First Night

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Dear Niko,

Tonight, it took me all my courage and acting skills not to cry in front of you.

It all began last Monday. You and I went to Target and you found yourself drawn to a coffee machine toy (you and your love for food and drink toys). You asked if we can buy it and I said we’ll buy it if you ever sleep in your own bedroom. You agreed and asked to add one more toy to the deal, preferably a Transformer. I said okay, thinking it’s too soon anyway. You were still too clingy to not sleep in the same bedroom as me. We left Target without buying any toys.

Then, today, we had to make another Target run. You mentioned the coffee machine toy again, that Fisher Price rip-off of Keurig. You remembered our deal. Coffee toy plus a Transformer = you’ll sleep in your bedroom. I was amazed that you remembered and apprehensive you’d keep your end of the deal. So, I negotiated you open the coffee toy today and if you sleep in your bedroom, you get to open the Transformer tomorrow. If you don’t, we return the toys. We did a pinky swear because those are sacred to you.

We bought the coffee toy, a Transformers toy and walkie talkies (this was my idea – hoping we could use it to talk from different bedrooms). Your papa installed the toddler rail on your new bed and relocated your humidifier/night light to your new room.

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You were excited at first then you were afraid. We reassured you that we’ll stay with you until you fall asleep. Being around us, you were hyper for a bit but finally, you’ve fallen asleep.

Part of me is so proud of you… of what an awesome negotiator and brave little boy you’ve become. But part of me is also wishing you’d wake and come running back to our bedroom, back to me like a little baby.

You’re growing up and becoming more independent so fast. Way too fast for your emo mom.

This is super selfish but I still wish time would slow down for us. When you’re a teen and feel like hating me, I hope you read this. When you’re a grown man and want to leave the nest, I hope you read this.

Love you forever, Baby Bear. As long as I’m living, you know the rest.

Love,

Mama Bear

Your Anxious Mother

Dear Niko,

People tell you many things before you become a parent. But there are things people forget to tell you or intentionally don’t tell you, perhaps, because some topics are deemed too grim. So here is one of the most commonly skipped topics.
Long before you decide to be a father, I want you to know that until you become a parent: you have never known fear, not like this.

I have always been anxious regarding a lot of things growing up. I get scared by potential sources of conflict, failure, helplessness and loss. So, believe me when I say I have never been this scared before. Why?
I worry about you, your health, your safety, your development, your future… and most importantly, I worry about the possibility of losing you.

You got sick when you were 2 weeks old and to be on the safe side, the doctors did a septic work-up on you – which was apparently a series of tests that required poking a baby all over, even taking spinal fluid from you (to rule out meningitis). You were admitted and confined in a hospital on your first Thanksgiving. So, imagine me and your father clinging miserably to each other because we couldn’t bare to see you suffering… and quite spectacularly on a night when our family should have been celebrating. I wept, wondering what we could have done differently – maybe we should have waited longer to take you out of the house, maybe we didn’t keep you warm enough or cool enough, maybe my breastmilk was not giving you the antibodies you need…image
Thankfully, on the third day, you were cleared of any concerning infections and we were able to bring you home. I can see why people don’t like talking about this. Up to now, thinking about this event brings me to tears.

You’re a week away from turning 5 months. You’ve had 2 sets of vaccinations already. You’ve maintained a healthy weight (consistent 90th percentile). I’m still paranoid about you catching sickness, but I gain a little more confidence every time we go out on an excursion with you. However, I’ve gotten myself a new fear to face… every night within our home.

You’ve been rolling a lot and you’ve discovered the comforts of sleeping on your belly (I was also a tummy sleeper before I got pregnant with you). That’s fine although what’s terrifying is how I’ve been catching you sleeping face down. I’ve lost plenty of sleep, pondering if you would always wake and turn your head without fail in case you had difficulty breathing. You see, Son, your mother sometimes gets over-educated by the Internet which worsens her anxiety. As an example, I learned the meaning of rebreathing.
Hence, I did some more research and purchased you a breathable mattress pad and breathable sheets. Even with all the positive reviews for these products, I’m still afraid. I still regularly check-in through the night to make sure you’re breathing and to turn your head as needed. I hope that in just a couple more months, the worries about safe sleep would go away like the forums say they would.
I can tell though that there will be another cause for fear after this and that my list of fears involving you will just keep growing and growing.

Now, I have heard people say that nothing can make you appreciate your parents more than becoming a parent. Based on my limited experience, I find this statement to be true.
I want to thank my parents, your Grandma and Grandpa. I’m just in the early stages of motherhood and if I’m already frightened by so many things, then, I can’t even begin to fathom how scary it must have been to raise me and my two sisters over the last three decades.

Ma, Pa, for all the times I scared you and still scare you, I’m sorry. For all the things I was too little to know or recall and for all the things I do remember – like when my head got stuck between the balusters of our balcony as a toddler, or when I stayed out too late without bothering to give a heads up as a teenager, or when I went to the emergency room multiple times as an adult.
I want you to know that I love you and that I appreciate all the fears that came and come with caring about me. I could only hope that someday, Niko will see all the love behind my fears and appreciate how scared I am, too.