It is a bitterly cold January day in Boston. I'm musing over the question of why Bostonians face this weather hatless, as I jump on a local bus heading to The Children's Hospital and Touchpoints training. I am here to study with the renowned pediatrician, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, and his able staff for a full five days. My excitement over this opportunity creates nearly enough heat to thaw my feet!
Dr. Brazelton is the creator of the NBAS (Newborn Behavioral Assessment Scale), a marvelous tool used around the world to look closely at babies in order to understand an individual infant's amazing capabilities and important challenges. (Brazelton, T. B. . Neonatal behavioral assessment scale. Suffolk, United Kingdom: The Lavenham Press Ltd.) His book, Touchpoints, gives parents important insight and practical tips for successful parenting.(http://www.touchpoints.org/)
Over the years I have sat in huge audiences captivated by the way Dr. Brazelton shares just how much a baby can communicate! The audience cackles as he screws up his face to imitate an infant trying to wake himself up, a baby attempting to put herself to sleep, or a newborn tuning out the energy of an exuberant parent. Dr. Brazelton has the gift of helping new parents (and those who care for them) appreciate the potential of each interaction with a baby.
This week in Boston I am presented with a new parenting slogan, "Value Disorganization." During these five days we discuss the challenges of early parenthood. Instead of hoping parents will not feel overwhelmed by this experience, Dr. Brazelton suggests that this sense of disorganization may actually fuel the passion and offer the energy needed for early parenthood. "Value the chaos, give parents the support they need, and teach them how to 'read' their baby" are phrases repeatedly echoed during this week in training. These concepts are gifts to me that cold week in January.
As a nurse practitioner I find great joy in sharing with new parents the temporary disorganization of early parenthood. Once new moms and dads settle into the idea that feelings of confusion and fatigue are normal, and perhaps even helpful, life may suddenly seem more manageable.
I recently spoke with Dr. Brazelton about The HUG, the DVD I developed to help parents understand the behavior of their newborns (see www.hugyourbaby.com). I was delighted to conclude the DVD with this credit:
"Jan Tedder gratefully acknowledges the research, teaching, and clinical approach of Dr. T. Berry Brazelton. His NBAS and Touchpoints training are the single greatest influence on her work and the development of The HUG.
Dr. Brazelton: “The HUG captures important elements of the NBAS and offers parents another way to understand their baby.”
"Value disorganization" - the phrase encourages new parents, and me (their nurse), to take hold of the insights we gain during challenging moments as well as during peaceful times. Surely life has much to teach us from both!