parenting perspectives

Caring for the new mom

Cherishing the moments

By Valerie Andrew

Late night feedings and diaper changes were the easiest and quietest times I enjoyed with my new baby girl. Everyone would be asleep except for baby and me. At first, I was tempted to wake dad up to change and feed her, but realizing waking a hibernating bear took more energy than just rolling out of bed myself, I’d stumble to my demanding baby waiting for someone to care for her. I’d think to myself, “Let him sleep; he’s bringing her to the immunization appointment so I won’t have to see her in tears” and I’d feel better that at least I was getting some type of tradeoff.

Those midnight and 4 am feedings and diaper changes changed my life. I would look down and see my little girl smiling at me, trusting me, loving me! Oh, it was then that I began looking forward to waking up to sneak these private times between us where I could take pleasure watching her enjoy a fresh clean diaper, seeing her content as she finished her bottle and feeling her little hand holding my chest or playing with my hair.

The glow of happiness in her baby eyes was enough to bring me to tears of happiness, as I knew that in a few short months, this special bonding time would be over. It was then I could share with her my dreams and hopes and experiences that she’d have as she grows up! She would look at me, smile and coo, as if she understood what I was telling her. It was those secret times between me and her that I knew she appreciated my wisdom. Sixteen years later, this beautiful baby is now a teenager and I am so amazed at what a wonderful person she is! I still catch her now and then, looking up to me and I swear she remembers our quiet times when I talked with her, wishing her all the best as she grows up.

Helpful hints:
• Make night time bonding time.
• Trade off chores with your partner. We can’t do it alone.
• Share these late-night conversations with your child as they grow up. Children love to hear “When you were a baby” stories.

Valerie is pictured here with her daughters Chloe, 25, Gillian, 13, Sofia, 15 and Tren, 11.

When you’re a new parent – again:
A grandmother’s tips

By Sherry Tunilla

Sleep deprivation is expected after having a baby at 23, but what about at 57? Not so much. Grandparents often say “Yes, I spoiled them” and send them back. But for many grandparents, there sometimes is no sending them back. So I pass along “grandparenting” parent tips!

First, start an exercise program so you can climb into the backseat and buckle young junior in! Eat right, so you can chase after baby when the crawling begins. Lose weight so you can carry that precious little bundle up and down the stairs without your inhaler. Get your shots as baby will be sick from playgroup. Most importantly, find a good babysitter and a gym membership with childcare.

Let baby learn to fall asleep in his own bed. That didn’t seem so important, until I walked into the wall and my eye turned black and blue. I admit I often slept chest-to-chest with my grandson in the easy chair so he wouldn’t cry. When I put him down to sleep in his crib he would reawake, and I would feed, change, sing, rock and walk the floor, until I was totally exhausted and, of course, that black eye!

I resolved a bedtime routine. A warm bath, lotion massage, clean PJs and a heavy-duty night-time diaper. A last bottle of milk, brushed teeth and three short books (one never did the trick, two sometimes, but three became the ticket). I placed him into his crib with a prayer and a kiss. If he cried I stopped at my bedroom door. Some nights I checked and gently encouraged him, but I left him in his crib to work his sleep habits out on his own. After a few weeks (not days) he started sleeping all night.

You know there is a difference in parenting at 23 and 57. At 23, you pop up and down with your baby like a dancer. At 57, you hold onto your baby and look for a ledge to help you up. But no matter the age, parenting is still the greatest gift received.