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We were well into our bedtime routine this evening when I discovered that we were nearly out of whole milk and did not have enough to make a full bottle for Bear, my thirteen month-old.  My husband had stepped onto a plane less than 30 minutes earlier – begrudgingly, I might add, as his work was sending him away for several days of depositions – and I found myself wanting to blame him.  If he were here, I could send him to the store for milk for Bear’s bottle.  Since he was not, I was faced with several options.  I could add several ounces of skim milk to the whole milk in her bottle to top her off for the night, or I could put her in the car and take her grocery shopping.

 If Bear were not my first child, I may have been more willing to break those “rules” that they give new parents at pediatrician’s offices.  “Do NOT water-down baby’s bottles” is a cardinal one.  Of course, I well understand the reasoning behind this rule, but it is not as though I were going to dilute formula.  I just wanted to give my semi-toddler a full bottle milk before bed.  I doubted that a few ounces of skim milk on top of several ounces of whole milk would cause Bear any real problems.  But, well…there is still that new parent doubt.  So instead, I opted for Plan B, which in my mind wasn’t necessarily better, but one that would allow me to sleep a little more soundly tonight. 

Bear fussed as I strapped her into her car seat.  She was already dressed in her p.j.’s, and because we also subscribe to the No Blankets Rule, Bear sleeps in long sleeves despite the fact that it is June and already sweltering outside.  I carried my overly-warm and barefooted child into the grocery store and slipped her into the front seat of the cart.  I did not even think about carrying in the cart seat cover…that hideous, overgrown pile of material that Boppy (and others, I’m sure) sells to nervous new parents.  I also made the calculated (and lazy) decision to not wipe down the cart with the antibacterial wipes that the store so graciously supplies it’s germ-wary patrons.  As I reached down to fasten the belt around my little houdini, I discovered that the plastic fastener had been broken off.  Instead of switching carts like a careful mom would do, I resolved to simply keep a hand on my child and pray that she didn’t choose tonight to practice gymnastics.  I simultaneously gave myself a mental “high-five” for my relaxed parenting choice and a mental chastizement for potentially endangering my child by using a defective and germ-laden cart.

I purposefully steered the cart to the refridgerated section of the “Natural Foods” aisle of the store and eyed the three remaining containers of whole milk in my chosen brand, which carries an organic label that likely serves no other purpose beyond a good marketing strategy to get moms to spend more money.   As I grumpily stacked the three milk containers into the cart, I noticed a man standing behind me a little too closely.  When I turned to look at him with a “don’t-mess-with-me-I’m-buying-all-of-this-for-my-hungry-baby” look, I saw that he was grinning.  He gestured knowingly at my daughter.  “I’m here for the soy milk,” he announces.  For his hungry baby.  Of course.  I nod understandingly.  It could be worse.  At least my child is not lactose intolerant.  I wheeled Bear to the checkout counter thankful that he hadn’t wanted my milk but wondering if that daddy knew something that I don’t about milk and if I should be feeding Bear soy milk instead.

 As I set them  onto the counter, Bear began screaming and lunging for the milk cartons.  I did my best to reign her in and watch the increasingly bewildered look on the high school boy who was scanning my purchases.  Bear’s milk-grabbing manuevers and screaming continued, and several other shoppers turned and eyed us disapprovingly.   But at that moment, I didn’t care.  I took my milk and carried Bear to the car with her curly hair flopping in her eyes and hungry tears on her cheeks.  And about thirty minutes later, put a tired, but satisfied, little girl to bed about the same time that her daddy’s plane touched down somewhere else.

Thirteen months into parenthood, and even though I am more relaxed in many ways than I was a year ago, I find everyday that I am still a new mom.