Now You Are At Home!
by Pastor Jack Hyles
(Chapter 3 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, How To Rear Infants)
There are few days in the life of a family that can compare with the day that baby comes home from the hospital, and yet often that day becomes a day of disappointment because the new mother and father had so many wonderful plans. They had planned to sit down and have a dedication service, but baby wasn't in the mood to be reverent. They had planned to sit down and read the Bible together, but baby wasn't very spiritual. Now they are home only to find that it is not what they had thought it would be.
In the hospital Mother spent a lot of time getting organized. She had planned exactly what she was going to do, and in her opinion, she was going to be a tremendous success. Things, however, didn't quite work out that way. Mother soon finds that having a baby at home requires a lot of altered plans and flexibility. In fact, oftentimes it makes parents feel that perhaps it wasn't worth it. Most of us just do not know what having a baby at home would be like. Some might even think that if they had known what it was like, they would not have wanted to have children at all. Sleep, peace, organization and quiet are at a premium, and the sweet, precious plans that have been made for nine months vanish with the colic.
If a couple will realize before the baby comes that it will be hectic for awhile, everything will go better. Babies do wake up at night; many babies wake up many times through the night; some babies wake up four, five, six times a night. Maybe these suggestions will help:
1. Both parents should help with the baby through the night. Someone will say, "Well, the father has to work, and because he has a job and the mother is at home where she can sleep some, she should take care of the baby through the night." Someone else will say, "The father should do it because the baby needs a mother who is rested, not one who is haggard, tired and impatient." Now a happy solution to this problem is to have the parents take shifts. One parent could take from 9:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.; and the other, from 3:00 a.m. to 9:00; or one parent could take from 9:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. and the other, from 1:30 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. This insures each parent some sleep that is uninterrupted, and perhaps during the rest of the night, he will get a little bit of sleep.
2. Do not have the baby in the room with you, Mother and Father. Protect your privacy! Of course, it will require you to walk a longer distance to get to the baby, but it will give you time alone together, and your privacy is protected. This is so important!
This is also not good for the older child. If Mom, Dad and baby are together in one room and the older child is in another, this causes the child to think that the baby is getting preferential treatment, and he will feel like an outcast, exiled to his own room.
3. It is also wise not to put the new baby in the same room with the older child. Let the baby have his own room, if possible. If, for example, there is a three-bedroom house, Mom and Dad can have one bedroom; the older child, another; and the baby, another. If there must be some doubling up because of older children, let the older children sleep in the same room, and let the baby have a room of his own. Older children like their privacy. They feel it has been infringed upon if the baby moves into their room. This concern causes him to be overly protective of his own toys, his own bed, and his own private things. Have the older child or children sleep under the new arrangements several weeks before the baby comes. The older child will not associate his new sleeping arrangements with the baby's coming.
4. It is best for the new baby to have his own crib. I would not suggest that the same crib be used for each child. It could place in the mind of the older child the thought that someone has taken his place. It might even be wise to put the crib of the older child somewhere in a very special place leaving it empty so that he can see that his crib is still his. If for any reason the older crib must be used, it should be repainted or redecorated so that it will not look the same.
5. Plan visiting hours. Visitors can rudely interrupt well made plans. A good way to prevent this is for the new parents to predict the most likely visitors and to call them upon returning home from the hospital, inviting them to come at a certain time. The mother might call her closest friend and say, "Mary, I'm home from the hospital, and I can't wait to see you. Could you come by tomorrow afternoon about 2:00?" An appointment can be made, and this will become a part of the schedule for the parents.
6. The parents should have time alone for privacy and intimacy with each other. When a child comes, Mom and Dad will have to fight for such time. It may be that they will seldom sit down to dinner together. Before the baby came, they ate alone. Now it's hard to eat at all. Before the baby came, the meals were prepared. After the baby comes, the husband often eats leftovers. The mother is tired; the father needs attention. Before you know it, both will think the other is being selfish. Bitterness can develop toward the innocent child who has placed a wedge between them. If such resentment builds up, the husband and wife should discuss it openly before it becomes serious. The truth is that neither the husband or the wife knows how the other is going to react after the baby comes. It is a stimulus that they have not faced. They must have privacy with each other. It must be remembered that in a few years that baby's crib will become a honeymoon suite and that an older and wiser couple will say, "Goodbye," to their offspring. How important it is that they cultivate their relationship and see to it that this newborn cements their relationship and makes it deeper and sweeter!
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