Raising a baby, especially for the first time, is both exciting and challenging. This is a time for developing the bonds that will last a lifetime providing the child with the inner resources to develop self-esteem and the ability to relate positively with others. It is also the time for parents to begin to discover who this new person really is. Each child is unique and it is imperative that parents learn to understand, respect, support and encourage the unique characteristics and abilities of each child.
For first time parents, there are new challenges each day.
Regardless of whether labor is long or short, whether it is hard or easy whether a baby is born vaginally or by cesarean, most parents recall the first hours and days after birth as crystal-clear images surrounded by haze. It is in this haze that you first take in your baby and make a giant leap from pregnancy to parenting.
Despite all the anticipatory parenting done before conception and during pregnancy, despite weeks of feeling movement within and fantasizing about your baby, despite months of having strange dreams, worrisome thoughts, and musings about what kind of parent you will be, the first time you hold your baby in your arms and call yourself mother or father, mama or papa, mommy or daddy, an awareness floods over you that life will never be the same again. Another human being is now dependent upon you for survival. More than anything else, you want to be the best parent possible.
Your awareness of your baby’s dependency and your desire to be a good parent will together be a great source of energy and a great source of stress. Both are part of being a parent.
Becoming a good parent means much more than knowing a lot about babies. Ask pediatric doctors or nurses what it was like for them to be new parents. They will tell you that all their knowledge about babies was not enough to keep them from being over whelmed by their own babies. All new parents feel the same way. All new parents work at knowing, understanding, and loving their babies. Your baby will work just as hard at learning to know, understand, and love you. This is the process of attachment-the work that parents and babies do together to form a deep and lasting love. It is what becoming a family is all about.