Worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry. And then worry a bit more.
That’s just how it is. From the moment that test stick reveals that there is the beginnings of life within, you start to worry (amongst other emotions of course). This worry does not fade, wane or dissipate, no. It INTENSIFIES! And when the baby finally slithers in to the world – or is retrieved from you as was the case for me, there is an invisible but strongly felt explosion of worry that overwhelms your exhausted shell.
Please note: You must display just the right amount of worry. Too much and people might think you’re not coping. Too little and they’ll probably assume you’re not bonding with the baby. No, you have to get it just right. Let your worry present itself as ‘natural concern combined with an air of innate maternal confidence’ (this isn’t a real thing) and squash your worry back in to your throat and seal it in with a fixed smile. Then put lip gloss on.
Ever watched a couple try and go for a walk with their newborn? Dad is proudly pushing the pram, feeling pumped and puffed up and secretly enjoying mastering the new skills of pushchair driving. His thoughts are consumed with how good the suspension is, the smoothness of the ride and the excellent steering. They have travelled a mere 5 paces from their front door when Mum suddenly says ‘Stop a minute, I just want to check something..’
“Do you think she’s warm enough?”
“Don’t know feel her hands.”
“They feel quite warm. I’ll pop another blanket on just in case.”
With that worry diminished the couple continue on their walk. Dad marvels once more at the pram’s performance and is just about to say so when “Stop a minute, I just need to check…”
Mum leans in pram.
“Do you think she’ll overheat with the extra blanket?”
“I read that they’re not supposed to get too hot.”
“I’m sure she’ll be fine.”
Mum removes blanket. They begin to walk again.
Dad halts immediately.
And this continues for the duration of their stressful, worrisome first trip to the out of doors world with their tiny helpless bundle.
This is just the start, there are SOOOO many things to bloody worry about and worry we do.
One of the most anxiety inducing episodes is always when your child is poorly, or you think they might be poorly, or you think they might be about to be poorly.
It’s terrifying and it sends us parents in to utter panic.
And if, like me you happen to naturally be of a neurotic disposition to begin with, then mum-dom will destroy your nerves. I have reached at times, a whole new level of anxiety via worrying about my babies, just when I thought I couldn’t be strung any higher. Of course sleep deprivation plays a key part in how rational your thoughts are and how calm you are able to remain, which is why for a long time I was a gibbering wreck. I’m calmer now that the children are a bit more robust but they still catch me and my nervous system out!
Two days ago, my daughter was in the downstairs toilet. “I’ve done a poo! Can someone wipe my bottom?!” came the sweet words from my 3 year old daughter.
Dad stepped up to the task.
There was a pause. And then my husbands voice:
“Lou, come and look at this.”
It sounded ominous.
Child was poised for wiping and there we were husband and I, staring into the toilet at a very bright RED poop.
My heart thumped painfully a couple of times before I took a deep breath, praised child on her excellent toilet going and wiped said child’s bottom. Child ran off.
We looked at each other with serious faces and then looked back at the poo before one of us uttered the words; “Does that look like blood to you?”
“It can’t be can it?”
I was doing mental backtracks over everything she’d eaten in the past week and it wasn’t helping. She’s going through a fussy phase and her current diet pretty much consists of only beige foods. I couldn’t think of a single red thing that she might have eaten that could have caused this. My own personal experience of this type of thing happened once after I’d eaten beetroot carpaccio. I doubted whether my 3 year old would even be able to name a beetroot let alone eat one.
I turned to look at my daughter, she was running around the hallway, completely naked shouting in to a minion walkie talkie. She seemed fine.
“Darling, have you been putting crayons in your mouth or anything..like that?” Even as I say it, I know its lame. Of course she hasn’t. She’s smart.
Our eldest appeared in the toilet doorway. I’m casual.
“Have you done a poo recently my love?”
“Err.. no. Why?”
“Next time you do one, let mummy or daddy have a look at it before you flush it away, okay?”
Perfectly normal request. I focus my attention back on to the poo.
Husband was still staring in to toilet bowl looking confused, one hand on chin, one hand on cistern. It was unclear whether his thoughts were still on the red poo or whether they had migrated to plumbing – but he was pulling all the right faces.
“I’m going to hook a bit out and get a better look.” I say.
Again. Under the circumstances. Perfectly normal.
I retrieved a small plastic tub from the cupboard full of small plastic tubs that all tumble out each and every flippin’ time the flippin’ cupboard door is opened. And an old baby weaning spoon from the cutlery drawer.
Unflinchingly, (hard core mum-style) I leaned in and hooked out a (larger than was really necessary) piece of bright red poo. Husband and I both inspected it as I set about breaking it up with the little blue plastic utensil that we once used to feed our baby her first solids. Oh the irony!
It was red through and through.
I was shaking now.
Husband was quiet, frowning, with the neck of his t-shirt pulled up over his nose and mouth.
The smell did not affect me, a totally inappropriate fight or flight response had kicked in and I’d have absolutely been ready to fight a hungry lion – if I hadn’t felt so giddy.
At this point, I did what any mother would do.
I phoned my mother.
She, like me back tracked through everything they’d eaten at her house the day before. Jacket potato, cheese, chorizo..
“Could it be the paprika in the chorizo?”
I considered the likelihood of this.
“No, there wouldn’t be enough paprika in a few tiny chopped pieces of chorizo to turn a child’s whole poo bright red would there? – Anyway, it’s the wrong shade..”
Then the penny dropped and we both blurted in unison “JELLY!”
The girls had both had a strawberry flavoured Peppa Pig jelly for pudding the day before! Could it be that which had turned my daughters stool crimson?
Blood rushed to my head and I suddenly became aware of the eldest calling from the upstairs loo:
“Mum! I’ve just done a poo, do you want to see it?”
“YES!! DON”T FLUSH IT AWAY!!” I clambered up the stairs, “Hang on mum, I’m just having a look at..”
“Oh! Oh thank goodness!”
“Yep. Yep mum, Yep it was the jelly. Yep, hers is red too. It’s not blood. Panic over. Yep, Love you too. Bye.”
I hang up, let out a primeval groan and collapse on the top stair.
My mum says you never stop worrying about your kids, even when they are grown ups and I can quite believe it. In fact I’m already worrying about them when they are grown ups. They are my babies! And it’s natural for us mums to worry, it’s what makes us mindful parents and it means we are doing a bloody good job. We shouldn’t have to pretend that being a mum is a breeze because we have a ‘natural instinct’. Even the most naturally talented people have to practise really hard to get good at what they do. But we don’t have chance to practise so we are bumbling through. It’s ok to ask for help and it’s ok to feel like your floundering and it’s normal to worry. And I don’t care what any medical professional says; Wine DOES help.
Just for the record: although I probably will always worry about my children, I will definitely not be inspecting my daughter’s poo when she is 35, no matter what colour it is.