Tuesday, March 2, 2010

See Jane Cope (and bake, and paint and cope some more...)

The times they are a changin'...

The tiny one had her nine month developmental check today. You know, the one where they check and see if your baby can hear(she can) if she's growing okay (She's huge.) and whether or not she has acquired such all important life skills as the ability to pick up a block and pass it from one hand to the other (she has.)

I was happy enough that all looked well, but even happier to be on my way. I was meeting a few friends for coffee and sure, I knew everything was fine anyway! The visit was a mere formality. It got me to thinking though, about how differently we'd viewed these visits back when the Snot Queen was born. Back when we were just starting out in the big, bad world of parenting...

Before each visit, I would clean the house from top to bottom, doll myself up as though I was going to the Oscars and not spending the day with the snot encrusted infant overlord, and then I would set the scene...

Cookies would be baked to give the house that "homey" smell, classical music would play softly in the back ground and I'd set up my easel and paints to make it look as though she'd just caught me in the middle of my morning art time which I obviously had time to do, given that I'd just had a baby about ooooh... five minutes ago.

For me, the health visit was a chance to show just how well I was doing and how easily I was coping, even if in reality, I wasn't.

Don't get me wrong, most days were grand. The Snot Queen was a great baby, easy to feed and very fond of her sleep. But new babies are new babies and that's a huge adjustment to have to make. You go from being a couple to being a family literally overnight. Your hormones are all over the place and you are suddenly completely responsible for this most precious of little people who relies on you for absolutely everything and you're terrified of screwing it up.

You become open in a way that you've never been before. Vulnerable. You more then wear your heart on your sleeve, you pick it up and hold it in your arms for all the world to see. You let others hold it and hope so very hard that they don't break it.

You consult google to find out the best way to heal a nappy rash and what to do if your baby gets a cold. You read books about sleeping, books about feeding and you talk to everyone you know who has ever had a baby trying to become an expert overnight because you want so badly to do your best by them.

You do not have time to bake cookies and spend leisurely mornings painting at your easel.

I'm sure that our public health nurse saw right through me, but she was nice. The nicest health nurse I've ever met. The kind of woman who answered all of our questions, calmed our fears, complimented our baby and then told us what an incredible job we were doing.

In short, she was the best public health nurse ever.

When we moved house, I was more upset about leaving her then anything else.

Our new Phn does not visit us in our home, instead, we visit her in her office. She does not tell me how incredibly special my girls are, nor does she tell me what an amazing mother I must be for rearing them so well.

I in turn, do not bring her freshly baked cookies or loaves of bread I whipped up in my, "spare time."

Instead, she looks at my children and tells me her opinions based on the tiny span of time for which she sees them and I balance that with everything I know about them from living with them and observing them every day of their lives.

It is not a matter of life and death.

It is not the end of the world if they are tired and fail to perform.

I no longer need to "prove" that I am coping.

I do however, fix my hair and slap on some make up. The times may have changed, but not that much.


  1. Oh I remember being terrified visiting the PHN and getting so stressed when my first failed the hearing test three times (he was teasing them looking the other way and laughing, the monkey). Now, on our third, I just nod, say yes and go about my business. She is lovely, but my experience and confidence have improved so I 'know' things she doesn't. The PHNs are a great resource for first time parents though:) Jen.

  2. Very well said. You become soooo vunerable when you become a mammy it scares the living daylights out of me! I must say I've a lovely PHN but I remember the first visit at home when Lila was 5 days old, we actually tried to hide the fact that we have 2 dogs - What were we on? How do you hide two wild dogs???