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Abba-hood - Eitan Halevy [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

[ website | Approaching Emunah Shlemah ]
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Abba-hood [Jun. 17th, 2009|11:52 am]
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[Current Location |Noqdim, Israel]
[mood |Joyful, Thankful]
[music |Sound of Silence - G!D]

OTHER: So, what's it like to be a parent?
ME: Well, before there was no baby, and now there is one.

That pretty much sums it up. But for those of you who appreciate my long-winded prose despite my best Dickensian attempts to make them boring, I'll go on. My parents are here for a few weeks, my mother for a whole month, which is just the most wonderful thing imaginable. It's truly a win/win. My parents get to shep endless nachas from their grandson, and at the same time help ease the transition to parenthood for me and Daniella. I am so grateful for my wonderful family, more and more as time goes on.

Watching Hallel (the baby) change day by day is astonishing. In his two-plus weeks of life he's substantially filled out into his newborn sized clothes, which used to hang around him with his tiny body floating somewhere in the midst of all that cloth. Every day brings a new ability, a new set of neurons firing, organizing, making sense of the world. A few days ago he started focusing on and following objects with his eyes, a day or two later he had his first interaction with a toy, grabbing it and bringing it to his mouth. His eyes have clarified into a deep blue, and the dark, substantial hair he was born with shows no sign of falling out and giving way to fine, peach-fuzz--as the baby books say it should.

What should happen with a baby is another interesting topic. Everyone who has ever reproduced seems to be an expert on baby-care. But I suggest that more information sharing is needed in the field, as everyone has different advice! My parents and Daniella took Hallel with them to the Shuk (market) in Jerusalem yesterday, and were assailed by conflicting 'advice:' He's too hot. He's too cold. Cover him up. Uncover him. He's too young to be in the sun. etc. I don't know if this happens to the same extent in the US, but it seems that here, the whole country feels like the kids annoying relative who needs to tell the new parents how to do things right. I'm sure they all have the purist of intentions. So I'll try to take everyone's 'advice' as what it is, that is, a somewhat misguided sign of caring for the extended Jewish family.

If there's one thing I've learned through watching this pregnancy, birth, and the growth of Hallel, it's that the received wisdom on all these topics is highly suspect. Here are a few pearls of what I've learned so far. I make no pretense of originality or infallibility:
1. All sorts of random stuff goes on in a pregnant woman's body which doctors have no explanation for, and can't do anything about. (That's not to say you shouldn't make use of the knowledge and expertise they DO have.)
2. Hospitals are for sick people. Avoid them if you can, even--perhaps especially--during pregnancy/birth. We haven't been to one yet and are only better off for it.
3. Due dates are a guestimation (guess+estimation) based on an imaginary number. Best to ignore them.
4. Birth is not necessarily a traumatic experience, for anyone involved.
5. Real world experience always trumps textbook wisdom. Internet forums on actual experiences are often better sources of information than medical or child-rearing books and sites.
6. No matter how much knowledge you gather, you will learn to raise a child by doing, as with any art. The best way to learn is from a master artist, not a text.
7. When it comes to taking care of a baby, there are a gazillion options which are just fine, and a couple which are not. Which is which is mostly common sense.

[User Picture]From: gingit106
2009-06-17 12:32 pm (UTC)
Hi, I'm Daniella's friend, Gail. If you don't mind, I have a couple comments on the things you say you've learned.

First, about number 3: Yes, due dates are a guestimation, and babies are very rarely born on their due date. It is however quite helpful to be aware of one's due date to know approximately when the baby should come. Up to three weeks before or two weeks after the due date usually means a relatively healthy "term" baby. If the baby comes much before that or after that, there can be lots of complications. So in short, I would say, don't ignore the due date, just use it as a vague guideline.

And about number 2: I gave birth to my daughter in a hospital, and I intend to have my second in a hospital soon as well, b'ezrat Hashem. I had a great experience! The nurses and doctors were wonderful and took good care of me, and I felt safe knowing that if something went wrong, I was in a place where they could deal with it. I almost needed an emergency c-section (B"H I didn't in the end) and my baby needed to go to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) immediately after birth for about an hour and again the next day for nearly a week. Hospitals do not have to be scary or threatening, and although some people may want to give birth elsewhere, it's not for everyone. I would not discourage people from giving birth in a hospital, especially if you've never had the experience to compare it to.
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[User Picture]From: eitanhalevy
2009-06-17 01:10 pm (UTC)
Hi Gail. I've heard a lot about you. Thanks for responding.

To your first point, well taken. Throughout the pregnancy (latter stages, anyhow) we talked about a 'birth month,' with the due date about in the middle.

Your second point, about the hospital: It's true I've never given birth in a hospital, but I've had plenty of experience in them, and it's taught me to be more wary than trusting. I think everyone is aware that giving birth in a hospital is the 'safest' in a purely medical sense. What I think needs to be pointed out is that not only does it not HAVE to be at a hospital for most healthy births, but it can, for many people, be a more positive, less scary/traumatic experience elsewhere. That's what I've learned from my life experience. Obviously everyone should do what they're comfortable with.
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