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A Whole New Life

Happy Parents

What it's like being catapulted into parenthood

Every time a new baby arrives into this world, a whole new life arrives to unfold.

When this baby arrives, the thing is, it is also a whole new life for each and every person who greets this child and agrees to care for her.

In the early 90’s, Disney came out with the animated movie “Aladdin.” I keep hearing Aladdin’s theme song: “A Whole New World!” as background music while babies are catapulted from womb to world, and the rest of us, at that moment, are catapulted into parenthood.
How then, in the midst of 24 hour feedings with a newborn, we might wish that we had, in fact, been catapulted onto a flying carpet that would fly us back to “pre-baby” times!

As any first time parent will tell you, there is no amount of reading, no amount of talking with friends who have children, no amount of pre-natal classes, no amount of OB visits, no amount of counseling from one’s own parents or professionals that can prepare us for the moment of becoming a parent…..
Or, all the subsequent moments as we do our best to meet and greet whatever this completely dependent new being asks of us each and every day!
A wave of all sorts of feelings from elation and joy to fear and just plain numbness to being overwhelmed, sweeps us along into our whole new life as parents.

I was 25 and a half when my first child was born.
I remember that when we arrived at her first month “birthday,” her dad and I looked at each other and felt that somehow fireworks should be going off in the sky:
we’d managed to keep her alive for a month!

I’d had a C-section after more than 24 hours of a labor that had not progressed.
My little girl was a footling breach.
It was the early 80’s. I believed in midwives…and had used a team of them for my obstetrics’ care.
Still, my little girl was delivered in the operating room by a very, very good doctor.
I remember that the pulling her out hurt very much. I wondered how this pain could be when I was also having anesthesia.
When they brought her out of my womb, she peed all over everyone. There was laughter and joy in the room.
I wondered what this little girl might be “saying” peeing everywhere.

When they put her in my arms in my hospital room, I remember feeling nothing; numb.
I had wanted her very much and her dad was over-the-moon with her once she was delivered.
So I wondered and worried that I wasn’t feeling anything.
I’d just completed my training as a clinical social worker…..this didn’t seem “right”: no feelings at all for this little baby of mine who’d just been brought out of me; none of the overwhelming joy that I’d heard floods a new mother as she finally glimpses and holds and cuddles her newborn……
I just felt numb.
Uh-oh, I thought.
And then, smart enough, kind enough to myself, I thought: just be patient. Wait. Wait and see.

The breast feeding went ok.
My new little girl and I, and her dad, we were left to ourselves in the hospital room.
It was quiet, peaceful.
Then there was the crowd of new grandparents, relatives, friends.

Day 2, just me and my new baby.
By that evening, I wouldn’t let the nurses take her back to the nursery. I insisted that she be able to stay w/me through the night.
The nurses balked a bit; I insisted!

So it began, the moment by moment, bit by bit, growing love affair with this totally dependent new little being I was half responsible for bringing into the world.

Fast forward 16 years later…..
I was 42 and pregnant with my third child.
By then I was very conscious that choosing to bring another being into this world is about choosing an “Adventure”—with a capital “A!”

By “Adventure” I mean….
Think: taking a trip through the Amazon jungle.
One is never sure what will greet us at each turn….
Or, perhaps more importantly, how one will meet what greets us or who one will BE as we are asked to meet the “Unexpected.”

Parenting is this: An Adventure where we meet ourselves in the face of the Unexpected…..
And if we are very fortunate, we have found good Guides who support us in knowing what we are meeting and support us in doing our best in the face of the Unexpected and Unknown; who assist us in responding truly and effectively while we are still questioning.
This is Parenting!

When I began this blog, I did not know that I would share, in detail, the experiences of my first pregnancy, delivery, and first days of being a parent.
How powerful are those experiences!

The lessons of those moments, days, memories…..
Whatever our experiences pre, during, and post-birth: TRUST!
There are no “prescribed” feelings; whatever we are experiencing and feeling is FINE!
Be patient and be kind with yourself….this can only benefit you and your baby.
Parenting is choosing: Adventure!
It is an “Amazon”… find Wise, Compassionate, and Supportive Guides who are there to help you meet yourself and meet what greets you!

I am looking forward to meeting you, the Adventure, and the rewards that this brings us all together!


Melanie McGrath is a licensed Clinical Social Worker and Educator who works with parents, grandparents, and caregivers and their babies in home and via FaceTime. Contact her and check-out her services on


This article was originally published at Whispering Baby: Your Partner in Parenting. Reprinted with permission from the author.


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