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Challenge: Bringing Home Baby: What Do You Wish You’d Known?

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God made me Cole’s mommy because I’m the very best mommy for Cole.

Not because I’m perfect. Not because I’m supermom. I’m far from supermom. I am full of failures and imperfections. I lose my patience. I’m stubborn and pushy when it comes to things being done exactly how I want them done. There is always laundry on the bathroom floor… and next to the hamper and draped on a chair… and anywhere that isn't the hamper or closet. I am a meteorologist who got caught in a rainstorm while walking the baby. (UBER FAIL!)

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(Right after this picture we put him on an adorable little red chair, 'cause Pinterest makes you think good mommies have pictures of their children with adorable rustic furniture. Cole fell head first off the chair and landed on his face on the brick. Talk about Mommy-winning!)

Shortly after Cole was born he stopped napping during the day and started crying/fussing every night for nearly 6 hours non-stop. My husband works nights so he wasn't home. My mom was staying with us to help me but I never asked her for help. All my instincts were telling me something was wrong but I convinced myself that I was ‘overreacting’… that if I asked for help or called the doctor I would be seen as inadequate as a mother or some neurotic baby-hypochondriac whack job. He was a baby, and sometimes babies cry, right? Four nights went by with Cole crying. I sang to him, paced constantly, rocked him, swaddled him, he’d hop on and off the breast for a minute at a time. I prayed HARD. My body ached. I had had a cesarean and holding Cole and pacing for 6 hours was physically painful. Each night I had palpable anxiety “Would tonight be harder than last night? How long will it last?”

By the third night, silent tears were streaming down my face. What was I doing wrong?! Why didn't I know how to calm him down? Why was I so weak that holding him for hours on end physically hurt? Why was I such a failure? How could I be crying?! Mothers are supposed to be happy and glowing and posting perfect pictures of their sleeping angels on Facebook. I was so overwhelmed with feelings of failure.

The next day, my mother was encouraging me to go nap for a bit. I went upstairs and tried to rest but then I heard Cole start fussing. She tried to shush, rock, and swaddle him to no avail. I came downstairs, fell to my knees and burst into tears, “Something’s wrong, I just know it, he’s like this every night… I don’t know what to do. I just don’t know what to do.”

Shocked and heartbroken, my mom looked at me and said, “Why didn't you ask me for help?”

“I didn't know what to ask for… I’m his mother I’m supposed to know how to do this,” I sobbed.

My mom and I worked together taking turns trying to comfort him. An hour or so later, my mom looked at me and said, “He seems like he’s in pain, like something is hurting him.”

My heart was beating out of my chest, it was exactly what my instincts had been telling me. Something was wrong. My biggest fear during my pregnancy was for my son’s health. As mothers, we pray, barter, and beg for our children to be healthy. Something was wrong, I wasn't crazy!

We called the doctors exchange and they recommended we go to the ER. I was wigging out hardcore in the car and trying so hard not to cry. I didn't want Cole to see me upset. I thought being emotional in front of him was another mommy failure, that real mommies hold it together and never cry in front of their children (which, I now realize is ABSURD). I was terrified. When Cole was born I remembered the nurses telling me before we left the hospital, “Don’t let him get sick, if he gets sick we might have to do a spinal tap”.

When we got to the ER, I blurted out through choked back snot and tears, “Are you going to do a spinal? Please, he’s just a baby, please don’t give him a spinal!”

The nurses were all shocked, “Of course not! Don’t worry, we’re just going to take a look and see what’s bothering him.”

The doctor came in and wanted an X-ray. I had to hold his arms and legs down like he was a rotisserie chicken. He wailed and my heart broke. Failure. Failure. Failure.

Turns out, it wasn't that serious. He had terrible acid reflux (GERD). He was crying/fussing because he had painful heartburn. It was a bad case of GERD, but it was just reflux. So many babies have real life threatening challenges and I had RAKED MYSELF OVER THE COALS for reflux! Not to say GERD isn’t very challenging with a newborn, it’s hard but it’s not life threatening. His reflux lasted until just after his first birthday.

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(Sleeping upright on spit up cloths helped manage his pain, and helped prevent him from choking on spit-up.)

The whole experience really rocked my confidence. I knew something was wrong but kept trying to convince myself not to “make a big deal out of nothing.” When my mother said, “It sounds like he’s in pain, like something is hurting him,” it validated everything I was feeling and thinking and for the first time in days, I actually took a deep breath realizing I wasn't crazy. I wasn't a whack job. I was right on. I was so grateful for my mother speaking truth to me… for validating what inside, I already knew to be true. I also realized I needed to validate me.

Just like no two snowflakes are alike, no two mommy’s are exactly alike because no two children are exactly alike. God made ME Cole’s mommy because there’s no one else better equipped for the job.

My insecurities, my imperfections, my mistakes, my victories, my talents, my spirit, my instincts are all uniquely woven together to be the very best mommy Cole could ever have. Our instincts are there to protect us and guide us. My mommy instincts are right on and deserve my respect, never again will I talk myself out of an instinct for fear of being wrong, overreacting, or being judged. Who I am this very moment is enough. Who Cole is this very moment is enough. We will grow and change together, we will overcome new challenges together, we will navigate uncharted waters together. I am the very best mommy for Cole. And Cole is the very best baby for me.

“Trust your work.”

–Nayyirah Waheed

Trust your mommy-work, mommies. Trust your daddy-work, daddies. You’re the very best mommy and daddy your child could have. Just. As. You. Are.

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