Friday, April 16, 2010
Just when I thought I shouldn't worry too much about our son because I am one of these always-worried-people he was diagnosed with a heart disease a few days after birth. It turns out to be one of the most common heart diseases there are, so far he is not suffering from it and most importantly: it can be fixed. But he will have to have surgery in a few months and will have to be hooked on to cables and wires and not home with us for a few weeks. It his hard to imagine, I probably shouldn't but then again I kind of have to prepare myself for it.
And while thinking about that all day, while watching him carefully I tend to forget to watch his regular development. To watch him just like any other child in his second week on earth. But this is exactly what he needs - normality. This is where two instincts clash. The mother instinct that is careful with the tendency to be overprotective and the instinct to raise a self confident baby that can take a lot more than we adults can imagine.
I am walking this fine line while having learned another lesson. You can prepare yourself as much as you want, the real life experience will teach you to adjust and listen. You can read books and books about pregnancy, about giving birth, about the first few months with your newborn. You can learn about parenting and figure out the way you want to go. But there is not a single textbook out there that tells you how to handle a diagnosis like a heart disease or anything else that is out there. And if you're not careful you let it all slip and become overprotective. It is a lot harder to "just let him be and watch him play". But it wouldn't help him at all when I would pick him up all the time he makes an unsatisfied noise. It won't fix his heart. And in the end - he is well and developing just fine.
So I'll continue to walk along this fine line and instead of overprotecting my son I protect myself a little by trusting him to let me know when he really needs me.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
A week ago I sat on the sofa like I do now. I was wondering if the contractions I had were enough to get me into labor. A few hours later my water broke and only an hour after that I was holding our little son in my arm suddenly realising that I made it. And that from that minute I was a mother. The journey of parenting had started and I was more than ready to jump right into it.
The same day we left the hospital and made ourselves comfortable at home. Everything you think about and try to plan suddenly becomes a little routine. The changing table is used for the first time, those tiny little clothes are brought to life. And some cute button eyes are slowly opening to the world.
Since labor started in the middle of the night we hadn't slept at all and were really tired yet too excited to lie down. That we paid for with a few nerves the next night when the little one was trying to tell us that something was bothering him but we were just too exhausted to figure it out. So I left the bedroom, gave the father some silence to gain some sleep and took care of our son slowly trying to get to know him. To understand him. It worked. With me being more relaxed, taking some time, he relaxed too and we both got some sleep. Patience it was that was needed...
A couple of days later we tried to get the little one to sleep in his own bed. Of course it felt cosy having him right next to us the first night but it's just not right to have him squeezed between us with one of us always being scared of rolling over him. And also he's not a squeeze toy here to entertain us, to make us feel good. He is a human and needs his own space. It does not mean that we don't love him since that seems to be the modern answer to parents keeping their baby in their bed for months or even years.
A couple of nights it only worked for a while until he started crying. Until we figured out that it was just too cold for him so we changed the inside and now he happily sleeps in it while we can enjoy a more relaxed sleep in our bed.
The getting up to breastfeed him isn't a problem either. Women complain that it is too hard to get up with the baby so they rather have it in bed and just feed it lying there. I take my time, sit with him in the living room and talk to him while he gets fed. It's a special time and he deserves to get all attention needed.
A slight bigger challenge is the pacifier question. Well it's not so much a question for us since we definitely don't want to use one. But with him not being able to find his thumb on his own it is sometimes difficult for him to comfort himself. Of course that's not what we want anyway, we'd rather find out what's actually bothering him so he does not need to comfort himself for any reason. But with only one week gone this is a tough learning process. So far I think we are doing fine. Most of the time we actually do figure out what is wrong with him (wet diaper, too cold, hungry etc...). It takes time and certainly patience but it helps so much to get to know him better and it's much more satisfying than just stuffing his little mouth with a plastic thingy.
The most joyful times so far are the times when we just watch him like a TV show. In his wake moments we just put him on the sofa and watch him discover his hands or the world around him. Whatever of that he is realising. Over and over again he is slowly moving his hand into his mouth, still a little uncoordinated movement not knowing that it's his own hand that ends up in his mouth from time to time. But it's a learning process and we will not interfere but watch with excitement. Whoever thinks little babies can be bored is wrong. They only have a few wake moments a day and those they use happily to discover themselves. They don't need bright and shiny colourful noise making toys. They don't need mommy or daddy jumping up and down, making funny faces or carrying them around all day touching and cuddling them.
We are there for him when he needs us. That is important.
I don't know if I have thought it was easier or not. It certainly is a challenge to rather NOT do things than do too many. But it's important to listen to your own instinct. And your child. As a human, not as a helpless little creature.
A lot we have learned so far with patience being the most important one. I'm looking forward to see him discover the world and us the joys of parenting a respected child.