Day by day

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Me and my little companion¬†ūüôā

 

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.

Tougher days 

I’ve not been able to write anything new here for awhile thanks to being so busy with Jamie. He’s been having a fussy week or two, and has been rearing his grumpy side at home more than usual.

In general, Jamie is mostly a fuss free baby, so it’s a bit surprising for me to see him behaving the way he has lately. Initially, I chalked it down to the after effects of his last round of vaccinations, since I noted that the fussy spells started to happen more often after he recovered from a bout of fever after getting his shots.

But then again, it could just be him reaching another growth milestone. I’ve read that babies tend to become a bit more on the fussy side on growth spurt days. What made this round more unbearable, however, was the fact that I was experiencing Growth Spurt Week rather than just a couple of Growth Spurt Days like how it had been in the transition period between the first and second month of Jamie’s life.

Now, in his third (and soon reaching his fourth, in fact), his overall behaviour seems to have drastically shifted gears.

Not only is he more active, he is more likely to display drastic mood swings where he can be really happy one moment and terribly grouchy in the next. He is also more likely to get distracted during feeding times, much to my dismay.

Whenever he fusses, it is hard to figure out what he really wants and even when I do, it’s disheartening to realise that what he’s asking for is to be constantly carried around the home. If I try to put him down in the cot or bouncer or anywhere at all, he will make lots of noise to make sure I know he disapproves.

Some days, he naps really little in the daytime. He also has greater trouble falling asleep at night. And although he can now sleep through the night on certain days, on other nights he wakes up for at least two feeds (thus confusing my poor boobs who continue to produce milk faithfully every night regardless of whether Jamie is there to lap it up or not. Sigh).

He also has this terrible habit of grabbing bits of my hair in his fists and not letting go.

But at the same time, Jamie is more expressive and vocal, which are things that have been wonderfully amusing to experience with him. That also means though that when he is upset or seeking attention, he will not hesitate to tell us so. Something that I don’t always enjoy at times, as he can now complain really loudly. Never mind that I cannot understand what he is saying, the sheer noise he makes is enough to compel you enough to want to pick him up just so he will quieten down).

In addition to dealing with his fussiness, I am almost always fretting about whether anything Jamie does or his appearance is an indication that he is unwell. Most times, it’s just me being paranoid, but presently, Jamie really is sick and is down with a flu.

The worst part of it all is that I’m pretty sure I was the one who passed the bug to him since I myself had been similarly unwell a little earlier in the week.

But as unsettling, tiring and inconvenient as it is to take care of Jamie in times like these, there are still redeeming factors to keep me going. His smiles and the way he always looks around the room for me (even when others are carrying him) are certainly among them.

While going through this slightly more difficult season with Jamie, I got round to re-examining why we want certain things as parents.

Most parents of infants just can’t wait for their little one to start doing certain things. Stuff like sleeping through the night, feeding from a bottle (as opposed to directly latching onto the breast), taking longer naps and being able to sit up on their own and hold their head upright.

If we dig deeper into why we want our babies to achieve these abilities, we’ll often find that one of the underlying reasons is that it will ultimately make our lives easier. That’s nice and all, but didn’t we sign up for parenthood knowing all along that it would be hard at times? Why do we then keep wishing for the easy way out?

Well, I’ll admit that it’s good for the baby himself too in the long run if he is able to achieve these things. But what I’m questioning here is more of why we are always wishing for our child to be something else other than what they are right now. The danger here being that we may focus too much on wishing for the day when they are less troublesome to us to the point that we miss out on cherishing who they are at present.

Jamie can’t sit up on a high chair yet. He still doesn’t really like drinking from the bottle so I have to feed him by letting him latch on directly to my breasts for all of his meals. He wants to be found in my arms and to suckle at the breast every night before he falls asleep. He interrupts nearly every meal I have each day so he can have his feeds and also delays my trips to the toilet for the same reason.

I can’t say that these inconveniences do not irk me at times, but I’m learning to appreciate who he is in spite of these challenges. Some day he’ll grow up and be so independent that he’ll not need to live in the same home as I do or even relate to me anymore to get by. And when that time comes, I want to make sure I have no regrets.