“He’s going through it to.” These words were like a siren piercing my ear as I held my beloved son. Despite my best and most valiant efforts, he practically hated his first two months of life. As new parents we failed to realize the value of simple things, like keeping him on a sleep schedule or using womb mimicking tricks to relax him. Our breastfeeding experience was a nightmare. He had tummy trouble, reflex trouble, and basically “I want to be back in the womb” trouble. He cried more of the time than not for the first six weeks and slowly settled into his “normal” (if there is every such a thing for babies) by about two and a half months.
Now, he’s a happy, healthy seven month old who’s almost all smiles and personality! He’s a true joy and parenthood has become a joy as well. However, few trials in my life have compared to those initial months. The thought that stuck with me the whole time was that for every moment of uncertainty, every moment of doubt, and every, every moment of pure exhaustion, my little guy was feeling just as lost in this new world as I was.
We both had experienced something like never before. Our worlds literally change in an instant. At birth, babies are thrust into practically a new planet where they experience many unpleasant things, like hunger, for the first time. Of course they can’t tell us, but one can imagine that those feelings cause some sort of shell shock. Parents too. In literally one moment your world becomes about someone else and for several months your freedoms are very limited, your needs are almost nonexistent, and your initial expectations of life with baby are probably shattered. It’s not an easy time for either party, but the beauty in the sorrow is that there is plenty of room in this state to bond.
I can remember holding my son, who at this point often seemed foreign to me, and thinking, “this is hard for him too, but we are gonna make it.” I would picture us going through life facing the various challenges that different seasons bring and remember that him, his daddy, God and I were still an unstoppable team. We could do this…. but only if I remembered it was just as hard for him.
I connected with my son in a powerful way because I learned to realize early on that there are two people in this relationship. It’s not just about me trying to meet his needs, it’s about us understanding one another on the deepest level humans can understand each other. These months passed and things did get MUCH easier. But, I’m still grateful for the struggles that gave me my first opportunity to be empathetic towards my child and “listen” to his feelings for the first time.