My niece Heather and her hubby, Mark are having their first child. Heather is 20 weeks along and they just found out they’re having a girl!! The whole family is so excited! My sister Chris (her mum) is beyond thrilled. She has already bought a roomful of clothes, toys, a car seat, has picked out her ‘mimi’ grandma name, and prepared the baby shower list. I wouldn’t be surprised if she already bought the baby her first day of school outfit. The anticipation of a new little member of the family is such a blessing!
I think back 19 years ago when my daughter, Becca, was born. (Amazingly I’m still trying to lose that darn baby weight) She was 3 weeks early and arrived by c-section. She was perfect (as are all babies) I remember being in awe of her miniature fingers and toes and tiny finger nails. I would stare at her face amazed by her faint detailed eye lashes and rosebud lips. Nothing short of a miracle. I just made sure I was asleep when she let released her ‘tar’ poop. That parenting chore I left for dada.
As new parents, we left the hospital with her in tow thinking “What the heck do we do with her now? How could the hospital let us leave with her?” But we stumbled and learned as time went on. Because I had a c-section my hospital stay lasted for 3 nights, so I was able to learn her routine pretty well. I would get up every four hours, go to the nursery and give her a bottle. She was like clockwork. 8am, 12pm, 4pm, 8pm, 12am, 4am. I was so grateful to have a scheduled baby right out of the gate! When we arrived home, I fed her at 8 pm and collapsed in bed. Becca was swaddled up in her bassinet right next to me. For the first hour I stared at her chest making sure she was breathing. Little bundle of love! Then I fell asleep. At 10:30pm she woke up crying. Oh no! No nurses! No doctors! Just me and her dad. According to her perfected-hospital-eating schedule, she wasn’t supposed to be hungry until midnight so I picked her up and went through the new parent checklist. Okay, let’s change her little diaper. Try to burp her. Rock her back to sleep and snuggle her up to my post baby comfy swelled bosom. Nope still crying. Put on some music and walk with her. Lie down with her still and quiet. Change her jammies and put something fresh on her. Hold her like a football and walk. Nope still crying. By this time all of my options failed and the I don’t have a clue realization set in. So I called the maternity ward at the hospital – I knew they’d be awake. As a new mommy, I was panicked, in tears and desperate for help. The nurse patiently (and probably laughing to herself) asked “Did you feed her honey?” “No, she’s on a perfect 4 hour schedule and not due to eat until midnight.” I replied, trying to show a hint of motherly knowhow. “Why don’t you try that honey? Maybe she’s a little hungry.” “Okay.” I said, thinking I’ve known my baby for 3 days and that can’t be the problem. But I made the bottle anyway. As soon as I put the nippy in her mouth, she sucked that thing down like she hadn’t eaten in 3 days! I sunk further into the rocker and felt like a moron. After she ate, I cleaned the little milk spills off the creases in her neck and put her back to bed where she slept peacefully for the next four hours. Live and learn….
I would be remiss if I didn’t share that her dad had his own episode of new parent panic. One night when Becca was a few weeks old, she was sound asleep in her crib in the room right next to ours. Her dad and I went to sleep at 8pm – our new bedtime. Being new parents, you sleep whenever you can. About an hour after we fell asleep, I woke up to him screaming “Get her out of there! Get her out of there!” I was scared to death – what was happening? Not the best way to be awakened from a sound sleep. I turned the light on and he was standing up in the middle of the bed and holding up the light that was in the center of the ceiling. He was crazed. I asked him Get WHO OUT OF WHERE?? He yelled that Becca was in the light fixture and he was holding her up so she wouldn’t fall out. I admit I looked at the light to see if she was there (after all I was suddenly jolted up) I assured him that she wasn’t in the light and he was still asleep…..yet he wouldn’t stop screaming. It took several minutes to get him out of his night terror state and back to reality. We walked into her room and witnessed that she was snug as a bug in her crib – sleeping like a baby. I’m sure his heart was pounding out of his chest for a little while – as was mine. It felt good, though, that I wasn’t the only wacky new parent in the household.
After a while, we understood her needs more and more – what she wanted, why she was unhappy. We became parents who learned sometimes by the process of elimination and sometimes by instinct. Either way, she is, was and forever will be the joy of our lives!
Babies bring so much happiness to parents, grandparents, step families, aunties, uncles, friends, cousins, neighbors, distant relatives, church attendees, people you don’t know walking in the mall, other babies – just about anybody. I was at a birthday party recently and there was a precious 9 month old baby girl there. She was so good – being passed around to everyone without a peep. Each person that held her tried to get her to smile, and when she did – everyone lit up like a Christmas tree and oohed and aahhhed! People don’t think twice about making goofy faces or talking with their voice raised 3 octaves when they are trying to make a baby giggle. When she stuck out her tongue you’d think that we just watched a Seinfeld episode – fits of laughter all around. Such pure, innocent, wonderful happiness!
Heather and Mark – we are so thrilled to welcome our own royal bundle of joy!