Alex has been in the world for a little under half an hour and the elephant of worry, which had previously made a brief appearance in my stomach during his birth, has returned. Only this time, he's brought his friends. I've been a dad for maybe twenty-five minutes and it feels like I've spent most of that time fretting. I have, in no particular order worried about:
- His funny shaped head. (Pretty much all newborns have funny shaped heads, so this one didn't overly trouble me.)
- The fact that he was born with forceps. What if they've mashed his little brain?
- That he was born blue. What if his little brain has been starved of oxygen?
- The fact that he's dribbling out of one side of his mouth. What if he's been paralysed down one side?
- I can't seem to feel anything but worry. Is this it? Isn't love involved somewhere?
- He's not crying enough. (I know, I know.) What if this means he's autistic?
- A whole bunch of other stuff that I have since forgotten.
I still worry he doesn't cry enough.
I give you a second to stop muttering dark imprecations about my parentage... Got that out of your system? Good. Let's carry on.
Alex is a good baby. Obviously I'm biased, but he really is very peaceful. He rarely seems to get into a massive strop. He goes to sleep and stays that way (usually). He doesn't much like getting his nappy changed, but who would? He just doesn't cry very much. And it freaks me out. Really, really badly.
I'm well aware there's little logic to this. I've been on the verge of tears the few times he's been unsettled and cried for any prolonged period of time. I can't stand to hear him cry. The noise of him being upset seems to shred my soul into little bits, good only for making soul coleslaw. (Soulslaw, in fact.) But he's just so damn quiet the rest of the time. I thought babies were meant to howl and scream. To kick up a right royal fuss whenever anything was wrong. But Alex doesn't. Much. On a good day.
The logical, rational part of my mind knows that babies vary. The logical, rational part of my mind knows damn well that Alex can cry bloody murder when he wants to. The problem is the logical, rational part of my mind can take a flying leap when it comes to my son. He was quiet when he was born. I was terrified for him when he was born. Thus, I am worried when he doesn't cry.
Parenthood changes us all, I guess. I just never expected it to change me into a worrier.