To The Anxious First Time Mom About To Head Home From The Hospital

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No, your nurse didn’t go mad. Also, I can absolutely assure you that the doctor is not under the influence of any illegal substance. Simply put, they are letting you go! Scratch that. They are TELLING you to go! I’m serious! They want you out to enjoy that precious little bundle. Oh, and they also have other patients to tend to. How long did you think you could actually stay anyway? A year?  Um, no, sorry. Now leave!

I have been there. I had a lot of the same feelings when I was ready to go. Right before my husband and I walked out, I hesitated. Okay, I lied. I more than hesitated. I practically refused. I was very close to demanding the entire staff be put under a psychological evaluation. Were they crazy? How could they possibly let us walk out with this baby? Didn’t they realize we didn’t know what we were doing? We could barely take care of ourselves!

I will never forget the day. Brian and I had the baby dressed up in her cute little going home outfit. I was ashamed to say I wasn’t too excited. In fact, I was terrified. I felt as if I was going to be sick.

We no sooner got home and Brian mentioned that he needed to run to the store while muttering something about getting baby stuff. I wanted to kill him. How could he bail on me like this?

I cried.

Without a doubt, I was grateful. A year before, we suffered the loss of our newborn. Feelings were still raw. I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing. Was I up for this task? I didn’t just want to be an okay mom-I wanted to be a great one. Like any mother, I wanted my child to have the best life possible.

These babies, though! They need so much stuff. They demand constant care. Feedings? Diaper changes? Although, I read my share of baby books, everything was suddenly escaping me. Suddenly, I felt like an overtired and delirious college student waiting to take the most important test of her life.

And I was going to fail.

I will not tell a lie. The thing I was most afraid of was sleep deprivation. Plain and simple. That, in itself, made me feel like a failure. I was being completely selfish. What kind of mother was I going to be?

The reality is that all of us have these fears. For each mom, the intensity of the fear differs for each situation. In my instance, I was petrified that I was going to break the baby. Yup, that’s right; I didn’t want to break her. Although I held a good number of babies in my lifetime, my experience with newborns was limited. I cringed a lot. I cringed when I had to lift her out of the bassinet. I cringed when I had to get her dressed. I cringed whenever I put her in the car seat. I cringed constantly. Babies are super delicate, you know.

I am not going to lie and say that all fears will disappear overnight. I never had that moment; the moment when all was good and I knew I was kicking butt at this mom thing. The passage of time is what helped me along. However, I began to realize that this time thing wasn’t always on my side. It went way too fast.  In retrospect, I wish I had spent less time worrying and more time enjoying. I wish I had not given a second thought to what others thought. Today, seven and a half years later, it means absolutely nothing. Today, all I see is a beautiful and smart little girl and I am so proud of her. I must have done something right.

It was a couple of months into motherhood when I could feel it. My fears, although still very much existent, were lessening in intensity. One day, after our morning feeding, my daughter fell asleep on my chest. I savored the time. My beautiful little baby was sleeping so soundly and peacefully. Nothing else mattered at that moment. Not the dishes that needed to be done or the laundry that should have been put away two weeks ago.

We were happy and content. I was far from perfect, but I was going to do this somehow. I knew that all would okay. Even now, on my toughest days, I hold on to the thought. I made it so far, and you will too.

I promise.

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Kathleen Sullivan is a freelance writer and a full-time mom. Her work has appeared on: The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Brain, Child Magazine, Mamalode, Grown and Flown, Your Tango and Parent Co.  You can find her on her blog,
 

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