By Jenni Ho-Huan, Life-coach and author of Simple Tips for Happy Kids
We all have this tendency to either focus on the rosy side of things or dwell on the darker possibilities in life. Here is a balanced look at the reality of having a baby: both the great stuff and the hard work and challenges a new life brings.
A baby brings out the gush, mush and rush in us which very few other adrenaline-raising exploits do. It’s an amazing experience to hold a life in your hands. The time of waiting is over and there she is – all tender, vulnerable and so magnetic.
# the love magnet
Each time you see this life you birthed together, it can bring you closer. At the same time, mothers usually shift their focus to the baby. This is a natural instinct and should be welcome as a way for the marriage to grow deeper and beyond the romantic twosome days. Indeed, a baby has the incredible ability to attract aunts, grandparents, and even total strangers. This brings a sense of pride: it’s as if, now, here you finally made a difference in the world. Lap it up!
# the tenderizer
As the baby needs a lot of attention, parents tend to become more tender in our tone of voice, actions and of course, the way we hold her! The baby acts as a sweetener in your marriage too, as you appreciate the tender side of your spouse.
# the rainbow effect
With baby in tow, you can now officially call yourselves a ‘family’. Even with all the cynicism around us, the word family is associated with safety, fun and hope. This is one of the most powerful pleasures brought about by a new life. Let the baby help you dream of the kind of family you have always longed for; and be the motivation for building that family.
#the invitation to true greatness
Editor of Singaporemotherhood.com , June says the greatest pleasure is finally understanding what “unconditional love” means.
# falling out
As we gush, sometimes we over-react. The new mother who hid in her room and insisted everyone sanitize their hands before entering can estrange family and friends. Your healthy baby is meant to survive and thrive in the world; so don’t get too anxious and don’t bark at the relatives who only mean well. Baby would not like to know she was a source of contention!
# wrong focus
With the incredible array of things to buy, shopper-type parents-to-be can get carried away with the stuff and overlook what really matters: caregiving! Moms-to-be would have ample time during the nine months of pregnancy to figure out how they want to feed, clean, love and raise the babe. There is really no one perfect way to bring up your child; so just settle on something and adjust and improve along the way. For example, a baby can be bathed in a sink, a tub or by being held between your legs (just ask grandma!). So find one that fits your belief and style.
# too much
Becoming new parents represents a huge change in lifestyle. Things can get more complicated if you are moving house, changing jobs etc at the same time. Give yourself time to settle into the parenthood journey before you embark on other major endeavours. You will need to make adjustments to your lifestyle which you may initially struggle with. So don’t make it harder for yourselves by having too much to handle. Talk through the roles and expectations with your spouse.
#panic from lack of information
While you don’t want to be overwhelmed and confused, there is essential information you need to be familiar with, especially regarding the health of your newborn. Your doctor is there to answer your questions so arm yourself with at least one question every visit (make your visit worth it!).
In Singapore, it is common for babies to have jaundice and eight out of 1000 births* report a heart murmur. They are easily detected and often self-correcting with time.
A friend once found out after an exhausting episode of jaundice that she could borrow the light therapy machine home for her jaundiced baby instead of going down each day or hospitalizing the baby.
A child evokes strong emotions: we want to protect and desire the best for her. For the mother, hormonal changes can also lead to intense emotional states and varying degrees of post-partum depression. There is nothing wrong with this but it does require the stronger partner to be more tender, patient and ready to help with the baby and the chores. A health check may also be needed in such cases.
#being way too serious
Singaporeans tend to aim for efficiency, even perfection! A little life is not usually quick and efficient. Children are all different and we might not be able to apply wholesale what we read in a textbook. We can also get way too serious if we compare children or stress ourselves out by seeking a perfect experience. Life is experienced in the moments and it can never be fully planned for. Perhaps this is why June Wan of Singaporemotherhood says that her interactions with other parents show that in Singapore, we tend to be perfectionists, over-schedule things and lack humour in our parenting! We need to learn to take things less seriously!
With these tips, we hope you can minimise the anxiety that comes with a baby and maximise the joy of becoming parents!
* Extracted from KKH HealthPaedia