So many of our friends are having babies lately. Some have just delivered, while others have one on the way. It’s a really exciting time.
I just spoke to one such couple who are that the 32nd week of pregnancy. During our conversation, some of their concerns surfaced:
“Is labour painful? Does it take long? How was yours?”
“We’ve bought some baby stuff already but I don’t feel prepared.”
“Does the baby get up often at night? How often does yours do this? How long does it go on for?”
It’s funny how things look like on the other side i.e. once you’ve transitioned from being a married person to becoming a parent.
Just 7 or 8 months ago, I was in the same position they were in.
Fretting about the delivery of the baby. About whether I’d be able to remain sane while having to work the required night shifts of feeding, changing and soothing a crying infant.
Well, looking back, I guess Deric and I haven’t done too badly. Our 7+ month old baby is doing well. He’s happy most of the time, and he tells us so through his frequent smiles and laughter (which occur even in his sleep!). He’s gained weight and stretched taller. He’s pooping and peeing all the time.
We have a pretty good understanding of what Jamie wants by now. We recognise what we call his Pangsai Face as well as his sleepy and feeding cues.
We have a rough bedtime routine that mostly works (though there are, of course, those nights where Jamie is wide eyed and nothing in the whole wide world can make him fall asleep until he’s ready).
We know now what our weekly routine looks like, feels like and what we need to do to get through a typical day as a family.
We are also able to take Jamie out for trips out on the town, mostly without incident. Yet we also remained unfazed to keep doing so even when we are faced with disastrous events like a diaper blowout or a complete meltdown crying episode.
Are we perfect parents? Not in the least. But we ARE parents, and we ARE making it through. And we’re finding out that while there are challenges to raising a baby, they aren’t always all that bad.
If any parents-to-be were to ask me about how they should prepare for parenthood, I’d tell them this: There is no way you can possibly be 100% prepared for what’s ahead of you.
That’s because you cannot really fathom what it involves until you’ve got yourself fully immersed in the experience of parenthood itself.
So while you do what you can to get ready, there should be a part of you that says, “I won’t worry too much about this big challenge called parenthood that’s in front of me. God has graciously blessed me with a child, and He will just as surely grant me the strength to raise him/her.”
As for the pains of labour or the possible complications that might eventuate during delivery, it’s pretty much the same deal.
You can read up about pain relief, and how to recognise contractions (something that nobody seems to be able to describe properly to a first time parent, much to my frustration back then).
You can draw up a birth plan of ideals. Discuss concerns with your obstetrician/gynaecologist.
But it is only on the actual day itself, as things unfold, that you’ll learn what works best for you as you make those split second decisions while the baby descends and makes its journey out into the world.
There are some bits of advice that I could give regarding delivery and coping with the early days of parenthood, but I’ll save that for another post, another day.
For now, what I’d like to put out there is this:
If you have a child on the way, if this is your first time, if you’ve got a ton of worries clouding your head and heart… I just want you to know that you CAN do this.
You don’t have to be perfect to parent your child. In fact, you’ll soon realise that your baby is much more accepting and forgiving of you than you probably are towards yourself.
Arm yourself with information wherever necessary. But more than that, learn to rest in the assurance that you have what it takes. You’ve gotten this far into the pregnancy. You’ve put in the best of your efforts to lovingly prepare your home to welcome a new family member.
You’re all set. Really, you are.
Just determine to parent with all the love you can muster in your heart. The rest of it will come with ease.
See you soon on the other side.