As Noe turns 1 year old next month, I'm already getting nostalgic of the newborn and infancy stage. I've been busy preparing her 1 year old birthday party and making a photo scrapbook for her, makes me reflect on the whole parenthood saga. Knowing that if I've another kid, I've to go through the whole process again and it's like those movies that keep having sequels.
Here are 5 things that no one ever told me when I was preparing for a newborn and preparing for to be a parent - no class, no books - and I wished someone did.
1. All Babies Cry Extremely Loud and All the Time
You probably think that your baby cries louder than any other baby in the world and cries the longest, the most frequent. My brother did tell me about this but it was only after the baby came out, well better late than never. One thing I couldn't handle was the incessant crying and sometimes I will go crazy literally. When number 2 came out, I told myself objectively that crying is a language and I need to understand and learn that language. The Dunstan Baby Language helped me a lot in this. Well, some people may not subscribe to it but I think it's the attitude and perspective behind the concept that's important to manage the crying.
2. Free Things Don't Come Easy - Breastmilk
I've learn that breastfeeding is a skill for both mother and child to learn. As mothers, we learn so much of breastfeeding and how to breastfeed. And then we take all the responsibility upon ourselves to breastfeed. When it doesn't work out, we blame ourselves. Truth is, the new mother is learning and the new baby is also learning. My lactation consultant told me that at day 3, my firstborne had developed a bad habit in using his tongue. And I spent 3 months trying to teach an infant how to correct his bad habit and it came with a lot of tears, struggles and tension. Finally when the second one came, I adopted a new mantra, breast is best but not at the expense of our health, and not at the expense of our bond.
3. You'll Never Ever Get to Sleep In Again
Maybe not never ever but not for the first 6 years of the child's life... I was really astonished at how the limits of the human body can be pushed to such a great extent when it comes to caring for another human being without any sleep. Days are nights, nights are days. I don't even keep track of dates and public holidays. The baby is having jet-lag and I'm trying to help him/her manage the jet-lag. And it's the nights are the toughest, it's when the energy level is the lowest, the brain power at its limit and the mood at its heightened sensitivity. During these nights are the times that I've prayed like never before because that's the only thing you can do, pray and hope for the best.
4. Your Emotions Often Take Rollercoaster Rides
The variety of emotions, the ups and downs, I've never experienced them in such a way before. One moment, they're playing, the next day down with a fever and I'm worrying my butts off. One moment they're feeding well, 2 days later, they are fussing and I'm frantically cleaning the thrown food on the floor. We celebrate for a month when they sleep through the night, 3 months later they wake up every night looking for you. I've learned that these tiny people are human beings, not robots. They're learning, and being exposed to so many new things. Their bodies are changing and developing every single day. So I'm the constant for them, their safety net and I need to be responsible for how I express myself.
5. The Husband and Wife Needs to Support Each Other Mentally
In the antenatal classes, husbands are encouraged to attend with their wives so that they can learn how to support the wife during labour, care for the newborn like feeding and changing diapers, etc. But there is so little said about the psychological needs of the couple during this period of time. I don't think I could have ever made it through if not for a very understanding and supportive husband. Those times which I struggle to breastfeed the baby, just his presence with me is ever so reassuring even though he could not physically take over the task. And the times that the husband feels so helpless and alone, the wife tell him that he's still the man of the house. When the couple is happy, then the children are happy and you have a happy family.
And in this parenting journey, there is a beginning but there is no end. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. It takes a village to raise a child. But since that physical village is getting scarce, a virtual village through sharing online can also help families support each other. What are some things you will tell parents-to-be that will inspire them in kick-starting their journey?