Carmela Torres was 18 when she became pregnant for the first time. It was 1987 and she and her now-husband, Pablo Hernandez, were two idealistic young Colombians born in the coastal region of Montería who moved to the capital, Bogotá, in search of freedom and a better life. When Torres told her father she was expecting, so angered was he by the thought of his daughter having a child out of wedlock that they didn’t speak to each other for years.
Before she had a chance to hold him, her baby was whisked off to a neonatal intensive-care unit. Torres was simply told to get dressed and go home. “I didn’t even get to touch him,” she says. “They said I could come back and see him but the visiting times were very restricted—just a couple of hours a day. When I did visit I was allowed to look but not touch.”
(click link above to read the story on theatlantic.com)
If you’re questioning the rightness of your desire to pick up your baby when he cries, or lie beside him as he falls to sleep, read this.
“He’s got you wrapped around his little finger.” “She’ll never learn if you do whatever she demands.” “He needs to learn to self-settle.”
These are phrases every new parent is inundated with by well-meaning strangers. Despite the journey to becoming parents being one filled with much anticipation and joyful excitement, we live in a world that seemingly undervalues normal physiological behaviour in babies, and places way too much emphasis on the quest for them to be independent in their own entities. We are warned of creating “bad habits” with our children by being there for them when they need us, and we are chastised for wanting our babies in our beds near us at night time or for feeding overnight.
(click to read the entire article on mothering.com)
If we spend time thinking about it (which we often don’t), most of us believe we’ll transition into motherhood easily. I’m sure lots of women have no problems in those early heady days of being a first time mom. But I’d also be willing to bet that even the moms who look like they were born to smile at their babies (and manage to find time to take a shower) have ups and downs at the beginning.
With the vantage of hindsight, a lot of parents confess that the early days of life with a new baby were hard. Many moms I’ve talked to over the years have had trouble bonding with their babies, a process they assumed would be natural and easy. (I’ve written about my difficulties bonding with my second born here.)
A few of my friends had new babies this spring, and while looking into their wide, shell-shocked eyes, I remember what it’s like to have a wriggly tiny life in your arms. Everything seems chaotic and hazy and wonderful and exhausting. Here’s what I’d tell those new mothers…
First off, the first thing I would say — which is 10,000% true — is, IT GETS EASIER.
A reader left the loveliest comment years ago: “Bless you, new moms. If you’re trying, you’re doing a great job.”
Here are a few posts that may help during the first year:
7. 8 questions to ask a new babysitter. Friends have sometimes lamented that they can’t leave their baby with a stranger. But this person is only a stranger until you meet them. At least in our experience, a nanny will soon feel like a beloved new member of the family.
“How old is your baby?” asked a woman not much older than me as I tossed four bars of chocolate into my grocery cart, two of which would be my reward for getting the baby to sleep that afternoon.
“Almost 3 months,” I responded, blinking in the harsh light and quickly rubbing my eyes to check for crust, after remembering I hadn’t looked in the mirror before leaving the house—again. It wasn’t until someone spoke to me in public that I realized that in rushing around like a lunatic getting the baby ready, I didn’t even give myself a once-over.
The woman nodded sagely and said, “Ah, you’re still in the 100 Days of Darkness,” before commenting on how cute my baby is.
One Hundred Days of Darkness—I’ve thought about it often since.
“Why will my baby only sleep in my arms, what am I doing wrong?”. A question so frequently asked by exhausted new parents.
The first three months of parenting are often the hardest. A quarter of all babies in this age group are diagnosed as suffering from colic, a diagnosis given when doctors don’t know why a baby is so unhappy and parents are unable to stop their tears.
There is hope though, understanding the enormous transition that babies make from ‘womb to world’, a concept commonly referred to as ‘The Fourth Trimester’, can prove ground-breaking for sleep deprived new parents. When babies are born they are incredibly ill prepared for life outside of the uterus. There are theories that due to our large head size human babies are born prematurely development wise, else they would be too large to be born naturally. While this is good news for mothers, it’s not such good news for the babies who could really do with another three months gestation. Understanding this and treating newborns as if they were still ‘in utero’ for their first three months of life can make life much easier for new families.
(click link at the top to read on huffingtonpost.co.uk)
A new study offers more reason not to practice “crying it out” with babies.
Researchers at the University of North Texas monitored the cortisol levels of crying babies and their mothers over five nights when the infants were undergoing sleep training in order to learn to “self-settle.”
The researchers found high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in both the mothers and the babies during the times the babies were crying. After several days, the babies learned to go to sleep without crying.Researchers found that during these quiet nights, the mothers no longer had high cortisol levels but the babies’ cortisol levels remained high. They had merely learned to remain quiet while distressed. (click link above to read the article)