For the past two weeks, I had the opportunity to care for a newborn. Newborns are mesmerizing and frightening. Encountering a newborn is amazing because days ago, they did not exist in this constantly changing world. In fact, they are a change in this constantly changing world. Today, they made someone’s life different because they became an independent identity. It is amazing that what was not is becoming what is.
What is scary though about caring for a newborn in foster care, is that now I am in charge for their development. This person is at the stage of temperament. I, in part, determine who this child is. This Saturday, he would have known me out of the womb longer than he has known his father. I put him in my Baby Bjorn and he calms down. He knows my smell and looks up at my face. I am familiar to him. He is attached to me and his other caretakers in our home. As much as he is not mine, he is mine. As a newborn he cannot do much, but when he sees me, he tracks me with his eyes. He knows at 12 midnight, 3AM, 6AM, 9AM, 12 noon, 3PM, 6PM, 9PM someone will be there to feed him. He knows his cries will never go unanswered. He sleeps continually as an infant should. He rests in a bouncer. He loves sleeping as he did in the womb as a little ball. He loves to be swaddled and hear an oscillating “shhhhhh” in his ear.
I talk to him like a person. I tell him what is going on with me. When he laments, I ask, “Dude, what is going on?” He doesn’t even know how much I like him. I love to lay him on my chest and fall asleep with him on me. Physical touch is a most meaningful quality time with an infant. I am astounded about how his face is filling in, and this weird alien (sorry, I think all newborns are weird-looking) I met two weeks ago is looking like a human.
Oh, what a beautiful new life.