I’m in Florida this week with my newborn nephew Duke. He is 23 days old. Imagine measuring your life in days. I have one other nephew who is around 1,000 days old or more commonly referred to as a 2 1/2 year old. My sister needed some help and I wanted away from the 38 degree spring we are having in Nebraska so this is my vacation.
I have two girls, 21 and 13, so being around a newborn is rather foreign. Duke is a boy as is my older nephew: I had two girls. My first observation is that gender makes a big difference. This new baby though reminded me so much of my oldest daughter. I watched as my 40+ year old younger sister was experiencing the joys of motherhood 20 years after my own experience. At my age my mother was almost a grandmother. Age might bring wisdom but it definitely adds perspective.
Duke eats, burps, needs his diaper changed and requires about 20-50 minutes of ‘play’ time in between those events. He’s a good baby who in 23 days has these few events down pat. My role was to support my sister, not get in the way and relax. I’m realizing relaxing in the process is where the perspective really helps.
I let my sister take a rest on the second day here after I had done some supplemental feeding and diaper changing. My belief was that after eating Duke would hang with me a while and then fall asleep. Then I would put him in the boucey, the swing or his bed and read a book.
I thought I had this all figured out.
I was being selfish and short sided.
So Duke didn’t see me as a feeding option much and I liked to hold him over my shoulder so he could see around him and work on holding his head up. 23 day old babies don’t hold their head up very well. The next thee hours reminded me off all the lessons I learned from my own children. That when you have a newborn baby multitasking seems necessary when really it’s about the moment and doing one thing.
Duke and I had some time on the sensory mat. Yes, there is a mat with different fabrics and textures. There is a canopy that has lights and plays three types of musical sounds. If I just left him on it alone the attention span was 90 seconds. And yet when I was there with him, touching his feet and rolling him side to side we could occupy 15 or 20 minutes. The shared and focused interaction allowed us to share the experience of the sensory mat.
We would roam the house where Duke would lay cuddled in my arms. Along our stroll I wold count to him the number of picture frames or tell him random stories of what was going on in my life. This connection would lull (I took no offense) him into a peace where I could feel his body relax and go limp in my arms. He would close his eyes and rest. I say rest specifically because this was not a sustained sleep. If my focus shifted then he would wake up and want the story to continue.
So when the sensory mat and the hall roaming is no longer enough then it’s time for the spa. I found the baby bath by the changing table and we transformed the kitchen counter into a spa. We had the soaking tub station, the body lotion station and the drying and exfoliation. I was curious if this little man would be up for a spa event. It was a hit. No tears and just a great time. It was again an event when this was complete focus and interaction. The after effect with the baby lotion smell and cute combed spike hair do we create were priceless.
I remembered that the memories that I have most distinctly with my children are from hours that were with total focus. Newborns change daily and to capture those moments it takes focus on a single thing. The loads of wash will blur along with the feedings and diaper changes.
The focus you can give to one person with complete interaction creates the most distinct memory.
Those 2-3 hours have become the iconic memory of the vacation and my newborn nephew Duke.
Sleep Well Baby Duke
Love Aunt Michelle