Jack is nine months old now. I have watched him grow and become one hell of a man-cub for as many months as it took to form him. I'm now on the inside looking out instead of the outside wishing I could look in and the view is more wonderful and beautiful and a whole slew of adjectives as flowery as Liberace's wardrobe.
Today I took him in for his nine month check up, which was right in the nick of time as he had developed a pretty raspy and obvious cold. Every time he breathed in and coo'd his little lungs and throat rattled with phlem and made me want to break down.
"What's wrong? You seem quiet." Greg said on the way to his appointment.
"Nothing. Its just that every time I hear that cough I want to cry. Because he's so sweet and he doesn't deserve to be sick and I feel like a failure.....and I need coffee. I just need my coffee."
But all the caramel machiatos in the world weren't going to save myself from the mental lashing I was giving my confidence as a mother.
"I knew he'd get sick eventually. It's all because I didn't breastfeed him long enough! Six weeks isn't shit! Not when the National Board of Pediatrics recomends at LEAST six months to a year. Stupid boobs! My boobs have failed me! They have failed him. Incompitent boobs and your inability to produce more than three ounces every three hours. Fuck you. Fuck you both to hell. My body as failed me. It couldn't even birth him naturally! All the pushing in the world and they still had to cut him out of me! GARRRGGHHH! I'm a horrible mother!" And so on X infinity.
Every time I take him for his appointments I go through this mental grappling. Second guessing myself, even though I feel I'm doing everything right. Even though he's giggling and talking to his Curious George stuffed animal in the back seat, happy as a clam.
"Its just a cough. He'll be fine".
And with that Greg went to work and I drove the 1/4 of a mile from his work to the pediatrician. I took him out of the car and popped him in his stroller, when suddenly it dawned on me that I forgot his immunization records. As I searched the car and my bag in vain, I spilled half of my coffee all over the passanger seat of the car.
"AHHHH FUCK ME!!!"
I shook it off and carried on. Like a student waiting for their report card, I sat and waited for the appointment. The evaluation of my son and consequently my skills as a parent.
"Well, well, well its Mr. Jack!" said Dr. T. "He's looking good. How's things with him?"
(*thump*thump*thump*) "Good. He crawls now, and pulls himself up on everything and cruises and babbles. He says 'mama' and 'daaaaaaad' but not really directed to me or Greg half the time. He says "doodoo" when he sees the dog. He puts everything in his mouth still and I've really been thinking about getting a video on how to perform impromptu tracheotomies...you know..just in case........................oh...and uh, he has this cold going....and I'm not gonna lie doc, it scares the shit out of me."
"Oh, yeah. Totally common right now. Its a form of para-influenza, and its going around all over. Everyone I know caught it, it's really easy to get around this time of year. We call it "the croup". It sounds worse than it is, and it will get worse before it gets better, but he'll be fine. Some time spent in a steamy bathroom will help it. As will a humidifier. Lets go measure this big guy."
And so my paranoia had been squashed. Jack was measured and growing well and leaping over milestones like a world class sprinter.
"He's doing great. There's no need for shots today, unless you want to do the flu shot while we're here."
"I'll talk it over with the hubs and we'll come back." Because there was no way I was going to deal with watching my son cry at a shot I'd personally agreed to AND deal with 'the croup' today.
"Well, thats about it. You guys are doing great. We'll see you in three months. Have a happy holiday, and I'll leave Jack's growth chart for you at the front desk. Have a nice day."
And I did. Jack had passed his exam with flying colors and off the charts looks err...growth. I felt vindicated. I felt relieved. I felt like a nat-ur-eeel woooman. Whatever voices that previously mentally abused my brain about failing boobs and c-sections and the sure-to-be-demise-of-my-son-because-of-these-two-pointless-factors were deleted.
Its hard enough to be a young mother. I'm already trying to ixne the nay-sayers and dodge looks from the over-critical "oh really, I PLANNED my babies" 30plus year olds. To defy the odds set up for me by so called statistics and someones aunt who knew a girl who knew a girl whose....and so forth. To look at my roomates impeccably dressed, ready for a night out downtown and say "have a good time guys" instead of "who's drivin'?" The lack of sleep sometimes and the taking care of a sick baby when you yourself are already sick and "why can't I be babied!"
"You guys are doing great. He's turning out awesome".
Its all worth it. Every last ounce. If I could stop second guessing myself, which is INCREDIBLY common among first time mothers or mothers in general...fuck it .. ANY parent who just wants the world for their child, well then, I think maybe I could master this stuff.
And 'the croup' can kiss my ass.
* I'm dedicating this blog to Sebrina, who may be scared right now and unsure about the future thats suddenly found its way in her body and life, but whom I know will undoubtedly make it. You'll take names and kick ass at this motherhood business. Congratulations to you and Sean!*