By Guest Blogger Olivia Shaw
It started during pregnancy. Well-meaning people (usually strangers) asked the typical questions: Do you know the gender? When are you due? Were you trying to get pregnant? (I can’t believe anyone feels comfortable asking that one!) I didn’t mind answering questions at first, but after the hundredth time reciting my due date, it got tiring. As an introvert, I didn’t love the attention that my bump brought.
Even doctors made remarks like Are these stretch marks from pregnancy? Um, yes, thanks for checking. Being weighed at every visit got stressful toward the end of my pregnancy, since I had gained more than the recommended amount. One doctor at my Ob/Gyn harped on it, but I wasn’t “eating for two.” Having my weight examined made me feel exposed.
Once my precious boy was born, my natural worry-wart ways went into overdrive. I checked his breathing while he slept. I didn’t take him out in public until the doctor said it was okay. It was the usual first-time parent precautions.
Suddenly, there was this person who I loved beyond comprehension, and I was completely responsible for him. It became easy to worry about all the things I don’t have control over. My sense of vulnerability changed from feeling exposed myself to worrying over what my baby would be exposed to.
The comments from strangers persist now that he’s born. People like to point out his red hair (rightly so–it’s gorgeous!) They want to know his name and age. It’s innocent interest, but I’d still prefer to shop undisturbed. The worst is when strangers think it’s okay to touch him, even on the face! I quickly wipe him with a baby wipe once they’ve rounded a corner, hoping he won’t get sick. Already, I can’t protect him from everything.
My desire to protect my son from everything only sheds light on the fact that I can’t, which makes me feel powerless. Combine that with the amount of daily strength it takes to care for a baby, and I’m left feeling weak.
But, when I reflect on everything I’ve already done as a mother, I feel strong. I got through pregnancy and delivery. I survived the newborn stage and made tough decisions on how I would parent. I’ve fed, diapered, and played with my little man day in and day out. That is anything but weak. My son will see my strength and realize that he has a lot of strength of his own. I am not vulnerable, and neither is he.
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