I’ve heard those words uttered to me so many times. Quite honestly, they are the stupidest words which have ever been been relayed to me.
If you are blessed with a quiet, permanently happy baby, congratulations, I officially loathe you. If you are born with a real baby who has up and down days and moods then feel free to be my friend, you are who this post is aimed at. For those of us who don’t seem to have this ‘natural instinct’ of being immediately in tune to the innermost workings of a newborn, how do we tell what is wrong with our new baby?! This is where those little words ‘It’ll come naturally’ make me want to throttle the smiling, condescending, smug face that has uttered it. Paediatricians, Neonatologists, Occupational Therapists, Sisters, Nurses, Midwifes, Doulas and a bevy of other medical professionals spend years studying newborns, they attend conferences on the behavioural aspects of a baby, they debate amongst each other constantly, new information is shared and learned every year on the development of babies, yet a brand spanking new mother is simply told ‘it’ll come naturally’.
In part the statement is true. You will naturally want to soothe your child, nourish her, shield her from harm, you will do everything in your power to keep her feeling relaxed, safe, warm and fed, but what happens when she is crying for ‘no reason’. What happens when your baby has been cleaned, fed, burped, swaddled, soothed and loved and still will not fall asleep? This happened to me and the more I asked for advice and help the worse I started feeling as a mother. ‘Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out’, ‘don’t worry, it’ll come naturally’ those two statements have made me feel so utterly inadequate and a failure as a mother. I went from pillar to post to find out ‘why won’t my baby fall asleep after a feed’, ‘why does she start screaming hysterically suddenly from nowhere’, ‘why can I never soothe my own child’, ‘why does my child hate me so much’, ‘why won’t my baby sleep in her bed’. The answers I initially got made me feel even more insignificant as a parent ‘you’ve over fed her’, you’ve underfed her’, ‘you’ve spoilt her by holding her too much’, ‘you’ve kept her awake too long’, ‘you’ve over stimulated her’ and so started an incredibly vicious cycle of self loathing when my baby ‘hated’ me more and more with every passing day.
I’ll delve into her issues in a later post, but for the purposes of this post, let me tell you this: It is impossible for you to know right off the bat what your baby is trying to communicate to you, you do not magically become the baby whisperer from the very minute your eyes connect and that is ok because the two of you will learn to communicate and understand each other. You will discover over time that there are different ways in which she will cry, these different cries mean different things, some of them are so subtle in their differences that you won’t know until you’ve become completely in sync with each other, or a trained professional has helped you to assess her behavioural patterns.
Many of my childs ways to communicate her discomfort were read as something else initially both by myself and others, and while that is not necessarily my fault I will always feel guilty for not figuring it out sooner.
Charlottes physio therapist also said something to me yesterday that I needed to hear and that I think many new moms need to hear:
Your baby shares a unique connection to you, she felt and heard your heartbeat for 9 months, she was enveloped in your warmth, she heard your voice soothe, sing and talk to her, she used your kidneys, diaphragm and bladder for soccer practice. To her, you are the world, she is turning to you for help, she is trying to tell you something and she is going to be far more vocal about it in your arms because it is YOU that she trusts the most in the world to help her. She’s not screaming more in your arms because she hates you (and lets be honest mommies, we’ve all felt that at least once).
Don’t for a second think that this diminishes the role and importance of daddy in the equation though, but the connection between mom and tot is one that really is so unique and one that I am still learning about daily. And the next time you have confided to a friend or even a stranger (sometimes that outing to the shops is your only social interaction of the week and any ear will do 😉 ) if they utter those dreaded words of ‘It’ll come naturally’ feel free to sucker punch them!