Thursday, December 20, 2012

Things I wish people told us about babies

Our friends Ivan and Sherri just had a baby (so happy!). And Ivan was the one who suggested the title for this post.

Because I didn't think I would write a post like this.

Within the first year of motherhood, my sentiments about people's (kind and well-meaning) advice were more along the lines of "things I wish people would not tell us about babies." Some were helpful, some were not, and others sent me into bouts of worries, guilt, and despair.

This is not a list of advice. These are just some things Emeth and Hanan have been teaching me.

1. Every baby is different.
True, we've only taken care of two babies. Yet, they are so different.

Other people do not know your child. Writers of books and articles do not know your child. Doctors and nurses and lactation consultants do not know your child. They do not know how your body feels or how your family functions. You do.

So, glean with caution. Glean from their years of expertise and knowledge, be grateful that they are available to help, but do not allow their opinions to rule your lives.

2. Every baby comes broken
3. into the arms of broken parents.
Emeth was not a compliant baby and he was very high maintenance. The first few weeks of his life were dark and happy and confusing. Now that he is four, his "difficult traits" are blossoming into his love to be around people and his intense need to understand his surrounding. But we had no way of knowing at the time.

He was a difficult baby. And I was constantly overwhelmed with guilt. I remember crying to Hans, convinced that I broke Emeth. Hans wisely and lovingly told me that Emeth was already broken. He was broken the moment he was conceived. Only the Lord, in his goodness and mercy, can save him — as he first saved us.

4. I have nothing to prove.
Still learning this one. Should have lived by this before becoming a mom. Better late than never, right?

5. The concept of time will never be the same again. Ever.
Me-time, us-time, work-time, play-time, sleep-time, shower-time — all comes crashing into one overwhelming blob.

Time is no longer linear, no longer compartmentalized, no longer predictable. The rhythm of life changes all together. And that's normal. Learn the new song. And don't try to sing the old tune to the new beat.

Nowadays, my time management mantra goes something like this: Stop chasing after what I would like to do. Learn to love what must be done. Repeat.

6. Hold principles firmly, hold methods loosely.
Principles are things that we must do as parents. Love your children. Rejoice in the Lord. Be kind. Be patient. Be faithful. Be gentle. Train up your child in the way of wisdom. These are non-negotiable.

Methods are the many ways, the different tools, we use to carry out our principles. I was so caught up in finding all the best methods in the beginning (oh you know, epidural or not, breastfeeding or not, co-sleeping or not, scheduled or demand-feeding, and all those baby gears!). I am not saying all methods are created equal, but I am saying that we need to hold our methods loosely. Don't get too invested in them. Because, at the end of the day, God has given you to your child. No matter which method you use, you are there. You are the best method. God has chosen you for your baby, and your baby for you.

That said, there was one method I held on for dear life when the babies were little. Baby-wearing. It's awesome, if your baby enjoys that sort of thing. Women (and men, I suppose) of ages past knew what they were doing. When Hans wore our babies, other moms commented on how he secure he must have been of his manhood.
7. Hold your baby. A lot.
Because they tend to wiggle more as they get older.


tiff said...

love it, irene because it's so true...!

Irene Sun said...

Hi Tiff! =) I could totally hear you say this. and laugh out loud.

Jody Tellers said...

Irene, this is beautifully said!

Irene Sun said...

Thanks, Jody! So grateful to have you drop by. =)

Serenely said...

Garnering all your wisdom as we embark on our adventure second time round... some of these observations could apply to pregnancy as well... the letting go and humility of the process

Irene Sun said...

You are so right! Parenthood (and especially pregnancy) a journey of humility, and realizing just how little control we actually have over -- anything!

I am praying for you, Serene, and so excited as we wait for Nathan's little brother/sister. (YAY!)

mizying said...

LOVE this.. so so true

Irene Sun said...

mizying - Hi! =) Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed visiting your blog. It looks like Isaac is slightly younger than Emeth (our firstborn). Congratulations on the little one! I have some vague memory of your husband from All Saints. Such a small world. Blessings to you and yours.

Catherine said...

remind me to read this again in ___ years when i have my own :P

hehe <3

E! said...

Catherine, Irene says within 5. Dear God!