As a New Mom, Whose Judgement Do I Fear the Most?
Fears New Mom Parenthood

As a New Mom, Whose Judgement Do I Fear the Most?

By Sarah Zimmerman

It’s been a long week. Work has been hectic and last night I was on call overnight in the OR and ended up not going to bed until almost 4:00 am. This, after many nights of insufficient sleep at home, with my cheeky 5 month old refusing all attempts to get him to sleep in his crib.

On our chests? Oh, yes. He’ll sleep upon us gladly, but in his very own bedroom where there is noise and light canceling curtains, and white noise and all sorts of pro-sleep paraphernalia designed specifically for tiny men people? Not so much. I think he likes the thread count of our sheets.

So, we ponder and fret about how to help him sleep. I turn to my friends, the grandma coalition, the intertubes, and the books, and weigh the research over my instinct.

Of course, I get a sloppy handful of wildly different answers thrown in my face:

Feed him cereal and English literature right before bed!
A full tummy and enhanced mind help an infant sleep!
Yes, but does research even support that? We’re doing 6 months exclusively on breast milk because Oprah or somebody told us we should, and we’re very committed to this goal! Unless you can guarantee that food will make him sleep, in which case, go make him a Denver omelet, STAT.

Swaddle him!
Don’t swaddle him!
For the love of God and the ghost of sleep, someone decide and then wake me up and let me know where we landed.

Let him sleep on his belly!
Back is best, until they’re, like, 14, right?
So, Grandma, you’re telling me that you let all your babies sleep on their bellies 60 years ago and “they were fine” but I know for a fact you also let them ride in the back window of the car and everyone in the family had perms by 1st grade so…

He should be having regular naps by now and be on a strict schedule.
Babies need routine!
It’s no surprise. You’re a terrible role model.
You’re a mess!
Why are you such a failure as a parent, woman, person, and freshman volleyball player?
Wait, some of that might be projecting a bit. I’m very, very tired.

Are we ruining his tiny life by not being more regimented? Too regimented? I don’t think so. He farts like he has a happy life.

All these little decisions seem huge when I’m making them for this little dependent bean.

I try to stick to my guns with the decisions I’ve made, but I admit that I am able to be influenced. Whose judgement do I fear the most? The grandma coalition, the pediatricians, my friends, my internet strangers?

I get weirdly paranoid and competitive over silly things. (How much milk are you producing? How long does yours sleep without waking up? How mean are you to your husband?). This whole first time parenting thing leaves me feeling pretty insecure. God forbid one of my friend’s kids hits a developmental milestone sooner than our kid. As positive as I am that he’s a stone cold genius, maybe the fact that he only waves to total strangers and not the members of this house mean that he’s…not?! No, he is. He for sure is. He probably just doesn’t like us. That’s all.

On my good days, I try to remember that every baby is different, most a variant of normal, and that everything is a phase. We love him and we’re trying, and that has to be enough!


Now excuse me, I need to go read an article about how using laundry detergent causes sociopathy. It’s probably true. My friends’ kids seem a little off and she definitely washes their clothes. I should tell her.

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