I'm really not political. I mean like I run away from debates like the plague. I am more neutral than Switzerland. If you see a political post on my Facebook then it is my code for come and find me I have been abducted and need help. That being said, I have to react to the recent unpleasantness at the borders. I MUST. Families are essential.
I think I have mentioned my mission trip to Uganda before but in January of this year I went on this life changing adventure. The middle of their summer in the dry season I was in Kaberamaido. We have this amazing “carepoint” where we meet the needs of children who are, usually, orphaned by the loss of one or both parents. They must receive school fees and food and most of all love. On my trip, I received all the love and joy I could handle. So why do I bring this up in a blog post about uniting families?
While I was there, I experienced the true meaning of family. I believed foolishly that I was going there to give. I never felt the need to be a savior, I have a Savior already and so do they. I did feel like I would be a teacher to some young people and some mothers. I thought as a Postpartum doula I would impart great knowledge about bonding and attachment. The mothers of Uganda have all the knowledge they need. The people I met there, like Florence and like Monica, (the names they asked me to use) were mothers to everyone. They are my age probably or a bit older, but so much wiser. These women humble me as I see them easily caring for the other mothers and children around them. Men are quite scarce in that community. Either they were murdered by guerrillas, dead from disease or with another family because they make the rounds. There is also rampant alcoholism. But none of that changes the way I saw family shown to me. Aunts raising nieces, grandmothers nursing grandchildren, sisters looking after each other's children and older siblings (I'm talking 8 or 9 years old) with infants strapped to their backs going about their day. They were all looking out for each other. I realize I only saw a snap shot and that often we put on our best for visitors but I am certain that children are valued there and families are together fighting for a better life.
I look at this and I compare it to our lives here and I feel like we really are missing something. I know I have talked before about community I also want to talk about attachment. The babies I saw did not often cry. These babies had their need for touch met by being carried everywhere by many relatives and friends. They were fed on demand by the breast of the closest lactating mother. The children, as they grew were given freedom that was developmentally appropriate. It was intuitive and completely safe because everyone was looking out for everyone else. Now clearly, as I have already stated, it is not all roses and there are needs in Uganda. But here is the key, in the poverty and the diseases that permeate the country, the people are looking out for those in need. If a family member is homeless or without food, the extended family believes it is shameful to not care for their own.
Here from my soapbox, my words are clear. Do you want to change the way our country is going? Work on making better people. You don't think cuddling your baby can have any way of making a better future? You would be so very wrong! This is THE way!!!
Bonding changes brain chemistry. Brain chemistry effects the way we see things. The way we see things can create a paradigm shift. We can bring this care for each other into our way of thinking. We can love our way into creating a new way. Keep families together. Feel the weight of your own power as a mother. You can change things, but not in resistance and war or laws and divisions. You change the world by rocking a baby, holding her close to your heart and making sure she feels loved! This baby will then grow, maybe she will be a policy maker, maybe she will see the way she developed well emotionally and help others learn to help their babies. Maybe she will hold her baby and help her to grow into a adult with a healthy emotional life which also betters the lives of others. Can't you see how important you are? If you want to change the world start with the children who think you are the world and think the world of you.
PS I am reading a fascinating book about brain chemistry. This is not a plug, I get no gain from sharing this. I just want to share this resource with you. Oh, and I just thought of another I would recommend if you are interested in how you can effect the brain chemistry of your child for good...
Anatomy of the Soul:
The Whole Brained Child
What an amazing thing it is to give birth! It is probably the hardest thing you will do, ever! Filled with emotion and strength, it is truly glorious. God is bringing His plan for a new life into the world through you, isn't that incredible. It also feels weighty. It is relatively easy to care for your baby when he or she is inside. But how do you make the transition from pregnancy to mothering? Can you prepare for this at all?
What will life be like after you bring home this new person? What can you expect and what will be expected of you? You probably are pretty skewed one way or another. You might have the picture of a fabric softener commercial, everything is in soft focus, you place your freshly bathed infant in a huge fluffy towel as they coo at you and give you a first toothless grin. You are diapering and dressing them with confidence. Yes, you will have those days. Possibly you are fearfully thinking of another scenario, a colicky baby like the one your sister or friend brought home who cannot stop crying, will not sleep and projectile vomits. Yes, there will be those days too. But like everything in life, it is a mix of both. If someone tells you it is all one way or another, they want you to admire them, either for soldiering through or for being a perfect parent. Neither will be your full time experience.
So back to the question, what can you do to prepare for the new adventure of a child?
I think the first tactic is to create a nurturing environment. As you build a nursery room or nook in your bedroom, make it an inviting place that you can relax in. Create a nursing space in your living area with good books, a charging station, a soft light and a place for a cold glass of water. The more relaxed you can be, the more relaxed the baby will be. The baby is created to receive cues from you! They can sense the stress hormones or they can sense the oxytocin (a relaxing hormone) created by bonding, milk production and breastfeeding. You can do a lot to help make the baby content and it starts with creating an inviting environment for you, which brings dividends for you, too.
The next thing is education. Now, if you take nothing else at all from me, this tidbit is key!!! Don't miss this. Educate yourself about a style that feels right to you and follow your intuition. If it isn't working for your very unique child, or you, scrap it! Don't let anyone tell you there is only one right way to parent. Even if there is someone who you admire, a real or even a perfect-seeming person, they are not you, they did not have your child. This is not a computer we are dealing with but a person with real feelings and real personality built in. It cannot be and will never be, “If I do it all by the book I will get the perfect outcome.” There are just too many variables in God's creation. If we could know what worked for every single child, there would be no need to google anything. We would all have the manual and all have cookie cutter children. However I believe we all have an inner manual installed while the baby grows. It is called intuition. If we attune ourselves to the inner voice of our intuition, we will know what to listen to, what advice to take, what to leave behind. Which brings me to the next thing I think is crucial.
We can prepare for this transition by getting our tribe around us. Wise women a little further in the journey than you will be an asset you cannot measure. You have heard me harp on this already, if you follow me. If you do not have a church family with someone you can cling to, look for a moms group, a person from your childbirth class, a postpartum doula (I know a good one), and even a Facebook mom group. All these can offer some support so you can keep yourself from being isolated. Look for a few helpers to come alongside you. You will not regret it.
These three elements are key to my mind, to start to prepare for this brand new journey. There are other things that can help but no toy, no app, no gadget or technology can ever replace your intuition or your own special way to comfort and care for your child. You were made for that child and that child was made for you. You have a purpose in their life and they have a purpose in yours. Relax and enjoy your baby, they love you! Try to find your joy in the little moments when they look in your eyes, grasp your finger. To them, you are a superstar and if you are caring for a little one day to day, you are a superstar to me too.
Well, I'm not the greatest content writer, am I? I am learning so much about this blogging thing as I go and it is a challenge for me. Then, I went to the ER with abdominal pain and then shortly after that I got a cold that has lingered for almost 2 weeks. The kind of head-foggy cold that made it so I couldn't write if I tried. But I was reading as much as I could and I hope I can translate some of it here.
I have been learning about a thing called TBRI (c) and it is fascinating! I have taken to psycho-analyzing my family and friends, its very productive. LOL. Seriously though, I am learning more and more about how the principals I use in my postpartum care are perfect for helping little minds grow.
Here is a little taste of what this is about: (don't you love these wipe board art videos!) youtu.be/FWScSJKjn1A
Its a short video and a wonderful place to start learning about trust based relational intervention. I hope you explore more that the Karyn Purvis Institute has graciously made free on youtube. I plan to study more so I can share some of the really good stuff with you. In the meantime, I hope my cold goes away and I am sorry my content has not been very frequent but I think you understand as moms how these days just get away from us. Please keep sticking with me. I love your "company" and that you give some of your precious time to read this blog. I don't take that for granted. Praying for you.
Paula is a single mother of 3. Follow along on her journeys of motherhood and her fulfilling work as a postpartum doula