Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Hardest thing about Being a New Parent

Even though I love my son and getting to be his mommy (saying "my son" and hearing "mommy" are still cheap thrills to me), it's not all giggles and nap time. There is some stress. But for me, I've realized the stress comes from caring too much.

I may come from a family of stressed out anal retentive control freaks (and I know there are plenty of people who will say that when descriving me), but I have always lived my life with the motto "work hard, rest hard." I am the person who must get everything done and out of the way as soon as possible so I can take the rest of the day to be as lazy and chill as possible. Typical weekend (when I can swing it) wake up at 7am to clean, put PJs back on by 10am to be on the couch to nap while watching TV until dinner time, drink wine, and go back to bed by 10pm.

I have spent the vast majority of my adult life in school getting advanced degrees to become a clinical psychologist. Therefore, when awake, I have spent the vast majority of the last 12 years being stressed out about something. I have learned to relish in the relaxed atmosphere I've created for myself in both my professional and personal life. And despite, what my mother may think, I am generally known as the laid back one in the clinics I have worked in. Angry or suicidal patients do not freak me out. I know how to handle myself in a crisis, and my ability to overcome them without batting an eyelash is something that my husband has said he loves about me.

But since having Little Guy that relaxed attitude has been a rare thing in these parts. I have had to pull out every therapy trick I have learned the last 5 years and use them on myself to get over the anxiety I have felt every time I look at him. "What if he stops breathing? Why does he sound like that? Does he have allergies? Is he too tiny? He's having a seizure! I can see his vein pulsing in his head. Why hasn't he pooped yet today? Is he breathing? What's that thing on his toe? HOLY SHIT HE JUST PUKED OUT OF HIS NOSE!" Every one of these sentences has had to be combated with a logical thought. Reciting statistics about SIDS. Babies have small nasal passageways. No. No. No he's not; he sleeps with his eyes partially open like you do. That's normal. That's normal. Yes. It's lint. That's normal; just clean it up.

The first week we came home I was worried I might have developed post-partum depression with a presentation that looked like anxiety. Then I realized, I'm a new mom, and I'm still trying to figure out what it's like to be a parent to a newborn. Even though I'm the oldest in my family and only have one cousin out of 7 who is older than me, I have no memory of what it is like to be around a newborn and thus everything is a new experience for me (well, except how to change a diaper and avoid being peed on, that's pretty universal). And thus, every new action gets an anxiety filled reaction out of me. But I can't really help it. I mean, I carried this little human being that my husband and I made with care and love inside of of a protective bubble for 9 months. The moment he was born our relationship became personified in the cutest littlest thing I've ever seen. How could I not love and want to protect the most precious thing I've ever held?

My husband jokes that he married his mother or that I need a wine & Xanax cocktail. I think I just need to figure out how to get that relaxed attitude back in this new context. Considering I've already reached the "just rinse it off" stage of pacifier cleaning and have been yelled at for trying to not wash Little Guy's laundry before letting him wear it, I think I'm starting to figure it out a little bit...until the next time something new happens, which I expect should happen in 3...2...1...

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