when there’s a bump in the road: motherhood and fear.
Mothers have worries, mothers have fears. They carry a child in their womb for months and months, often wondering, worrying, praying, hoping everything is okay. At some point the worry flees and the mother is left with feelings of joy. This can occur at the 20 week ultrasound, or once the baby is born, healthy, looking well; after weigh ins, once baby is growing on track; after wet and soiled diapers those first few precious days. And then, at some point, a mother just has to let go of her worry, let go of her fear. She may turn to God (which is what I strive to do), or she may run it off, sleep it off, and finally, let it go.
The worst thing a mother can do is Google it.
I often think about what mothers did before the internet. Before baby drop ins. Before Baby Center and What to Expect and everything in between. I hear so many stories about babies thriving after having a rough start. “My son didn’t do tummy time ever, he hated it, and he never lifted his head until 6 months!” “My little one never crawled, she skipped that step, which scared me to death, but instead just started walking.” “My baby only breastfed for 5 minutes at a time.” “I gave my baby whiskey on his pacifier!” “My kid sleeps on his tummy!” And so on, and so forth.
For me, at first it was the color of her poop, and then the midwife worried about her leg tremors (which were normal), and then it was something else I’m sure, but can’t remember.
Recently, a little bump in the not so smooth road of infant hood got me shaking in my boots again. Florence was seen by the paediatrician, and in Canada, that happens only with a referral from the doctor. So we went to see her, and she said that Florence looks to be hypotonic or have low muscle tone. At 3 months and 3 weeks, she doesn’t do well on tummy time and can’t lift her head much. She can’t bear weight on her legs yet and seems to have low knee reflexes (which is just the paediatricians opinion and she wasn’t even sure because Flo’s knees are so chunky).
I’ll be honest, I have a deep seated fear of hospitals. I entered one once when I was 16, and emerged a week later with rods screwed to my spine. Needless to say, it scarred me in more ways than one. And now that I finally have a little girl of my own, I’m seeing those old demons rear their ugly heads. After Flo’s appointment, I cried my face off, fuelling my tears with irrational fears. It’s pretty easy to get worked up, to over analyze, to put your baby into a “milestone box.”
But, that is not the kind of mother I want to be. One rooted in fear, in online diagnosing, in negativity. I don’t want to encroach on my daughter’s tiny world with a glass half empty approach. I don’t want to bring rainclouds and gray skies. I want to radiate peace and potential and forget when she reaches all her milestones, because really, who cares? I want to trust someone greater than myself (and for me that’s Jesus).
I’ve taken a step back, stopped my obsessive Googling, and taken some deep breaths. I’ve prayed a lot and held Florence a lot, and deep down inside, I’ve learned to trust. Trust that everything will work out, that Florence will thrive, that my joy won’t evaporate at the first signs of “danger.” As a first time mother, that’s hard. but extremely necessary. Mothers are the glue that bind the family together. Mothers must put their faith in something greater than themselves. We can cloth diaper, avoid chemicals, wear organic, eat organic, and wear our babies until we’re blue in the face, but at the end of the day, we are only human.
This is a good place to be. It means it’s not all on me. It means my head can rest heavily on my pillow in peace.
We’re off to the Children’s hospital in a few days to tackle the mound of tests the paediatrician wants Florence to have. I’m really, truly not worried. She wants to rule out crazy things like Muscular Dystrophy, which is genetic, and it’s obvious we don’t have it in either of our families. She’s just being cautious, and that’s okay.
Children are amazing. They can outlive, outrun, overrule any limits we put on them. And I have faith in God, I have love for my sweet Florence, I have a supportive, easy going, full of faith husband, and I have joy.