Pigeonholed at birth

I saw a note made by the midwife in the special care nursery, that I didn’t feed my baby enough milk to settle him and that I would leave him to cry and go to bed instead.

This was in 2001, eighteen months before my son was diagnosed with Hypohidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia.

What I am now remembering about those first few months, is that note. Not all the time, just when the world looks a bit darker than usual, just before we rise above it all and keep going.

I never got a chance to tell her that the reason my son never settled was that they insisted to keep babies at 37 degrees, wrapped and swaddled without room to move. I never knew that my son was not comfortable roasting away at 37 degrees until he turned 18 months old.

I never got the chance to explain why I had to go to bed leaving him unsettled after feeding him for a solid 3 hours. How exhausted I was, and how I knew he wasn’t in fact, hungry. I didn’t get to feel like I was doing the right thing by my baby from the moment he was born.

How fortunate am I that I was strong enough to block out other’s opinions on how to raise my first-born. I didn’t get the postnatal depression because deep in my heart, I knew my mother taught me well. We never spoke about raising children per-se, but the way I was raised by my beautiful family made me believe I could do that too.

This is why I am teaching now. I talk to and educate anyone and everyone on the importance of listening to the parent. Even if that parent seems totally out of the “norm” give them the chance to talk about their observations of their child. Who knows, the parent might actually turn out to be right? Give first time mothers the chance to listen to their instincts. Don’t bombard them with things before they have had a chance to see their child and listen with their hearts.

When they come to you, listen to them first, don’t dive in and bulldoze  their ideas and worries. The world is ever-changing, people are individuals, NOBODY fits in a pigeonhole.

With love & support

Tarja Kelly


2 Responses to “Pigeonholed at birth”

  1. 1 Lisa Foster 23/03/2010 at 1:21 pm

    Great post Tarja
    I think what you have said is brilliant. The other day at the MCHN – she told me to fill in a questionairre about my boy as they have found that mother’s instincts are usually right. And when we see something in our kids, we should be trusted. I would like to take the time to congratulate Eva at the Rowellyn Maternal and Child health centre. After raising three kids before having my boy, I had my own ways and experiences – like co-sleeping which I did with my older kids and did with my boy. She sort of just told me to keep doing it, which I appreciated and it confirmed my confidence and acknowledged what had worked before. The second MCHN I had after leaving hospital (because we left hospital 8 hours after I gave birth) warned me that co-sleeping wasn’t best practice and I shouldn’t be doing it; I felt really off-centre and although I was an experienced mumma, she made me feel like I should go against my instincts which I didn’t appreciate. So that is why I say well done Tarja. And as usual I love your writing style Tarja, very interesting

  2. 2 Renee 23/03/2010 at 2:40 pm

    I had similar issues with Hayden when he was a baby.. I swaddled (like you’re taught to do) and dressed him in warm clothes and could never understand why I had such an unsettled child when I was doing everything ‘by the book’.. Little did I know I was actually cooking the poor little man from the inside out!
    It always goes back to ‘if only I’d known then, what i know now!’

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