Thursday, September 29, 2011

Raising A Child

That is a picture of me trying to make my bed. 

I have come to truly embrace that saying "it takes a village to raise a child."  Some of you know that though I am married, I was by myself during my pregnancy and after the birth of my daughter I had help for some to most of the time.  When I went back to work, I had just great grandma who wasn't very reliable (I needed to tell her things a million times).  Grandma left like as soon as I was done (it was mutual by the way) and then it was just me and baby girl for about three weeks. 
It was as stressful as I imagined since I had to take her everywhere- to get last minute things done, to the store and so on  What was worst was trying to get ready for the big move to Florida with her.  I couldn't bend down with her in the front carrier, and I felt bad bending so much with her on my back since I wouldn't like to be turned upside down multiple times in a day.  I just couldn't get anything done and this resulted in a very stressful move.  She also felt very ignored and so spoke very loudly to the extent that I wished she could understand so that I could yell at her (yeah by the way she found her voice at 2 and the half months).
Then I thought of how much my friends and family back home in Nigeria take for granted and I made a decision to not pack while she was asleep but instead to call a buddy of mine to voice my frustrations.  Here is a synopses of the conversation:
Note- my friends and I speak a mix of broken english (pigin), igbo, some yoruba and regular english but they are all highly educated.

My Friend: Eyaa! mama Mmeso wassup! how una dey? (how r we?)
Me: wassup? we dey kampe? how far now momcy nko? (we r fine, how is mom?)
My Friend: Momcy de jo, a go tell am se you de hail. (my mom is fine, I will let her know you asked of her)
Me: a dupe jare (thanks)
My Friend: you sound tired, se is just you and baby?
me: yes oh my sister
My friend: wow! it is not easy oh, se you can work on one of these people... ah abi na Uh Pear (au pair?)
Me: o di gi easy my sister (it is not that easy)
My friend: my sister if for say na here, a for don send you one of my sister's pikin- she come holidays for my house (she wished she could send me one of her sister's child that is with her for the holidays) I have no idea how you are surviving- do you even leave the house?
Me: yes na
My friend- Chi what you are doing is not normal- it really does take everyone's help to raise your child to become a vital member of society.  No wonder oyibo is always talking about psychological this and that and postpartum depression. Think about everyone that took part in raising you. 
Me: postpartum depression is real sha but you are right that it does make things worst when you feel by yourself.   And you are also right about how much help my parents had without realizing it.

You know after that conversation, I thought about my childhood and realized how right my friend was, because I remember a lot of people.  My uncle Onyeka helping me with my homework; Mr. Appiah encouraging me to come out of my shell because I am destined for greatness.  Aunty Ngozi teaching me how important it was to keep my home; Mama Onitsha telling me that books just doesn't cut it for a woman "you must to learn how to cook" she would often say; Sr Faith teaching me the morals of the bible; Mama Nawgu showing me the ropes of farming and reminding me of how important school was so that I could help her keep her read the bible; Mama Obi tattling on me to my mother when I was somewhere I didn't need to be; Mama Oke watching us for my mother and even disciplining us in the absence of my mother; Mama Emeka preparing us several home cooked meals when mummy was in the hospital; gifts of bags of rice and palm oil from family and friends when things were hard during the holidays, not to talk of my traditional wedding when all my mothers (aunties, great aunts, mom, grandma and so on) came together to cook while gossiping, joking and making fun of each other (missed that). 
I am not sure why we have that pressure that we need to raise our child ourselves.  Sometimes we feel guilty having a good time and leaving our child with a trusted person.  We want to give up every part of our youth so that everyone realizes how motherly we are.  You cannot keep your house clean, go to work, be a wife, cook all by yourself- women are truly super but having that mind set will set you up for failure and eventually depression.  Share tasks with your spouse and seek help when you can.
I am now 15 weeks as a new mom and I am enjoying every bit of it. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

I Pierced My Daughter's Ears

I didn't realize that ear piercing was somewhat cultural.  In fact I carried my childhood traditions with me.  I did not remember my ear piercing because it was done a few days after I was born at the hospital.  But I do remember that my younger sister came home from the hospital with an ear ring.  We all looked at her ears and screamed with excitement she is a girl!
When I asked my mom if she came out from her stomach with her ears pierced my mom laughed and at first answered yes.  Then she later answered no with a long explanation- the summary of it all was that it is not just her earrings that made her a girl and she tried to explain to me the differences between me and my brother.  I recalled it being a boring talk because I wanted to join my brothers outside to plat football and wondered how I landed myself a talk.
Well anyways I always knew that when I had a girl, if it were possible I would want the doctor to pierce her ears and if I had a boy I would want him circumcised.  Well our Dr. Banjoko, at home in Nigeria would just pierce it before my mom brought us home but not here  it is recommended that you wait at least 2 months.  I waited 3 months partly because I was a chicken and didn't want to torture her.  I did find a pediatrician to do it for me, he was great but it was very hard hearing her scream but she stopped by the time I got her in her car seat (within minutes).
Before I had it done, I tried to talk myself out of doing it and hated that it wasn't done when everything was been done to her at the hospital.  But I had pressure from my husband and my family, and then I thought well why wait? she will get old enough to mess with it and end up with an infection? or should I wait until ... well what exactly am I waiting for it was normal to me that girls have their ears pierced and boys didn't.  In fact, it was how I always told them apart until I was older and saw the world with an open mind.
Some people had some brutal things to say about it though, "why will you pierce her ears at this age"- "that is just hurtful'; "is it for her or for you?"; "why not let her decide when she is older?" "your daughter cannot care for her ears at this point?"; "what if she doesn't want her ears pierced?"; "this is just ridiculously selfish of you" ... I didn't expect those reactions so I didn't have an answer right away.  So I started paying attention to some of my colleagues children, some had their children's ears pierced and some didn't.  When I asked the ones that didn't do it why? they said that their parent's waited till they were teenagers and it was something that they looked forward to and so they wanted that for their children.  The ones that did it, some said it was traumatic waiting and so they didn't want it for their children, and others said that they felt that it makes girls look cute and well duh.
If you looked at my childhood pictures, my sisters and I wore the same earrings till we were about 3 (it was a gold earring with a hook) and then we all had a gold very small dangling earring until about 16 and then my mom bought us two different earrings as a gift and that was sort of our permission to change earrings as we pleased.
I don't plan on changing her earrings as an infant, I am actually not that fancy so unless she looses it, I probably won't think about it.  I didn't pierce her ears in the name of fashion, it was just something that I carried from childhood that girls pierced their ears and boys didn't.  It is amazing how many decisions you will make for your child that will get you looks or opinions of others but remember that you are the parent and as long as your decisions are not harmful to your child, you will make the right decisions.  Good luck with parenting.

My Kid Ran Up The Stairs at 4 months

A conversation between me and a friendly stranger.

Stranger- (with a warm smile) your baby is gorgeous
Me- thanks (smiling back at her)
Stranger- can she walk?
Me- no- she is only 3 months old (I really wanted to say Are you flipping kidding me??? why would I have this heavy child in a carrier if she could walk!)
Stranger- how old did you say?
Me- 3 months
Stranger- well my kid ran up the stairs at 4 months
Me- ehn! (thinking this lady must think I'm dumb)
Stranger- yes oh you really should start doing some leg exercises and carry her less, she may surprise you.
Me- (with a fake smile) thanks for the advice.

Being a new mom is hard in itself but on top of that you have to deal with all of the advice, both good and bad and even crazy ones.  If you are not careful some of them will make you doubt yourself.  Some will even make you feel like you are a bad mom and not doing enough for your child.  The truth is no one will ever love my child more than me; no one will ever make as much sacrifice that I've made so far and the ones that I will make in the future. 
Seriously, this stranger's story obviously does not make sense, in fact I will be very concerned if my daughter got up and walked on her own today.  I wanted to laugh because I thought at first that she was joking but then I noticed the serious look on her face. IT IS NOT THE NORM so don't let people like her convince you otherwise. 
First of all did I tell her I wanted to sign my daughter up for some developmental milestone competition- see me see wahala.  I am enjoying her and would love her to take all of the time she can- I don't want to miss anything.  Did I tell her that I was tired of carrying my pikin? nope! but rather I was minding my business when she saw the look of new mom written all over my face and thought she would throw in her two cents.  Well nice lady I may have new mom written all over me but I am not dumb, my mummy friends, mom, grandma, cousins.... gat my back lol
On a more serious note,  I have learned in these three months that the advice will keep coming- both good and bad but the important thing is that they all mean well and my answer to them is always the same, thanks for the advice.

How do you respond to people's advice concerning your child?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Crying Baby

What a day? My daughter has been showing all of the teething signs- drooling, low grade fevers, increase fussiness, excessive biting...  It has been very hard to get a good night rest and since I am by myself, trying to pack for my move, preparing for my boards ... it has been quite a challenge. 
Well every night has been different sometimes she is fussy and some nights she is not fussy at all and goes right to sleep but in the morning she is a different person-very jovial usually.  My daughter is so jovial that it is very sad for me to watch her even be slightly troubled by this that I at first challenged myself to help her get through this (Now I'm sure all the mothers are starting to laugh at me).
First I let her bite my fingers and that didn't work because it started to hurt, then I tried my palm but that didn't work either, then I refrigerated a wet washcloth and every night I would go find it and let her bite on that and that only worked for a short while.  And then I dug out each teething toy we got at the shower and refrigerated some and it worked for some time and then stopped, then I went out and bought some more teething toys.  You may laugh but I was very determined, her cry hits me hard that I feel like I should be doing something.
At these point I'm thinking oh boy! what do I do now.  Then I went to the food for thought store and found a numbing balm, that seemed to work for only a few minutes and then I tried tylenol, which is by the way a battle to get her to swallow it but that helps some.  I'm now exhausted and well I now realized that like I tell my patients it is a phase she will pass.  So everyday around the same time she begins to fuss I give her a warm bath which perks her up like in the picture.
Then after I dress her then I read to her and then she breaks out into her crying spell and I try to help her by dancing to classical music, nursing, holding her close to me.  When all fails, I gently place her on her crib and kiss her good night and she fusses for a little bit (while I sit behind the door with my hands in my heart and my ears piercing at her via the video monitor hoping that tonight will be shorter than last night)- it feels like forever.
But today started off different she woke up screaming ahhh (with her hand between her gum) and did this all day except when she was asleep, any caller was annoyed by her constant ahhh.  I was very confused as to why she would change our routine and so as the doctor I am I started to search for a different culprit but found nothing.  I was exhausted and needed a break until I saw this missed call- it was from a good friend of mine, Jon.  I hadn't heard from him recently, it was really nice to catch up with him and his family.  He makes me laugh and talking to him usually takes me back to college.  For some reason my daughter was mostly quiet throughout my conversation with uncle Jon.  It is fair to say that this conversation was the highlight of our day-we learnt that he and his wife are expecting a baby boy yipee! (I am constantly hoping that all my friends get pregnant and lately I've been having some interesting dreams-I actually dreamed about this one) and our other friend Matt and his wife also had a baby.  We also got to see a picture of his sister's twins- gorgeous! I was so happy that my daughter and I chatted about it through bath time and tonight she must have overwhelmed herself with her all- day-ahh, that tonight was less screaming.
How do you or did you deal with your crying baby?