We are all born into this world naked and screaming. That’s just one of many experiences we all share as human beings, even if we don’t remember it. My wife and I were fortunate enough to witness this miracle first hand when our daughter, Izabella Luna, was born on April 18th. What a wondrous experience it was. But what a rude awakening it must be for a baby to be thrust from a warm, dark, safe environment, where all of her needs are met, to a bright, cold, unknown world full of lights, strange objects and unfamiliar sounds. All of the sudden, she is at the mercy of all these people who want to poke and prod her, dress her, bathe her, swaddle her. She experiences hunger, which must be a foreign feeling given that her needs have been taken care of in a warm cocoon up until now, and the only language she has to express herself is crying and screaming.
Well, this has been a rude awakening for me too. I naively thought that only unhappy babies cried and that our baby would be different. Boy was I wrong. The first several days and nights were a real wake up call for me. Not only do babies cry a lot, they cry at the top of their lungs, sometimes while kicking and screaming. I haven’t spent much time around babies in my life. In fact, you could probably count the number of babies I’ve held on one hand and have fingers to spare. Now, I’m living with one 24/7 and learning the art of baby whispering. Survival mechanisms, instincts and helpful advice have come into play, and we are all beginning to learn how to live with each other.
When she cries, and we’ve made sure her basics have been covered (i.e. fed, clean diaper, etc.), then I try to soothe her. It’s so amazing that this little being can scream like she’s being murdered for no apparent reason. It’s even more amazing when I can get her to calm down. Using the 5 S’s (Swaddling, Side/Stomach, Shhhh, Swinging, Sucking), and a few other tricks, I can usually calm little Bella down dramatically (even if that’s only for a few minutes).
Something amazing happens when a baby becomes calm after a crying fit. Once that relaxation switch is triggered, through what ever method, her eyes become wide and clear. She has awakened from a fit of confusion and frustration (or so it would seem from the observer’s point of view) to that of a wide-eyed and curious child who’s just taking in her surroundings. That’s a beautiful sight to see.
Another beautiful sight to see is the amount of joy that shines on the faces of those who look upon little Bella Luna. It’s so heartwarming to see my wife look into her baby’s eyes and smile as she tells her how much she loves her. It’s also beautiful to see my parents melt with joy when they hold her in their arms. Of course she’s also got me wrapped around her little finger. I wear her on my chest a lot, which calms her and allows us to do things around the house.
She has taught me (and continues to teach me) a new level of patience and humility. I’ve learned not to take her crying personally, and I’ve developed a sense of humor around behavior which could otherwise be very disturbing. I notice when I experience frustration and I let it go, over and over, knowing that babies cry and it is completely natural (as is feeling frustrated and helpless).
Acceptance is the key to survival, and Izabella is my newest and most powerful teacher (and loudest). She is four weeks old as I write this, so our journey has just begun. I have a lot to learn from her yet, but I am ready, willing and able. The shock of the rude awakening is passing for both of us, as she and I continue to adapt to her life outside the womb. As this dance of life continues, I fall deeper in love with her every day.
Much love to you and yours,
PS - It’s almost 2:30 am and I’ve spent the last hour or so trying to get her to fall asleep and stay that way. It’s like a game we play, and I eventually win ;)
Sunday, May 13, 2012
I was recently interviewed on Conversations with Avant-garde Sages. We discussed my new book, "A Seeker's Guide to Inner Peace: Notes to Self." Trip Overholt was the host, and we had a good conversation. Please visit their website to listen to the interview. If you are interested in ordering a copy of the book, it's available on Amazon.com in softback and Kindle.