If I should cry in the middle of the night, please donít ignore me, or let me cry it out. Wait only a few seconds to see if I stop crying-- I might be able to soothe myself. Then please come running to check on me.
I might be hungry. Is it time to feed me? Or if Iím eating cereal, baby foods, or table food, did you give me enough? Please keep giving me more food until I donít want any more; Iíll let you know when Iíve had enough. Iíll turn my head away from you, or push your spoon away, or I might even spit it out.
I might also be cold. Do you have enough blankets on me? Is the room warm enough?
I might have wet through my diaper and you know how that feels--cold and wet on my warm, soft skin. Please put a clean diaper on me right before you feed me.
I might have some horrible gas pains and I need your help to get rid of them. I have not yet learned how to push them out. Please help me get rid of the gas by putting me on my back, and moving my legs like a bicycle; think of how you might get rid of gas and try to help me that way if you can. You know how good it feels when you pass gas!
I may be teething, and the pain hurts so much it wakes me up. Have you ever had a toothache? Itís the worst! Please give me a cold washcloth to chew on, or a teething ring thatís cold. If my doctor says itís ok, you might also give me some Baby Tylenol or some Ambusol; youíll probably have to try several things before we see which one works, but please help me. Donít let me just cry in pain.
The pacifier may have dropped out of my mouth, or my baby doll may have dropped on the floor. At this age, I might not be able to reach it and help myself.
I might also have had a bad dream. Perhaps I dreamed someone was hurting you, or my brother, or sister. Right now I do not know the difference between reality and fantasy.
A bug or a spider may be in my bed and crawling on me. Oh how awful that would be! I need you to run to me and find out whatís wrong. I cannot talk yet, so the only way I can tell you somethingís wrong is by crying.
I might also just me lonely. I need you to hold me and reassure me that everything is ok.
Now obviously, I need things to be quiet in the house--which goes without saying. Would you be able to sleep with a lot of noise going on inside; like other children playing, or the television on loud, or fighting going on? If itís background noise; like the noise from outside on the street, cars moving about, rain showers, people faintly talking, etc., these would not bother me much.
Just remember the whole time I was in your womb, sounds were pretty muffled.
I know it upsets you to wake up in the middle of the night and deal with me crying. It upsets me, too. `I would much rather get all the sleep I need to have. It makes me feel a whole lot better. You see, each day I need 12-14 hours of sleep from the time I am a newborn until I am almost 2 years old.
From approximately 0-4 months, I may only sleep 1-2 hours at a time, then Iíll be up maybe 1-2 hours, then sleep again. From about 4-12 months, Iíll generally have 2 naps a day, 2 hours each time, morning and afternoon; then Iíll generally sleep for 10 hours at night, as long as my sleeping pattern is not interrupted. Naturally, all of us are different, so I may not sleep or nap exactly like the books say, but I need you to understand how I sleep and help me get the amount of sleep I need.
Just remember that all the love and kindness you give me now will pay off in spades later. You see, from 0-3 years old, I am developing my sense of security in this world. This will lead to my self-confidence, and consequently my self-esteem. I need you so much now! I need you to hold me, and shower me with kisses as much and as often as you can right now.
It was pretty frightening being born. After 9 months of a secure environment, and not having to do anything, it is a major change for me to do little things for myself. Things like: breathing for myself, sucking your breast or the bottle, learning how to sleep with everything going on around me. Remember that I didnít have to do anything -- you breathed for me, you ate for me, and you slept for me.
I need your help in slowly and gently transitioning to this world. The time right now will pass by very quickly, and before you know it, Iíll be grown up. Whether I turn out to be a happy, self-reliant, well-adjusted woman or man in this world depends on you, and how youíve treated me in these early days, and nights.
Please be kind and warm and giving to me. You are my Mommy and my Daddy.
YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING IN THIS WHOLE WIDE WORLD.
©1997 Lisel Fahl Perselay.
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Lisel Fahl Perselay, Biographical Sketch
As a new mother, Lisel Perselay attended various parent education courses offered by Overlook Hospital's Parentcraft Division, in Summit, NJ, as well as their Mother's Exchange Program, which she highly recommends. When these articles were published she was a "working mom", with AT&T Corporation. She was also a member of The Mother's Center of Central New Jersey and the Westfield Day Care Center Auxiliary. Lisel has a Masters in Business Administration. She and her husband and their two daughters have resided in the Westfield/Mountainside area for over 10 years.