How an interpretive dance can lift ones spirits

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woog baby

A baby Wooglette

Having bought puppy Isobel into the family recently, I am very much reminded of having babies. I am doing the old eat, play, sleep thing again although it has to be said it is a lot easier dealing with a puppy than a baby. (At this stage. TOUCHES ALL OF THE WOOD.)

Horatio was born in the great heat wave that was February 2004. People popped in to visit me at the hospital and the first thing they would do was to declare how fabulous the air conditioning was in my room, before viewing the baby. After a few days, our new little family headed home.

I fed Horatio, wrapped him up and popped him off to bed. Mr. Woog and I both lay on the couch for hours, snoozing and chatting.

This wasn’t so bad? Why does everyone complain about how hard newborns are?

And then night fell.

We didn’t sleep one wink that night as Baby Horatio screamed the house down. I fed him and changed him a dozen times. I unwrapped him and wrapped him like a little burrito. Mr. Woog walked him, in the dark, around the block to try and get him to sleep but that baby was not having a bar of it.

At around 4am, he drifted off for few minutes. Enough time for my beloved and I to look at each other and declare, “What the hell have we done?”

That first night scarred me.

This circus continued on for six weeks until one Saturday morning my sister Mrs. Ryan turned up. I was lying on the couch while Mr. Woog had the crying baby in a baby carrier on his chest, trying to batch cook something for the week. Mrs. Ryan took charge, having had 3 babies of her own.

She sent us out of the house.

An hour later we returned to find the house spotless, the baby asleep in his own cot and Mrs. Ryan enjoying a cup of tea reading the newspaper in the kitchen.

I begged her never to leave me.

Over the next few months, both her and Mr. Ryan were on speed dial. Mr. Ryan was a particularly excellent resource to me.

“Ok, so I just fed him a full feed and he has just thrown the whole lot up. Do I feed him again?”

“Hi. He feels really hot. Should I take him the emergency room.”?

“Me again. He has been sleeping for three hours now. Should I wake him up?”

And as the days turned into weeks, and the weeks into months, we found our groove. But those first six weeks? It was hard yakka.

Bupa are raising awareness with their Nightwatchmen initiative. It is about how we can best support new families in those early years.

I asked my fabulous Facebook crew what they considered to be the most helpful things one can do to help out during those first 1000 days.

My mum checked everyday if we needed anything. She came on weekends and hung out the washing and put more on it was always put away as well. We had other family members make meals also. – Stacey

Watch the baby while I had a shower or ran to the shops to grab staples. Such little things mean a lot in those first few weeks. – Judy

My hairdresser popped over and gave be a shampoo and blow dry when I could barely brush my own hair. It is one of many kindnesses that have made Joanne one of my favorite people ever. – Sharon

My beautiful neighbour would hear my baby crying (he was the worst sleeper I have ever known!) and she would come and knock-on the door with a coffee made for me and tell me to go sit out in the sunshine for a few minutes while she calmed him. – Realph

Just sat and talked and held the baby while I sat and didn’t. Second time round now and it would still be the most helpful thing. – Sarah

And I loved what Melinda had to say…

This is a great reminder to all us ‘old hands’ to look out for young mums in our community and do what we can to help them adjust to parenting…a cooked meal, a freshly baked cake, hang out the washing, offer to help in the shopping centre when they’re struggling with a toddler and a baby and a mountain of groceries. One simple gesture on our part can make an enormous difference to someone’s day! It can be lonely and terrifying being a new parent!

So, how can you help?

• Bring stuff when you visit. Useful stuff. Bread, milk, toilet paper. Bring a meal or a few. Make up a batch of something delicious and whack in it her freezer.
• Hold the baby while she has a shower, or a nap.
• If your mate has kids at school, offer to do the pick up or drop off. That is karma points, right there!
• Send a text, a funny photo or something interesting for her to read.
• Offer to babysit so the new parents can duck out for a meal, just by themselves.
• Unpack the dishwasher.
• Give her bathroom a once over. Throw all the towels through the washing machine and restock with fresh ones.
• Treat her to an impromptu interpretive dance!
• Fold the clothes that are piled up on the clean washing couch.*
• Pour your friend a bath, dump her in it and take the baby out for a walk around the block.
• When she calls, answer.

New mums often do not ask for help, but appreciate it when it happens. I can still recall my little cheer squad, and will forever be thankful for their support and love. I think it about time we pay it forward, don’t you?

What can you do to help our new mums and dads?
Do you remember any acts of kindness you experienced when you came home with your new baby? Share!

For more ways to become a Nightwatchman, click here.

* The washing couch is the traditional dumping ground of clean clothes. We all have one, no?