The day I turned 30, I caught a wild case of baby fever that no Advil or Tylenol could resolve.
According to Google, I was quickly approaching my ‘expiry date.’ Before even starting to conceive, I began worrying if I would ever be able to have children, or how much money and time we would have to invest in fertility treatments … because this is what everyone does now, right?
I began to wonder why the journey towards becoming a parent was so stressful, when this was supposed to be such a joyous time. Looking back, I see how I had quickly jumped down the rabbit hole of never-ending worry that coincides with parenting influenced by access to never-ending information—and that was just the beginning.
The pregnancy phase
I will always remember the day I found out I was pregnant. It was 5 a.m. and I had to pee, so I couldn’t wait—I took the test groggy-eyed and barely awake. I remember squinting as I looked at the stick, wondering if my sleepy eyes were tricking me, as two pink lines appeared on the display screen.
My heart skipped a beat—I felt a rush of emotions ranging from panic to excitement as I realized this was actually happening, and there was no turning back.
From that day, I turned to books and of course, Google, because as a new soon-to-be Mom with no previous experience with children, I knew nothing about babies. Little did I know, the information in the books I picked up would instill more angst and worry in the months to come than just managing it all one moment at a time would.
Based on what I was reading, I had voluntarily chosen to subject myself to a traumatic birthing experience, followed by months of sleepless nights. The perfectionist in me soaked in each piece of information and advice, because I wanted to do everything ‘right’ from the beginning,
The postpartum phase
I am lucky and proud to say I had a beautiful birthing experience. I attributed this to the fact that I was so prepared and informed for my delivery (which, for the most part, went according to plan).
Once I got the first few weeks of parenting under control, I started attending various Mom groups and noticed that the hot topic of conversation was sleep (or the lack thereof). Even though I felt like my son was a relatively good sleeper, I often found myself seeking more information on baby sleep patterns.
The constant conversation on this topic led me to feel I wasn’t doing everything quite right, especially when the first question anyone asks is, “Is he sleeping through the night yet?” This feeling became more like a slap in the face when, after saying I was up multiple times a night, the response I received was often, “Oh, really? My baby slept through the night at two weeks old!”
There I began, down my rabbit hole of becoming over-informed, reading several books and articles on topics related to sleep and how I should ‘train’ my child to sleep. And sleep was just one topic I worried about. I spent countless hours reading those books while rocking and nursing my son to sleep, and during every other waking moment I could.
The ‘Aha!’ moment
I can’t pinpoint an exact day or time when my ‘Aha!’ moment set in, but I do know the lightbulb went on, and I realized no book, blog post or article on the internet could ever teach me about how to parent my child more than the bundle of joy sitting in front of me would.
Maybe that was when we found our groove and settled into a routine of afternoon stroller walks, which broke every rule of sleep training—but worked for us and our routine. Not only did he get a nap, but our dog and I got much-needed exercise and fresh air.
I realized there was actually no rulebook, and that I was doing everything right, according to my baby.
Or perhaps it was when I gave up trying to feed my son the solid foods that he should be eating, and gave him food that he would actually eat, since mealtime was challenging enough. I realized there was actually no rulebook, and that I was doing everything right, according to my baby.
Whenever this moment happened, I am grateful for the enlightenment it brought to my parenting and the boost in confidence it gave me. I realized my baby knows the fundamentals—eat, sleep, poop, play, repeat. My baby didn’t read a book on how to be a baby, so why should I have to read a book on how to be a mother?
Since putting all written books aside and picking up the one who gives unconditional snuggles, I have spent more time adoring his little face and taking in every special moment that previously would have been missed or lost.
I have set aside my worries about what I should be doing, and have replaced them with being unconditionally present and engaged in each happy moment or hurdle that comes our way. Reflecting on our time together thus far, I realize now that no one could ever teach me more about his present needs than he does.
I recently stumbled upon a card that I received at a baby shower, which summarizes my ‘Aha!’ moment well. It reads, “No one can totally prepare you for being a mother, but you’ll learn everything you need to know at just the right times.”
I now realize that taking the pregnancy test symbolized Chapter One of the unwritten story that my baby was about to write, and I just had to follow his lead!