DON'T PANIC (Or: Hey New Moms! Take Two Of These And Call Me In The Morning)

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I had an addiction. I freely admit that now. It was an addiction that lasted throughout the entirety of my first pregnancy and for most of the first year of my daughter's life. It was an addiction that I could not shake, even though I had moments of clarity when I knew that the object of my addiction was not good for me. Because even though I knew that it wasn't good for me, knew that it undermined me, knew that it kept me in a state of panic, I really believed that I couldn't go on without it.

BabyCenter.com, Kellymom.com, the Dr Sears site, the What To Expect When you're expecting books, the Baby Whisperer books, The Happiest Fetus/Baby/Toddler/Future Rodeo Clown On The Block books, Fertility Friend, Pregnancy Friend, pregnancy and parenting forums - all of it. I was addicted to it. If it purported to guide me through the dark forest of birth and babies, I attached myself to it like glue. And even when it became clear that all the websites and boks and forums were making me more anxious, not less anxious, I clung to them still. I clung to them all the way through a partum anxiety disorder, post-partum depression and regular old new mom panic. And indeed I panicked, because these things fuel panic. They feed on panic. Panic is what keeps them in business: panic over fertility, panic over pregnancy, panic over childbirth, panic over new parenthood. If none of us were panicking, none of us would scroll manically through BabyCenter's calendars, frantically trying to find out whether the fact the little Engelbert can't pronounce 'hermeneutics' at 14 months means that he has a learning disability. If none of us did that, or the like, at other sites and with other books, etc, none of this would be a business. Also, probably, many of us would need less Ativan.

Which is why I think that this new site - Let's Panic About Babies - actually provides a maternal health (certainly a mental health) service. A new project by bloggers Alice Bradley and Eden Marriott Kennedy -- better known in the blogosphere as Finslippy and Fussy -- it is, as Rita Arens of Surrender, Dorothy (and fellow CE) says, "a sinfully funny site about new parenthood." But it's more than funny (though funny it is: as Liz Gumbinner of Cool Mom Picks said, rightly, it's what would happen if the What To Expect books were reimagined by the Onion): it's sanity-saving.

Because it pokes fun at the panic-inducing earnestness of the big parenting and pregnancy resource sites and the like, it breathes a welcome - necessary, even - breath of irreverence to the whole parenting enterprise. It tells us, it's normal to panic. And it's silly. So LAUGH the next time you find yourself freaking out over green poo or your child's failure to find joy in the Latin edition of the Cat In The Hat. Go ahead, freak out, and seek out advice. But know that you're a freak and that most other moms are freaks and take whatever advice you find with a grain of salt. And? LAUGH.

Laughter, after all, is pretty good medicine. And odds are that you can take some of the piss out of your anxiety if you can laugh, a little, at it. So, yeah: Let's Panic might not be a replacement for Xanax, but it's a pretty good start. 

Catherine Connors blogs at Her Bad Mother and Their Bad Mother and everywhere in between. 

 

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