Parenting is a humbling experience -- anyone out there who has raised a child can tell you that. It’s all too easy to think that since you’ve read the right books and talked to the right people, you’ve got parenting all figured out. Then the baby comes along.
U.K. mother Christina Hopkinson learned this the hard way. Hopkinson, a self-described type-A overachiever, always assumed parenting would be like anything else in her life: she’d identify the challenge, come up with a plan to conquer it and succeed. But, as she wrote in a Daily Mail column this week, she soon learned that parenting isn’t your average life challenge.
Her troubles started during labor. Hopkinson figured she’d go to the hospital, settle into a bed and push out her child – no epidural needed. She was in for a huge surprise.
“At last,” she writes, “labor started and I went to hospital where the birthing suite was empty and I got my coveted pool, and things started to progress rapidly. What could possibly go wrong? Well, of course, lots. There was meconium in my waters — a sign the baby was in distress — and my unborn baby’s heart rate was up.
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“…After all attempts to push the baby out failed, the registrar said: ‘We think it’s better if we operate,’ and my reaction was: ‘Yes, get it out through my nose if you have to, just get it out.’”
Hopkinson was temporarily humbled, but her self-sufficient inclinations returned after her newborn son aced is Apgar test – an exam that measures a child’s health and reflexes. Everything went smoothly until soon after when midwives delivered Hopkinson some unsettling news: her child, William, had lost 25% of his body weight. Here, as Hopkinson writes, is what happened next.
“He was rushed into hospital with neonatal hypernatremia, a condition where a newborn is so dehydrated that the sodium levels in his blood become dangerously high,” she wrote. “It can lead to kidney failure, amputation and, in rare cases, death.”
Thankfully, William survived the scare. But the experience left a lasting impression on Hopkinson’s life. Namely, that parenting is not a challenge to overcome like a job or many of life’s other obstacles.
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“…My early failure has left me with the lesson learned that the best you can hope to ‘achieve’ is that your child stays alive,” she wrote. “The rest is all up to them, the innate something that all babies are born with, and which makes them each special and winners all.”