Tonight my wife was hoisting our son in the air, giving him a minuscule toss at the peak of each lift. Seriously, her hands barely lost contact with his armpits. He was having the time of his life, giggling hysterically. I took him and pressed him up in the air a few times, too.
Then we started to worry. “Do you think we damaged his brain stem?” my wife asked. “I’m almost sure we didn’t,” I said, but I looked closely–were his eyes now crossed just a little?
Shaken baby syndrome is no laughing matter, but maybe the video they made us watch at the hospital just added to all the fears brought on by our information overload society.
It’s not just this one instance, either. We worry about giving him a blanket, even for a nap, because of SIDS. We worry about having him on the bed with us, or on the couch sitting beside us, because of pillows and the possibility of suffocation. We worry about BPA, and fabric softener, and whether he’s getting enough (or too much) belly time.
I wonder what a parent from the early 20th century would think of us and all our anxiety. Yes, I realize infant mortality is much lower now, and that’s a good thing. But my question is, will we ever stop worrying? Or will the worries just grow and become more complex as he gets older? My guess is, they will. I guess the only way to stop worrying is to have more kids–by about number three, I think you just let what happens, happen. Of course, I’m the third child in my family, and I turned out great–I even survived sticking a bobby pin in an electrical outlet. Now that had my Mom worried…she only had so many bobby pins to spare.