Time and The Last Day of Summer

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Summer officially ends today.

Here in NYC the day has been very warm and humid….and gloriously sunny.
My youngest daughter has lazed around all day savoring every last second of Summer’s slowness, before school begins for her in two days.
I got to saunter along the Hudson River walk path watching the sun glisten and bounce on the water, while an ardent suitor sauntered next to me doing his best to enchant me.

A blog follower of mine reached out to me this week and said: “Hey Melanie, what’s up with your last blog? The Summer’s almost over and your blog about Spring just arrived in my email. What’s up with that?!! I was wondering if there was some glitch with my email. And if it wasn’t a glitch in my email, this blog is kinda late, don’t you think?!”
No glitch. My blog about Spring, written in Spring, was in fact posted on my eldest’s 32nd birthday this past Thursday, September 3rd.

When each of us is born, we are born without any Time; we are born without an awareness of time as we later learn about “time.”
It might be said that each of us is born knowing only Eternity.
This knowing only Eternity is no small thing.
For a young baby in the midst of distress, alone in their crib, crying out in this distress, there is no sense for this baby that there is a beginning and an end to their distress.
Learning that there can be a time line: a beginning, a middle, and an end to whatever we are experiencing is a process.
This process of learning that there is a linear time line: a beginning, a middle, and an end is one of the many things that parents and caretakers of all kinds (teachers, nannies, social workers, nurses, physicians) are tasked to carry out with babies and children.
It is a process that can determine how we live out our entire lives; all of our interactions.

This “timelessness” that we all come in with, is also one of the most arduous aspects of new babies for parents!
We are up all hours of the night often, because our newborns have no idea that this time is for sleeping. Partially this has to do with the size of their stomachs and their very new digestive systems. This demands frequent feedings.
Slowly introducing regularity and schedules is ultimately a key factor in establishing the reliability that is the bedrock of development for young humans.

And this is another aspect of the Timelessness that we all come in with.
Young humans have an organic sense of what they need and when.
Discerning what our baby needs, is called “attunement.”
Attunement is a kind of art form that can need a lot of support to develop; or, it can happen more easily. Attunement can happen when we are able to simply move with our baby’s cues of what helps right now in this moment.

Schedules are an essential part of giving us the sense of security that comes from reliability.
Our daily lives are typically bound by our schedules.
Yet in the earliest days, being with our newborns usually requires that we let go of what we know as our “normal schedules.” This can be daunting.
Even when we are passed the earliest months, often being with our babies means that our normal daily schedules are thrown into unexpected chaos due to the Unexpected: illness: the baby’s, ours, our caregiver’s, child care arrangements fall through, other member’s of the family fall sick, school responsibilities for our other children…..many variations of the Unexpected.
When we have the luxury (which can be rare) of simply going with the Unexpected, and meeting the needs of the moment, both our babies and we experience a sense of relaxation and connection.

Shortly after I wrote my last blog, I had an unexpected health crisis.
The crisis was acute in the moment; insignificant ultimately.
This was totally unexpected and utterly unusual for me, a person who has generally been blessed by robust health.
My recovery took much longer than I’d expected. This experience of “taking much longer,” made me pause; forced me to become in synch with the season of Summer.
In the Northern Hemisphere, Summer is often hot; encouraging a slow down.
I made the decision to let go of the requisites of my typical schedule as much as I could.
I eased into “timelessness” whenever I could.
Hence, a blog written in Spring, talking about Spring, published at the end of Summer.

When we can give ourselves the experiences of reconnecting with the “timelessness” with which we were born, life eases.
Too often and too little, we allow ourselves to know this ease only when we are on “vacation” time.
When we invite and welcome a baby into our life, we are saying yes to remembering our “essential Timelessness” more regularly.

Today is the last day of summer here in the Northern Hemisphere.
If we can let go of: beginning, middle, and end…..well then: Summer is here, Spring is here, Fall and Winter are here.


Spring Has Sprung!

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It has been a long, very long, winter here in the Northeast!
My sister, who recently visited Toronto for business, also was told that it had been a tough winter there. When she inquired what that meant for Toronto, the reply was: “It was mostly 20 below everyday.”
Wow! It looks like it’s been a tough, very long winter, in many places.

So Spring finally arrived here in New York City the last week of April.
Finally, the temperature was reliably in the late 60’s to mid-70’s.
Glory Hallelujah!

And as with Spring here in NYC every year, green and buds and flowers popped everywhere!


I have this favorite hedge bush in the Spring.
During most of the year: Summer, Fall, and even Winter, this hedge has deep green tiny leaves all over it.
It is a hearty and stalwart hedge. It’s tiny green leaves are sturdy, turgid, and smell a bit like spruce. It is an excellent hedge, and for this reason, it surrounds many buildings here in my part of NYC.
Then, during the Spring, a miracle happens with this hedge!
Completely covering the outer layer of the hedge are soft, flexible-like-cartiledge, light lime green leaves.
This new outer covering of the hedge is actually soft to the touch; completely different than its usual sturdy green leaves!
Whenever I have the opportunity walking past the hedge in the Spring, I touch, touch and touch some more this amazing Spring hedge—covered so newly and so completely differently than it’s usual “outer wear!”
The feeling of the soft tiny lime green leaves reminds me of the possibility of newness, renewal and resilience that we are offered each time a new baby, a new life, enters our lives.
Not all babies want to be touched, touched, and touched some more….
Yet, their ineffably soft new baby skin emanating that sweet new-baby smell, certainly invokes our senses to want to pick them up and hold them close; a lot!

New Humans are, after all, marsupial by constitution.
Most new babies are comforted by being swaddled….and touched….and held close.
Toward the end of a full-term pregnancy, in utero, we are swaddled completely and carried continuously.
My first born in her first 8 weeks enjoyed swaddling…..as long as she could have one foot hanging out of the receiving blanket that swaddled her.
One size does NOT fit all when it comes to each new human who arrives.
Instead, the challenge and the fun, is to discern how exactly the “universal” meets the need of our very unique snowflake of a newborn!
This practice of discernment is called “attunement.”
Our attunement, always, makes the difference.

Back to my miraculous Spring hedge……
As I look at and touch its Spring covering, I am reminded of the flexible resilience and renewal that we are each offered when we agree to welcome new Life!
Meditating on the feeling and sight of this Spring hedge, I am filled with the miracle of the possibilities that New Life, Spring, gives us; if we are willing.

So, Spring has popped here in NYC; in the Northeast!
And, along with my hedge, I am seeing the blooming of pregnant ladies all over; they have come out from under the cover of their Winter outer wear, just like my hedge.
Each time I see yet another blossoming pregnant lady, this Spring, I gasp with delight.
“Oh look!” I think to myself: “Another person, another couple, who’s welcoming New Life into their life; who might be willing to accept the possibility of a new light lime green Resilience and Renewal into their life!”

To that end, I would like to congratulate Papa David, Mama Vanessa and sibs, Max and Samantha, on the arrival of their new baby: Alexa Rose, born May 29th at the height of Spring!
Welcome to Your offer of Resilience and Renewal!
Our work together is wonderous!


A Whole New Life

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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”…..so 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!