I am in Melbourne for a few weeks for someone very special.
Our first grandchild was born a couple of weeks ago.
It was not only the first grandchild on both sides of the family, but the first great-grandchild for all great-grandparents.
She is so calm and quiet when we are around although the parents have had some sleepless nights. She squawks a bit on the change table but then sees something on the wall and stops crying even though she has no clothes on. She has not inherited her grandmother’s loud voice!
Last weekend Hubble and I were on grandparent duty looking after her in the hospital waiting room while her mother was sleeping. I have nothing much to report as the baby just slept and woke every four hours for a feed, then slept. What an ideal first baby!
Many things have not changed since our children were born in the 1990s. The hoo-ha around birth is the same as ever. Parents and grandparents still think their baby is the most gorgeous baby they have seen. The plastic cribs new-born babies are kept in are the same, as are the flannel gowns with ties on the back that hospitals provide for newborns. The nappy fold for newborn babies still seems to be the ideal fold. While my brain could not quite remember it, my hands automatically did it when I relied on muscle memory.
Mothers still have ultrasounds – albeit better resolution and at different stages of pregnancy. There has been progress on finding the causes of sudden infant death syndrome. They seem to have settled on placing babies on their backs when in the cot.
Some things are deteriorating. Sadly, hospitals are now contributing to our ever-expanding landfill because they no longer provide a cloth nappy and laundry service for new-born babies so parents end up using disposable nappies. Food for breast-feeding mothers in public hospitals is ridiculously meagre. My daughter counted five pieces of penne pasta in her ‘dinner’. Rice and cous cous are regarded by the hospital as vegetables – and only one ‘vegetable’ is allowed in a meal. So much for the dietary guidance of the National Health and Medical Research Council. Even hospitals don’t follow it.
At any rate we stepped in and ensured she had enough to eat.
Other aspects of life have changed profoundly. Now, parents need to develop a social media policy ready for the birth. How much do you want disclosed on Facebook? What should you do to protect the baby’s privacy?
When our children were born I kept the newspaper of the day as a memento, but hard copy newspapers are such a minor thing nowadays I didn’t bother. Now grandparents like us get their news off social media and websites. We blog, tweet and use Facebook (although I use Facebook reluctantly).
A blog can be many things including a personally curated news summary. So this post was intended as a twenty-first century version of recording the news in brief for the first week of our grand-daughter’s life. However, as I started writing it became a litany of the world’s woes. Those newspapers we kept when our children were born would have been similar.
I have found it quite confronting writing this with the image of our grand-daughter as a baby in my mind. One day she will be grown up and mature enough to read about the history of the times she was born in, but I can’t bring myself to write about it for someone who I see as a baby now.
I have drawn up this compendium in part by referring back to my tweets of the last couple of weeks. I find that Twitter is great for helping me hear about things that might not be publicised in Australia, as well as an opportunity to contribute news that my network may not be aware of. My tweeting policy is to focus on those news items which will alert people to injustices and that by sharing will raise awareness and therefore help all of us to treat people more fairly. I also tweet news that contributes knowledge that will help improve the world. I avoid the daily grind of political barbs. Life is too short to be weighed down by that.
So while the following news briefs discuss some of the dreadful things that are occurring in the world, each item also includes a gleam of hope. Continue reading