When Amanda Sloane went home from the hospital two days after delivery, she left her newborn daughter, Emerie, in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). As Sloane was wheeled out the front doors empty handed, she passed wheelchair after wheelchair of women leaving with their newborn babies. And every time she returned to visit, she passed a new line-up of mums.
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We’ve written before that the best gifts for new parents are services, not things. But your friends and family may not realise this, and so at your baby shower, they hand you a bonnet adorned with little duckies, something your new bundle will wear for one adorable Instagram photo and then never see again.
They mean well, but could use — and would probably appreciate — some direction.
Author Catherynne Valente discovered a passage in New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding — a book written in 2002, not 1952, mind you — that reads: “Fathers, if your wife is having trouble or pain, step in and adjust her technique, reminding her that successful breastfeeding is a priority for the development of the child and the formation of your new family!” Her reaction? No.
Almost all parents worry about the health and safety of their newborn children. In fact, we're evolutionarily programmed to scan our environments for any potential threat to the little life we are now charged with preserving. You might worry that your child will stop breathing in the night. That a car might leap onto the footpath and mow down you and your stroller. Or, even, that you could do something to harm your new baby, like drown her during those awkward newborn sponge baths.
In movies, immediately after a mother gives birth, a nurse places a pristine newborn in her arms. In real life, however, babies usually look more Alien 3 than Huggies ad as they enter the world - their heads are misshapen, their faces resemble grumpy old men, and they're covered in a white film. The traditional protocol has been to get them a sponge bath, stat.
Video: One thing that shocked me about new parenthood is how much time you spend begging for gas to come out of another human being. Burping was not one of my daughter's strong suits - I'd often spend a half hour in the middle of the night patting her back after a feeding, waiting for that belch of glory that never came. My paediatrician finally told me the sweet, sweet words: "If she doesn't seem uncomfortable, don't worry about it!" And that was that.
It's understandable that pregnant women focus their planning on the impending delivery: Whether it's going to be a C-section or vaginal birth, at home or in a hospital, smooth jazz or screaming. You might even have made up a detailed "birth plan", complete with instructions for pain meds; lighting preferences; and a plan for video, photos and cutting the cord.
After noticing that their newborn daughter was so lethargic that she couldn't eat, her parents, Nicole and Shane Sifrit, rushed her to the hospital. There, less than two weeks later, baby Mariana died. Her funeral took place on Monday.
Doctors told the Sifrits that Mariana had contracted herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which led to the complication of meningitis. It is believed she acquired the illness from a kiss from someone who had the cold sore virus, and may or may not have known it.
Interesting news out of the Netherlands: A team of researchers tracked nearly 85,000 women through their pregnancies and beyond, and found that self-esteem in pregnant women and new mothers fluctuates: It dips during the 30th week of pregnancy, rises until the child is six months old, and then declines for at least the next two and a half years. The good news is that maternal self-esteem eventually did recover: When the researchers followed the women for subsequent pregnancies, they found that the women had returned to their previous level of self-esteem.