When was the last time you were around a day old baby?

My stepson and daughter-in-law recently has their first child. Wow, what a great experience. Full of many emotions, thoughts, memories, especially for us mother types.

It was when my son mentioned that he'd not ever been around a baby that was less than two full days old it occurred to me that most of us aren't around newborns very often. We're usually only around newborn babies when they're our own or one of our children's children.

When its our own baby, it can quite often have been many, many years ago. Memory fails us, or fades just enough that our facts our shaky or our ideas and knowledge outdated. Some things never change, I know, but the exact details of the way things were very often do.

I clearly remember looking into my son's eyes at birth, just how dark and inquiring they were. I remember my anxieties over a newborn, anxieties about starvation and choking. I remember the concern I had when my son slept a little too long, is he still breathing?

I took my mom to visit my new granddaughter yesterday. She's a sleepy baby. Tickles and whispers in the ear have no effect on this little angel, when she's out, she's out. So cute.

The new message for "safe sleep" is pretty much baby on its back with nothing but a sleeper. No swaddling, no pillows or blankets, no toys, no nuthin'! It makes sense to me although that's not how I did it 22 years ago. Live and learn, as they say. It's the way it should be, learning from the past and doing things better.

On the way home from my stepson's my mom and I discussed the fact that she didn't have me at home as a newly born newborn. A month makes a big difference. Mom talked about how we "boarder" babies didn't get the same attention as the other babies, perhaps that's why when I came home I pretty much slept through the night on my own. It's definitely why I had sores on my face because "I slept on unbleached cotton sheets that didn't get changed often enough".

Hmm. I take all this with a grain of salt. Obviously it could be true but I don't consider my mom an excellent source of factual information on any other subject so why would I assume this scenario was true. Not that it couldn't be, I just can't be sure.

Being around my new to the world granddaughter has reconfirmed my belief that although newborn babies could possibly recognize their mother's smell or voice, they don't feel loss when they aren't in her arms or presence. They aren't born perfect little nursers who automatically latch on to their mothers' breasts and they are totally cool with any Tom, Dick or Harry holding them. It's as they grow they begin to recognize people, become attached to parents and other family members.

Love and healthy attachment aren't just a given. Good parent/child relationships take time and energy to develop, it's not something that's just handed to you along with your baby upon giving birth.

You may be attached to your baby but don't kid yourself into thinking your baby is magically attached to you. You have to be there, do the work, thus developing a bond of love and trust.

If it's that way with newborns who've had no bad experience with adults, with anyone, how can people not realize how difficult it will be for older kids who've been screwed around by their "natural" parents for years or were never really cared for at all by them, have been let down by adult after adult their entire young lives.

It's so beautiful witnessing a much wanted baby become familiar with the world and her good, caring parents. It's a treat to be given the chance to develop a grandparental relationship.

I'm a very lucky woman...in spite of the fact I quite likely slept on pukey, stiff sheets for the first month of my life.


  1. Congrats! I am not going to pretend I know what newborns know. This is another one of "those" topics where everyone seems to have an opinion but I don't know how anyone really "knows". My second and third children seemed to be barely awake for at least 3-4 days.

    It sure is true babies don't automatically know to nurse. My first never really got the hang of it and was almost admitted to the hospital b/c he was so underweight. I had stupidly listened to a lactation consultant who told me the worst thing I could do was give him a bottle. So I stubbornly kept trying to breastfeed till the pediatrician told me if he didn't take a bottle in the office he was going to admitted to the hospital. He drank that bottle like a champ and we never looked back. We still bonded, even though he was mostly bottle-fed despite what I had been told.

    We brought our daughter home at 15 months. She was healthy but had obviously been neglected since at over a year she had never been given the opportunity to walk or to eat solid foods. She couldn't do either. She slept through the night no problem and when awake was desperately clingy. She would bite my other kids if they tried to come near me. She had to held constantly and demanded constant attention. If she didn't get attention, she would pull her hair out and bang her head against the floor. It was a very difficult time for her and for us. We got through it with some help from a counselor who made some fantastic suggestions. She is now quite attached to us and very confident with lots of friends. She is behind academically and I do think being neglected that first year had an impact on her. However, we will never really know what "could have been." Have to move forward and do the best we can under the circumstances.

  2. Thanks so much Kris, what an important comment. Hopefully people read it.

    It seems it's impossible to really prepare people for their first parenting experience so at least we can try and be there for them when the reality of a newborn sets in. It can be pretty easy for an odd few but for the majority, it's crazy days (and nights!) those first couple weeks. I just got off the phone with my stepson and I can just hear it in his voice, that newborn shell shock that most experience. I told him to just remember it won't always be this way lol.

    The dogged determination to breastfeed no matter what can be so dangerous and I just don't get why it has to be that way. Why cant we easily encourage and educate without such extreme pressure? I dunno.

    Your daughter's beginnings are heartbreaking and it's so great she's doing so well now socially. Confidence is so important, as is being attached to a family.

  3. "It is so beautiful witnessing a much wanted baby become familiar with the world and her good, caring parents." And that was beautifully expressed. Thank you.

  4. Congratulations on the new addition! I've definitely never been around a baby that young.

  5. Forget research. Campbell spent twenty minutes with a newborn. She's the expert.


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