In my Facebook feed this morning there was a new baby born into the "Lucky Fin" family. The mom asked for "any suggestions to get stronger and deal with fear and criticism". My advice was two fold. Any parent with a child has fear and criticism. It's part of parenting. Will your child do things on time? Will he/she grow and thrive? Develop normally (whatever that means!)? Will he/she ride a bike? Have friends? Get bullied? So many questions fill your brain!
I remember being pregnant and wondering how Bella would cope and deal with her difference too, not only how I would deal with others comments and questions. First, we take them all in stride. We've gotten better as she has grown with answering questions. Many of the questions are the same ones over and over, so you get very good at answering those. The other questions, I take a deep breath and then speak. Sometimes they are "easy" questions and sometimes they challenge me. Bella asked me the other day why Papa was my "step dad". Um... why was I not prepared to answer this? I mean, I figured at some point the kids would ask or they would why their grandparents weren't married on either side of the family but I hadn't really thought of the answer. I answered it the best I could. Anyhow, you learn as you go!
I told this mama to allow the emotions flow and know that any emotion and every emotion was normal. As a new mom, I was scared, excited, nervous, happy, sad, overjoyed, scared, thrilled... I felt them all not just because my girl was missing her left hand but because I was a new mom. Holy crap, what had we done? I was responsible for keeping someone else alive! It was exciting and overwhelming. I remember crying because the love I felt was her was so much to take in. I remember crying because she nursed like a champ. I remember crying because she was crying. It's life people, parenting is tough work! Mom is the best title I've ever had and the most challenging all at the same time. I think some people are quick to say "oh you have a new baby, what do you have to be sad about?" Um the lack of sleep was enough to make me be sad! That was no joke. I mean, I've been a parent for 6 1/2 years and I still am missing sleep. Such is life.
I also told her to take time to enjoy her baby. It's easy to get caught up in the tasks but my favorite moments were the moments when I would sleep and she would sleep on my chest. As much as I lacked sleep, I also enjoyed the quiet, dark night time nursing sessions. I could just listen to my baby breath and eat and feel their little body close to mine. It was just me and the babe and I loved it.
Connecting with other parents is also an important part of being a parent to me. Connecting to others who parent the same and parent different. It allows me to learn and grow as a mother. Connecting with parents with kids like mine (we LOVE our community of limb difference families!), they provide support and encouragement. Reach out to those parents when you need a friend, talk with them, ask questions, express your emotions. I had a friend once say "I don't know if I can really say this because it makes me feel awful but I just need some time to be me!" I confirmed that I sometimes felt that way too. We laughed at how bad we felt for wanting to take time for ourselves because we loved our kids but we also knew that we needed time to do things we enjoyed to make us better mothers. One prime example, date night. Reconnecting with my husband reinforces our love and our connection with each other. It makes us better parents and partners.
Enjoy that babe, connect, embrace your emotions!