One of my first vivid memories is of being allowed to push my newborn sister, in my dolls carry-cot, when I was two from my mother’s bedroom to the bathroom, where the mid-wife washed her. By the time I was three I was devotedly looking after my dolls waiting for the day I could have my own baby, by the time I was fifteen nothing could have been further from my mind and I decided that babies, maybe were not so nice, blotchy blobs that screamed and there were many more interesting things in the world to explore.
In the intervening years I had very little contact with babies, I remember being shocked by my god-mother breast feeding in front of me, stunned as a student nurse by the process of birth and surprised that the mothers thought their new-born babies beautiful. So, by the time some little voice inside of me told me it was time to have a baby and my partner agreed, I didn’t have a clue. I knew when I was pregnant that I was having a baby, I just did not know what to expect, it seemed so abstract that the baby I could feel inside of me was a person, that he had feelings and emotions did not really cross my mind. I really had no idea that I was going to give birth to a human being, I thought that came later if I got it right!
The idea that our baby would be an active partner in letting us know what was needed, how we were doing, how he was doing and his father and I did not cross my mind. I felt all the responsibility resided with the adults, that I had to know what was going on, the baby could not, that I had to get it right or I’d hurt him and I’d never know, that I had to get him to sleep at a certain time or he’d never sleep, that I had to show him how to do it (whatever it was) or he’d never learn. A weighty responsibility that created huge amounts of anxiety and stress for me and probably our baby.
Once our baby was born, slowly a different awareness crept in, both my body and my ex’s responded to the cries of our baby, I’d literally sweat if I could not get to our baby fast enough, I’d find that milk would let down in my breast moments before our baby stirred. He would sit and look at me and seem to be present, I wondered what was going on, he was interested in his own hands and feet and moving around, he seemed to respond to different people and places and how we felt. On occasions I waged war with myself, I can remember several evenings in a row, dimming the lights, shutting the shutter, swaddling him and trying to rock him to sleep because it was 7.30 and bedtime though he had not indicated in any way that he was tired!
I had spent so little time with babies I had no idea how in tune they were, how able, in a baby way, to look after themselves up close with their mum and dad. I spent many months feeling anxious, my mothering instincts at war with the general guidance that was around at the time. I wish that I had know what I know now, however both my children are doing fine and have survived my learning as we go.
The Foundation Weekend brings both the baby and the relationship with their mother and father to life. It is amazing how brilliantly nature has worked out the dance, if we dance together all will be well, Kitty even danced this weekend, modeling stepping on a toe or two and keeping the rhythm going! We were lucky enough to have an eleven month old beauty in the room with us this weekend and she showed us how in tune babies are, making the life of the team simple. Some of the language of babies is subtle, it helps if you are prepared to tune in with all of yourself to pick up the messages from them but once tuned in you will hear them loud and clear and life becomes much simpler. The world over people follow different child care practices and I can see that the weekend inspires the participants to talk to each other about how they would like to welcome and parent their baby. Babies need us the parents to be available and up close and personal in the first few months to help them adjust to the world.
Knowing how to relate to a child at any age always follows the principle of coming into relationship with them, however the role of the parent constantly changes depending on the child’s age. The Foundation Weekend none the less also helps those whose children are older and seem to spend most of the time treading on each others toes as we examine the dynamics in the family.
I was lucky enough to be supported by Peter Walker as a new mum, he encouraged me to respond to my maternal instincts, which picked up unconsciously the clues from our baby. Yehudi realized a long time ago that it is optimal for the health of a family to have the offer of a strong safe relationship to turn to, to share the joys and concerns of family life. Babiesknow is offering to dance with you and your family, to share with you how we see the dance and enjoy learning from you, how you interpret the dance.