Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The thing about newborns…

I have a confession to make. Newborn babies scare me. Before having a child of my own, I was always the girl at the office who didn’t want to hold her colleague’s new baby when she’d bravely make her first trip out to introduce the baby. I used to make jokes about how it was bad for my biological clock to hold babies and add that holding a newborn would likely send me straight on maternity leave. But really, I was just terrified of holding and possibly breaking such a fragile little life.

My husband is quite the opposite and regularly holds tiny babies with natural ease, as they snuggle down comfortably in his large embrace. Before we had our own child I marvelled at his natural ability with babies.

Having my own newborn did not prove any better for me. As the mother of a colicky, fussy newborn, I sometimes swaddled and rocked my baby so hard I was sure I would give him whiplash. When the only thing that would silence his perpetual crying proved to be standing for hours with him under the noisy kitchen fan, I was sure I would damage his hearing permanently. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why he’s so loud to this day…

Anyway, my first few months as a mother were rough. Very rough. I was not a natural at motherhood. By the time we hit the three month mark I finally got my groove with him and only then did I start to feel a little confident. By then we were out of the scariest phase and my son had stopped crying so damn much all the time.

When my nephew was born two months ago, I was sure that as an experienced mother I would no longer have a phobia of holding newborns. I was wrong. It turns out I’m only really comfortable holding a newborn that belongs to me. And really, who are we kidding – even that’s a stretch.

I had all the best intentions of going over to visit and holding the baby for my sister-in-law while she took a nap or a shower. Nephew and I were going to bond from the beginning. I was gonna be the best aunt ever! As fate would have it, an extremely busy work and family schedule kept me from visiting as often as I would have liked. And anytime I would visit, I was usually accompanied by my overly excited two-year-old and I spent most of the time keeping my son from pawing at his baby cousin and repeatedly yelling “Gentle! GENTLE!!!”

So in the end, I didn’t get to spend much time overcoming my fear of newborns with my nephew and every time I would hold him, I’d be sweating so much I was afraid he’d slip out of my arms. Fortunately, my dear husband always seemed to swoop in just as Nephew would start to wail uncomfortably and cradle him in that big comfy embrace of his. Phew! Saved again.

Now that he’s a solid little two-and-a-half month old, I’m feeling much better about holding my nephew for awhile so his mom can eat dinner. Even if it means constantly elbowing away my eager son from his baby cousin. At least now I know I won’t break my nephew!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

When is it time to step out of the comfort zone?

As my son is now two years old, I am really finally starting to feel settled and comfortable in my role as a mother. You know how when you first have a baby, everyone tells you that it will get easier? I’m pleased to report that it’s true. Don’t get me wrong, every day brings new challenges, but I’m much more laid back than I was a year ago.

My son is speaking better every day so we can actually communicate effectively. He eats the same meals that we do (mostly). He actually sleeps through the night now (hallelujah)! When we go out, we no longer need to pack a huge diaper bag with every possible thing we may need to tend to him for an hour. Okay, so he’s not potty trained but I’m optimistic that it will happen soon. In other words, things have truly gotten easier for us. We have left the baby years behind and now we’re fully entrenched in the wild and wonderful toddler years.

The thing that never ceases to amaze me is that I really feel like I love my son more every day. How is that possible? When he was a baby I adored him, but I think I was too stressed out to enjoy him. As a new mom, I was just overwhelmed. Now that he’s a little person, talking and doing things by himself and being a funny little character, I just can’t help but feel all mushy inside when I look at him. Yes, there are still plenty of times when he frustrates me to no end, but it feels different now.

So now that we’ve reached this comfort zone, I know that it’s time to expand the family but sometimes the thought of going through the baby years all over again just makes me want to run away screaming. My son was a good baby, but he was very active and busy and had no interest in sleeping. He was what the parenting books call “spirited.” To be fair, I always said that I wanted my child to be full of spunk - or as we like to say full of “piss and vinegar.” Well, I got what I wished for. But I don’t think that I would wish for that a second time.

Am I ready to wake up at all hours of the night, struggle through breastfeeding and changing 12 diapers a day? Am I ready to hear that shrill newborn cry that wakes a mother from the deepest of sleeps? Am I ready to wear my hair in a ponytail for a year because my baby keeps pulling it? Am I ready to struggle with understanding what it is that my non-verbal baby wants from me? Better yet, am I ready to have to give my attention to more than one child? To deal with sibling rivalry or the jealousy that a newcomer to the family brings?

I guess I’m looking at all the negatives, because obviously the positives are wonderful and well worth the effort. I know that now that I have been through it once. I only hope that my experience so far has taught me better ways to deal with parenting a second child. And I hope that my next is not full of piss and vinegar, but is an angelic, sleepy and good-natured child.

So to all those of you who are asking if we plan to have another child, the answer is yes. Hopefully we will expand our family, if all goes the way it should. Don’t read too much into this post, I am not pregnant. But as I look at my fellow mothers around me, whose first born children are about the same age as mine and are now pregnant with their second, I am starting to feel okay with the idea of going through it all over again. We’ve reached a great comfortable place with our son…but I guess we shouldn’t get too comfortable here; otherwise he’ll never have a sibling!