I've always been a planner. Call it control freak, call it neurotic, call it whatever you want, but I've always been one to meticulously plot things out, to plan my attack, to cover my bases.
That said, I assumed I would be one of "those" moms - the neurotic yuppie, the overinformed, web-surfing, information-hoarding, statistic-quoting obsessive, eager for their child to meet every developmental milestone, rather like Rick Moranis's character in "Parenthood" (ah, an oldie but a goodie). How could I not be this mom? I am, after all, the woman who has obsessively researched the ingredients of every single skincare product she uses on her herself, who can list all the toxins present in an average tube of lip gloss without batting an eye. Surely I would extend this behavior into parenthood, no?
Instead, I seem to have surprised myself. The obsessively over-achieving yuppie mom has yet to rear her ugly head - in her place is just a tired, anxious new mother keeping it together as best she can.
Carter's early days in the hospital were trying - his white blood cell count was high, so he was treated preemptively with several rounds of antibiotics until his test results came back normal and rendered it all unnecessary. Witnessing a parade of strange nurses wandering in and out and poking my tiny infant son with needles at all hours left me a haggard mess. Every time I heard him scream, I had to restrain myself from grabbing the nearest blunt object and beating the nurse senseless - back off my baby, bitch! I didn't sleep for three days, and replaced rest with worry until we got the green light that he was perfectly healthy.
This difficult beginning seemed to give me new perspective - since bringing Carter home from the hospital, my sole focus has been feeding him and helping him pack on the pounds. I have not researched anything on the web. I have not looked into what developmental milestone he should achieve this week. I have hardly cracked the innumerable baby books strewn about the living room. All that matters is that I have a healthy baby, and this single focus trumps all.
Yesterday I took Carter to the New Mother Support Group at the Pump Station in Hollywood. I'd gone once before when I was still pregnant, and was eager to go back with my little boy. At my initial visit, several women had broken down in tears describing their problems and frustrations as the others rallied around them with words of support and encouragement. This selfless display of woman power made one thing abundantly clear - no matter how much they prepare, everyone's terrified and no one really knows what they're doing. I found this realization very comforting at the time, and it has been tremendously helpful to remember since Carter was born. Every parent wants to do right by their child, and every new mother simply does the best she can. As a result, whenever I feel like dissolving into a self-flagellating bucket of insecurities because, say, Carter didn't get enough tummy time today, I remind myself that I am doing the best I possibly can.
And you know, that's pretty damn good.