I sat in the paediatrician’s office and played him a video clip of my baby son. He studied it as I fretted beside him. When it finished I nervously asked if there was anything wrong with my child.
“Annnnd, um, what is it exactly that I should be noticing?” he asked cautiously.
“That weird way he’s talking!” I cried. “You see the way he’s trying to make babbling noises but he’s doing it with his mouth shut? That’s not normal, is it!?”
He gave me that look doctors sometimes give first time mums. You know the one where they’re trying to decide if you’re an over anxious mother or just a bit slow?
“He’s just fine,” he said with a carefulness that told me he’d decided I was one of the slow ones.
It wasn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last time I’ve worried over something ridiculous when it comes to my children. I’ve worried I worry too much and I’ve worried I’m not worrying enough. I’ve also worried that my worries are not quite sane… but I’ve spoken to enough mums now to know I’m perfectly normal. Whatever that means.
We worry. All the time, about every little thing. It’s part of the job.
Most of our worries can fit into some broader categories:
I’m going to break the baby
Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, is there any way in which you CAN’T break the baby?
They hand you a tiny human, just seconds old, and tell you to deal with it. After marvelling at the miracle in your arms, you think, “how do I not kill this creature?”
Every step you take feels like an achievement to survive. You need to make that baby eat and sleep; you need to keep it clean and warm. Most of all, you definitely shouldn’t drop the baby. Or drop anything on the baby. Or fall on the baby or fall while holding the baby. Or smash their tiny head on the doorframe as you walk through. These teeny squawking babes seem so poorly designed. Why would they make their heads so soft? Why are their nostrils so tiny and always stuffed up?
The good news is you’re extremely unlikely to break the baby. The bad news is you won’t stop worrying. Ever.
The baby is going to break itself
It starts with the razor-like claws of the newborn who will, without rhyme or reason, attack their own face in a fight to the death in which their beautiful face loses.
The danger grows from here.
The second your child figures out how to move, you’re screwed. They have an unstoppable desire to do the very most dangerous thing you can possibly think of way before they are physically capable of doing it. Just learning to crawl? Better try and get down those stairs then! First steps? Wow, check out that narrow wall up there, let’s try and walk along it! Learning to climb? Oh look, there’s a ladder that goes right up to the roof!!
Chances of the baby breaking itself are actually pretty high. If you make it to 12 months old without a dash to the emergency room because of an enormous egg on their head, you’re doing pretty well. They’ll probably survive though.
The world is going to break my baby
Taking your new baby out into the world is like a horror movie of possibility. The danger, the toxins, the germs! It’s a cesspool out there and you’re just letting your child roll around in it.
Those cars on the road are way too close. That person ran so close to the pram. That woman’s cough sounded really deadly and you’re sure you saw some droplets float through the air and onto your baby. A weird man just TOUCHED YOUR CHILD when he said hello. WHO DOES THAT!? He could have leprosy!
Let’s not even get started on the first time you leave your precious baby in the care of someone else. Walking away feels like leaving your internal organs in someone else’s hands and hoping you’re still living when you get back.
No it doesn’t feel normal to worry this much about things you can’t control. No you can’t stop it. Welcome to motherhood!
I need to feed the baby
On the arrival of your child, a change takes place in your soul that makes food the centre of your world, because you are an animal and it’s your primary instinct to feed your offspring. It starts with milk and the all-consuming concerns over how much they’re getting and if it’s good enough to fatten them up. Then you start solids and your world revolves around the 17 meals a day your child seems to need and the endless cycle of cleaning rejected food off the floor.
It’s not just whether they’re eating enough food, it’s whether they’re eating the right food. Is it fresh, is it healthy, is it free of preservatives, additives, sugar, salt, caffeine, plutonium etc? The pressure to provide the perfect food is overwhelming and it feels like you need to make everything yourself even if cooking and steaming 84 varieties of fruit and veg feels like actual torture because you’ve had forty two minutes sleep in three days.
Most people wouldn’t even notice or care what a pouch of baby food looks like but when I heard Heinz had made a change to see-through pouches, I knew the idea must have come from a mum.I’ve got two kids now so I’m pretty relaxed about letting my toddler have a pouch now and then but I still want to have some control over what she’s eating.
I’m clearly not the only one who thinks this because when Heinz spoke with over 500 Aussie mums about its infant food range, they learnt that mums wanted to see the ingredients in their kids’ food. Mums want clearly honest food with no artificial colours or preservatives.
Feeding your baby feels like the most important job in the world and Heinz has respected that by making all of its jar and pouch baby food in a specialist baby food facility in country Victoria, steam cooked with quality ingredients and taste tested every morning by locals who are dedicated to feeding all of our babies the very best.
It’s nice to know that someone understands that mums have a right to be discerning over what their kids eat.
Are there any other worries you’d add to this list?