When you first entered parenthood, did you feel apprehension before almost any action that involved caring for your infant? I will be the first to raise my hand and admit that I was nervous that I would take the wrong action or make a poor choice while tending to my daughter. I think this feeling of trepidation and walking on eggshells is a rite of passage for any new parent.
My husband and I were so overprotective of my newborn daughter, Isabella, that we sheltered her in such a manner that has been referred to has "keeping her in a bubble." This, I would say, is true. During my daughter's first few months of life, we limited her visitors to a few close family members and decided to postpone her visits with children, those who travelled out of the country recently and those who were sick. Though to some it may have seem like we took nurturing and protecting to the extreme, we do not regret our decision. That was what we felt was best for our daughter at the time. We were happy to broaden our daughter's exposure to a larger group of our friends and family as her immunity built up.
With each stage in our daughter's life, there were new challenges in caring for her and keeping her safe from harm. As my husband and I successfully overcame each hurdle in Isabella's maturity, we became more and more confident in our parenting skills. Of course there were a few bumps, lumps and falls during our journey of growth, but nothing a kiss, ice pack and bowl of yummy ice cream couldn't fix.
When Isabella starting eating solids, my husband and I were cautious about the size, shape and consistency of the foods we provided to her. As she honed her chewing skills, we fed her slightly larger and more nutrient-dense fare. There were two or three scary mishaps when we overestimated Isabella's consumption skills and she choked on her food. Luckily, my husband calmly yet purposefully administered a few back blows to our daughter and she coughed the culprit food up. As terrifying as these incidents were for all three of us, they reminded my husband and I to be very diligent about keeping a keen watch over our daughter.
Of course, even mindful mothers and fathers can let their guard down occasionally. Recently, we were enjoying Thanksgiving festivities at a holiday gathering. Someone handed my daughter a small Limoge trinket box to pique her fascination. This trinket box, in the shape of a duck, contained two very small, dime-sized duck figures inside. I was uncomfortable with my daughter holding these items, but I did not speak up. I am not sure why, but for some reason I was tight-lipped and instead just kept a watchful eye. In hindsight, this was a very poor parenting decision on my part. My husband did not think Isabella would put the collectible or its' contents in her mouth, so he did not protest either. There were three of us in the room watching my daughter. At one point, all three set of adult eyes looked up to briefly admire a painting on the wall. I happened to glance over at my daughter and saw her pop one of the small tiny ducks into her mouth. Before she had a chance to swallow, I darted over to where she was standing, forced her mouth open and retrieved the tiny choking hazard. This entire chain of events happened in less than 10 seconds. My husband and fellow party-goer did not even realize that Isabella put anything in her mouth, they just thought I preemptively took the object away from her. It all happened so fast.
Not only was I distraught over what could have happened, I was deeply upset with myself for knowing better, but not speaking up about something I was uncomfortable with. I replayed the incident over and over in my mind and berated myself during the drive home for having felt like I failed my daughter in this situation.
A horrible disaster was avoided, but once again I was reminded of the potential hazards that can happen when parents relax their normally rigid safety precautions. My job as a mom is to set limits, stay alert and speak up for a little one who cannot yet comprehend the consequences of her actions.