There’s an app for everything from tracking our fertility, comparing our growing bumps to weird fruits and vegetables, and timing our contractions during labor. Then after we have the baby, the temptation to calculate only continues with apps for logging nursing sessions, sleep patterns, wet diapers, and more. So. many. logs.
While I enjoyed being able to calculate my pregnancy, I realize now that it set me up for failure when it comes to becoming a mother. All the reading and logging trained me to treat my baby as the “text book baby,” which is probably why he gave me one hell of a labor, laughing at my thoroughly-vetted birth plan.
My baby has his own personality. He is not part of a universal blob of babies who come out with predictable patterns and preferences. He is unique. Our bond is unique, and I can read him better than the most savvy of apps.
I would have probably stepped into motherhood with much less anxiety if I had found more confidence and flexibility in this concept of me as a legitimate source.
It’s no one’s fault but my own. This is not a blog bashing experts and baby books. People did warn me – “No matter what, be open,” and “Mother knows best – always follow your instinct.” These phrases surround us during pregnancy just as much as the overbearing resources. But, I’m susceptible to outsourcing things to “experts” and “data” because I’m a planner. I like validating my feelings with facts and findings. Plus, teaching yourself how to tap into your intuition is much harder than simply reading A-Z articles on parenting. So I fell for the latter.
Then when my beautiful baby came stubbornly into this world, I didn’t understand him because I was not prepared to simply listen to him. I was prepared to follow more articles, because that’s all I knew how to do – research.
The experts told me he would love to be swaddled. I didn’t understand why he punched and kicked out of every swaddle as I tirelessly tried every burrito-style tutorial I could find on YouTube.
I didn’t understand why he was nursing every hour on the hour, rather than the standard 2-3. I knew it was impossible to “overfeed,” but I felt self-conscious every time someone questioned why I was nursing so much.
I didn’t understand why he hated lying in his crib; didn’t all babies sleep in cribs? Why else do people build those things? I said I would never co-sleep, damnit. I felt so torn for going back on something I said I would “never” do.
It was a turbulent first month. I had anxiety through the roof as I was forced to finally tune out the world’s opinions on my baby and form my own damn opinion on my baby. I gave so much credit and validity to outside experts that I devalued the most important expert of all – me. He’s my baby.
You see, it is not science. It is nature.
It’s holding him close at night and knowing that he is able to fall asleep because our heartbeats align.
It’s seeing those little hands flail towards his mouth and watching his squishy face sway side-to-side knowing that’s his cue for milk.
It’s knowing he’s upset when his little eyebrows start turning red, and knowing just how to soothe him by running the shower and bouncing on an exercise ball.
It’s knowing my baby.
Sometimes, we make things so much harder than they need to be. The journey to motherhood is not characterized by us and all of our preparations. It is characterized by our babies, who are nothing short of these incredible little humans who will connect with you as the mama in ways you didn’t think were possible. Your baby is not just dependent on you; your baby will work with you.
Ironically, if I had done a little less research, I probably would have been more prepared.