Despite months of anticipation and reading everything I could get my hands on about being a parent, the midnight back pains still shocked me.
Fear quickly followed.
How can I be a parent when I can't even figure out if I'm in labor? I asked my husband, Bob, as I rechecked for at least the fourth time a checklist of the signs of labor.
Will we be good parents? What if we weren't really meant to be parents? What if we don't know what to do? What if we mess up trying to balance our more than full-time jobs with raising a baby and end up creating a serial killer? OK, that last question had to be the labor pains talking.
Nine hours later, answers to the fears began arriving. Slowly. Yes, I could be a good parent, but still turn to books and magazines for help-much to my mother's amusement. A few years later came another baby, this time in just under an hour at the hospital (I still couldn't figure out when I was in labor), then a third baby in a hectic 12 minutes that surely had the nurses cursing me.
I love being a mom to Marty, 11, Arlee, 7, and Zoe, 4. Every morning I gaze in at their sleeping shapes and fall deeper in love, knowing how lucky I am.
That's exactly what I'm telling myself today as I sit here writing to you.
As I interviewed to be Chicago Parent's new editor, some of my same scared-new-parent questions resurfaced. This first month I've done a lot of learning and asked a million questions.
I still cannot believe how lucky I am to be sitting here now as just the fourth editor in your magazine's 17 years under Wednesday Journal Inc.'s banner. The shoes left for me to fill are huge-all of the editors before me are incredible women with great vision for this magazine and unmatched passion about parenting.
I will do my best to live up to your expectations. Because you help shape this magazine along with its talented staff, I need your help by telling me what you like and don't like. Tell me about the features you want to see, about stories you want explored. As I share my life with you, I hope you will share yours with me.
This is an exciting time at Chicago Parent as we prepare to launch a new Web site that will give you a community of other parents to lean on and chat with and ultimately, resource guides that will give you no reason to search elsewhere. As part of the effort, we're looking for parent bloggers so drop me an e-mail if you are interested. You'll hear more about our plans as we move forward.
At the same time, the magazine will continue to tackle topics that will help you navigate the biggest responsibility of your life-raising your kids-while entertaining you and making you think.
This month we tackle a topic that always ignites passionate and emotional debate from two very different ends of the spectrum. On one end, people who become outraged seeing a woman breastfeeding her hungry baby in public. On the other, those who say the mothers have every right to nurse wherever, however and whenever they like.
The debate often ignores the thousands of women, like me, in the quiet middle who believe breastfeeding is indeed best for our babies but prefer to nurse privately and quietly.
I nursed all of my children. Sure, I got my share of stares, especially at the airports and in the parks, even though I always had a large blanket for covering me and my baby. Most times, however, when we were in public situations, I turned my back to the crowd or left restaurants to nurse in the privacy of my car. Some moms will disagree with my seeking privacy as hurting "the cause." But as we navigate the complicated maze of parenting, we must all find our comfort zone, and this was mine.
As the acrimony over breastfeeding in public continues to burn, focus on the babies, not the debate. Chicago has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the nation and for the babies' health, we all need to work together to increase that while not making those women who can't breastfeed feel even guiltier.
I look forward to working with you.
Do your stories of parenthood make people laugh and cry because they've been in exactly the same situation? Are you the one others turn to for parenting advice?
As Chicago Parent works to create a greater community for parents, we need parents or soon-to-be parents to write blogs simply for the love of it and to help lead discussions on new parenting discussion boards.
If interested, e-mail email@example.com to tell us a bit about yourself and what you'd like to blog about.