What to expect when you’re expecting: more panic attacks.

Yesterday I strapped my baby girl in the Ergo to get my fix.  Not quite smack, but pretty damn close.  The very last day of the delectable Smores cupcake at Sprinkles.

Graham cracker-lined Belgian dark chocolate cake filled with bittersweet chocolate ganache and topped with toasted marshmallow frosting.  Ooey gooey yummy-ness

Everything was going right.  I had money on my Metrocard and we caught the uptown 6 train in less than a minute (a nearly impossible feat on a Sunday afternoon).  When we arrived, more good fortune.  The Smores were fresh and there was a very short line.  My mouth was watering and Chloe was entertained by the constant movement of the city.

We headed back underground to the downtown 6, which was just arriving.  I couldn’t believe our luck!  No delays at Grand Central – round trip this little excursion would take less than 30 mi…..

My thoughts came to a screeching halt.  And it wasn’t just in my head.  It was the train as well.  The ear-piercing sound of metal on metal could mean only one thing.  Someone pulled the emergency brake.

Despite my decades of living in the city and using the subway almost every day, I had never experienced this in real life.  I recognized it only from the movies — Speed, Die Hard (with a Vengeance), Hackers, Pelham 1-2-3.  You can see where my mind was going with this in an instant.  Not good.

So here’s where I want to tell you something you won’t read in any baby book.   Things even your awesome best friend – the one who told you about the weeks of bleeding, the night sweats, the baby blues, the leaking (breast and bladder) – forgot to mention:  your life is forever changed once you have children.  In ways your best friend can’t even begin to describe.

Let’s go back to my subway incident as a prime example.

Before kids: Probably some bored teenagers getting their kicks on a slow Sunday.  At my expense.  Damn kids.

Post-kids:  Don’t panic.  Don’t panic.  You need to think clearly.  Assess whether we are faced with a potential train collision, bomb, or hostage situation.  Then come up with a perfect plan of action to escape in the nick of time.

Before kids:   Hey, great timing!  Sprinkles in hand!  Maybe now I’ll have an opportunity excuse perfectly valid reason to eat all four cupcakes without having to share with anyone.  After all, we could be stuck here for hours.

Post-kids:  What the f#ck was I doing?  I put myself and my 14 month old baby in grave danger (is there any other kind?) for the insanely selfish reason of enjoying overpriced cupcakes??!?!?!?!??   Stupid, stupid, stupid!!

Before kids:  it’s too bad I don’t have any milk to enjoy with these rich cupcakes.

Post-kids: I’m too far into the weaning process to produce enough milk for Chloe to survive.  Damn it!  Why don’t I have more milk?!?

Before kids:  If this train blows up it will be really sad because I never got to have children. 

Post-kids: If this train blows up it will be really sad because I have children.

People openly lament the lost exotic vacations, copious amounts of free time and of course the dream of a good nights sleep.  But not enough people remind you of the loss of simplicity that is replaced by hyper-awareness.  Suddenly you are given parent goggles.

Image courtesy of myclone.wordpress.com

With these special glasses you cannot see the world as it once was.  Instead you must see all the potential harms in everything:  from subway terrorists, to the media, to the strawberries at the local market.   Because maintaining the innocence, the purity, the security of other human beings (two in my case) — that’s your responsibility now.

A heavy but beautiful burden


About Carinn Jade

Mother, lawyer, yogi, writer, non-sleeper. Published @NYTMotherlode. Contributor @Mommyish @Moonfrye @HuffPostLive. I like beer (not wine) & tea (not coffee) & being a contrarian.
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8 Responses to What to expect when you’re expecting: more panic attacks.

  1. Oh my god, so true! Suddenly everything is a potential threat to my child, from physical dangers to psychological trauma and social influence. How did a world that once seemed so harmless suddenly become so full of evil??

    • Right? It’s crushing. It seems much worse raising girls (maybe that’s just me) but I worry far more about her. I won’t let her watch fairy tales because of the princesses or eat soy because of the estrogen. I’ll worry more about her friends and of course the boys she is around. A world I sauntered around suddenly intimidates me at every turn…

  2. muddledmom says:

    Very true. A mother’s mind works in truly annoying ways. I wish I could change the settings.

    • Oh my goodness, my anxiety level went up 10 fold after reading your s-e-x talk post. I couldn’t comment since I was curled in a ball muttering “I still have time, I still have time”. Well done by the way.

  3. Aww, I love this. So true. For a solid 2 or 3 months there, I think I coped with my anxiety by projecting it all on to myself, and I was convinced I was going to die of some horrible disease any day and not be able to see my baby grow up. Never mind that there are a million possible ways to die on any given day–car accidents, choking, falling wrong in the shower, whatever. I was fixated on the idea of some disease I couldn’t control. That was a rough few months. Thankfully, I feel better now.

    If I had one of those smores cupcakes, I might have felt better a lot sooner ;p

    • Yes, parent goggles are also especially keen on picking up the ways you could expire – the harms aren’t limited to just your children. I’m not gonna lie, that smores cupcake tasted extra delicious having narrowly escaped a third remake of Pelham 123.

  4. Taryn says:

    Whenever I think of subway shutdowns, I’m always reminded of that Felicity episode when Felicity and Julie are stuck in the subway and are forced to sort out their Ben issues. Hope I’m not the only one that watches cheesy tv shows 🙂
    Totally know what you mean about the parent panics, I’m constantly on the verge, and so wish I had some of those cupcakes on hand to take the edge off :)-

    • How did I forget that?! I loved Felicity — and Keri Russell is another one of my “we-would-totally-be-mom-best-friends-if-we-knew-each-other” crushes.

      Like I said, the cupcake was extra delicious…

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