I have never considered myself to be a fearful person. I’m cautious, responsible and aware of potential dangers but have never been the kind of person that lets fear come between her and something she wants to do. When I was younger I practiced gymnastics and at our gym there was a saying drawn on the wall “don’t let fear steal your dreams”. Now in gymnastics this is a crucial factor. When you are trying to do a flip in a balance beam towering over the ground below or you and running full speed ahead towards a stationary vault you cannot allow fear to enter your mind even for a second. If you let fear in you freeze up and that is when you could really get hurt. My worst injury in gymnastics was on the balance beam when I landed with the whole weight and force of my body onto my “private parts” and cut myself in ways I didn’t even know were possible. Needless to say that after that my confidence was never the same. I ended up retiring from gymnastics once I realized the fear was there to stay. Why risk it right?
Well, when becoming a mom I was in for a crash course in not letting fear take hold of me. When I delivered my baby girl she had no heartbeat and was not breathing. She was given chest compressions and intubated and rushed to the NICU. She spent the first five days of her life in the NICU and unfortunately I had a series of medical complications which meant I was not able to leave my hospital bed. The above photo is the first time I got to see my daughter. My husband took the photo once they had stabilized her and he printed it out for me to keep until I was able to meet her in person.
I spent nine months waiting to meet this tiny human and then when she finally arrives I don’t even get to meet her. Talk about soul crushing. Everyone that came to visit got to go and meet her and then they would come and visit me and tell me all about her. I was so grateful that everyone had taken the time to come meet her but inside I was crying every time I heard from someone else what my little girl was like.
Not letting fear consume me was all I could think about. When it is 1am and you get woken up by neonatal doctors telling you that your baby has an infection that isn’t responding to antibiotics and they need to get your consent to give her a lumbar puncture it’s kinda hard to not go into full on panic mode. Not to mention when the next day they tell you that there is swelling in her brain and a small bleed. Talk about experiencing the Fear Factor of parenting straight off the bat. I had only one choice and that was to trust that my baby was in God’s hands and he was guiding all the doctors. I knew I would get to meet her eventually and until then I had to make sure I took care of myself and recovered.
Finally, on the fifth day I was able to go and meet my baby. It was hard not to cry when I was wheeled into the NICU and saw her covered in cables, feeding tube into her nose, bruising on her tiny face from the forceps. When I finally got to hold her it was bliss. A real miracle occurred when she recovered a lot faster than they expected and on the 7th day we were allowed to go home.
Our first night back in our apartment was the scariest of all. The reality finally kicked in, we were home alone (no medical staff around to rescue us) in charge of a tiny human…… Talk about fear kicking in, we took turns through the night making sure she was still breathing. At one point she was so still my hubby put his finger under her nose to make sure she was breathing, when he couldn’t feel anything he decided the best thing would be to place his hand on her chest and give her a little nudge. I have never been more terrified.
Becoming a mom certainly makes you more acutely aware of all the possible dangers in your every day life. Some nights I would lie in bed and think about all the things that could go wrong…. It’s a good thing I’m not normally a fearful person otherwise I doubt I ever would have left my house. I see mom’s who are terrified of letting their kids be touched by friends and family without a complete wipe down with antibacterial wipes, moms who wont let their kids go on play-date for fear that something might happen while they are away and of course the helicopter moms I see on the playground who don’t let their kids out of their sight for a second and their arms are always outstretched ready to catch. I don’t judge them, I don’t think anything badly about the ways they chose to deal with these fears that parenting seem to awaken within us.
All I know is that I am grateful that over the years the fears have subsided and now with my second child they are almost non-existent. Charlie is the kid that eats leaves off the floor at the park, or the kid who gets to play on the jungle-gym and then gets to have a snack without even washing his little hands. He falls all the time and being a boy he definitely likes to climb everything he sets his eyes on, so I guess it’s a good thing I have learned to let fear go and embrace the unknown.