|Image from babycenter.com. We love you!|
And somehow I missed the tiny detail that this post was going on Baby Center the next day. So Jill very appropriately quoted Mama Vida and said:
“Leave the tooth alone. It will come out when it’s ready. This advice has a deeper meaning that can be applied to many mothering moments.”
Double points for quoting a Congolese mama.
And I said: "As long as your baby is eating, breathing and pooping, you’re doing alright."
Which was not a quote from a mother or even a woman, but rather an old, white man who I'm not even sure is a parent. He is definitely not a mama. My lie has been recommended on Facebook 596 times.
Charlotte was born in Cape Town (as mentioned too many times here and here and here and here. Sorry guys). South Africa is the land of first class, low key healthcare. I love it. Everyone calls their doctor by their first name. Something I never embraced. But these doctors are top notch.
The morning after Charlotte was born, my assigned pediatrician, we'll call him Dr. L, came to visit. I was bleary from ya know, just giving birth. And had just had a blubbering breakdown in the bathtub, which alarmed a nurse so I had to explain between sobs, "I'm....just...so...happy." Obviously a freakish combo of hormones and happiness goin' on there.
So maybe Dr. L. had been alerted to the American crazies before he came in. All I remember from his first visit was how rough and simultaneously kind he was with newborn Charlotte. He picked her up by just her arms and flopped her head back and forth between them. Then he picked her up and made her walk. One step after the other. Hours after being born. This new baby wasn't getting off easy.
For his last trick, he held her skull in his giant hands and pushed down on her soft spot with both thumbs. Repeatedly.
"You see! Her brain is just like jelly in there!" (To which we knew he actually meant JELL-O, silly South Africans.) Then he said, "Don't be afraid of the soft spot. You can mess with it all you want."
I'm sure he was doing fancy reflex testing here, but the point he was also making was that we shouldn't be afraid of our new baby. "Did you see how she was born? It was rough and she's fine. Babies are tough. Don't be afraid of your baby."
|After head flopping and arm hanging, Charlotte demonstrates the newborn reflex of walking.|
And we felt super confident...until we found ourselves taking shifts the next few nights to make sure she was breathing. Seriously. She would do this weird holding-her-breath-thing until she finally ran out of oxygen and then breathed. ALL. NIGHT. LONG. We were terrified. I vividly remember watching my only Super Bowl abroad because I was up at 4am waiting for my newborn to take her next breath.
|Waiting for her to breathe.|
This was getting ridiculous. So we called Dr. L.
"Um, so, she's doing this weird breathing thing where she stops breathing."
Dr. L: Does she eventually breathe?
Dr. L: Then she's fine. Relax.
Then he went into a very logical explanation about what was going on. All about how newborns don't know how to breathe and are figuring it all out and it can be erratic and scary, but not to worry. Then he said, "Listen guys, as long as your baby is eating, breathing and pooping you're doing alright." And he reminded us the eating thing isn't all that important. No healthy baby is going to starve themselves.
In Congo we don't really have a pediatrician at the ready, so I think about this a lot. Is she eating (at least every once in a while)? Is she breathing? Is she pooping? And honestly most of the time even a combination of two of these things is okay.
I remain ever so grateful that our first pediatrician was low key and sensible. So much so that I made him into a mama and quoted him on Baby Center. I guess men sometimes have okay things to say too.