Unfortunately, my induction into motherhood was not pleasant or beautiful. It was a terrible, hospital admitted preganancy followed by an urgent C-section and two tiny sick babies in the NICU. While I automatically associated overwhelming love with motherhood, I also associated anxiety and fear.
You know how constant crying can drive you crazy? Well with twin babies, it seemed like someone was always crying..throw another one into the mix a year and a half later and you are literally surrounded by wailing and tears..They were babies..they were supposed to cry, right? No..I could not handle it. Not because the noise itself bothered me but because I felt like it meant I was failing in some way...not meeting a need. I wanted to anticipate what my babies needed, therefore eliminating their need to cry. Bad move..if you are a new mom or a future mom please take this to heart...unless there is a medical reason, you do not need to meet your baby's every need the very second it is expressed.
When I finally brought the boys home, we also brought a heart monitor and an oxygen tank. It sat in the corner of the nursery looking like a giant torpedo, constantly reminding me how frail and fragile the boys, especially B, where. I would find myself in the hall running toward their room before I even realized I was awake because the heart monitor alarm was sounding. I was a nervous wreck. But I was also constantly in a state of high alert. Looking back, I wish I could have relaxed a little more, enjoyed a little more...but the anxiety is probably what fueled my constant energy and allowed me to operate on 3 or 4 hours of sleep.
The boys thrived and grew, with a lot of attention and a lot of Doctor's visits. And then little C was born and came into the world in a much more mellow fashion. In fact, she is a much more mellow kid in general. But I noticed a problem as the boys approached toddler-hood. I still wanted to fix everything for them, all the time. I did not know how to "mother" without being anxious. We had developed habits and relationships based on love, yes, but also on me being scared and nervous. On survival-instinct, which is gutteral and irrational. And they counted on me anticipating every need, every want. And I had to let go..at least a little. I still struggle with this. Every day. But as my pediatrician told me "it is not our job to make our kids happy, it is our job to teach them how to make themselves happy". So true. I want functional adorable little kids who are loving and independant and sure of their own abilities. I also want them to know they can come to me for anything. They will always be my first priorities. All three of my kids are bright and social, and they do not need me to solve all of their problems. They are completely capable, and I want them to realize just how capable, so I have to let them work it out, cry it out in timeout, or just be mad sometimes. I want love and respect to rule our relationships, not anxiety.
So here is my advice if you have a baby...It is ok if they are not happy for a few minutes while you get the bottle ready. You do not have to run to them, heart pounding and breathing heavily every time they cry out in the middle of the night. You don't have to solve every little thing for them right away, sometimes a little frustration is good for them. I tell you from experience that if you jump every time your baby whimpers, you will soon have a toddler who not only tells you to jump, but how high as well.