Emma’s StoryEmma from New York, NY on July 18, 2012
My son Harry was born on a Friday morning in New York City. That same day, my husband, who had endured a grueling labor with me, was diagnosed with pneumonia. He was terribly sick and told to have limited contact with Harry. On the way home from the hospital I got the news that my grandmother had just passed away. So these first few days of motherhood were a strange experience for me. With the birth of my son, my sick husband, and the death of my grandmother, I faced a rare combination of joy, mixed with happiness, some deep sorrow, and confusion.
Both my husband’s parents and mine were not coming to town until the following weekend. While this was daunting (and friends certainly volunteered to help), I actually took great pride in knowing that I could, and would, handle these first days by myself. I was eager to know my baby without anyone else telling me how to do things.
After a few days, I had to head out for some groceries. With my husband still sick, I took Harry along with me. While concerned about bringing him out to a public place so soon, the situation necessitated it. Besides, he was sleeping comfortably, and I had him wrapped up warmly in a blanket inside the baby stroller.
Our shopping experience was going fine, but just before I finished, Harry woke up. I scooped him up, soothed his soft crying, and decided to grab the last item I needed – some cheese from the open refrigerator. As I leaned over to get the cheese, I was startled by someone who had come sprinting over to us. Before I could discern what was happening, I heard this woman, who was now standing on top of us screaming at me, “You can’t put the baby in the refrigerated area with the cheese, don’t you know that babies can’t regulate their own body temperature.”
I was startled and shaken to say the least. The emotions of the past few days had yet to get to me, but now I had a total stranger yelling at me, judging me and calling into question my decisions as a mother. I wanted to scream back and tell her so many different things! But all I could get out was, “Don’t tell me how to take care of my child.” To which she responded, “I though you would appreciate my thoughts on this.” I was feeling vulnerable and I did not appreciate her thoughts – and being judged and screamed at in public. As I walked out of the store, without the cheese or any groceries, I had new doubts about my confidence in being a mom. Doubts, thanks to this stranger and her unsolicited judgments that would take some time to overcome.
Now that I have 9 months of experience of being a mom, I look back to that day and realize how far I’ve come. My son is healthy, happy and getting cuter every day. And I don’t need validation from anyone to know that the choices I’m making for my family and my son are right – whether it’s my ability to protect my little guy from “the elements” or my selection of baby bottles/strollers. Was it the right choice to venture to the grocery store with a newborn? You bet! And now I have the confidence to deal with any Negative Nancy from the refrigerated food aisle, and let her opinions and all the other critic’s opinions roll off my back.