Newborn babies are complex little people who see, hear, touch, communicate, receive information and who above all, remember.
We already know that if we love an unborn baby while he is still in the womb and nurture him, he is happier and calmer after birth because this period of formation is not just physical, it is also emotional. A toddler both remembers and will verbally answer questions about his time in the womb if his speech is clear enough. However none of us realize how intelligent and emotionally intuitive new borns really are.
Of course we can readily see that loud, sharp or deep voices make them jump but a newborn will turn to look at a voice he remembers hearing in the womb.It was still amazing to watch my first grand-daughter turn towards her mom’s and dad’s voices. W hen her parents held her, she calmed down right away because she had been constantly reassured of their love and devotion while she was still in the womb. Now out in the world, she knows that she is safe and protected especially in their arms.
All babies are sensitive to the approach of a stranger.
The most blatant personal example I can remember is six month old Rachel. I was holding her when a tall, slender, older priest, dressed all in black, gently reached out to hold her. He smiled and patiently waited while Rachel tensed her little body, drew back and looked him up and down very suspiciously. She drew back a second time,even further, and once again glanced from his head to his feet and slowly looked back at his face again. A third time Rachel repeated the process and then suddenly she relaxed, broke out into a wonderful smile and reached her own arms out to lean forward so Father could pick her up.
That baby was receiving unspoken messages from Father’s facial expression, tone of voice, body language and emotional and spiritual ‘vibes’ that radiated from his inner spirit. In short, even though Rachel was not talking yet, she was not an idiot. We tend to forget that.
Michael and I were lucky because we somehow understood, right from the start, that we were relating to another human being when we communicated with our babies. I stopped and listened when they cooed and then I answered them . It might sound foolish but I believe that this attitude instilled respect for themselves and others. I tried to treat them as people, they just happened to be little people.
Sometimes family and friends were critical of my inefficient way of mothering. I just couldn’t make myself mother them any other way. Perhaps it was because I was not used to children .(Remember I had never held a baby before my first-born.) On the other hand, my mother, like my sister and I, let us ‘help’ her even as toddlers. Basically, I just included the kids into our life as intelligent little people with feelings, opinions, tastes and preferences. If we respecte these tendencies, they cooperated and worked alongside us better. In the end, this impractical, slow way of doing things made life run a smoother.
It was also fun, sometimes chaotic and crazy but always humorous