby."
I empathized with all of that, and so did many other commenters.
LeighEliz responded, "Every good parent worries about if they're a good parent or not. Thing is, as long as you *care* about being a good parent, chances are you'll be a great one. Bad parents don't care, good ones do. You'll screw up, you'll lose your temper sometimes, but kids are more resilient than they seem. As long as you're trying, your kid will probably turn out just fine."
Mommamonster89 added, "As long as they eat and pee and poop, they’ll be ok. You’ll figure the rest out as you go."
Meanwhile, MelodyPak offered this terrific advice: "I highly recommend seeing if your hospital or birth center offers a birthing class or infant care class. We took both before my first baby and it helped a lot. The infant care class covered REALLY practical topics like how many wet diapers a day is normal, when should you call a doctor, how to know if feeding is going well, how to bathe a newborn, how often to bathe a newborn, how to find a pediatrician, umbilical cord care."
When my son was born, I didn't know how to change a diaper. I felt clumsy bathing him. Every time he cried, it wounded me. After weeks of screaming, I didn't even realize he had colic; I just assumed I was doing something wrong.
The good news is that we figured it out together – although sometimes I wonder who's raising who? – and the fear and doubts passed.
Every day now I wake up and see my child, there is no question who the mother is. It's so me, and I'm very glad to be her. I realize every moment of my life was carving the path that led to this very moment, and I am grateful. Not scared.
This post was originally published in October 2017.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.