Friday, September 20, 2013

Babies, Nurseries, and What Babies Need

When our oldest was born, we lived in a very old house in northern Alabama. The air conditioner was in the one main middle room (a window unit) and the heater (one of those large, floor model furnaces) was also in the middle room. The blower didn't work. During the spring and fall the whole house was moderately livable, but during the winter and summer, we could only cool/heat the few central rooms. All the other rooms were shut off. One of those shut-off rooms we turned into the nursery before the baby came. It was at the back of the house, a corner room with a window to the south and one to the west. There was a tree just outside the west window so it helped shade it. During the spring and fall you could get the loveliest cross-breeze. The floors were old wood planks (like most of the rest of the house) and the walls were flat wood siding painted white. I put a rag rug on the floor (we had those in abundance) and moved a rocking chair from the living room to the nursery. A white metal twin bed was on one wall covered with a couple of old quilts. When my mother-in-law and sister-in-law found out about the baby coming they were absolutely ecstatic. One thing they did was obtain an old wardrobe at a used furniture store and paint it white with blue, pink and yellow trim (we didn't know the sex of the baby). I had an old three drawer chest that I painted to match. We had a hand-me-down crib from some fellow parishioners at church. I made the baby quilt and crocheted a blanket. All the baby clothes were washed and hung up in the wardrobe. It was a sweet little room, very un-fussy and pretty. I couldn't wait for her to get here.

She probably slept in the crib twice while we lived in that house.

We had borrowed an old-fashioned bassinet which we put by my side of the bed. I figured it would be easier to have her there in the beginning during the night for ease of nursing. Little did I know. She was the highest-contact-needs baby I have ever met, before or since. If she wasn't touching warm human skin she wouldn't fall asleep. If I could have persuaded one of our two cats to curl up next to her it wouldn't have mattered because it had to be skin (and she would pluck at it to make sure). She was like a baby kangaroo. I might as well have had a 16 month pregnancy for all the difference birth made! [The nursing business deserves a post all to itself. Oh my heavens...]

During the day I sometimes would carry her to the nursery, her room, and sit in the rocking chair to nurse her. I remember very vividly one day in May (she was born in April) sitting in the rocking chair with her after she'd nursed herself to sleep. The breeze was coming in the windows, the early afternoon light was filtered through the tree and shadows of leaves were moving on the floor and walls. I looked down at my sleeping firstborn and thought, right now, here, at this moment, I am perfectly happy and content. I will never forget this moment. And I never have.

One thing I learned from having our first baby was that babies don't care about their surroundings. They don't care what color you put them in, what kind of wood a crib is made from, what color is on the walls. It doesn't matter if their clothes are kept in a fancy wardrobe or a box. They just need you.

Photo below: first bath at home, 3 days old. 

3 comments:

  1. Yes, I think that must be why slings are so beloved now by many; the needed skin time; what a lovely memory of that early contentment. A blessing really, a real true one! :)

    It is true, babies need the mother, not the particular surroundings.

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  2. A 16-month pregnancy - what a wonderful way to understand high-needs babies. My youngest (now 22 months) was of a similar disposition and a late walker as well, so he remained very much physically connected until several weeks after he began walking, at 17.5 months.

    I wonder if emotionally, this has been one of the longest pregnancies in terms of the intense wanting of a baby, only to have that hope denied for a time, and then again, and now, the waiting and wanting and hoping...

    But now the waiting is finally ending, and those "itching arms" will soon be filled with baby wonderfulness.

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  3. True, Audora, this pregnancy has probably already lasted 36 months...

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