Parenting Perspectives: A baby changes everythingHaving a baby. What a rush. Everyone loves a baby, but a baby changes people. It brings out all kinds of emotions and behaviors that you don’t typically see on display. And I don’t mean just during the birth.
By: Nicole Welle, INFORUM
Having a baby. What a rush. Everyone loves a baby, but a baby changes people. It brings out all kinds of emotions and behaviors that you don’t typically see on display. And I don’t mean just during the birth.
Our baby girl was born a month ago, right before Easter. She is wonderful, easy-going baby and the perfect addition to our family.
Our two boys are completely fascinated by this newborn, particularly the concept of feeding her. How does she get the milk? How does my body make the milk? How do I get the milk out of my body and into a bottle so they can feed her when I’m gone? Having a baby guarantees lots of new “why?” questions from the preschool-set.
They are also tiny examples of what love in action means. Although her personality is still a bit of a mystery, and she can’t interact or reciprocate affection, both the big brothers are madly in love with their little sister. I know this because of how they care for her.
My 4-year-old is always keenly aware of her needs. “Mama, I think she wants her pacifier,” as soon as the tiniest squawk comes out of her lips. It keeps him busy searching for where we last left the little piece of silicone.
“I think she wants me,” he stated last night, as she was fussing a little. “She wants me to hold her.”
And he does a great job of holding her. Often for two or three minutes at a time, even! Once she settles down, he lets us know, “She’s content now.”
As the oldest, his seat gets the middle position, allowing him access to irritate and console both his younger siblings during car rides. After he reached over to pull the blanket down for the baby, his voice got soft and he told us matter-of-factly, “I love her.”
Most reassuring of all was a week after she was home. “Mama, is the baby going to stay with us?”
“Yes, she’s going to stay with us,” as I’m thinking that sending her back is not an option.
“Good. I think she should live with us forever.”
My 2-year-old hasn’t developed his nurturing instinct as fully yet, as he still demands (literally) a hefty dose of care for himself. However, he definitely loves the baby in his own way.
When someone else is holding her, he has to sit on the side where her head is, so that he has direct access to smoothing her hair and fondling her ears. We occasionally have to remind him that she does not, in fact, want to snuggle his feet, but I think he means well.
As the middle child, he is already navigating the space between older and younger, making sure everyone is happy. He takes direction well from his big brother when it comes to caring for the baby: “Go get her blanket! She needs a diaper! Don’t rock her so fast!” Most tasks are happily carried out with little retaliation.
As the mama, I’ve been the most drastic. Becoming a “new” mom – whether for the first time, third time, or seventh time – changes a person. I’m still the same, of course; I didn’t check my personality at the hospital, only to get it back in 18-25 years. But there are parts of me that come out and parts of me that hibernate for a while when a new baby joins our home.
This baby has made me lazy. It seems all I want to do is snuggle. I find myself randomly sniffing her, like a puppy. She and I, we do nothing all day except dirty diapers, wash diapers, eat, and sleep. There’s a lot of eating and sleeping, on both of our parts, 24 hours a day.
Yet as the day wraps up, I start going stir crazy to get out of the house. A trip to Target sounds divine! I beat myself up for getting nothing done. The laundry is still unfolded. You can barely see over the pile of clutter on the countertops. I was home all day, and what do I have to show for it?
A happy, growing baby. Two toddlers who love their sister. A husband who helps with the dishes, the diapers, and the tantrums, and who doesn’t mind when I don’t have dinner on the table when he walks in the door. A mama who is tired, recovering, and too hard on herself. Welcome to the new normal.
Nicole Welle is a freelance marketing consultant and personal development coach whose passion is helping others live their authentic purpose. Nicole lives in West Fargo with her husband and two sons. You can find her online at www.nicolewelle.com.