The P Words

The P Words

By Lianne Castelino

A friend of mine is eagerly anticipating the birth of his first baby later this year.  In chatting with him yesterday, I realized what a refreshing story his really is. He described how his wife is struggling with morning sickness.  And while she copes with getting through every minute, he is busy.

Sure there's a room to get ready and gear to purchase, but as they cross the 5-month pregnancy mark,  he is busy with something that is all-too-rare these days.  Research and preparation.

He is reading, listening, watching all things parenting.  Rare, because it is generally the mom-to-be who usually does pregnancy and infant care reading. Refreshing because as a dad-to-be he has figured out that embracing a little bit of research about life with a newborn now, will go a long way later, when that little miracle arrives.

It continues to be astounding just how many expectact couples spend very little time understanding what welcoming a new bundle into the world really means. Sure they get it second-hand, through the always-comforting descriptions like:  “sleep-deprivation, mac truck hits, it's difficult to describe” and so on, but what does that really mean?  Many people still believe, that childbirth unleashes a fount of wisdom in the female (and even male) brain.  That both parents will suddenly be flooded with knowledge on how to feed, burp, bathe, soothe and put an infant to sleep.  If only it were that simple. 

They are definitely miracles.  But they are also mysterious.   Where do we start?  There are the physical particularities of newborn babies (too many to mention here), the fact that they cannot differentiate between night and day (having spent 9 months or more in one set of surroundings), they usually have different cries for different needs – how does one decipher the newborn “code”?  What is colic and how do we cope with it?  Those are some of the more obvious ones.  

Then there's the fact that they often lose most of all of their hair, the fact that their eye colour usually changes, that they need to wet and soil diapers at a brisk pace to confirm they are both feeding and that their little internal organs are developing normally.  The list goes on and on and on and on.   

My friend also mentioned that his research has included preparing the family dog for a new family member.  Ultra-important preparation process there to prevent any nasty surprises when the baby comes.  Who knows how the dog will react?  Who knows how the baby will react?  

Then there's the emotional and physical trauma of giving birth, of going from a couple to a family, of juggling sleep-deprivation with every other emotion out there.

And what in the world happens if mom or dad aren't entirely overjoyed with the miracle of birth, if they are indifferent, sad or frustrated by the experience, if either show symptoms or suffer from post-partum depression?

I commend my friend for recognizing that knowledge is power as a parent-to-be.  That preparation is powerful as an expectant parent.

Goodness knows most new parents don't have time to read the morning headlines once their long-awaited addition arrives.  It's only natural.

Related Links:

Part 1: Understanding Post Partum Depression

Watch video:  Newborn Care Basics