Friday, April 25, 2014

Day 38: Introduction | Motherhood Paranoia

motherhood If you have or have had a baby in your life, you are probably acquainted with the concept of ‘developmental milestones’.
If you are not familiar with the concept, it basically refers to particular behaviors or physical skills seen in babies (and older infants as well) at particular stages in their life/development – hence ‘developmental milestone’. Whenever you go for a baby-check up, the doctor or nurse tending to your baby will want to assess where your baby is at by evaluating your babies ability or inability to perform particular actions. Particular months/weeks of a baby’s life are tied to particular milestones, which a baby would reach if they follow a ‘typical’ developmental path. These refer to averages and in general there is quite a margin for being ‘early’ or ‘late’ to reach a milestone without this being any point of concern.
While the use and reference to developmental milestones is supposed to be of a practical nature, I have found both in my personal experience and observing other mothers – that it can be quite an emotional topic.
When we speak and think of mothers, we very often see and present mothers in a light where they are overwhelmed with worries and concerns about their children. When it was known that I was going to be a mother, I got welcomed by a few people to a reality with ‘non-stop-fear’ or telling me to ‘get ready to worry endlessly’. It’s as if being a mother and living in fear is a given. Since I’ve been a mother I’ve faced my fair deal or fears, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the ‘worried mom’ phenomena starts right at the beginning with the developmental milestones.
In a way, birth itself it could be interpreted as a developmental milestone. When the baby gets born, one of the first things that gets done by the pediatrician that is present, is checking the baby’s Apgar score. The Apgar score is a method designed to evaluate the baby’s physical condition, and to quickly ascertain whether or not there is a need for special medical care or emergency treatment.

The factors that get looked at are: appearance of the skin, the heart rate, grimace response, activity and muscle tone and respiration. Each one of these factors is evaluated on a scale from 0 to 2 – and then added together, so that you have end score between 0 and 10 (10 being perfect). This scoring test gets done at 1 minute after birth and 5 minutes after birth.

This is the first instance where your child gets measured and is assigned a ‘score’, where you get to know ‘whether your child is normal’ – and so the perfect moment for motherhood paranoia to set in.

Next, your baby gets weighed and measured – again, the perfect moment for interpretation and paranoia to creep in: Is my baby too skinny? Is my baby too fat? Should I have eaten differently while I was pregnant? What’s wrong with me for giving birth to a baby that’s skinny/small/big/large?

On the other hand, if everything is ‘in range’ (which really only means that your baby hit the statistical average), mother proudness can show its face – who’s best friends with motherhood paranoia. Because instead of going ‘Oh no I probably did all of this and that wrong’, the mind goes ‘I must be such a good mother for producing such a healthy baby!!’.

It’s only day one – and you’re already on the road to becoming a mental case lol.
To be continued

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