Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Insight into culture

My mother often talked about how she was forbidden by my grandmother from buying baby things while she was pregnant with me. In our culture, it was (probably still is?) "bad luck" to buy anything for a baby until after they arrived.

The first time I heard this, I couldn't imagine it! I couldn't even wait till 12 weeks to buy Pip some gorgeous baby things, I sure as hell wouldn't have lasted 9 months. Plus imagine having a baby and not having anything for him or her! To me that borders on neglect, but maybe neglect is too harsh a word? 

I can't imagine my poor husband having to run around and buy a whole bunch of items while I was in hospital with baby. First of all in his sleep deprived state, he'd probably get something wrong by accident (sorry honey!) and second of all, I'd prefer to spread out the expenses throughout the pregnancy rather than dig ourselves into a big financial hole right when baby arrives. So many of my friends have told us how expensive preparing for a baby is, this is after they've gotten items as gifts or which were passed down from other families and friends who don't need them any longer.

Also in Australia, public hospitals require that parents bring their own baby clothes, some don't supply nappies. Some private hospitals supply generic baby clothes and nappies, but then to take baby home, you will need at the very least, a suitable infant car seat that will be checked by the hospital before you're allowed to drive off with bub.

I loved the thought of preparing for Pip and after much debating, we even had a nursery theme picked out. I loved the idea of a circus themed nursery, or maybe a pirate themed nursery for a boy. Even before I was pregnant, whenever I saw something really special for a baby (especially if it was on sale!) I'd buy it and put it aside for that special day when we met our baby.

It seems that this custom also exists in Russian and Jewish cultures. In Indian culture, gifts given toward the well being of the mother are welcomed but baby gifts are only given after the baby's birth. I'm not sure if it's only observed in conservative families or if it's still a custom that is quite widely practised?

The reason behind it as far as I'm aware is it would be absolutely devastating to have prepared a complete nursery, bought heaps of baby things and clothes if something then went tragically wrong and baby didn't make it home.

While the reasoning behind this makes sense, personally I actually find comfort in the little things I got Pip. At the start, I couldn't bear to look at some of the things I'd bought, but now it's different. It's comforting to hug those little onsies and baby clothes and therapeutic to have and hold the soft, cuddly blankets, especially in the midst of a downpour of tears. Of course we didn't get to the stage where we'd begun working on the nursery, but I was raring to go!

To me creating a nursery from an empty room would have been more than just just a practicality or us experiencing the "nesting" instinct, it would have been a labour of love. How special it would have been for us to create a beautiful space for our precious baby to rest, play and grow. I know hubby would have loved to have put together a cot and stroller while probably refusing to read the instructions on how to actually assemble it. There would have been a lot of teasing and laughter.

Interesting to consider the wisdom of cultural beliefs and to look more closely at why some of these customs and beliefs exist in the first place. So many things I looked forward to in the short time Pip was with us and so many things I feel so sad that I can't do anymore. I can't help but wonder what my grandmother would say if she was alive today.

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