This past weekend Jeremy and I attended John Muir’s Prepared Childbirth class, a full-day dedicated to learning all about labor and delivery in the company of 15-20 other expecting couples.
Aside from all the great information we learned about labor positions, pain, coping mechanisms, and intervention options (more on that in my weekly pregnancy update: Pregnancy & Produce later this week), there was one part of the class that really stood out to me. After lunch, our instructor had us all individually share our biggest fears/anxieties about becoming parents with the larger group. What followed was a really interesting discussion that covered a wide assortment of fears and concerns and it got me thinking more about my own fears about becoming a mom.
So, in the spirit of sharing, I thought I would talk more about those here in the hopes other mamas-to-be and new moms can relate. But, before I dig into my insecurities, I do want to preface this by saying I use the word “fears” lightly here. I think it’s perfectly normal to be nervous, scared, excited, and overjoyed about the impending arrival of a baby, so in no way am I suggesting these feelings are all-consuming or unhealthy. They are just things that occupy moments in my mind throughout the average day as I continue down my pregnancy journey.
So here it goes.
I’ve shared in several past posts that both mine and my husband’s families are back home in Canada. Therefore, we will be doing this whole parenthood thing largely without them nearby. We are fortunate that all of our immediate family are planning to visit soon after babes arrives, but this definitely isn’t the same as being able to call on your Mom, Dad, Mother-in-Law or Sister-in-Law in the middle of the night when you are exhausted and just need someone to come over to help or ensure your sanity.
Many of of my friends with children say having their families close by is so valuable (hello built-in babysitters!) and those who don’t have their families near also express how much they wish they were. So this is a big fear for me – that we have opted to set up our lives and grow our family 3,000 miles away from our go-to support system. However, it helps when I take a step back and remember why we chose to move and establish our lives here in Northern California and to know that even though our families aren’t a simple drive away, that doesn’t diminish the level of support they will provide us through this next chapter of our lives.
This was the fear I brought up in our group discussion on the weekend and our instructor told me about a group called MuirMommies, where moms with newborns get together once a week for an hour to socialize, get out of the house, and to also talk with experts about what is going on with them and their babies in the first few months of their lives. So, I immediately came home and registered for this group. We start in March!
My takeaway: Absorb and appreciate every single moment of support we receive from our families when they are here as well as when they are afar and work on building a support system close by for the times when we really just need to get out or talk to someone who is in the same position as us.
I had a dream a few weeks ago that Baby Evans was here and I was in the process of changing his/her diaper when I realized I didn’t have any supplies nearby. I then proceeded to have a complete meltdown because I realized I couldn’t just simply walk out of the room or away from the situation to get what I needed without taking the baby with me. When I woke up, I was actually quite shaken up, coming to the realization that this little baby is going to need me every moment of the day and that I will always need to put his/her wellbeing before my own. I don’t mean to sound selfish here, but just the simple act of needing to go get something and not being able to as easily as I once did set me off a little.
However, I know that I have an incredibly supportive partner who will be there every step of the way to track down diapers/wipes or to be with the baby while I do those things. I also know that having to pick up babes to go retrieve something is not even remotely worth worrying about. It’s just funny how fears and anxieties manifest themselves in dreams.
My takeaway: I’ve already stocked our nursery with all the essential items and even created two Baby & Me baskets for the other main rooms in our home so hopefully this nightmare will not come true – at least in the first several weeks anyway. Feeling prepared = being prepared in my mind so whatever I can do now to ease this fears is completely worth the time and effort.
Playing with a Newborn
So much time is spent thinking about labor, delivery, recovery, and really just surviving the first few days with a newborn, that I hadn’t really stopped to think, “What do I do with him/her once he/she is here?” How do you play with a newborn? What does that even mean and what do I need to get in advance so that I can play and encourage their growth and development? (see, I like to be prepared.)
Our instructor told us about a book called Retro Baby, which offers a whole bunch of back-to-basic ideas for playtime that don’t require high-priced gadgets or technology. I love this idea, as I think focusing on truly bonding with our baby during these initial weeks is more important than anything else. Being able to do that through 1:1 activities that stimulate brain development seems like, well, a no-brainer.
My takeaway: I immediately came home and put this book on my baby shower registry. Simple as that!
Fur Babies Meet Real Baby
I hope this one doesn’t seem trivial, but I am definitely concerned about how our two cats are going to react to our new arrival. I mentioned in a recent post that I have started to have more of my friend’s kids come over to the house just so our cats can get used to these little humans in advance, but that doesn’t totally alleviate my concerns. Cats in general tend to be less predictable than dogs and they have the ability to get into spaces quicker and easier, often without us even knowing. So there are concerns around accidentally leaving the nursery door open and the cats getting in or them being in there and us locking them in by accident. Even just typing that makes my heart tense up.
The other concern is that Liam, my fur baby, tends to be quite territorial just in general. He has a history of acting up, whether it’s messing outside of his litter bin, scratching at furniture, or just being an all around asshole to our other cat. I am not sure how he will react when he is no longer the center of attention.
My husband actually brought this up during our group discussion and while we didn’t really get a ton of information to ease the fears, our instructor did just reinforce the notion that we will have to be super diligent about where the cats are in relation to the baby at all times. We never want to be sorry we didn’t take the extra minute to double-check surroundings.
My takeaway: Be extra cautious, but also do not discount how big of a change this will be for our cats too. It may sound funny if you don’t have pets, but they need to go through the transition too and anything we can do to help that before the baby arrives and once he/she is here is definitely high on the to-do list. I’ve been reading quite a bit about how to start preparing the cats, such as bringing out clean diapers for them to smell and allowing them in the nursery only when one of us is present. We will continue to do these types of things in the hopes it helps ease their transition.
While going around the entire room, many couples expressed fears that were echoed by the entire group, from anxiety about being able to breastfeed to concerns about how their marriage will be affected by their newborn’s arrival. For me, these are definitely areas of concern as well, but I am more of the mindset of just letting go a little and trusting in my body and it’s purpose as well as the strength of the relationship I have with my husband because after all, if I didn’t think we could be great parents while remaining great partners, Baby Evans wouldn’t be kicking up a storm inside my belly at this exact moment.
Did you have any major fears or anxieties about becoming a parent? How did you work through them? I would love to know!