The Milestone that Made All the Difference

According to different cultures baby developmental milestones are defined and addressed differently. In middle eastern countries the number fourty holds unique connotations. For example, when a person passes away, a memorial is held on the fourtieth day after his death. Even in our storytelling culture we talk about Aladin and the fourty thieves. So when everyone started promising me that my baby will show mind blowing changes when he becomes fourty days old, it didn’t surprise me, but I didn’t believe it for a second, especially that scientific evidence was nowhere to be found to prove that so often repeated statement.

I don’t know many other young moms, and those i know haven’t really shared with me their first time mom experience openly, but I often think to myself that I am not a typical mommy and I am mostly ok with it (also read: Don’t be bullied into guilt land! It’s dark, cold and hugs free).

During the first month after giving birth, I was constantly obsessed with the idea that my baby is not going to love me nor will she grow attached to me. My baby was a crier, she was very colicky and had a very hard time going to sleep. Being a first time mom I was quite short on tricks and welcomed (uneasily) all the help I could get. Since I breastfed, every time I held her close to me, she would smell the odor of the milk and start rooting to nurse. I was literally unable to hold her, hug her or kiss her without her proclaiming food. It was (and still is sometimes) very frustrating. I used to watch my mother, my husband or my sister in law holding her so calmly and rocking her to sleep and think to myself, “she must like them better”, “they must be doing something more right” or “I am only an ambulant milk factory for her”… And it was hard… It was hard to feel rejected and unloved by your own baby… 

I remember once, my daughter was just over a month old, we travelled home and were staying at my in law’s. My mother and sisters in law were impatient to take her in their arms and play with her. And as she was smiling at them all, i felt my heart melting because I had never earned a smile from her unless I was feeding her. Then, the worst thing ever happened! She cooed for the first time! She cooed and it wasn’t even for me! She cooed and I was across the room and could not even hear her! At that moment I couldn’t imagine there was anything worse in the world! I was sure, my baby didn’t love me and I cried my heart out…

I think that those days were the most difficult. People always talk about this special mother-baby bond, and I was missing it… And for all I knew, it was my fault.. I wasn’t good enough, smart enough or who knows maybe loving enough… But to my surprise, those days were soon to end. As the famous fourtieth day arrived, everything changed in a blink of an eye. Suddenly my daughter refused to be held by anyone but me! She would cry and cry until I would take her away from whom ever was holding her! Even her dad! What magic did the number fourty hold for us!? I didn’t know back then, and to me it was so absurd! I would keep asking myself “what changed!?” Yet I would lie if I say I wasn’t extremely happy and relieved seeing and hearing my baby asking for me…

Today I think I might have the answer for her sudden change in behavior… I reckon it was her vision… Even though babies can recognize the smell of their mothers since birth, it takes them up to 6 weeks (almost 40 days) for their vision to develop enough so they can also recognize her by sight… My hypothesis is that from the moment my daughter was able to see me properly, she was also able to recognize strange faces and only wanted to interact with most familiar people: her dad and me.  

Do you know any other mind blowing milestones babies reach at this age and that might explain her sudden change in behavior? Please share!

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