||[Jun. 17th, 2009|11:52 am]
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.