The Armstrong Archives (8): First Impressions

October 2, 1975    Now, all you seasoned parents out there may be shocked to learn that I did not think my first born was the picture of perfection when he arrived on the scene. When the doctor said, “Push,” I pushed. I’d heard somewhere that the harder you push, the faster the baby comes, and I thought to myself, “I can do this.” So, push I did…so hard that I ripped myself to smitherines and Aaron came gushing forth with a head shaped like a Martian, ears pressed completely flat, and bruises galore. I thought his bright red marks were permanent birth marks and that my cherub was going to be ridiculed for life as a freak. (Thankfully, he normalized and adorablized very quickly, and I don’t even have any pictures of what he actually looked like when he made his first grand entrance…)But you know what? Protective instinct welled up in me like a mother bear, and my first response (after shock) was the grim determination to protect my beloved baby from anyone who ever made fun of him, and I decided then and there that I’d flatten any mean person who ever dared try to hurt him.Funny how we respond to life! I’d never seen a truly newborn before. I was amazed at the strength of my love for this little stranger who had come to live with us. Why did I love him so much? Why did I feel such a bone-deep desire to protect him and provide for him? Nurture effects nature, but I’m now forever a believer in mothering instinct, and I think it’s nothing less than miraculous. As my own kids faced parenthood years later, I can remember them asking me the same question: “What if I don’t love my baby?” I would reassure them without any hesitation, “Don’t worry! You will!” and indeed, they all do. In fact, not only did I fall in love with Aaron at first sight, my kids have fallen in love with their children at first sight too. Thank you, God, for giving us such a deep love for our children! They may tempt us and try us when they get older, but we are undergirded with a love that just never quits. (Oh, it may flicker for a bit when they’re rebellious, but thankfully it never really dies! 🙂 )

I kept a daily journal for each of my kids when they were little, and when my kids started having babies, I wrote a book entitled Bless Your Baby. It’s a daily devotional guide for parents with a scripture verse, thought, and activity suggested for each day during the first year, guaranteed to make your house a bit more lively and hopefully give some comforting advice and ideas for what to do when Baby Cakes is bored or fussy. If any of you would like an e-copy, just ask…although, at this point, I’ll make you a deal. You can have a “free” copy for the price of critiquing the book, sharing ideas and generally adding any helpful comments or advice that occurs to you (such as: “this entry isn’t age-appropriate for my baby” or “I found that this works…”). I’m refining the book one last time this year while I have 4 grand-baby infants living through their first year. Then, my dream is to add pictures and—when it’s all done—offer it on Amazon for $.99. So, if such a project appeals to you, and you’re willing to exchange my rough draft for your insights and additions, just let me know! Thanks. 🙂

Here’s what the first of the 365 daily entries looks like:

1. Surviving Delivery

“When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.” John 16:21, ESV

PRAYER: Dear God, I adore you as the Prince of Life. Thank you for preserving my life and granting Baby new life. I’m flooded with relief and joy! Thank you that pain doesn’t last forever. Thanks for the reassurance that every trial you allow is for our good…somehow resulting in “an eternal weight of glory” as we respond in faith to suffering. I dedicate this child to you. May you love him, keep him, grant him faith that leads to eternal life, and bless him always!

THOUGHT: Were you overwhelmed by the difficulty of the birth experience? Motherhood is a very stretching experience, and first babies cause the lion’s share of stretching (in many ways), so don’t be surprised if you both got beaten up in the process. Be assured, this won’t be the last time, nor will it last a lifetime. The journey from inception to resurrection is mysterious and miraculous, intermingled with pain and joy, but always lovingly overseen by the Prince of Life. Rejoice!

ACTIVITY: Gently touch Baby’s face, head, arms, hands, legs, and feet while he’s awake, allowing your finger to glide softly across his skin so that he is consciously experiencing your touch. Gently uncurl his fingers and let him grasp your finger with his hand.

…So, if you’re interested, feel free to contact me at kathrynwarmstrong at gmail.com