The Worrier

It’s the worst thing about me, my propensity for worry. Well, along with my terrible temper, frustrating stubbornness, and inability to keep a place clean for more than two hours. And, you know, all the other things about me that aren’t rainbows and butterflies.

But the worry is a problem. It saps my oomph and prevents me from enjoying the small things, like the surprise of an almost-autumnal day in August, or the anticipation of a fence almost finished, or this child of mine who is so darned snuggable I spent all day with him in my arms (as my poor wrists can attest to). He’s changing every day; already I’m wistful for the skinny little birdie he was when he was born. “Open wide like a little birdie!” I’d say to him as we worked on his breastfeeding latch. And he would, a wide open birdie mouth on a scrawny little neck. Almost two weeks of room to grow and he’s looking like a chunky little birdie now.

Instead, I think about all the ways life will be hard for my son, all the times he’ll be frustrated or disappointed or down, and already I feel slightly impotent at not being able to prevent that. I worry that he’s not pooping enough (after spending last week worried that he was pooping too much). I worry he’s getting increasingly vocal about being hungry because my attempts to insist he breastfeed lead him to believe we starve newborns for fun. I worry I’m not trying hard enough to make breastfeeding a success because I haven’t done that nursing vacation thing they suggested where one takes the baby to bed and does nothing for two days but feed and sleep.

Vacation, my ass. That sounds like a recipe for a sad puddle of downtrodden me. I’m having a hard time today because I spent all day at home, for heaven’s sakes. Banishing me to the bedroom would not be a good thing for any of us. And yet, despite knowing this about myself, I feel bad – that I’m not the kind of person who would call that a vacation, the kind of person who would go to those lengths to ensure she could breastfeed her son, that the kind of person I am figures formula was good enough for numerous people she considers smart and successful. While I may not have been able to articulate why I’ve put off heading to bed with my kid for two days, the feeling that I shouldn’t was one I heeded.

And yet, I worry. I still don’t call him a name, sticking instead to nicknames like “Mister Mister” and “The Little Dude” and “Sweet Pea” – and I worry about that.

Perhaps parenthood is giving me the opportunity to deal with these less than savory parts of myself, choosing another way for the sake of my son rather than allowing The Worry to take over. Perhaps it’s time to just set the worry aside and live.

“If I don’t worry, what will I do?” I asked my therapist many years ago.

“Just live. Breathe and live and enjoy,” he replied.

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6 thoughts on “The Worrier

  1. Since I had my daughter, I have become much more of a worrier (is she breathing? is she healthy? is she growing properly? am I doing the right thing?), although I wasn’t very anxious beforehand. Now it’s as if I have a constant low level of anxiety as my brain automatically monitors her status, even when I don’t want it to (like when I should be sleeping). My mother told me that this never goes away, even when children are grown up.

    Maybe back in the day, being a really relaxed parent meant your children got eaten by hyenas, so only the anxious ones reproduced successfully. (I’d like to think my anxiety is serving some kind of purpose!)

    But if you figure out how to manage The Worry better, please post about it!

  2. I wanted to say a heartfelt thank you for the last two lines of your post. While we are in two very different situations, it was exactly what I needed to read in my reader. I wish I had words of wisdom or advice, but I don’t. I hope you are able to find strength in letting the worry go…or at least not focusing so much on it. Easier said than done but it is worth working towards.

  3. The best parenting advice I ever got was that YOU are the best momma for YOUR baby. Don’t worry about what others are doing, or what comparing your babe to standards. Everyone grows and develops and learns on their own time… you and the babe included. Remember that he is still right out of the oven, and his body is just getting used to having to do things on it’s own. And you? You are a momma, and mommas are born the same time that the babies are! Everything is new, and having a child adds a whole new dimension to things. It’s ok to worry, but your therapist is right – remember to to take a breath and just soak everything in.

  4. I feel (almost 16 weeks on) and felt the same way. We haven’t had quite as many issues with breastfeeding. But I always worry I won’t make enough (my mother and sister weren’t able to make enough) and that it isn’t good enough. I worry that his green poops mean his stomach is hurting and I can’t seem to fix it (I started the Total Elimination Diet even). I think that is part of the job. But it is also part of the job to keep that worry inside and realize that it is just worry. That you can do whatever is necessary. That the worry is just your love for your baby and it isn’t always right. That it just reminds you how important you are in his life. Then do something to fix the worry (I got a blood panel done so I knew that there was nothing physically wrong with me and my production) and move on. See or call the LC and then move on.

    I used to tell my baby “Big Fat Bass mouth” thinking of those singing bass. LOL.

  5. Don’t worry about the name thing. My nephew is 7 months old and we’re just starting to not feel weird about calling him by his name, instead “hey there baby!” or “why hello, little guy!”

  6. I just want to comment on the “nursing vacation”. My son is now almost 3 months old and has been breastfeed (no bottle either) exclusively. However, when he was only ONE week old, I lost my milk due to stress and anxiety (LONG story). For 2 nights straight, my baby screamed and I nursed him every half hour, and he continued to scream. Poor kid wasn’t getting anything to eat. Once my milk came back in (again), I seriously locked myself in my bedroom with the baby for an entire day. All I that whole day was sleep and nurse. We had company staying in our home and I needed to get away from the stress they created for me and so I hid in my room all day. It was wonderful. I was lucky enough to get my milk back because I know that usually if you lose it, its gone. The kid is now growing at an exponential rate (15.5# at 2 months!) and breastfeeding is well established although it took us much longer than the “6 weeks”. I would seriously consider doing the “nursing vacation” if nothing more than to just rest and bond. Shoot, even if you are giving him a bottle, I’d still do it. It did wonders for my stress/anxiety and might do the same for you. Also, don’t forget that worry and stress can seriously affect your milk production. (And now you have something else to worry about ;))

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