The birth of Liam brought with it an influx of “happy helpers” who couldn’t wait to share their “experiences” with me to advise me on how best to care for him. Again, I emphasise that I’m not trying to sound like an ungrateful troll but… Who the hell am I kidding? I hate people telling me what to do. I think its an Aries thing… Maybe. I couldn’t help but rely on the fact that I had dealt with Aava for so long, I didn’t quite feel like a novice in the Mummy Game. Everyone around me were quick to point out that taking care of Aava did not qualify me in the mummy field. “It’s different when you have your own.” But is it? I don’t really know. I think as I saw Aava as my own, technically, I feel like I’m just retracing my steps. The only real difference is learning from scratch Liam’s nuances and behaviours, which in this case, is a breeze when compared to Aava. Sorry Aava. As Aava grew and began to develop, trying to find a method to cope with all her isms was like setting my A’ levels in Science. With Liam, its more like my GCEs. Easy as pie. Babies are guesswork most of the time, but I can’t deny, my baba is complaisant.
“Wait, until he’s three years old.”
Oh, if I had a dollar for every time…
In my previous post, Smile and Nod, I shared with you many of the things I heard about my road ahead in the pregnancy lane; from avoiding microwaves to horror movies. But it didn’t stop there.
“Don’t take the baby out before a month old”.
I think if I didn’t have to leave home at some point, I would’ve probably have adhered to this advice. Which would’ve been hard anyway because all I wanted to do was show him off to the world. I was more wary about taking him out only because of his NICU troubles and his delay in breastfeeding. I think I eventually left home when Liam was a little over two weeks old for a doctors appointment. “That doesn’t count!” Yea, well we had lunch and went baby clothes shopping as well. Not intending to be a smother-er, I wasn’t entirely concerned about the whole notion of newborn babies getting sick if anyone other than their mother breathed on them. Or looked at them for that matter.
Whatever you do, do NOT make eye contact.
I more viewed it as a building of the baby’s immune system to let them breathe a little less sterile air than maybe what was being provided for him in the comfort of our home. Besides, I couldn’t find a bubble in his size anyway.
“Don’t bathe the baby everyday”.
This was actually both hinted to me and then flat out told to me. Then my research actually confirmed it. While some other people around me insisted I bathe him everyday, its actually not recommended at such a young age. Initially, Liam was being bathed everyday for hygiene reasons following his circumcision. However, once healed, I followed my BabyCentre advice of at least three times a week. This practice helped to curb his dry skin, which babies tend to get regardless, as well as his skin rashes which also seemed to thrive on moisture-deprived skin. When time is limited, Liam’s baths almost follow a “special occasion” routine. As long as we’re leaving home or visitors are coming over, a bath is in order. Otherwise, its just a sponge down and a moisturise. Like, I lather him in cream and coconut oil in his scalp. Scalp, because his hair is falling out, as is mine. Sad face emoji.
“Don’t touch the top of the baby’s head”.
Now, before you all scream “Soft spot!” in unison, I am well aware of a baby’s soft spots. However, the context in which I received this advice was laughable to say the least. I was at the doctor’s office having a checkup done and Liam became antsy so I decided I would breastfeed him. Once consoled, I started to stroke… STROKE… his head. You know, like a show of affection. I thought the elderly lady sitting across from us, who had been watching my every move like a hawk from the minute I sat down, was going to have a conniption. “Don’t touch the top of his head, he has a soft spot!” I politely nodded, and continued to stroke him. She actually started waving at me! Waving at me to suggest that maybe I hadn’t heard what she said and she was trying to get my attention. Keep in mind the doctor’s waiting room is practically a 2×4. If she were any closer to me, she’d be wiping my face. Needless to say, I continued to caress my baby, and last time I checked his brain was still working.
“Don’t hold baby too upright”.
I often wonder how much of this advice is actually useful information and how much of it is just a lot of baseless opinions. This advice is one such example. At around two months old, John and I were having pizza at an eatery close to home and Liam was sleeping on John in an upright position, stomach to stomach. A colleague of John’s passed by and inquired on the age of him, to which John replied, “two months”. The lady faltered for a minute before chiming, “Two months? You don’t know you shouldn’t be holding him so upright? He should be laying down. No one ever told you so?”
Yes, she actually asked if we hadn’t been told this by any else as if this gave her ‘advice’ merit.
John actually offered an explanation as to why Liam preferred to be upright; much more than I would’ve done. He gave her one word too much in response. I decided to do my research on this, not because I was concerned, but more because I was curious. Apparently there was a suggestion that holding a newborn upright could interfere with skeletal development. However, studies show that being held in an upright position actually does GOOD for a baby’s skeletal development. Again, I wasn’t concerned.
Having a baby and becoming a mother is nothing short of an out-of-body experience. Literally. I feel like new mothers should be allowed to experience their motherhood in their own way without feeling obligated to adhere to the advice of the older generation or the woman who had plenty babies. While some advice is good advice, I can only speak from experience when I say that sometimes it contributes to the pressures of my new identity and responsibilities.
Each baby is different, therefore so, should be each experience.