What I have learned after visiting 200 parents after the birth of their child…
By Jen Lindbeck
Welcome Baby is a partnership with United Way of Skagit County and Skagit Valley Hospital Family Birth Center. A Welcome Baby Coordinator visits families after the birth of their baby with the goal to congratulate them and provide continued support once they leave the hospital. If a parent has questions, concerns, is looking for a parenting class or any other information or activity – the Welcome Baby coordinator is just a phone call or text away.
Over the last four months, I have completed almost 200 visits to families who have delivered their babies at Skagit Valley Hospital. After seeing 200 babies, here are my top ten takeaways:
1. Women are strong. This fact is reinforced over and over again when I visit women, a mere few hours after they have given birth to a 7lb baby and they are sitting up in bed, surrounded by visitors, a smile on their face, snuggling their baby like delivering a 7lb human was not an enormous physical endeavor.
2. Babies brains are wired to learn. You see this even in the first moments of life when the baby is comforted by a mother’s touch, turns to the breast, or cries because of discomfort.
3. Babies are cute. With their tiny feet and delicate fingers, their little scrunched up faces and fuzzy heads. There is nothing sweeter than a newborn baby.
4. Babies all look alike (kind of). Although adorable and sweet, babies kind of all look the same in the first few hours of life. It seems to take a few days for their faces to take shape into something uniquely them.
5. Names are fascinating. Sometimes naming a baby is challenging. There is a white board in the family’s room that includes the baby’s name. On occasion it is blank because the parents can’t agree on a name, they want to learn more about their baby before they settle on a name, or they were still deciding on a name when baby decided to arrive early. Conversations about baby’s name are some of my favorite. There are creative names, traditional names, nature names, family names. I love hearing why a particular name was chosen. It is a great way to get to know a family.
6. Parents are hilarious. Perhaps it is the lack of sleep, the delirium of having a newborn, or experience of watching their loved one give birth, but parents say some funny things in the hospital. Lots of parenting partners will commandeer the hospital bed for a few relaxing minutes of sleep while mom sits and nurses the baby. This always takes me by surprise but then I remember #1 above.
7. Doctors and nurses are wonderful people. Every time I see the hospital staff at Skagit Valley Hospital in action I am encouraged – the world is full of decent people doing really great work.
8. People love gifts. When I walk in to a hospital room and hand a parent a gift, their faces light up. Welcome Baby provides parents with a pretty great gift too – diapers, wipes, a dual language book to read to their baby, a Halo SleepSack, and best of all the phone number for Welcome Baby so if they ever have any questions, concerns, need help finding a resource, or just need a listening ear – Welcome Baby is just a phone call or text away.
9. All parents need help. I have visited with parents who have had zero experience with kids, nurses, educators, professionals in a wide array of careers, experienced parents with multiple kids and across the board all parents need help now and again. Help takes many forms – someone to do the dishes so mom can nap, guidance for a first-time dad on how to swaddle baby, advice for finding child care, ways they can connect to other parents, or even simple encouragement that they are the best person to be their child’s parent. Welcome Baby is here to help.
10. It is a good thing to ask for help. Parenting is hard, physically and emotionally exhausting, and isolating at times. We need each other. No one should have to figure out things on their own.
If you are pregnant or know someone who is expecting, Welcome Baby is for all families in Skagit County. You do not have to deliver at Skagit Valley Hospital to tap in to all the Welcome Baby Community has to offer. To learn more, visit the Welcome Baby website.
Jen Lindbeck has a M.Ed., Early Childhood Education, Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University and is the Early Childhood Program Manager for United Way of Skagit County and Welcome Baby Coordinator at Skagit Valley Hospital.