Unfortunately new babies or spouses don’t come with a handbook of in- structions, but grandmothers and other new mothers are always full of advice. (Photo on left, me, my mom and seated my grandmother with my newborn son.) I relied on Dr. Benjamin Spock not of the Star Wars variety but an expert in the 1960s on raising children. Just like I would consult a cookbook to know how to fix dinners, I was thankful to have some expert advice on how to raise our child. There was so much to learn, how to hold the baby, bathe and feed him plus survive as a new mother.
My newborn wouldn’t sleep in his crib, this after we had made the move to a more spacious two-bedroom apartment. After nursing him usually in my bed during the early morning hours, I’d fall asleep and so would the baby. Then trying to get him back into his cold crib didn’t work. The moment I laid him down in his room, of course, he would awake and scream waking up the neighbors, but not my sleeping husband the new father.
Turning to Dr. Spock’s advice, he encouraged new parents to “be firm.” Feed the baby then place him gently in his crib, leave the room and don’t return. Of course, the well-trained baby knows that if he cries long enough, mom or dad will come to the rescue. Trying to change this established behavior pattern wasn’t easy. I remember as a new mom crying as my baby cried, because I was trying to get him to go back to sleep in his own bed and not mine. It eventually worked, but it was one of the hardest lessons of parenting I’d ever tackled. (Photo of my firstborn son, we both look tired.)
The first child is a practice model, I learned lots from him and hoped I wouldn’t make the same mistakes on future siblings. Well, guess what? Each succeeding child is different. Something that worked on the first child won’t necessarily work for the next one. I found this out the hard way. Maybe I know now why my mom only had one child.
Mother-in-laws now grandmothers were immediately on the scene, especially since our child was their first grandchild on both sides of the family. They came to help although I’m not sure how much having them tripping over each other in a one bedroom apt is help. But come they did, with lots of unsolicited advice.
As our son was blest in church and given a name, I finally felt like we were a real family. Life was good, but changes would come with more children.