Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Worry Wart

Well we never really knew, how much we needed you,
Before you came into our lives, things were pretty nice . . .
Who knew a baby sister,
Could come along and make you realize,
How much you always missed her?
-Justin Roberts, "Cartwheels and Somersaults"

I've been thinking about Baby Girl these days. Not that she isn't always by my side, but I've been really contemplating her, trying to fix her baby-ness in my mind. She is flying past me, this one, racing from the cradle to pre-school without stopping to let me catch my breath. I still feel like she was born a month ago, but here she is waving her pudgy hands in salutation, calling out to her siblings, and trying words on for size. She is both a delight, and a delightful surprise, because, well . . .

Do you want to hear a secret? Come closer . . . closer, let me whisper it to you: I spent a large part of Baby Girl's pregnancy being afraid. Afraid of losing the baby, which morphed into afraid of something being wrong with the baby, which led to afraid of not being able to "handle" the baby, which in turn became being afraid of making the baby depressed because I was so anxious, or because I was swallowing cartons of coffee ice cream whole, or because I had heavy-duty cold medicine before I knew I was pregnant, and so on, ad infinitum. But what it boiled down to was a fear of being too happy.

Aimee, you say, your freak flag is flyin' high tonight. I know, but I'm all about disclosure these days. If I lived in ancient Greece, I'd be the old woman in the corner spitting on the ground and saying, Don't tempt the gods with being too happy. They'll smite you. And then I would have looked around to see if anyone was giving me the evil eye.
Here I was with two lovely children already, so I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. We were at the point in our family where many people stop: one girl, one boy, both healthy, happy parents, done and done. So I was preparing myself for a difficult pregnancy, or a delivery fraught with complications, or a baby that, even if totally healthy, would be fussy or high-strung. Talk about low expectations.

Instead, I had a normal pregnancy, a quick delivery, and the sweetest baby I've ever known. This is a baby who whispers sweet nothings to me and buries her hands in my hair when I pluck her out of her crib in the morning; a baby who laughs just because everyone else is laughing; a baby that drapes herself so cozily on your chest. She is the kind of baby that makes everyone wish they had one. I am blessed and beyond grateful.

If it sounds like I am bragging, I guess I am, although that's not my intention. Believe it or not, my old friend Worry still creeps in from time to time, and I find myself watching Baby Girl and reminding myself of all the good things she has brought to us.

But, Aimee, you say, if your baby is All That, what the hey-ho do you have to worry about?
Good question, and I've thought about the answer for, lo, these seven months now. I've come up with this: It all has to do with The Boy, and I don't mean that in a bad way. Since beginning therapy with him and filling my brain with all things SPD, I have been able to go all the way back to his babyhood and see the earliest warning signs. Hindsight is 20/20, and it is not pretty. All those things that we chalked up to his laid-back attitude, or quirky personality traits were actually little red flags. I am not saying that he could have gotten therapy any earlier than he did, but I do find myself almost inspecting Baby Girl. I find that I more often have the worries and checklists of a nervous first-time mother, instead of the calm assurance that comes with time and practice. I'll ask Rob 3 0r 4 or 1500 times a week if he thinks that she's meeting her milestones appropriately. To his credit, he never rolls his eyes, he just calmly says, "Yes."

And although I am always asking the question, I can see already that her development is different from her brother's. Her learning is organic, natural, almost seamless; it's a feeling that is still unfamiliar to The Boy. She watches, she imitates, she absorbs, she moves on; whereas The Boy watches, tries to imitate, gets the messages wrong in his brain, tries again, makes his own compensatory, adaptive response, and then moves on, only to have to come back and correct his natural inclinations through therapy. Everything is a process, nothing is just a progression.

When I am watching the baby, and I am smiling at how happily she plays, Worry likes to sneak up behind me and put her arm around me and say, Aww, remember when The Boy was a baby? He was so happy, too. Of course, you didn't know then what you know now, so I'll just hang out here for a little while, ok?

I need to trust my instincts more, pray more, relax with both Baby Girl and The Boy, because they are both where they should be right now. And I need to tell Worry to take a hike.


  1. I can only relate in a different way...but I do relate...I had two beautiful children...with a history (not married) of being pregnant when I was 20 (please let this be self-explanatory...it wasn't good). I can still to this day, not understand why God has blessed me so immensely...and then the third pregnancy...planned and excited...and WOW, TWINS! I thought surely God was going to lay one on me right then...2 1/2 years later, I am still in the same boat, blessed beyond measure. I don't understand and I will be honest, I am generally pretty scared. That is not the life God wants for me, I know this logically...someone tell my heart. I will pray for your worry's to go away...thanks for sharing...it's good to know I am not completely crazy. I love hearing about your family and especially The Boy...he has a warm place in my heart...thanks...

  2. Anonymous7:28 AM

    I think all parents worry, especially when things seem too good. I too was convinced that the third one was going to bring issues and while he was premature, he has caught up really well. Still, I can relate to the tendency to study and make sure they are where they should be- it's a mom thing. We'll probably still be doing it when they are grown with their own kids to worry about. All we can do is place everything in God's hands.
    -Mirabella MOM

  3. I worry more with each child. I think it is because we know so much more, we are aware of more things that can go wrong, we have had things go wrong, and so on. Try to worry less today, and not think about how much you worried yesterday or how much you will worry tomorrow.
    And Monster (#4) has been a source of complete joy and surprise for us as well. We didn't plan any of our pregnancies so they have all been surprises of a sort. But Monster is just different. He brings joy to everyone he meets. He is our unlooked for but most welcome blessing.

  4. I worried to no end with all my pregnancies (4 kids, 6 pregnancies) so I know where you're coming from. I hope you're able to relax and enjoy the baby-ness because it sure doesn't last long enough, you know?

  5. Oh my lovely sister...please don't worry, sweetie, because it'll make me think you've been talking to Mom more often. I don't even have kids, but I watch yours, and truly BabyGirl makes me want one of my own...or at least makes me want to visit more often. I know what you've gone through with The Boy - I've been there with you, I even lived with you for awhile...and of all your children I find myself feeling the most emotions for him, he somehow provokes an overly enormous emotional response in me, becuase Aim, I feel a kinship with that child...I know what its like when you're body cannot cope with the sensations that its being deluged with, I know what its like when you're brain lies to your body and your body goes crazy. But even while I know what this is like, and while I do fear for him, I know that BabyGirl doesn't exhibit the signs The Boy did, and I adore your girls in all their glorious joy, and I know that despite the hard times you can experience as a parent...you are never alone, you have us - your family, and you have your faith, for in God, all things find peace and comfort.

    I love my big sister - do not worry so! J.

  6. Do you remember the card you sent me when I was having my reproductive....issues? The one wherre you wrote down the quote from Our Lady of Guadalupe?: "Am I not your mother? Are you not in the folds of my mantle?" You said it gets you through; remember her words and lose yourself in Jesus. Go read Matthew 6:25-34.

    I love you and am praying for you guys...


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