Eight weeks of parenting

It’s been eight weeks since Amelia arrived, and I’ve been pretty quiet online as a result. Partly due to lack of time, but also due to lack of interest. I feel more engrossed in my day-to-day life and less interested in the latest news or social gossip. I spend a lot of time reflecting on how things are going, and it all feels a bit too personal to flippantly share.

That being said, everything is occuring so quickly and I don’t want to forget what’s been happening (hence this post). I also wanted to write something for other people who may be wondering what it’s like to have a newborn. For us, it went something like this:

  • Week 1: Mostly staying in hospital, learning from the midwives.
  • Week 2: Sometimes wondering if we made the right decision to have a baby.
  • Week 3: Enjoying family time. Not wanting to go back to work just yet.
  • Week 4: Back at work. Heidi and I are stressed, and need to talk to each other a lot.
  • Week 5: Amelia is very colicky in the evenings. It’s difficult to bear.
  • Week 6: Feels like Amelia has doubled in size and is much more robust.
  • Week 7: Her colic is actually milk protein intolerance. Heidi is on dairy exclusion.
  • Week 8: Amelia is smiling and giggling and sleeping well. It’s very nice.

Staying at the hospital was fantastic. Although Heidi got pretty cabin-fevery towards the end. It was a very supporting environment, a bit like a training camp for new parents. Surprisingly (to me), most of the midwives had rather different opinions on child-rearing. I can imagine that some people would find that frustrating, but I saw it as reinforcement that how to take care of an infant is very subjective and that we should just choose what works for us.

My general parenting philosophy has been rooted in pragmatism. Some key points:

  • Feed her when she is hungry. Let her sleep when she is tired.
  • Infants don’t play mind games. If they are complaining there is a reason.
  • Infants don’t play mind games. Don’t take anything personally.
  • Togetherness is important. Sleep in the same room. Hang out a lot.
  • Parent as a team. Talk openly, make decisions together, support each other.
  • The baby’s needs trump the wants and convenience of others.
  • There’s no right way to parent. Just be conscientious and diligent.

Our early concerns about whether we made the right decision to have a baby were ostensibly due to the immediate dramatic change in lifestyle and appreciation for the amount of responsibility parenthood entails for such a long period of time. I imagine that it’s a natural response, and not something to feel guilty about.

An unexpected outcome of becoming a father is that I’m now a lot more assertive. I think it comes from the imperative to meet Amelia’s (and our) needs over someone else’s wants, expectations, or convenience. Here are some examples of things I’m now very happy to say to anyone:

  • Don’t try to play with her, she’s asleep.
  • That can wait, I’m tending to the baby.
  • Goodbye. (Followed by hanging up immediately)
  • No.

It’s been a change for us, since we’re usually rather accommodating. Overall, I think it’s very positive. Potential social unease and awkwardness tends to be mitigated as early as possible, and my business engagements have become more focused streamlined. I don’t want to waste time!

Another unexpected change has been the realisation that Heidi and I still have a lot to learn about ourselves and each other. Being a parent poses a lot of challenges and exposes personal characteristics that have never been tested or visible. I feel that we’re becoming better people, or at least a better partnership.

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