You Are Not Alone.

Don’t forget this moment… don’t forget this moment… don’t forget this moment. I repeated these words over and over again and hoped I would remember every part of feeling the weight of Amelia’s 7-month-old body lean into me as she fell asleep in my arms. Out of all the senses smell has the strongest link to memory. I leaned over to smell Amelia’s breath. Still smells like baby. And her head smells like baby. And I like that.

But just as I settled into the joy of holding Amelia, my inexperience got the best of me. I remembered reading you’re not supposed to let babies fall asleep with a bottle because it rots their nonexistent teeth. I reminded myself- don’t tell anyone you did this. I don't think you’re supposed to rock your baby while she's sleeping either because it creates some kind of unhealthy dependence on the rocking being necessary for baby to stay asleep.  And I made another mental note- don’t tell anyone you rock your baby to sleep.

With so many parenting theories and parenting experts, I've become timid about sharing  my parenting ups and downs. I’m afraid that someone will figure me out- that I’m phony.  That I'm not an expert.  I’m mostly insecure about every parenting decision I have ever made and I'm only 7 months in. 

When Amelia was the size of a grapefruit and an ultrasound revealed cysts in her chest, a friend gave me a beautiful card with the reminder: You are not alone. There’s truth to that.  When I’m rational (which isn’t as often as I’d like) I know that even though parenting feels both intensely lonely and overwhelmingly suffocating, I’m not alone.  I’m not the first woman to struggle with feeling insecure about caring for my baby. And I’m not the last. I’m not the first woman to rock her baby to sleep and feel God’s sweetness. And all the books in the world, could never teach me how to be Amelia’s mom.

When Amelia was the size of a large watermelon (after she was born), my dad looked at the tower of books on parenting theories on our coffee table and asked, have you learned more from the books or from experience? My dad is wise like that- he throws out questions without you even realizing there’s a lesson waiting for you on the other side.  Experience is a good teacher. And so tonight I'll put the guilt aside and feel the joy and peace that comes from sitting in a quiet room watching my baby’s chest go up and down as she sleeps.


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